Frosty the Snowman

Frosty the Snowman, was a jolly happy soul...and now he's a series of action figures!

Fans, kids and collectors have been fortunate over the last decade to get figures and collectibles based on some of the all time great holiday animated specials, like Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and even Mickey's Christmas Carol have been brought to life in plastic form.  It was only a matter of time til poor Frosty got his due.

Oddly enough, this line is based not on the original cartoon from Rankin-Bass, produced in 1969, but the later cartoon called Frosty's Winter Wonderland from 1976.  Since both cartoons were done by Rankin-Bass, you'd therefore assume both are the property of Rankin-Bass, but I'm betting that's not the case.  It looks like ABC holds the rights to this cartoon,

The main line consists of a regular Frosty, reviewed here tonight, along with Jack Frost, Crystal (Frosty's wife), Parson Brown (the snowman version).  There are a couple deluxe figures as well, which I'll be covering next week.

The company producing these is called 'Round 2', and they are also the ones re-issuing many of the old Playing Mantis Christmas figures.

Expect to pay around $10 each for the regular figures, and you can find them at local stores like Toys R Us and Meijers, or at my sponsor Time and Space Toys.  TST carries a huge inventory of Christmas goodies, so if you're looking for figures from any of the animated Christmas lines, check them out.

Packaging - **1/2
The packages are bright and cheery, with a nice winter theme.  They lack the character personalization, and they certainly aren't collector friendly, but for a mass market toy they do the job just fine.  At least they show off the enclosed figure well, and there's very little waste.

My one complaint with the packaging that brings it down a half star is the twisty tie Hell that awaits you.  In fact, it's not really the twisty ties that are an issue, although there are several of them. It's that they've added a NEW form of retainer Hell for you to battle.  I've included a photo of these new ties, which seem to lock in place and require you to use scissors or a knife.

Sculpting - **1/2
An assumption people make is that if it's a cartoon figure, it must be easy to sculpt.  They designs are simplistic, so it should be easy, right?  I've been doing my best to dispel that rumor for years now.

Translating a flat character, who often changes in proportion and style within just a few frames on the show, into a recognizable, accurate 3 dimensional object can be very, very tricky.  When it's done well, the result is tremendously satisfying.  When they miss the mark, it's tremendously apparent.

Frosty isn't terrible, but he does miss the mark.  The proportions are a bit off, with a bigger body and smaller head than I remember. The smaller head then translates into a smaller hat and slightly oversized scarf.  The odd proportions are even more evident without the hat and scarf, so I'd recommend keeping them on.

The work on the eyes, nose and mouth is quite good though, and you'll certainly recognize who it is immediately.  If you haven't seen the show in awhile, the issues of proportion are likely to be less of a problem for you.

There's a nice texturing to the body to give the impression of packed snow, and the hat fits the head perfectly.  It even has a magnet to hold it in place, something I wasn't expecting.  The hands are given a very basic sculpt to hold the broom, and there is a small hole sculpted on the left side of the mouth to hold the pipe.

The scarf is soft goods, made from a slightly too thick material.  It's always tough to do soft goods in this scale, but the scarf works well enough.  It's colored in the original cartoon colors, which I think were altered when the cartoon was cleaned up and restored a few years ago.

Frosty stands great on his own, and will fit in with most other Christmas lines or even with more realistic 6 - 7" figures.

Paint - ***
The paint is relatively clean, especially around the eyes and nose.  The hat shows a bit of slop, and some of the pieces - like the main part of the hat or the pipe - are merely cast in their color.

The body has a slight gloss to it, which works well for the implied medium of snow.  This isn't the kind of work you'd expect on a specialty market collector's item, but for a regular toy it's slightly above average.

Articulation - **1/2
He has pretty basic articulation, but what's here works fine.

There's a cut neck, pin and disk shoulders (sort of like ball joints, but they only move at the torso and have less range of movement), cut wrists, and some funky hips that allow the legs to move forward and backward on the large torso, but don't turn.

You can do some basic posing with him, including some interesting looking walking poses.  But he certainly doesn't have the articulation of something like the Rudolph series, and the shoulders were a tad disappointing, making it tough for me to get the arms in the poses I wanted.

Accessories - ***
Frosty comes with his hat, which has a magnet to hold it in place.  It's a little narrow on his head, but stays in place extremely well.

He also has his corn cob pipe, which fits in the small hole on his mouth, his cloth scarf (which is slightly oversized), and his broom.  The sculpts on all of these are classic kid's toy style, but that makes them fit in fine with the basic style of the animation.

Fun Factor - ***
If you're looking for another nifty Christmas character to add to your children's toy box, you could certainly do worse.  He has some potential for fun, is well built, and most kids won't find the sculpt as disappointing as I did.

Value - **
These guys run around $8 at mass retailers, or $10 at online retailers.  That's a buck or two more than I felt they were really worth.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not a thing.  He's nice and sturdy, and can withstand plenty of play.

Overall - **1/2
Perhaps it's because I was hoping for figures from the first show, with Karen and Professor Hinkle.  Perhaps it's because the sculpt isn't quite up to the level set by some of the earlier Playing Mantis figures.  Perhaps it's because I can't see myself spending that kind of green on somebody like Crystal.  Whatever the case, the Frosty line ended up being a bit of a disappointment.

I am glad I picked up the basic version though, because he will fit in nicely with the rest of the huge Christmas character display.  If you keep the hat and scarf on, the weird sculpt isn't as much of an issue, and the collection wouldn't be complete without a Frosty. 

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - **1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy -
I've seen these at Toys R Us, and I've heard Meijers may be getting them in.  You can also find them (and just about any Christmas action figure) at Time and Space Toys.

- Related Links -
I've covered at least a few figures out of many of the Christmas lines:

- One of my favorites is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, of course!  There were several series, including the Misfit Toys, Santa's Workshop, Santa's Sleigh, and King Moonracer.  My favorite was the large 18" Bumble, but the full scale Charlie in the Box was cool too.  Playing Mantis did a ton of cool toys based on the show.  Many of these have been re-issued again this year and are at the local Toys R Us or Meijers.

- They also did several series of Charlie Brown Christmas figures, which are being re-issued this year as well.  Along with the small figures, there were large talking figures like Charlie himself.

- another classic Rankin-Bass show that Playing Mantis brought to plastic was Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.  They produced the terrific Mail Truck with a Kruger figure.

- Playing Mantis brought out a series based on Mickey's Christmas Carol too.

- and finally, there were the Year Without A Santa Claus figures produced by the fine folks at Palisades for Musicland.

- if you're looking for more modern lines based on old Christmas cartoons, don't overlook the Mcfarlane series of How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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