Wallace and Gromit
The Cauliflower PVC set

CGI is all the rage. Digital this, digital that. Whatever did we do before all these fancy new doo-dads? Why, we used claymation of course!

Wallace and Gromit are a wonderful example of that ancient style, done with a whimsical panache. Created by Nick Park of Aardman Animations, the cartoon chronicles the adventures of Wallace, the eccentric and a bit addled inventor, and his dog, Gromit, the smarter of the two. Wallace tends to come up with some pretty unique inventions, most of which remind me of the old Mouse Trap game.

The feature length film Curse of the Were-Rabbit hit theaters a couple weeks ago, and Mcfarlane Toys picked up a rather wide license to do toys and collectibles based on the film. It's been many years since they did the master license for Shrek, but they've jumped back into the fray with both W&G and Corpse Bride, doing quite a bit more than the usual action figures.

One of those unique items for W&G is the 3" scaled PVC sets. Tonight I'm reviewing one of the two sets, called the Cauliflower set. The second set is called the Carrot set. Each retails for around $12 - $13, and should be hitting stores any day.

The Cauliflower set includes Wallace and Gromit of course, as well as Lady Tottington and Victor Quartermaine. The Carrot set includes W&G as well, with PC Mackintosh and Hutch. Expect to see plush as well, along with the usual action figures.

Packaging -  ***1/2
I'm usually not a fan of packaging that's bigger than it really needs to be, but these boxes do a nice job of using the colors and styles from the movie to stand out on the shelf. The large card above the box screams the W&G movie name, and the design will pull your eye in. Considering that these PVC's are only 3" tall each, going with this large, bold package was a very smart idea.

I do wish it had more W&G info on the back, rather than just showing the two PVC sets. But it is fairly collector friendly, and sturdy enough to hold up to most peg abuse.

Sculpting - Gromit, Victor, Tottington ***1/2; Wallace ***
If you've seen photos of the action figure line, then these PVC's might look a little familiar. That's because, with the exception of Victor, they are simply 3" versions of the larger line, including the display stands. Victor is the odd man out of both PVC sets though, since I don't recall seeing any larger version that looks quite like this.

The sculpting for a cartoon line, especially a claymation line, should be pretty straight forward. You are just copying action clay three dimensional figures, after all. That doesn't mean you can't screw it up, but considering the high quality sculpting talent we expect from McToys, it would be a huge surprise if a line like this gave them trouble. Have no fear - it didn't.

Gromit is probably my favorite of the four, measuring the huge melon with a tape measure. His proportions are very good, and he matches the film character spot on. Both Lady Tottington and Victor are also nicely down, especially in terms of proportions and scale. That can be tricky with a cartoon line like this, since normal proportions are thrown out the window. The sculpt has to match the odd proportions of the actual character, not what he thinks the character should look like, and that can be hard for anyone accustomed to working only in realistic sixes.

But they managed to pull off the proper arm, body, and leg lengths on most of the set. If I had one nit, it would be the size of Wallace's head, which seems just a *pinch* small. That may turn out to be more of an issue in the larger scale action figures where it may be more obvious, but here in this itsy 3" scale, it's barely noticeable.

Paint - Wallace, Gromit, Victor ****; Tottington ***1/2
Considering the small size of the figures, the quality of the paint work is quite amazing. There are some minor issues on Lady Tottington around her eyes and eyebrows, but even these are pretty minor considering the level of small detail.

Some of the applications really show off the work, particularly in the stripes on Wallace's sweater vest and the small measuring ticks on Gromit's tape. These are quite a bit above the usual mass market quality, even though they are clearly aimed at a mass market audience.

Articulation - Bupkis

Obviously, this isn't going to go against them in the overall score, since they are intended to be basic PVC figures, but it's worth noting since there are the occasional PVC's with a joint or two. That's not the case here, and all the figures are simply very small statues.

Accessories - ***1/2
This is exactly why I include categories that might seem useless for certain types of toys - these actually have accessories! PVC's very rarely do, but this set of five all have odds and ends.

Since these mirror the large figures, it's probably not that surprising, but it's still a big plus in their favor. Each has a small display base, with pegs to attach their feet. Each also comes with one, two or (in the case of Gromit) three items to attach to this base.

For Victor, it's just one, but it's a good one - Philip, the dog. Philip has his own pegs, and can actually be attached looking forward, or looking to the left at Victor.

For both Wallace and Lady Tottington, there's a large basket containing cauliflower. The good Lady also has a watering can. Gromit has the biggest set, with a tea pot, huge melon, and garden trestle with vines.

The bases work well, and the accessories and figures attach tightly to each.

Fun Factor - ***
Even though there's no articulation, kids still have lots of fun with PVC's. Just look at the popularity of Homies! When I was a kid, along with the sticks and rocks, we played with a lot of simple, unarticulated plastic figures, and durability and pose were the most crucial elements.

Not all these figures sport great poses, although some will stand on their own without the base. The quality is quite good however, so kids should enjoy them just as much as adults, provided their big fans of the characters or movie.

Value - **
This one is a tough call, since I haven't seen retail price at a store like Toys R Us. yet. Considering the $13 online prices I've seen, which translates to more than $3 each, these are a tad expensive.

However, if we see them come in at retail locations at under $12, you can add another half star, and under $10 gets a whole star thrown in.

Things to watch out for - 
There's very little to worry about here, and from what I've seen, even the paint work seems pretty consistent.

Overall -  ***1/2
If you're a fan of the characters and film, but don't have the room for the large scale action figure line, then the PVC sets might be perfect for you. They take up far less room, but sport the same amazing sculpts and excellent paint work. They're also a fraction of the cost, which makes them very appealing to someone simply looking to have a little W&G display on their desk at work.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Gromit, Victor, Tottington ***1/2; Wallace ***
Paint - Wallace, Gromit, Victor ****; Tottington ***1/2
Articulation - Bupkis
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall -  ***1/2

Where to Buy -
You should see these popping up at various brick and mortar stores, like Meijers or Toys R Us, very soon. Online options include:

- Clark Toys has both PVC sets for just $13 each, along with the action figures for just $11 each.

- Killer Toys doesn't have the PVC's, but they do have the action figures in a set or case, along with the plush.

Related Links -
I just reviewed the plush (yes, I reviewed plush) over at MPS this week.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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