Wave 4 of the Simpsons

It's been three months since the last wave of Simpsons figures hit the shelves, and fans have been chomping at the bit.  The wait is finally over, and there's nothing to be disappointed in here!

This is Wave 4 (or Series 4) of the Simpsons figures from Playmates.  They've got a real winner on their hands with this line, and I believe it will carry through 2002 extremely strong.  This wave includes Patty, Groundskeeper Willie, a two pack of Itchy and Scratchy, Casual Homer in his undies, Ralph Wiggum and Lenny.

These are hitting Meijers and Targets in the Mid-West right now.  I've heard of them showing up in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania so far, so they should be in your neck of the woods any day.  Meijers is selling them for $5 each.

Packaging - ***
The packaging hasn't changed - much.  They've added the words Series 4 in a black bar on the right, obviously to make it easier to pick them out from the others when you're scanning through the peg.  They've switched things around a little on the back as well.  There is now a bar code on the bottom right, and that meant they moved a block of text from the bottom to the upper right to make way for it.  Otherwise, it's the same great artwork.

Sculpting - ****
This series is stellar.  We only get one remake - Homer in his underwear - and even that one has a great body sculpt.

Patty is a tad top heavy from all that hair, but I haven't had any trouble yet getting her to stand.  Lenny does have trouble standing if you try to put his accessories in his hand out in front of him.  His feet are pretty small, and he's pretty tall.

The scale on these figures is great as well.  Willie seems a little tall, but not bad.  Ralph is a good height, and the proportions on the others fit within the line.

If there is one complaint with the sculpting on this line it's with the hands.  Willie has one completely closed so he can only hold either the shovel or rake at a time.  Lenny has one hand in an open position, and Itchy, Scratchy and Ralph all really only have one useful hand.

Articulation - **1/2
As usual, these figures only have four points - neck, shoulders and waist.  Itchy & Scratchy are slightly different, since Itchy is so small.  He doesn't have a waist joint, so he only has the three points of articulation, and although Scratchy doesn't have a waist joint either, he makes up for it with a jointed tail.

Accessories - ***1/2
This series has gotten a better sculpting score from me than the last, but the accessories score drops a bit.

In this set of six figures there are 18 accessories.  That's a great number, but unfortunately 7 of these are practically identical from earlier releases, and another 3 are almost identical.  That leaves only 8 new accessories with these figures, and some, like Lenny, don't have a single new item.

Now I don't mind the re-use of accessories.  It's understandable to keep costs down, and for the most part they are at least making sense with it.  For example, the Casual Homer comes with the remote, can of Duff and bag of chips from earlier figures.  But at least that makes sense in the context of this character.

New accessories include Ralph's rocket and keys, Willies shovel and rake, Homer's sunglasses (although I'm sure we'll see these on Bleeding Gums Murphy), Patty's workout video tape, and Itchy & Scratchy's weapons.

Accessories that have been slightly altered included Ralph's Radioactive Man comic, Patty's clipboard with Otto's driving test on it, and Patty's picture of Skinner. 

Identical accessories from previous lines are Ralph's set of books, Homer's remote, chips and beer, and Lenny's donuts, bowling bag and beer mug.

Talking Feature - ***
The talking feature is still as cool as every, but as we get into these lesser characters, we get fewer sets that they work with and fewer lines when they do.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint work on all the figures I've seen so far has been great.  I haven't seen any trouble with the eyes like we've seen occasionally on past waves, and all the colors seem to be pretty much on the mark.  Then again, I'm color blind.

Value - ****
At $5 a pop, these are still the best value in the action figure world today.  Playmates really has a winner on their hands, and stores like Toys R Us should be ashamed for upping the price to six bucks on their end to try to squeeze more money out of the collectors.  Do your shopping elsewhere for these if you can.

Overall - ***1/2
Every wave seems to get better.  Maybe it's just because all of these characters are favorites, but this wave has the most consistent cool factor so far.  Even with another Homer in the bunch, they've managed to put together a killer set.

Where to Buy:
As I said, I picked these up at Meijers for only $5 each.  I'd recommend either Meijers, Target or Wal-mart for bricks and mortar stores, since Toys R Us charges a dollar more, and KB Toys charges three dollars more.

On line, there are lots of spots carrying them, so check around.  A couple I've dealt with:
- New Force Comics.  I've bought from Rick many times, and he's always fast and reliable.  You can order a case of figures from him for $58 plus shipping, so your cost per figure is about $5.25 each..
- Entertainment Earth.  Another store that is always fast and reliable.  They are selling cases for $70 plus shipping though, so your cost per figure is closer to $6.75 each. (MROTW affiliate)

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour