Simpsons Movie Series 1
Movie Mayhem Homer, Marge, Lisa/Maggie and Bart

I've loved the Simpsons since the very first short on the old Tracey Ullman show. I've shared my passion for the show and collectibles since the days of the old usenet groups (ah, how I miss ya), through great episodes and poor seasons, through the Playmates World of Springfield, and I continue to be a huge fan. Hell, there's a new box of Krusty-O's on my desk at work right now, just purchased from the local 7-11.

The initial figures from Mcfarlane have had some low points and high points, but the new movie line has been the one set that fans have really been anticipating. The figures are just now hitting stores (Suncoast and FYE's have them if you are lucky enough to have a good store locally, or you can patronize one of the sponsors listed below), and includes six figures and two dioramas.

Four of the six figures are the family members - Homer, Marge/Maggie, Lisa and Bart - each on their own section of set of movie theater seating, ready to watch their own film. Another set has Homer tickling the pig's stomach (it appears as though this pig features prominently in the film), and the final set is Itchy and Scratchy. This last set is being advertised as an Internet only release, so you'll need to hit an online store to pick it up.

There are also two dioramas, the first with Flanders, Bart and some sort of radically mutated mammal ala Blinky. Clearly, something very wrong has happened in Springfield. The second diorama includes a nekkid Bart with Sherri and Terri. Yep, that one is a specialty store exclusive only as well, and last word was that it's been pushed back slightly behind the rest of the initial release.

The figures run around $15 at FYE stores, with the dioramas at about $20. Online stores are a little cheaper, running around $12 for the regular figures and $16 for the dioramas, with some package deals also available. I'm going to only cover the four 'movie mayhem' figures tonight, but fear not - I'll cover the boxed set and other two figures later this week.

Packaging - ***
Mcfarlane is sticking with the clamshells, but it looks like the move to more specialty stores (like Suncoast and FYE) with this line has driven them to move to a more compact package. That's good as far as I'm concerned, with less waste. It also makes it easier on the MOCers, although the packaging doesn't do a great job of showing off the figure to it's utmost.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The four Movie Mayhem figures are really intended to be put together as a set, each sitting in a movie theater chair with a movie theater floor beneath them. However, since each chair is completely separate, you can easily display your personal fav member of OFF if you don't want the whole set, and it will still look fine.

I really like the sculpts on each of these, although some of the characterizations might see a little off. Bart is less brat, more clumsy fool, in this pose, and that might not work for everyone. He's got one foot stuck in gum while he's spilling his drink at the same time. I like it though, and it still easily fits within the character of Bart, who often finds himself the hapless recipient of bad luck.

Homer has an angry look on his face, while he's eating a big bag of popcorn. I really like the separate hairs added on the top of his head, although I did manage to break one pretty quickly.

Marge is pictured in the animated drawing with a hanky in her right hand, holding it up by her face, but the figure itself has a program that she can hold. I'm not sure why the change, but this works fine because the figure is sculpted (and painted) as though she's blocking her eyes either from Homer or from the screen.

Maggie is sculpted to fit under Lisa's chair, although she can lie just about anywhere if you'd like. Her outstretched hand is reaching for a tasty pink frosting donut that someone (Homer?) carelessly dropped on the theater floor.

Lisa is sculpted all as one piece holding the book "Homer's Illiad". Her right hand is posed over the book as though she's going to turn the page, or perhaps in wonder at the words inside.

The general scale between the figures is good, although the kids are a *smidge* big. Still, it's much better than past lines in keeping the figures reasonably in scale with each other. Each figure has an appropriate amount of detail for the animated style, and they've done a great job going from the 2 dimensional art to 3 dimensional statues.

These are done in the same scale as the previous Mcfarlane Simpsons figures and dioramas, right around 4 1/2" for a standing Homer, if he was standing.

Paint - ***1/2
I've been complaining loudly about the paint quality on the Mcfarlane animated lines, which have never seemed to be treated with the same care and attention as the comic or other movie properties. Thankfully, it looks like that's not the case with this series, or at least as far as I can tell from the few I've seen.

The cut lines are clean, and broad colors are consistent in color and coverage. There's a LOT of use of the black outlining, from Marge's shoes to even Lisa's pearls, and for some folks it's probably going to be too much. But at least it's all cleanly done, with good quality on even the tough colors like the white eyes.

There's also a mixture of finishes this time, with some gloss (like Bart's shirt) and some other areas (like the yellow skin) being matte. That adds quite a bit to the look, and I'm particularly glad to see everything painted, and not simply cast in plastic.

There's some 'staining' on the bases (you can see a clear example on the Lisa base in the final photo), which I don't think is by mistake. Rather, I think this was done to make the floors appear even more disgusting than it already did.

Articulation - Bart *1/2; Homer, Marge, Lisa *; Maggie Bupkis
Maggie is merely a solid PVC figure - no articulation for her. The rest of the family has a cut neck joint, which is pretty handy for Lisa and Marge. That's it for Homer and Lisa, but Marge adds cut joints on her shoulders, so you can position the program where you'd like. It was a tad sticky on mine, and I didn't go nuts with it for fear of ripping the peg.

EDIT - I lied.  Actually, Homer has cut joints at the sleeves of his shirt, allowing his arms to turn.  Mine were painted tight, so you might have to work them.

Bart actually has the most articulation, with cut joints at both shoulders to go along with the cut neck. That gives him the most opportunity for creative expressionism...uh, posing.

But you aren't buying these for the articulation, but the sculpted poses. Thankfully, those are fairly well done.

Accessories - ***1/2
How you rate this category is going to depend on what you consider an 'accessory'. I'm counting the bases and chairs as accessories, separate from the figures themselves.

The bases are fairly deep (about an inch) to accomdate the sound feature, and the chair sits on the very back of each. The bases look terrific, and there's a ton of crap on the floor of this particular theater. Popcorn, donuts, candy, cups, it's all here. There's also plenty of nasty old gum sculpted to the bottom of Bart's chair.

The chairs all fit tightly into the bases, and the full diorama looks great together. The bases can simply sit next to each other, or you can connect them physically with the small pegs provided. The speakers face up (thank goodness) at the front of the base, so that they are fairly clear and loud.

Marge is the only figure to include another accessory - her program. It fits nicely in her sculpted right hand, although I don't remember the last time I saw a 'program' at a movie theater.

Talking Feature - ***
Each figure requires 2 AAA batteries (not included) inserted into the base to use the sound feature. And yes, it annoys me a tad to have to spend more money on batteries, but on the good side, the MOCers won't have to worry about corrosion over time.

Marge - "Hmmmmm, I don't know, Homie...", "Homer Simpson!"

Homer - "I can't believe we're paying to see something we get on TV for free!"; "If you ask me, everybody in this theater is a giant sucker, especially you!"; "Boring!"

Bart - "How sweet it is!"; diabolical laugh, "Ooooo, that's good squishee!";"I'm outta here"; 

Lisa/Maggie - "I don't know if you guys should be talking so loud"; pacifier sucking sound (I think);

My Lisa had a stuck button though, stuck tight with paint. I had to unscrew the entire bottom and clean up the glue and paint from around the edge of the button to get it working freely.

The lines are pretty loud and clean, although there aren't a ton. I love the choices for Homer though, especially about getting it for tree on TV.

Value - **
I'm grading these at the store prices of around $15. Even at the $12 that online stores are charging, it's a couple bucks higher than I like to spend for Mcfarlane figures, since I've been spoiled by Meijers.

But at $15, you're getting hit seriously hard on these. Sixty bucks for the family sitting in their movie seats? Think about what sixty bucks can get you, and then tell me they're well worth that.

Fun Factor - **
These aren't toys - they're pop culture collectibles. As such they work great, but as toys, they leave something to be desired. The talking feature is fun in the cubicle farm, but kids won't be all that amused. That's not going to effect my overall, since I knew that was the case going in and accept it just fine, but your mileage may vary.

Things to Watch Out For - 
I didn't see too much inconsistency in the paint work this time around, at least at the few they had at my local FYE. Still, that's likely to be your biggest concern.

Take some care with Homer's hair too, since the poor guy doesn't have much left to lose.

Overall - ***1/2
I am willing to fully acknowledge that I'm probably a half star high on these.  The price tag (at least the $15 one) is just too much to support what you're getting. In the end though, my Simpson's geekness took over and pushed me up that other half star.

My biggest complaint with the previous series has been around the paint. That wasn't an issue here at all, and I'm hopeful that will continue to be the trend with other animated series from Mcfarlane, like the Grinch.

While these aren't particularly 'classic' poses for the family, I like the general tie in with the film. Since they did more tv show related scenes with the regular series, it was important for these to be more movie related, and yet not give too much away. The family together is always good too, so while it's not the most thrilling at first glance, the theater theme grew on me over time.  I also suspect that we'll actually see them like this in the film, but that's just a hunch.

I certainly hope this movie lives up to its potential, but there's such a high bar for it (especially since there will be such a large population actually hoping it fails, licking their chops in anticipation of saying "WORST MOVIE EVER!"), that it will be really tough for it. But I suspect I'm going to enjoy it, since I crack up every time I see Homer doing the Spider-pig song. How can you not love Spider-Pig.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -   ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Bart *1/2; Homer, Marge, Lisa *; Maggie Bupkis
Accessories - ***1/2
Talking Feature - ***
Fun Factor - **
Value -  **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Sponsors that have these include:

- Canadian online shop Toys and Cool Stuff have these in stock for about $15 each (Canadian), including the I&S set.

- Amazing Toyz has them in stock with most of the regular figures at $12 (I&S run $14) and the dioramas at $16.

- CornerStoreComics has the singles at $12, but the only way to get I&S is to order the full set of 6 figures for $68. They also have the dioramas at $16.

- Clark Toys has most of the regular figures at $12 and the playsets at $18. For some reason they have Marge and Lisa at $30...?

Related Links -
I've covered an awful lot of Simpsons merchandise over the years. Hit this link for links to just about all of them!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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