Sideshow Groundskeeper Willie Mini-bust


Sideshow toy has been producing a series of Simpsons busts for about a year now.  Haven't been buying them?  I'm telling you, you're going to regret it.

Tonight's review covers the latest release in the series, Groundskeeper Willie.  I'm going to slap him around a bit, and he's not the best example of the overall line.  Still, if you're spending your money on those Hamilton 'collectibles', you don't know what you're missing here.  Willie is limited to 2000, and runs $35 at the Sideshow site.  I have some other on-line ordering instructions for you at the end of the review.

Willie will be followed by Wiggum, Grampa, and Sideshow Bob. Past busts have included Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Comic Book Guy, The Collector, Krusty, Mr. Burns, Moe and Apu.  Once the next three are done, it's likely that it will be the end of the line.

Sideshow has some of the earlier busts on sale right now, and you can also find some good deals at various on-line stores.  With such low runs, these are sure to be great to have in your Simpsons collection a few years down the road.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sideshow gives us windows, and windows are always good.  You can see just what you're getting before you ever open it up.  Of course, since odds are you're buying on-line, that doesn't particularly help, but they tried.

The boxes are a tad plain, but I'm sure that's more FOX's doing than Sideshow's.  FOX is very tough on how such things can look, and often get in the way of some pretty creative and attractive ideas.

Sculpting - **1/2
Willie is sculpted in a particular pose, probably his most famous.  The side of the box even shows the pose - one fist raised, the other clutching a shovel, yelling at Bart or some other poor Springfield Elementary student.

I've included both photos of the side of the box, and of the Playmates World of Springfield version for you to compare.  As you can see, two people doing the exact same thing can have very different interpretations.

The basic sculpt - the overalls and shirt, the scale of the head, arms and body, the proportions of the face and hair - are all very good.  You won't get confused as to who this might be when you see it.

However, Sideshow's sculptor has done a couple things very differently.  First, he's altered the appearance of the beard in front of the nose, pretty much dropping it entirely.  Second, since only his back teeth appear in the 2 D drawing, he has skipped including any front teeth.  (The WOS version has a full set of chompers.)  And finally, he went for the 'shifty eyed' expression, but shifted the left eye waaay over, much more than you'd expect.  Finally, the hairs on his arms are cut into the arm, rather than out.

He has the standard column base, but there's no sculptor credit this time.  I believe they dropped the credits with the release of Krusty, but I'm not sure why.

Paint - ***
Most of the paint application is clean and neat, but he takes a hit in this category for that weird left eye.  He looks more like Mad Eye Mooney than Groundskeeper Willie.

The rest of the work is solid though, and the colors match up well with the rest of the series.  No changes in yellow, thank goodness.

Design/Style - ***
I already slapped him around in both sculpting and paint for the weird left eye, lack of teeth, and the way the beard was done.  Here we'll talk about the more 'artistic' value.

They picked a perfect pose, although it's one we've seen many times.  Perhaps a bare chested version, looking like he's yelling "Grease me up, woman!" might have been a little more unique, but this choice is understandable.

The one thing missing here is the shovel.  There's no reason the shovel couldn't be in his right hand, and in the comparison shot with the WOS figure you can get some idea of how much better that would have looked.

Value - ***
At $35, these are right in the middle of the mini-bust market.  These are a little smaller than some of the $40 busts on the market, but they match up with the source material well, and the Simpsons can't be a cheap license.

Overall - **1/2
After gushing over Krusty last month, I'll admit that Willie was a bit of a disappointment.  Actually, while I mentioned the teeth and beard as negatives, I could have lived with those. I could even live without the shovel.  But the rolling, wonky left eye just freaks me out.

Where to Buy - 
I haven't seen these at any stores, but your local comics shop *might* carry them.  On-line options include:

- Sideshow of course.  Willie is new, and therefore $35.  Most of the earlier busts, including Homer, Marge, Moe, Lisa, Comic Book Guy, Bart and Apu are currently on sale for $25 each.

- Alter Ego Comics doesn't have Willie, but they have the Lisa on sale for just $15!

- Southern Island doesn't have Willie either, but they have the recently released Krusty (along with several others) for just $21!


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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