Futurama Bender and Robot Devil

Futurama Bender action figure

We love robots. From B-9 to Wall-E, robots have allowed writers and filmmakers to expose our strengths and weaknesses through these almost human cousins.

With some robots, it's more weakness than strength. Such would be one of my favorites, Bender from Futurama. Futurama is a vastly underrated show, far superior to 90% of the Simpsons episodes, and unlike South Park or Family Guy, is able to be hilarious AND have an actual story line. Central to the show is the crusty, raw Bender, a character that is as endearing as he is annoying.

Bender was a figure done once before by MAC, when they did their very short lived Futurama series. He's not a particularly complex figure, and they pretty much nailed it, so what was Toynami to do with their series? They couldn't very well NOT do Bender, particularly since many fans had missed out on the MAC version. But how to make it better? That was the trick.

Bender is shipping now, and is available from several of my fine sponsors, as well as some stores like Hot Topic. Expect to pay around $12 - $14.

I'm also looking briefly at the Robot Devil, the Build A Figure for this overall series. With each of these first six figures, pieces of the Robot Devil were included as accessories. Buy them all, and you have yourself a seventh figure!
Futurama Bender action figure

Futurama Bender action figure
Futurama Bender action figure
Futurama Bender action figure
Futurama Bender action figure
Futurama Robot Devil action figure
Futurama Bender action figure
Futurama Bender action figure nixon head
Futurama Robot Devil action figure

Packaging - Bender ***1/2; Robot Devil Bupkis
These come in the usual window box with J hook on top. The graphics are bright and attractive, and I like the fact that they are completely collector friendly. You can remove the figures and the accessories without any damage to the package and then return them later for storage or sale. On smaller figures, this is an unusual feature.

Sculpting - Bender ****; Robot Devil ***
Both figures are well sculpted, but Bender is a home run for sure. In fact, he's the best figure Toynami has done so far...and they might have lifted this sculpt right from the old MAC version. If they did, I can't blame them.

The proportions are great, especially the arms and legs. He's scaled nicely to fit in with the rest of the line, he stands great on his own, and he can even hold some of his accessories in his hands. What more could you ask for?

The Devil isn't quite as visually perfect. Exactly what is wrong is hard to put your finger on - maybe the legs are a bit too stubby, or perhaps the upper body is just too long. In any event, he looks slightly disproportioned in some way, and a bit ungainly.

Still, he manages to stand great on his own, and can hold his cane as well. He's slightly taller than the rest of the line, which seems about right in context. These are in a 6" scale.

Paint - Bender ***1/2; Devil ***
Neither of these figures is a particularly complicated paint job, but Toynami did a fine job with what's here.

The Robot Devil is predominately red of course, but they give him the darker arms and legs. It seems to me that usually on the show these appendages were lighter red than the body and head, but the darker color does give a nice contrast to him that a solid red all around would not.

His eyes and teeth are quite clean and neat, with fairly sharp cut lines and even pupils. My only two nits are a) I recall the tail (not the end, but the tail) being the lighter yellow color of his horns and b) his horns should most definitely be the yellow color. The incorrect horns are easily his biggest problem.

Bender has all the right colors...for the most part...but he had a different nit that bugged me. It's much more minor than the mis-colored horns, however.

When he's drawn, the top of Bender's torso is always slightly lighter in color than the rest. This is where all the light would be hitting his metal body, and by doing this (rather than using all one color), the animators give his 2-D self some visual depth. You can think of this kind of highlighting as 'reverse shadowing', if you will.

To approximate that look, they painted the top of Bender's torso a slightly lighter color than the rest of his body. I applaud them for giving it a try, but it didn't work particularly well. The difference in color is great enough in person that it's obviously painted, and the paint job itself is the sloppiest area on the figure.

On the plus side, the eyes and mouth are very well done, and they've done a good job with the slightly darker legs and arms. In general, I like the work on Bender better than the Devil, but the highlighting on his torso needed to be a slightly less obvious color.

Articulation - Bender ***; Devil ***1/2
Both figures have similar articulation, although the Devil takes it a step further.

They both have cut neck joints, as well as cut shoulders and hips. The arms and legs are bendy, and while I'm never a huge fan of bendy limbs, these work fine.

Bender's chest also opens, revealing his storage compartment. This works well, and the hinges are very sturdy.

As a nifty plus, you can remove Bender's head and put the Nixon head in a jar accessory from Zap right on his shoulders - it looks great!

That's pretty much it for Bender, but with his design it's not surprising. The Devil adds a few more joints, however. Of course, you can also turn the torso and pelvis on the joint where they attach, and he has cut wrist joints. In fact, the hands pop off cleanly, and I know that they originally planned on having Fry and the Devil's hands swappable, just like in the final episode. However, I've tried popping off Fry's hands, and although there's a cut joint there, I sure can't make it happen. I wouldn't over do it, lest you end up with a superglued wrist on your Fry, but perhaps with some hot water...I take no responsibility for you screwing up your figure.

The Devil also has a hard wire tail that bends well, although you'll want to limit the amount of bending you do with it. Over time, these types of wires tend to break if they are bent at the same point repeatedly.

Finally, his lower jaw is also jointed, allowing him to have it wide open, or slightly more closed. Considering the simplicity of the Robot Devil character design, that's actually quite a bit of articulation.

Accessories - Bender ****; Robot Devil ***
Even though the various parts to the Robot Devil have been the accessories to the other figures in this first series, he has accessories of his own!

They actually come with Bender, and are his top hat and cane from "Hell is Other Robots". In this episode, he did a catchy little number introducing Bender and us to the underworld of Robot Hell. The cane fits nicely in one hand, although it's a little thick, and the top hat is held in place with a strong magnet.

You don't have to buy Bender to have a 'complete' Robot Devil, since the top hat and cane aren't entirely necessary, but it's nice to have the additional accessories for a BAF.

Bender comes with several other goodies as well, including a bottle of Old Fortran, a can of Mom's Oil, and a pile of money, similar to the old MAC version. It's a bigger pile though - Bender has acquired more wealth in the intervening 7 years. He can hold the bottle of liquor, and the oil can fits easily inside his chest cavity.

But the huge plus here is the extra pairs of eyes. Bender comes with two additional sets of eyes that can be attached to his head, giving him different expressions. Mine came wearing angry, but also has sad and a half lidded set that can work for sleepy, drunk, or sarcastic, depending on the need.

These pop on and off as a complete piece, including the gray housing around them. This works pretty well, and I was able to attach them tightly with only a slight seam.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
Good articulation and great sculpting on some funny cartoon characters makes for some fun toys, particularly when it's robots. Okay, so it's not exactly a kid's cartoon, but it's not South Park either. In fact, it's the kind of intelligent cartoon that will get your kid's thinking AND entertain them.

Value - Bender **1/2; Devil ***
Bender will run around $12 - $14 at most stores, which is about right for the current specialty market. If he had made it to mass market, I would have been happier at $12 than $14, but with the lower production run and fewer retailers in the specialty market, I'm not surprised the price isn't closer to $15.

Technically, Beezlebot is free. Well, he is if you're like me, and you'd be buying these figures whether he was included or not. For those collectors, he's pretty much free, although even they realize they had to give something up (more accessories) in able to get him.

And if you aren't buying the full series...seriously, what the Hell is wrong with you? Figures like these always look better in sets rather than onesy twosy in your display. Let your freak flag fly and go for it!

Things to Watch Out For - 
Take a little care loosening up the shoulder joints on Bender. The softer bendy rubber joints can tear if they stick. Likewise, when putting together the various Robot Devil pieces, you'll want to take extra care with the softer rubber posts on the arms and legs.

Oddly enough, the biggest issue I had putting together the Devil was attaching the torso to the pelvis. The peghole is a bit too small, and you can put too much pressure on the top plate of the pelvis and damage it. I suggest some hot water to soften things up a bit first.

Overall - Bender ***1/2; Robot Devil ***
Bender is my favorite figure in the Toynami releases so far. They decided to improve on the excellent MAC version by adding in the extra eyes, and that was a stroke of genius. I love being able to alter his look in such a critical way, and you could use him like your own little mood ring on your desk at work. "Bender has the angry eyes today - stay the Hell away from Michael!"

As BAF's go, the Robot Devil is well done and a good value. I love getting an extra character like this who might not otherwise ever see the light of day. In the next set of six figures, you'll be getting the parts for Santa, another terrific villain in the Futurama universe, and I'm looking forward to adding more characters to the growing display.

Score Recap:
Packaging - Bender ***1/2; Robot Devil Bupkis
Sculpting - Bender ****; Robot Devil ***
Paint - Bender ***1/2; Devil ***
Articulation - Bender ***; Devil ***1/2
Accessories - Bender ****; Robot Devil ***
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - Bender **1/2; Devil ***
Overall - Bender ***1/2; Robot Devil ***

Where to Buy -
There are several excellent sponsor options:

- CornerStoreComics has him in the set for just $23.

- Circle Red has the pair for $25.

- YouBuyNow has him with Kif for $27.

- Entertainment Earth has him as a pair with Kif for $28.

- for the UK readers, you can pick him up at Forbidden Planet for about 10 GBP.

Related Links -
I've covered the rest of the Toynami releases, including Kif, as well as Zap and Leela, and the first series of these figures.

- Toynami got their feet wet with the Futurama I-men.

- there's the series 1 set from MAC, along with the Toyfare exclusive Leela.  There was also some Christmas ornaments, a larger scale (8") Nibbler.

- Rocket USA did some cool die cast figures and the tin wind up Bender.

- there were also quite a few bendies, including Kif and Leela.

- and if you're looking for the unique, try the Horrible Gelatinus BloB, or the Brain Slug!

  Also, don't forget that you can still order the Toyfare Zoidberg variant.

Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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toynami futurama action figures

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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