Deluxe Talking Charlie Brown

Playing Mantis has the monopoly on Christmas action figures these days. With the Charlie Brown Christmas line, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Mickey's Christmas Carol, and the new Santa Claus is Coming to Town, it's tough for anyone else to compete with the Christmas themed action figures.

As is often the case, Playing Mantis looked at their successful smaller line and decided to change scale. Instead of going smaller (they already have PVC's for most of these lines), they decided to super size. They've released a deluxe 13" talking Charlie Brown (reviewed tonight), along with four 10" Snoopy's (in scale with Charlie), and a 10" pathetic tree (also in scale with Chuck).

This deluxe Charlie is already at many K-mart stores, and may pop up at Targets or other retailers like Meijers, over the next couple weeks. He runs $25, and you'll find him in the seasonal section, not the action figure aisle.

Packaging - **
Chuck comes in an open box, with his hat and skates bubbled to the cardboard insert. It's a fairly cheap style of packaging, generally used to keep costs done on these large scale figures. Hopefully he won't get smacked around too badly on the shelf.

Sculpting - ***
It's definitely Charlie Brown. He's got a big bald head, stubby fingers, and fat feet. There's very little you can really say about the sculpt here, since the character design is so basic, and Charlie has such a iconic look. Sure, they could have found a way to screw this up if they were a lesser company, but that's not an issue here. It's not completely fair to give them too high a score on something this basic, but suffice to say that Peanuts fans will not be disappointed by the sculpt.

It's also worth noting that the little trademark curly cue of hair on Chuck's forehead is sculpted, not just simply painted, on.

Paint - ***1/2
There's not much when it comes to paint ops - eyes, hair and smile are about it. But they are all neatly done, with clean edges and lines.

Articulation - **
Charlie has a soft body, with a bendy skeletal structure, similar to the Playing Mantis Bumble from the Rudolph line. The arms and legs bend easily, and hold positions well.

I did have trouble getting him to stand straight, although after some playing around I was able to keep him standing for long periods of time. He also has cut joints at the head and feet, and I was able to turn the forearms/wrists to some degree.

Accessories - ***
He comes with three accessories, or you could consider these his 'outfit'. There's his winter hat, winter jacket, and skates.

The skates are cut in back so that they simply slip on over his shoes. I popped them on and have left them on for the last couple days, and he seems to stand as well on them as he does his own feet. The skate blades are stiffer plastic, and haven't started to bend...yet. I am worried about that, but things look fine so far.

The hat fits nicely, and it's a high quality corduroy. The red jacket is made from the same material, and is well tailored. It fits nicely, but isn't too tough to take off to reveal his standard yellow shirt underneath.

Getting the yellow shirt AND the jacket is a nice touch, since you can either display him in his winter clothes, or without the skates in his regular shirt.

Talking Feature - ***1/2
Squeeze Chuck's left hand, and he says ten lines straight from the show:

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?"

"I'll take this little tree home and decorate it, and I'll show them, it really will work in our play."

"I've killed it...oohhhhh, everything I touch gets ruined!"

"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel."

"Just don't understand Christmas I guess. I like getting presents, and sending Christmas cards, and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed."

"Rats. Nobody sent me a Christmas card today. I almost wish there weren't a holiday season. I know nobody likes me. Why do we have to have a holiday season to emphasize it?"

"My own dog gone commercial. I can't stand it."

"Me????? You want me to be the director of the Christmas play?"

"What's this? Find the true meaning of Christmas? Win money, money money?? Spectacular super colossal neighborhood Christmas lights and display contest?? Lights and display contest! Oh, no!"

"We need a Christmas tree."

"This little green one here seems to need a home."

Not only are there a good number of lines, from every aspect of the show, but several are much longer than you expect. The voice almost sounds newly recorded as well, as if perhaps they had a new actor redub the lines. There's no background static or music playing, and the words are all clean and easy to understand.

Of course, listening to poor Charlie Brown one can't help but find oneself getting awfully depressed...

Fun Factor - **1/2
As a kid, I loved Peanuts. I was never a huge fan of the strip, but the cartoons are a fond part of my childhood memories. Kids who have been introduced to the shows by their parents should love the look and soft feel of the figure, but his overall play value is only minimal.

Value - **
While the voice feature is pretty damn nifty, the wire body and rotocast head make the price point a bit of a tough sell. At $20, I think he would have been a much more attractive buy.

Overall - **1/2
Peanuts is one of the few licenses that I still have childhood toys from. Hell, I even named my first dog, a beagle of course, Snoopy! So I'm always up for new and unique Peanuts merchandise. The price tag is probably going to scare off the casual fan, but for the diehards, this scale and style will be a welcome addition.

I'm particularly impressed with the talking feature, since the lines are so clear and clean. I'm not sure they are from the original show, but the advantage is one of sound quality.

I'll be picking up at least one of the Snoopy's to go with Chuck, probably the version in the Santa suit, and perhaps the sad little tree as well. They'll look great together as a holiday decoration for work!

Packaging - **
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - **
Accessories - ***
Talking Feature - ***1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up at K-mart, but there are some on-line options:

- Time and Space Toys has him available for $28, along with a lot of the other cool Christmas lines like Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Rudolph.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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