Captain Toy/Michael's Review of the Week

Review of Homer, Bart, Lisa, Krusty, Mr. Burns, Grampa
World of Springfield Series 1

Playmates Toys
Date Published: 2004-10-11
Written By: Michael Crawford
Overall Average Rating: 3 out of 4

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World of Springfield Simpsons Bart Wave 1 action figure by PlaymatesWorld of Springfield Simpsons Krusty Wave 1 action figure by PlaymatesWorld of Springfield Simpsons Grampa Wave 1 action figure by PlaymatesWorld of Springfield Simpsons Mr. Burns Wave 1 action figure by PlaymatesWorld of Springfield Simpsons Homer Wave 1 action figure by PlaymatesWorld of Springfield Simpsons Lisa Wave 1 action figure by Playmates

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Once, a long time ago, I screwed up. Yes, I know you're busily marking it on your calendar since it's such a rare event. But this time it wasn't in grammar or fact - I just never got around to reviewing Series 1 of the World of Springfield.

The timing was just slightly off. I'm betting I actually have a review of them floating around out there some place on a newsgroup, but I didn't start the official site until February of 2000.

***NOTE:  After first writing all this, a friend managed to find said review for me - I was right, it was floating around out there!  I'm including a link to it so show how my scores changed due to my own changing perceptions over the last five years.***

The first series of figures hit in January, and if you know me, you know I hate turning around. Full speed ahead, even if it's the wrong direction!

But now that the line is wrapping up, it seems only fitting that I go back and add in that one last series to my archive of reviews. So here's my thoughts on series 1 - Homer, Bart, Grampa, Krusty, Mr. Burns and Lisa - colored by 5 years of time.

2016 Update: This is a bit of a weird update, since this original review was itself a sort of retrospective on the first wave of World of Springfield, not written until almost the very end of the run.

This is still a line that collectors can get into cheaply, and the members of this first wave can be had for $20 or so, carded. It remains one of my all time favorite lines, and as I predicted, it took years for another company to do something similar.  That would be Palisades with their Muppets line, of course.

World of Springfield Simpsons Homer Wave 1 action figure by Playmates

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Packaging - **1/2
These figures arrived in very yellow and red packaging that was standard across the line. It was never a fantastic design, but it served its purpose well enough. My biggest complaint with the card backs wasn't the colors or graphics, but the ease with which they bend and wrinkle. They aren't the greatest for the MOCer, and this was one of those lines I kept MOC as well as opened.

Sculpting - Mr. Burns, Grampa ***1/2; Homer, Krusty, Bart ***; Lisa **1/2
The sculpts across this series varied from fantastic to mediocre, especially once we got to see the rest of the line. Figures like Lisa and Bart were never as good as some of the other sculpts we got later, but I think both Mr. Burns and Grampa hold up against any figure in the entire run.

Mr. Burns looks perfect, and has his arms sculpted to give him the ability to bring his hands close together, if not exactly in his trademark "Excellent" pose. Both Grampa and Burns' pose show a lot of character, and even movement, which was a problem with figures like Homer, Bart and Lisa, and would become a big problem in the middle of the run. They best sculpts in the series gave life to the characters, rather than static and dull.

The head sculpts on both Homer and Krusty are acceptable, but no one's first choice. We'd eventually see better versions of these characters, but these were an accetable start.

The other flaw for Bart and Lisa is the scale. Playmates over sized the kids, trying to make them a better value, but throwing them out of scale with the adults. They look good together, but not with the older members of Springfield.

World of Springfield Simpsons Krusty Wave 1 action figure by Playmates

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Paint/Stickers - Homer, Bart, Lisa, Krusty ***; Mr. Burns, Grampa **1/2
During the life of this line, paint issues came and went, but this first series looked terrific. The paint ops are clean and neat, especially the tricky white eyes and black pupils. There's not a ton of detail, but what's here is clean and sharp.

The biggest issue with paint was the use of what most collectors consider to be incorrect colors. Both Grampa and Mr. Burns were normally in much different colored outfits, although these match with the FOX standard. We eventually got both Mr. Burns and Grampa released in the correct colors, but it took quite a few years for it to happen.

World of Springfield Simpsons Mr. Burns Wave 1 action figure by Playmates

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Articulation - **
Neck, shoulders and waist. That would be the litany of articulation for almost five years. And in all that time, I never really did come up with a single truly funny thing to say about it.

Accessories - Bart, Lisa, Mr. Burns ***1/2; Homer, Grampa, Krusty ***
The figures have a great assortment of sensible accessories, starting a history of cool little items for your cat to choke on.

Homer comes with a can of Duff, a bag of salty 'snax', a donut, and a remote control. This was the first appearance of these of course, but we'd see a number of them re-used many times.

Bart comes with a can of spray paint, a skateboard, a slingshot and Santa's Little Helper. SLH does not have a voice chip, so he is very much an accessory.

Grampa has his newspaper and magnifying glass. His glasses are also removable, and damn easy to loose, so be careful. The size and shape of the glasses is off slightly, and Playmates got better with glasses over the life of the line and on other characters.

Mr. Burns has the first great accessory of the entire run - Blinky in a small fish bowl. He also has a couple stacks of money, but it's Blinky that will win polls for best accessory for many months to come.

Krusty wins in the category of most accessories for this wave, with a Krusty shake, Krusty burger box, Krusty fries, Krusty O's cereal box, and a large video camera.

Finally, there's Lisa. Since Bart has SLH, she had to have Snowball II, along with her sax and a pile of school books we'll see several more times.

The accessory choices were all solid, but the inclusion of SLH, Snowball II and Blinky really made the first series stand out. And you can't complain about re-use yet!

The stickers on some of the accessories needed a little work. They all look great in terms of color and design, but some fit poorly, especially the salty snax, and in some cases, painting them on rather than using a sticker would have worked much better.

World of Springfield Simpsons Bart Wave 1 action figure by Playmates

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Sound Feature - ***1/2
These figures were the start of the Intellitronic feature, and everyone was pretty excited at the time. The pegs fit tightly on the feet, an area that would become an issue eventually for Playmates. But with this first wave there wasn't a problem in the bunch, and the line selection was fairly good for them in the initial play sets. It was a neat idea, and it helped sell the line, at least in the beginning.

Fun Factor - **1/2
Kids aren't into these figures, not because they don't love the Simpsons, but because they don't have a ton of possible play opportunity. Sure, you could act out a lively conversation with Homer and Grampa I suppose, but for the most part, these are predominately toys for collectors and adult fans of the show.

World of Springfield Simpsons Lisa Wave 1 action figure by Playmates

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Value - ***1/2
Ah yes, the days of the five dollar action figure. Even in 2000, these were a damn good value considering the accessories, cost of the license, and talking feature. Remember, at about this same time Hasbro was trying to sell us the awful Commtech feature with the Star Wars figures, and those ran $7 each.  

WOS wouldn't stay quite as good of a value through the whole run, but the single figures never got excessively expensive. This first series was a great value, and even today you should be able to find most of them for under ten bucks on the secondary market. If you can't, don't fret - they'll be back on the pegs at TRU very soon. More on that later.

Overall - Grampa, Mr. Burns ***1/2; Homer, Krusty, Bart ***; Lisa **1/2
The World of Springfield will go down in history as one of the top 10 lines of all time, and it sets the standard for what a 'definitive' line for a particular license should be. This first series gave collector's a glimpse at what might be, but it was still just a hint at the variety, style and design of the figures yet to come. It was nice that we got a basic Lisa, Homer and Bart, and along with the Living Room play set that came out with this series, OFF was actually complete right out of the gate. Because of that, I'm not sure Playmates was even positive how well this line would do, and they wanted to be sure they had the main family members out just in case.

While there are versions of Krusty, Bart, Lisa and Homer that I like better than these first attempts, these will always be my favorite Grampa and Mr. Burns figures, even with the color issues. This first series might not have been perfect, but it was a good solid start to what would become a collecting phenomenon.

If there's really one disappointment, it's Lisa. This version was lacking, and they never really did manage to give us a perfect version. The poor kid just can't catch a break - she never had her own catch phrase, and she never got the perfect action figure.

If you read my old review of the line, you'll notice some of the scores dropped slightly.  The market is a very different place today than it was five years ago, and my perceptions are different as well.  Also, we've had 200 other figures to compare these first 6 against now, so we know that even within WOS there's great, and then there's only good.  Still, I think that most of my comments are pretty consistent, even across the span of time.

And if you're wondering, I'd give the overall series a solid four stars.  It's one of the greatest series we've ever seen, and it's not likely that we'll see something to rival it any time soon.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - Mr. Burns, Grampa ***1/2; Homer, Krusty, Bart ***; Lisa **1/2
Paint - Homer, Bart, Lisa, Krusty ***; Mr. Burns, Grampa **1/2
Articulation - **
Accessories - Bart, Lisa, Mr. Burns ***1/2; Homer, Grampa, Krusty ***
Talking Feature - ***1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - ***1/2
Overall - Grampa, Mr. Burns ***1/2; Homer, Krusty, Bart ***; Lisa **1/2

World of Springfield Simpsons Grampa Wave 1 action figure by Playmates

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Where to Buy 
The secondary market is the only place you could pick these up - unless you wait about one more month. Playmates is re-releasing many of the early figures carded, including Bart, Homer, Lisa, Grampa, Krusty, Mr. Burns, Smithers, Lenny, Otto, Wiggum, Barney, Ned, Moe, Nelson and Milhouse. They should be on shelves by mid-November at the very latest.

Related Links -
I have a complete feature page with all the Simpsons links by themselves here.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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