Simpsons Xmas Playset

With the Simpsons Family Christmas set hitting Toys R Us, it looks like SImpsons collectors finally get a short breather.  Of course, with series 7 of the figures shipping in late Dec./early Jan., it really is pretty short, but a few weeks respite for their wallets is much appreciated.

This playset, like the Tree House of Horror II, is a Toys R Us exclusive.  It's loosely based on the very first Simpsons episode, and includes all five family members.  It runs $40 right now, and I don't think we'll see a price increase on this like we did the THOH2.

Packaging - ***
Similar to the other exclusive playsets, this box is sturdy and attractive.  It seems to withstand normal shelf wear fairly well for the MIB collectors, and this time it was far easier to remove the figures and playset than some of the past releases.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpts here aren't any surprise, since they are just variants on past figures.  For those that hated Lisa first time around, they'll still hate her.  I happen to think they did a great job of capturing the look of the family members, with one exception.

The scale of the kids has always been a problem.  Of course, they didn't fix it here, and can't now, but it's still enough of an issue to take off some from the score.

The best of the set is Maggie on Santa's Little Helper.  Sure, she's pretty much just a big PVC, but the sculpt is cute and captures the look of both characters wonderfully.

A lot of folks are going to appreciate this Lisa, however.  Although she is wearing winter clothes, she isn't Christmas themed per se, and that will allow you to use her in other playsets as well.  For those that missed out on Lisa the first time around, this is a great alternative.

Paint - ***
I've never had the trouble with paint ops on Simpsons figures that some other folks have seen.  All five of these are decent, although the red and white on Homer's suit is a little fuzzy around the edges.

The paint work in the playset itself is excellent, with clean lines and great colors.

Articulation - **1/2
If you're expecting anything beyond the usual, don't get your hopes up.  It's shoulders, neck and waist once again.

Accessories - **1/2
Most of the playsets have had some sort of accessories included, beyond just the figures.  Here we get the piano, which isn't too bad, but has a couple failings.

First, it doesn't fit well anywhere on the playset.  You can put it in front of the windows, but then you block that great shot of Patty and Selma.  Putting it by the tree as pictured on the box covers one of the voice buttons.  So you'll end up putting it off the playset, which is less than a perfect solution.

Talking Feature - ***
Remember how funny Homer sounded in those early episodes?  No?  Well, now you will!  Yep, they use some terrific lines from the original episode, but some folks may find the odd sounding Homer disconcerting.

Value - ***1/2
Usually a playset has one figure and a few accessories for $20.  Add in four more figures at $5 (which seems to be a price that has gone the way of the buffalo) and you hit $40.  So this price is a good value, certainly as good as any of the other sets and figures.

Overall - ***
This is a great set, particularly for folks that didn't get a Lisa, or Marge and Maggie in the living room set.  Since it is so Christmas themed, some folks may not want to display it with the rest of their sets all year round, but I think it looks great no matter what the season.

I'd love to see more episode themed sets, and we are supposed to see an exclusive of the B-Sharps next year.  There's also the Prom playset with the High School Homer and Marge coming in February, and the Colonel Homer and Lurleen Lumpkin playset coming in April.  I'm looking forward to all these episode playsets, with high hopes for some others as well. 

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford

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