Toynami Futurama
Zoidberg and Fry

One of the highlights of this year's SDCC, at least for me, was the news that Futurama would be returning. As much as I love the Simpsons, I've always felt that Futurama was the better show.  I know, it's blasphemy, but the writing on Futurama was a bit more...evolved...

Whether there are 13 episodes (as originally reported) or 16 (which is what I swore I heard at SDCC) for Comedy Central, the news is excellent.  I'm also betting Toynami is happy to hear it, since they picked up the license last year to do action figures.

The only thing they'd released prior to SDCC was the 2006 exclusive of Bender.  This was just a repaint of the old Moore Bender from several years earlier, but at least it was a start.  This year for SDCC they did a second exclusive, this time of the original Zoidberg.  The exclusive was actually a Zoidberg variant, with him transformed into his 'mating' look.  They did bring along some regular release Zoidberg and Fry figures though, and I picked up a set to review tonight.  These figures should be hitting LCS and online stores soon, and retail for around $13 - $15 each, depending on the retailer.

There's also one more Zoidberg variant available, a 'universe b' version, this time through Toyfare (Wizard Entertainment).  You can find that one at this link.

Packaging - ***
I'm not a huge fan of the combo box/peg hanger style of packaging, largely because it tends to get damaged easily.  I'd prefer a straight box for something like this, but then, nobody asked me.

That being said, they did a nice job with the format.  The figures are actually very collector friendly, with the exception of just a couple twisties.  You can cut a couple pieces of tape, remove the plastic tray, take out the figures, and not damage a thing.  These also store pretty well, although the do take up a bit more space than they really need to.

Sculpting - Zoidberg ***1/2; Fry ***
If you think Fry looks a bit familiar, you're not crazy.  From the neck down, he has the same sculpt as the old Moore version.  Toynami felt that the body wasn't going to get any better than MAC had done it, so why mess with perfection.

The head sculpt is slightly new however.  It's not a massive change, but it's a bit thinner.  Even with the changes, it still doesn't quite pull of the translation of Fry into three dimensions.  It's not bad, but he's definitely a tricky character.

Zoidberg turned out quite a bit better.  He's a fairly basic character - like the Simpsons, the style isn't particularly complex - but they have managed to add that extra dimension to the character and get it close to the 2 D version. His internal proportions are good (head to torso, arm length, etc), and he's a nice bulky size next to Fry.  His posture is slumped, and his claw hands are sculpted in a closed position.  With all the hollow rotocast figures out there, it's nice to get one with some heft to it.

Fry stands about 5 1/2 inches tall, but his hair sticks up slightly higher, while Zoidberg is at the 5 1/2 inch mark.  Both stand great on their own, and Fry's sculpted hands can hold most of the accessories well.

Paint - ***
One of the biggest issues I had with the old MAC figures was the paint work.  There was plenty of gloppy spots and poor cuts, and what were otherwise great looking figures were hurt by the paint application.

Things are quite a bit better here, if not yet perfect.  There's still some poor cut lines and bleed, particularly around the eyes, but the majority of the paint ops are above average.  If these were mass market figures, they'd be impressive, but as specialty market figures they're just a bit above average in this category.

Articulation - Zoidberg **; Fry ***
Fry has good articulation, but nothing new if you have the previous version.  There's the cut neck, cut shoulders, cut wrists, cut waist, pin elbows and knees, and cut biceps and thighs. Oh, and a V crotch.

While some of the joints can be rather unattractive when turned at an angle (like the cut thighs), the articulation does mean that he can take quite a few poses, including some very good ones with the accessories.  The articulation and sculpt work well together, and I almost gave him another half star here.  If that neck joint had been a ball, it would have been an easy call.

Zoidberg isn't nearly as articulated, but considering his bulky design, it's not a huge surprise.  He has the cut neck, shoulders, wrists, and cut ankles (at the pant legs).  He's designed to look good standing up straight (or in his case, hunched), with a claw positioned this way or that.

Accessories - Fry ***1/2; Zoidberg **1/2
Okay, so 90% of Fry's accessories are re-used from the MAC version - that only matters if you have that version.  And let's face it, it's always nice to get a whole pile of stuff!

Fry comes with the blaster (yep, re-used) which fits well in his hands and has some great paint detail work.  He also has a can of anchovies, the can of Slurm, and the one new accessory, his holophoner.  Since that episode came after the MAC figures, it makes sense that it's new.

That's a great assortment of very character specific goodies, and even if there is a lot of re-use from 6 years ago, I can't really fault them too much.  He also comes with the torso of the Robot Devil, which I'll talk more about in a minute.

Zoidberg has the head of the Robot Devil (I'm getting to that in a minute, just keep your panties on), and his stethescope.   The stethoscope fits around his neck nicely, although it does seem a smidge large.  The paint ops are quite basic, but not terrible.

Ah, the Robot Devil.  Toynami is trying out the BAF (Build A Figure) concept with this line.  Buy all of the first six figures (three waves of two) and you can build your very own Robot Devil.  The first two pieces look good, but I'm not sure this is the best way to implement the concept.  I know I'm concerned that if they don't make it to the thrid wave, I can finish my figure, and even if they do, it will be months before I get that gratification.  In a world of instant happiness, that might be too much to ask from the fans of the line.

Fun Factor - ***
These are actually pretty fun toys if you know any kids who are into the show.  Okay, so there's really no conflict on the show to make action figures a viable toy, but they're still fun to pose and play with.  So there.

Value - **1/2
You can expect to see these run around $13 at most retailers.  Suncoast and FYE will probably charge more like $15, and at that price you can knock off another half star.  If you hit some of the sponsors I have listed below, you can get the pair for just over ten bucks each though!

Things to Watch Out For - 
Zippo.  The joints are strong and solid, and I didn't have any issues with sticking or breakage.

Overall - ***
This is a good first wave, even though one of the figures is largely a re-release.  Fry was originally produced by MAC over 6 years ago, so there are plenty of collectors and fans out there who missed him the first time around.  Adding in the extra accessory is a nice touch, and he's a critical part of the show.

And even for those of us that still have the original figures (somewhere!), Zoidberg is a most welcome addition.  With Zap Brannigan and Leela coming next (Oct-Nov time frame), followed closely by Bender and Kif before the end of the year, my Futurama display could get beefed up before 2008!  More importantly, I might have my Robot Devil built in time for Christmas...

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt -  Zoidberg ***1/2; Fry ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - Fry ***; Zoidberg **
Accessories - Fry ***1/2; Zoidberg **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Finding these might actually be a little tough:

- Circle Red is the best bet from my sponsors right now, with the pair on sale (pre-order) for $22.

- Cornerstorecomics had them at $11 - $13 each, but they are already pre-sold out with pre-orders!

- for the UK readers, Forbidden Planet has them for 10 GBP each.

- Entertainment Earth has their pre-order price at $28 for the pair.

Related Links -
I have actually reviewed quite a bit of Futurama product:

- 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

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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