Be Sharp Skinner

One of the advantages to 'exclusive' figures is that it allows a toy company to produce an obscure figure - usually a repaint or a resculpt of a figure already done - that otherwise would never see the light of day. Lower quantities are expected, and so figures with lower demand make great exclusives, while the same figure would never sell well as a regular full release.

But we all know the pitfalls of exclusives controlled by retailers or magazines. What if the retailer isn't around you? What if the stockboy buys them all for ebay? Sure, it's great to get a more obscure figure, but not if you can't actually get it. One solution to this issue is mail away figures.

A mail away figure is a form of an exclusive, since you can only get it from one source. But this time the source is the manufacturer themselves, and they can control the distribution in a fair and equitable manner. Playmates had several Simpsons figures they wanted to see produced, but  knew they'd never sell well in a full release. They also knew that doing limited exclusives with retailers had cost them customers in the past. And so they turned to the mail away idea as the best possible solution.

Be Sharp Skinner is the latest figure in their mail away strategy. Send in four coupons from inside the packages of Series 12 figures, along with $5 for s/h, and they send you a tasty Be Sharp Skinner, right to your door. The offer runs through the end of the year, and the production  run is not limited, so just about anyone that wants one should be able to get it without resorting to external means.

These just started shipping this week. Previous Be Sharps include Homer and Apu, and series 13 will include a coupon to mail in for Barney. There are also plans for a play set with pegs for all four.

Packaging - ***1/2
I really like these boxes for the mail aways and exclusives. They are much less prone to long term damage than bubbles and cards, and they make it to my door in better shape most of the time. They look good on the shelf together, even with the change in packaging. And if you don't mind replacing a few twisties, they are completely collector friendly as well.

Sculpting - ***
Of the three Be Sharps figures so far, Skinner is my least favorite. He's not terrible, but the sculpt seems slightly off. I like the choice for the position of the arms and legs, and the head is cocked back in true barbershop style. The back of his head is a tad wonky though, with a rather large indentation. I think it was done to give the appearance of his head bending back, but it looks quite odd from a profile view. Also, he's got a bit of a pot belly in this style, whereas we're used to seeing Skinner a little more fit and trim in his suit.

On the plus side, he's got a great facial expression, and there isn't the zombie problem here that plagues some of the regular releases. He looks like he's belting one out, and when he's placed with the other two figures, the set looks extremely good together. I also like that his hands and arms were sculpted in such a way to make the 'classic' barbershop pose of holding his hat in front of him in both hands, but his hat is far too big to actually fit there.

Paint - **1/2
The paint ops on the WOS line is more hit and miss than I'd like, but the big issue here isn't general sloppiness, but a complete missing paint application. That's not super uncommon either - jewelry like Fat Tony's bracelet or Number One's ring are examples of unpainted pieces - but this time it's very obvious.

For some reason, no red paint was applied to Skinner's tongue. Since both Apu and Homer's are painted, and since Skinner's mouth is open plenty wide enough to notice, it seems like a mistake rather than a plan. Looking back at the early photos of the test shots from Toy Fair it's clear it wasn't painted then either - too bad we didn't notice then and mention it.

His other major paint issue is his pupils.  While they are nice and neat, you can tell from the photos that one's off center, giving him a pretty freaky appearance. 

Articulation - **1/2
Skinner has neck, shoulders, waist, elbows, wrist, ankle, mouth, fingers...sorry, couldn't resist. Obviously he has the same neck, shoulders and waist that every WOS figure has. Now is not the time to change that, but learn to live with it.

Accessories - ***
Skinner has two accessories, his cane and his hat. That's pretty good for a mail away figure, where getting any sort of accessory is a real surprise. The cane is a tad soft, but it looks good in his hands, and the hat fits nicely on his head without falling off.

Talking Feature - **
Right now, there isn't much to get excited about with the talking feature on these figures. They say what other Skinner's, Apu's and Homer's say,
but everyone is looking forward to the possible release of the Be Sharps play set, where we'll get some great lines. If that comes to pass, especially with the this score goes way up.

Value - **** (if you're buying 3 wave 12 figures anyway), **1/2 (if you didn't want to buy ANY wave 12 figures)
Considering that the cost of four figures is $24 plus tax, and s/h is $5, the worst case is he costs you $29 and change.  That's if you didn't want ANY of the figures purchased, but if you're like me and were buying the entire series anyway, Skinner is only costing you $5. This is important to note since many people are already paying $35 - $40 each for this figure on Ebay - why? Even worse, many people are paying $35 - $40 each for Homer and Apu as well, and these are still available directly from Playmates simply by sending in UPC's from waves 10 and 11 respectively. Don't waste your money on Ebay!

Overall - ***
Skinner isn't quite as nice as Homer and Apu, but as a set they really do look terrific. Let's face it - nobody would really want just one of these figures, but the being able to put the compete set together makes all the difference. I am hopeful we'll see the playset make it to reality, and with four pegs for all of them to be connected, and the addition of the song "Baby on Board", will make this complete set one of the highlights of the whole series.

Where to Buy - 
Send in those POP's! Playmates even has a website set up (actually, the fulfillment house they use has the website) that allows you to track your order once they receive it:

Playmates Rebate Inquiry

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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