South Park series 3
Cop Cartman, Frozen Kenny, Jesus, Mr. Mackey,
Butters and Timmy

The new season of South Park starts next Wednesday, the tenth season of the show. Ten seasons, and still lampooning everyone and everything, no matter how sacred. One can only imagine what Trey and Matt have in store for us this year.

It seems appropriate that Mezco's third series of action figures are hitting stores at the same time. Mezco continues the popular series with figures of Butters, Timmy, Cop Cartman, Frozen Kenny, Mr. Mackey and Jesus. Although the line up sports two variants, it's a fairly strong wave of characters, filling in some important gaps and giving us some terrific B list characters.

These hit Hot Topics first, but they should be hitting online retailers soon as well. Hot Topic is charging around $13 each for them, but online stores are a little cheaper. There are mouth variants again this time with most of the characters, with the exception of Kenny. At this point we know that the other five characters each come in two versions, but any additional variants are yet to be seen. Or at least it's believed that they all have two mouth versions, although no one has reported finding the open mouthed Cartman yet.

Packaging - **1/2
Mezco is capable of doing amazing packaging. Their in house lines tend to sport some terrific designs, but the lines where the license holders dictate look and feel often end up more, well, bland. While the South Park packages convey the basic feel of the show, and the clamshells do a great job of protecting the figures, they still lack oompf. It doesn't help that they tend to be oversized for all but the largest of characters, with lots of wasted space and plastic.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpting on this wave is some of the best we've seen overall in the series. While there are some issues in the next category that throw of the look here and there, it's not the fault of the actual sculpts.

My favorite of the bunch is easily Jesus. While the hollow body is about as simplistic and basic as you can get, it follows the look from the show extremely well. The floating halo, supported on a clear plastic rod, looks great, and the hair and beard sculpt match well with the painted facial details. His is mighty tall, much taller than most of the other residents of South Park that Mezco has produced so far. He seems a smidge tall to me at 7.5 inches, but until they do a Satan it probably won't be much of an issue.

Butters turned out much better in this category than I had expected. Any of the kids so far with hair on their heads have been a challenge, and Butters was going to be especially difficult. That's because his hair is applied down on his forehead on the show, but when companies translate this stuff into three dimensions, the natural tendency is to plop the hair right on the top of the head, dead center. Just look at this photo to see how Toycom tried to do Butters, and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Mezco didn't make that mistake, though. They shifted the blonde hair toward the front of the character, and managed to capture the show appearance much better. Add in the special arms designed to wrap to the front of his body, giving him that standard "wringing my hands" appearance, and you have an excellent representation of poor Butters.

Kenny and Cartman might just be variants, but they are both excellent variant choices. Of course, Cop Cartman is a version that sticks out in everyone's mind, and here they've done a nice job with the sculpt. The glasses sit out from his face about the right distance, and small details like the badge and name on his shirt are sculpted rather than simply painted. Mezco has always done a terrific job capturing Cartman's scale and proportions, and this version is no exception.

Kenny is a pretty basic Kenny sculpt, but with some snow added to his head and shoulders for effect. The snow has that nice, blocky, angular appearance just like the show, and makes him stand out nicely on the shelf. In fact, this is one of the better dead Kenny's they could choose.

There's been a lot of discussion around Timmy, especially that his head is too large. I don't think that's an issue at all, although there's an issue with his eyes, which I'll discuss in the next category, that creates the illusion. I think the proportions of Timmy's head to his body and the wheel chair are great, as is his own scale to the other kids and adults. The sculpted hair line works well, and he has other small details, like the cleats on his shoes, that other characters lack. His hand positions are also classic Timmy, and the placement of parts - hair to eyes to mouth to hair - is all in proportion as well.

Now, if you're looking for a big head, you need to look no further than Mr. Mackey. This is a guy with a big head, and an awfully skinny body. In fact, I thought the body was much too skinny compared to the other adults - he's even a twig compared to Mr. Garrison - until I went back and looked at some screen caps. Yep, the size of his body and head are actually much closer to the show than I had first thought. The nose is even sculpted with a slight bend to it, and the sculpted glasses look terrific.

With the exception of Kenny, all the characters have sculpted eyebrows as well. Some people don't like this. I love it - and I'll explain more on that in the articulation section.

Paint - Jesus, Cartman, Mackey ***; Timmy **1/2; Kenny **; Butters *
Every Superman has his Kryptonite, every Achilles has his heel. And for this series, especially this wave, it's the paint that is its weakness.

None of the paint work is flawless, but a couple of the characters look better in my set than the others. Jesus is the closest, with only a few minor marks on his eyes and some stray marks on the all white robe. Timmy is also fairly clean, but he has another issue altogether - his eyes are too small. When people are complaining about the size of his head, it's really that his eyes are much smaller here then they are on the show, making the size of his head seem bigger.

Cartman gets extra credit for the work on the sunglasses. The reflected mountain/sky scene is almost identical to the screen caps from the show, and looks terrific.

The other characters all suffer from problems with the tampo printing of the facial characteristics, especially they eyes. Lots of stray marks, dirt, and generally lower quality than you expect from Mezco.

The biggest single issue though is on Butters body. There is a weird off color 'stripe' all the way around his body. The arms tend to hide it in the package, so I didn't notice until I had him out, but once he was out, it looked awful. I've included an extra shot of the side of his body without the arm so you can see it, and yes, it really is that bad. It's even more obvious in the front on shot wearing the Jason mask, where he has the regular arms on his sides. Kenny has this same problem, but to a much lesser degree. The very bottom edge of his coat is a slightly different color than the rest.

It appears that this is some problem with leaching - either the color in the middle is leaching out, or something from the packaging is leaching in. Either way, it really ruins Butters, who is otherwise a terrific figure.

Kenny also has some minor issues with bleed from the white snow into the color of his jacket, but it's not a major issue by itself. It's a pity that this category was the only real issue for the figures, because there are some paint ops that really worked well here, including Mackey's hair and Jesus' beard.

Articulation - Kenny **1/2; the rest ***1/2
Generally speaking, these figures don't rank high on the articulation scores. It's not Mezco's fault per se, but rather the very basic designs of the characters themselves, with blocky bodies, short arms and often stubby legs that makes for a tough time finding useful places to put articulation.

Kenny follows this usual pattern, with a ball jointed neck, cut shoulders and a cut waist. I suppose you could add in cut wrists, but without swappable hands, there's not a whole lot of point with this character.

The other characters don't have much different than Kenny. Well, not at first glance. They all have jointed necks, with some like Butters and Cartman having ball joints and others like Mackey or Jesus having cut joints. They all have cut shoulders and cut waists, with the exception of Jesus, who has a solid one piece body, and Timmy. Jesus also has cut wrists on his extra arms, but that's about all for the rest of the set. Except, if that was all, they'd be **1/2 star and under in this category.

Oh, no, there's one other major point of articulation that I mentioned earlier - the eyebrows. The wave 1 Cartman was the only other time they've tried this, and it worked terrific, making that Cartman the definitive version to have. Now they've done the same with Butters, Mackey, Jesus, Timmy and Cop Cartman, and the results are excellent.

Of course, it depends on which mouth expression you choose, and I picked the ones I thought worked the best with the widest range of eyebrow positions. But if you have the smiling Butters, he can go from complete moron, to slightly bewildered, to evil genius with just a slight adjustment of those wonderful eyebrows. Characters like Mackey or Jesus can be seriously pissed off, or completely suprised, and several emotions in between. The articulated eyebrows are a fantastic idea with this series, and it's one that Mezco deserves huge props for. I certainly hope we see more of it in the coming waves.

Accessories - Jesus ****; Mackey, Kenny ***1/2; Cartman, Butters ***; Timmy **1/2
This series contains some of the coolest accessories in this entire series so far, bar none. There's also a few lame ones, but hey - you can't have everything.

Jesus comes with some terrific goodies. starting with God himself. This is the ugly little God, which is one of the coolest representations of the Creator we've ever seen on film. He's got soft little hairs and whiskers sticking out from his head, and even has an articulated tail. He stands 3 inches tall (not including his hair), pretty much making him a whole 'nother figure in the series.

But that's not all! Jesus also has an extra set of arms, perfect for holding the microphone or brush, also included, and both from the episode involving his television show. The arms pop on and off easy enough, and work well with the additional accessories. One of the arms is designed to point out away from his body, and really works best either pointing down at the kids, or up at the sky. This arm can be used to recreate the scene with God exactly, in which Jesus points down at him while they are talking.

Oh, and then there's the water and wine. Yep, he has two pitchers, one with blue and one with red fake liquid. Now if you can all just turn around for a minute...

Mackey doesn't have as many accessories, but at least one of them is just as cool. He has an extra right arm that is designed to work with his pointer, also included. The arms are a little tight though, and the pegs are mighty small, so be careful detaching and reattaching it.

Mackey is the only one to come with a base, although he can technically stand without it. It's not easy, and you have to find just the right sweet spot to balance that giant head on those itty bitty feet, but it's doable. The base has a plastic bottom with a cardboard backing, but the backing does have a single plastic support running up the middle. It's still not enough to keep you from bending or damaging the backdrop if you're not careful though.

Mackey comes with one more very cool accessory - the little angel and devil Mackey's that 'float' over his shoulders on a clear plastic rod. The rods attach to a clip which fits around his collar (although it fits best if you push it down on his collar from around his neck, rather than trying to snap it on from in back). The hover over either side, and look terrific.

Kenny has two rats, both with a bit of snow on them, along with the transformer that electrocuted him. The door swings open, although it can't shut all the way due to the wires running out and across the ground. There's even a small indentation sculpted into the snow in front of it, where you can rest Kenny's frozen body.

Butters is a tad light on accessories, especially considering his small size. He has an extra set of arms for a normal, arms-at-his-sides pose, along with his 'Jason' mask and his drawing of himself with Awesom-o. The mask is the only standout here, and it fits nicely over his head with a double elastic band.

Timmy is the lightest when it comes to accessories, unless you count his wheelchair. He is removable, and the chair has rolling wheels, so counting it as a separate item is not out of line. There's also the time machine that attaches tightly to the back of the chair. However, Timmy really could have used a couple more items, and a Gobbles would have been great.

Finally, there's Police Officer Cartman. There's an extra set of arms, with one hand sculpted to hold the nightstick. While the nightstick is a separate accessory, the badge is sculpted into his left hand. There's also a second set of legs, which pop on at the waist, dress in his 'disguise'. What that amounts to is fishnet stockings, so he'll make a great match for the Officer Barbrady they released earlier.

Fun Factor - ***
Should your kids be watching South Park? Probably not if their 10. But by those early teen years, when you can still teach them not to believe everything they hear, always question authority, and there's more than one side to every story (and all the sides are funny), then yes, it's time for them to start watching. Still, these aren't so much 'toys' for kids as silly desktop playthings for adults that spend their time rotting in cubicles all day.

Value - ***
Assuming you pay around $12, you're getting pretty standard specialty market figures at the slightly low end of the current specialty market price. With other lines starting to move up toward the $15 - $16 range, let's hope Mezco can find a way to keep this licensed product at it's current price point.

You know, that's the same price Toycom was charging for theirs three years ago?

Things to Watch Out For - 
Paint is the big one, at least when you're buying them on the shelf. Don't worry about the eyebrows of course, since they might look at odd angles in the package but can be put in any direction your little heart desires.

Once you have a nice set home with you, the things you should worry about are breakage. Take some care putting the thin cardboard backing into Mackey's base, and be extra careful with his pointer. I know I am with mine.

Also, popping of his right arm could easily result in breaking the shoulder pin, since the arms are so tiny and the pins fit so tightly. When handling Mr. Mackey, gentle is the key word.

Overall - Jesus, Mackey ***1/2; Cartman, Timmy, Kenny ***; Butters **
All of these figures are such a huge improvement over the figures we got from Toycom that it's really not even fair to compare. In the first series from them, I gave Butters the best score of the group at **1/2, and that's largely because he came with those spiffy Underpants Gnomes.

This time, Butters got the worst score, even lower than his Toycom predecessor. That's entirely due to the awful paint on his body, which really ruins an otherwise excellent figure. Butters is a *** to ***1/2 star figure, even in a world three years more sophisticated in it's action figure expectations than when the Toycom version hit. It really is a pity that the body turned out this way, and if you pay enough attention when picking yours out (I looked at three others later at the same store, and found one of them that didn't look too bad from what I could see in the package), you'll be able to spare yourself from the disappointment.

The rest of the line looks terrific. The accessories with Mackey and Jesus take them to the higher level, but Timmy, Kenny and Cartman are all well worth picking up. This is another series that was long over due to get a great treatment, and by the time Mezco is done, we could have the definitive line for South Park.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - Jesus, Cartman, Mackey ***; Timmy **1/2; Kenny **; Butters *
Articulation - Kenny **1/2; the rest ***1/2
Accessories - Jesus ****; Mackey, Kenny ***1/2; Cartman, Butters ***; Timmy **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  ***
Overall - Jesus, Mackey ***1/2; Cartman, Timmy, Kenny ***; Butters **

Where to Buy - 
Hot Topic has them in, and Spencer's may get them as well. Your best bet is online though, as with most specialty market lines these days:

- Killer Toys still has preorders up at $60 for the full set.

- YouBuyNow won't have these listed til them get them in stock, but it's worth checking back if you're looking for a specific mouth variant. They list them separately, and usually charge around $12 each.

- Amazing Toyz has them on preorder for $11 - $12 each, or the full set for $65. They are already pre-sold out of the Kenny and Cartman variants.

- CornerStoreComics has the singles at $12, or the full set at $65. These are still pre-orders as well, but should hit sometime this week.

Related Links - 
I've had a fair share of reviews so far:

- I reviewed series 1 of course, which has the very cool Cartman figure, along with series 2

- and let's not forget that - Mirage did series 1, series 2 (I reviewed Towelie separately), and series 3 of their figures before packing it in. They also did an exclusive Mr. Hanky.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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