Bart Simpson Quees

The Simpsons movie has been rockin'.  I thought it was hilarious, and it looks like 89% of the reviewers (according to RottenTomatoes) agree with me.  This was a movie almost guaranteed to fail - critics have been complaining about the show losing its appeal for several years now, even though the last couple seasons have shown a huge improvement in quality; they've talked about making this film for years, creating even more expectations; the hype machine was in full swing well in advance; and there were plenty of folks who had made up their mind well in advance that the movie was going to be terrible.  Even with so much going against it, it has been extremely well received and has put up great box office numbers.  While I think Ratatouille is the sure winner for the best animated film Oscar this year, I have no doubt the Simpsons Movie will get a nomination.

A new influx of product has come along with the film, although not as much as some movies (*transformers**cough*).  There were the BK toys, and of course the Mcfarlane figures, but a surprising entry in the field are the Qee Barts.

Qee (pronounced 'key' I believe) are a collection of various style vinyl figures produced by a company called Toy 2 R.  Part of the Japanese vinyl scene, Qee's come in a variety of styles, from eggs to dogs and cats.  The bears are perhaps the most popular, but there are plenty of styles to choose from.

Like a number of other vinyl designer toys, Qee's come as 'blanks' as well, plain white versions that the buyer then customizes.  This has been a huge draw for the line.

Toy 2 R announced this last summer that they'd be doing a series of Qee figures in both the 3" and 10" sizes based on everyone's favorite underachiever, Bart Simpson.  At SDCC they had one normal version of each scale available, along with blanks for you to paint yourself.  They have announced a wide variety of additional Barts in the future, including a set of 24 in the 3" scale due later this year.

Packaging - Keychain **; 10" ***1/2
The two sizes come in very different packaging, as you might expect.

The small 3" keychain figure comes in a bubble/cardback package.  The cardback has a diecut image of Bart's head, spiky hair and all.  While the graphics are good, and the package doesn't waste space, the diecut backer is going to end up damaged on the peg or even in your hands.  Since these are theoretically 'collectibles' and not mass market toys, I would expect a package that's a little easier to keep nice for the MOCers.

On the flip side, the 10" version comes in a large box.  It's completely collector friendly, right down to the snug plastic trays that hold the figure inside.  There's lots of text, some of it a tad corny, but grammatically well written.  The graphic design is also unique, so it's nice to see FOX letting them use a bit of their own creativity.

Sculpting - ***
These are Qee's, and as such they have pretty much the same general style to the torso, arms and legs as other Qee's.  There's some slight alterations because of the character design of Bart, but they are quite minimal.

The heads on both are well sculpted, although a tad large for the bodies.  That is again part of the general Qee style, and not quite in proportion with the actual character on screen.  That's similar to something like a bobblehead, where the design of the product implies a particular set of proportions that may not match cartoon reality.  I'm not complaining about it, but pointing it out to set expectations.

These are sculpted with a fairly blank expression, with no real emotion being imparted by the set of the mouth or eyes.

The keychain Bart is about 3 1/2" tall, while the larger version is actually closer to 10 1/2" than the advertised ten.

The 'keychain' feature of the smaller figure works pretty well, especially if you aren't interested in him as a keychain.  The actual figure is just that - a figure.  There's no holes or snaps to attach the chain.  Instead, you can remove the head by turning and pulling outward, place the small white loop that is attached to one end of the key chain around the neck post, and re-insert.  The keychain is now attached at the neck by the white loop, and no harm has come to the figure.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint work here is impeccable.  Perhaps too impeccable in fact.

These are in the same vein as 'artist' vinyl figures.  The paint work on Bart is outstanding, with a clean, consistent yellow, red and blue on the major areas, and extremely clean cuts between colors.  The skin actually looks a bit green in the photos to me, but it's not - in person, it's the shade of yellow you would expect.

But the lines and colors are SO clean, that he reminds me of a manufactured product than an artistic one.  His paint job reminds me of a car, or a washing machine, where every paint application is exacting...and exactly the same.  That clashes (for me) with the general concept of these figures.  I'm not saying I want them to be sloppy, but there's a sterile feel to their appearance.

There's also not much detail due to the style of a Qee, especially on the 10" version.  Of course, Bart doesn't have a lot of small details on the show, but when you're holding a figure like this in your hands, that becomes all the more obvious.

Articulation - **1/2
If you're looking for super articulation, you want to look at my last review on the LCBH figures.  These are Qees...and on top of that, this is Bart Simpson, not a character design that lends itself readily to hyper-articulation.

He has the standard Qee joints - a cut neck, cut shoulders, and pin hips.  Because the arms are attached forward on the torso, the cut shoulder moves the arms in a rather awkward way, in toward the centerline of the character rather than straight forward and back.  The hips work pretty well, but I found that on both characters it was easy to damage the paint on the top of the leg if you're not careful.  Rub marks are easy to get, so don't go nuts with the hips unless you have to.

That's all the articulation on the smaller figure, but the larger one also has cut wrists.  Unlike some other mini-figures or even other vinyl designs, Qees really have one pose, with very little variation on that theme.

Accessories - Bupkis
Unless you're counting the keychain attachment that comes with the smaller figure, neither of these have any accessories.

Fun Factor - **1/2
These are designed for adults, based loosely on the concepts of mini-figures, block figures and PVC's.  Kids can still have fun with things like this - I sure did when I was a kid - but it's not the same play pattern as a full on articulated action figure.

Value - **1/2
The prices that are being charged for these varies wildly depending on the retailer, so this is a tough category to nail down.  I'm assuming you'll pay less than ten bucks for the keychain version, and $30 or less for the 10" version.  Pay more than that, and you can further deduct points in this category.

I'm not thrilled with the $30 price point on the large Bart, although it's still not as bad as paying $30 for a 12" Batman from Mattel.  Hey, here you're at least getting something with a (probably) smaller edition size.

But considering the prices that are common in the current vinyl collectibles market, these are actually fairly average.  In fact, some would say that the 10" version is cheap.

Things to Watch Out For - 
I mentioned the paint rubs that can occur on the legs when you move them all the way forward, but that's about the only real problem.

Overall - ***
These first two are decent, but I'm not leaping up and down over them.  Some of the artist versions I've seen have been tremendously cool and creative, but it's not like those are widely available.  I think the most potential is going to be with the boxed set of 24 3" figures, which at $100 is actually a pretty good deal, and has some great looking Bart variants included.

Score Recap:
Packaging - Keychain **; 10" ***1/2
Sculpt -  ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - Bupkis
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value -  **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Online sponsors include:

- Circle Red has the 10" version for pre-order at $28, and the 3" keychain for $5.50.  That's a great price for either.

- Entertainment Earth has the 10" at $39, the keychain at $11, a blank 10" at $33, and the big 24 pack at $123.  Search for 'qee' to see them all.

- and for the UK readers, Forbidden Planet has the 10" version for 22 GBP.

Related Links -
If you're looking for more Simpsons collectibles reviews, just check out my list here

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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