It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Last week, the long awaited Peanuts line from Playing Mantis (also called 'Memory Lane') started to hit the shelves.

I reviewed the basic line up, called Good Ol' Charlie Brown on Friday.  Those figures are actually variants of the more common paint schemes, which have been released in this set, the Great Pumpkin.

The Great Pumpkin is perhaps the greatest Peanuts special, although lovers of the Christmas show may beg to differ.  But I loved the Great Pumpkin as a kid, with it's message of faith and determination.

As with the previous set, these come single carded and boxed.  The boxed sets are certainly a better buy, and offering them both ways is an interesting solution to the shortpack dilemma.  Completists can buy the three packs, at a cheaper cost, and evenly packed.  People that only want a Chuck or a Snoopy can buy the carded figures, and the less popular figures like Sally can be shortpacked.

Packaging - ***
The boxed sets are a terrific idea, and are actually somewhat collector friendly.  You'll have to cut some tape, but you can manage to take everything apart with out utter destruction.  The back drop of the pumpkin patch in the box can also be used in a display if you'd like.

Sculpting - ***
Once again, I think the headsculpts are pretty much on.  I had less trouble with the soft plastic this time - no deformed Snoopy neck - so the head sculpts don't hurt this score.

But the arms and bodies still leave me disappointed.  I did manage to get Sally to hold the smaller pumpkin, but she can't hold the Welcome sign - and there's no where else to put it!  I really wish we'd gotten better hand sculpts.

Part of what hurts these, I think, is the scale.  As figures get larger in scale, most assume they'll have greater detail.  It hurts the look of things like the 9" Simpsons, where the basic design of the characters doesn't allow for much detail, but the buyer still expects it.

I think that hurts these as well.  You can see from the comparison photo I had in the other review that these are much larger than many people expected, and the style is fairly basic.  I think going with a smaller scale would have helped quite a bit.

Paint - **1/2
The paint ops were a little cleaner on my GP set than on the GOCB set.  Still, the flesh tone on the arms was often gloppy or thick.

The faces weren't quite as nicely lined up on this set either.  Schroeder's smile was a smidge off, and several of the eyes on different characters weren't quite level.  Not quite as much slop as the previous set, but still a ways to go.

Articulation - **1/2
These have the same articulation as the previous set.  All have neck, shoulders, elbows and waist, except for Snoopy and Schroeder.

Schroeder hurts the set overall, as he loose any sort of waist or leg articulation, and is permanently sitting.  I don't remember him standing a whole lot on the cartoon, but it does limit things.

Snoopy helps the set overall though, with leg articulation added, and a waist joint cut on an angle.  This allows Snoopy to take a perfect sitting position, which will be necessary with the Dog House Playset.

Accessories - ***
While all the accessories in this set make sense, I'm less excited by them than the previous set.  

Lucy has the most exciting Halloween costume.  She comes with her famous witch mask, cloth shirt, and red hat.  It is a great looking outfit, until you try to get the hat on.

The hat is sculpted to fit on her three 'lumps' of hair in front.  You position the indentations in the brim of the hat on those lumps, and it should look great.  The only problem is that the hat sits at a slight angle, and the top of the hat is too heavy to allow it to stay.  It slides right off the back of her head!  I had to position it at other funky angles to get it to stay, and I was very disappointed that they'd taken the trouble to TRY to get it to work, and came up short.

The mask and shirt fit great though, and she's the most interesting dressed up.  Chuck has his trademark ghost costume, along with a bag of rocks.  While both of them look great, He has a very tough time holding the bag of rocks.  Work hard enough and you can get his hands at just the right angle and the bag balanced just right... and then it falls again.

Schroeder has the same piano of course, just repainted, along with a candelabra that is all yellow - flame, candle and base.

Snoopy has some great accessories, but again they just fall short.  His helmet and goggles are one piece of soft rubber that fits over his head fine, and the red scarf works well.  However, this Woodstock is a different sculpt than the previous, and his feet are together this time.  That means he can't stand without leaning against something.

Linus comes with his blanket again, and clearly the single coolest accessory - a light up Jack-o-lantern!  Press down on the top, and the soft rubber pumpkin lights up inside.  Very neat, and a great item for the display.

Finally, there's Sally.  She has an extra small pumpkin (at least I think it's her's - I bought these in the boxed set), and her Welcome Great Pumpkin! sign.  I did manage to get her and the others to hold the pumpkin, but the sign is another story all together.

She can't hold the sign, except if you lean it at some very odd angles.  This seriously hurts the score, especially since another option would have been to put a hole in her base to hold it.

Which brings us to the bases.  Every figure comes with a piece of the pumpkin patch to stand or sit on.  But every base is exactly the same, and they don't actually attach to one another, but simply sit next to each other.  I don't have a huge problem with that - if they had snapped together it might have limited how I could put them together - but having them all identical limits their usefulness.  Schroeder has a tough time sitting on the standard base, and as I mentioned, there's nothing you can do with the Welcome sign.

Value - ***
I bought these in the three packs, where you're getting each figure for just a little more than $5 each.  That's a pretty good value - not as good as a Simpsons figure at $5, but still better than most.

Overall - ***
The line is off to a bumpy start, but the sheer popularity of the license will carry it for awhile.  Playing Mantis has some time to work things out, at least in terms of QA and paint ops.  There are quite a few other series already announced, and the Classroom playset and Dog House playset should be out any time.

Where to Buy - 
I picked these up at Target, and I've heard they've also been spotted at Meijers.  It might be tough to get complete sets on-line, since the case packing is going to be so goofy, but there are some sources:

- Comics Infinity has the 3 packs for $17 each, and the Snoopy Doghouse playset for under $19.  I've gotten terrific service from them every time I've ordered through them.  Search for the term 'peanuts' and they'll all come up.

- Beans Toys has them in sets for $36 (in the three packs).  They are still a pre-sell.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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