#1809: Radioactive Man & Fallout Boy

RADIOACTIVE MAN & FALLOUT BOY (w/ LUNAR BASE)

WORLD OF SPRINGFIELD (PLAYMATES)

Though their main claims to fame may be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Trek, I think Playmates’ most impressive success story comes in the form of their Simpsons toys.  Sure, the show was at the top of pretty much everyone’s lists back in the mid-90s, but it’s a series about “normal” people, and it runs on like 90% pop culture references, which can be a real licensing nightmare.  Nevertheless, Playmates made a real impression on the toy market, producing over 200 figures and more than 20 playsets to go with them.  Today, I look at one of the playsets, though certainly one on the smaller side, with Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy, packed with the Lunar Base!

THE SET ITSELF

The Lunar Base with Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy was released in October of 2001, as an Electronics Boutique-exclusive offering from Playmates’ World of Springfield line. 

Where most such sets had the primary focus on the actual playset part of the thing, the Lunar Base is far more low key.  It’s really just a small chunk of Moon, with a transparent green banner that says “RADIOACTIVE MAN.”  Unlike other sets, which were designed to interact with other figures, this one’s really just designed for its two included figures, and subsequently it only has two spots, as opposed to the usual three.  The sculpted details on the set are actually pretty great, as are the painted accents; they really make it look like a chunk of rock.  The set included a flag, a script, and a bottle of acid (though only the flag is seen here).  Compared to other playsets, the talking feature is much less of a selling point for this one.  It’s only got seven available lines of dialogue between the two included figures, and isn’t compatible with the rest of the line.

RADIOACTIVE MAN

Not to be confused with the Marvel supervillain, this guy’s the real selling point of the set.  Radioactive Man is a fairly recurrent fixture in The Simpsons, and is seen here as portrayed by Rainier Wolfcastle in the eponymous “Radioactive Man” episode.  The figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has the same 4 points of articulation that every other figure in the line had.  His rigid stature means he’s not really built for much outside of a standing pose, though that was kind of true for most of the line.  The sculpt is reasonably close to his animated counterpart, though I think Wolfcastle is one of those characters who has a little bit of trouble making the jump to three dimensions.  Radioactive Man’s paintwork is bright and clean, which are definitely the two most important things for the character.  His eyes are just the slightest bit off-center, though.  Don’t know if that’s just limited to this figure, or if it was a line-wide thing.  Overall, a pretty solid offering, though.

FALLOUT BOY

Not to be confused with the musical group,  Fallout Boy is the Robin to Radioactive Man’s Batman.  And, like in the episode “Radioactive Man,” he’s portrayed here by series regular Millhouse.  He stands 3 3/4 inches tall and has 4 points of articulation.  Like Bart before him, Fallout Boy isn’t really properly scaled to the adults in the line, due to the need to work in the talking feature, resulting in a slight upscaling.  The original Millhouse release was the same way, so its not really a surprise he was done in this same fashion for this figure.  Like Radioactive Man, he’s really only good for a basic standing pose.  Perhaps something more action oriented might have been cool to mix up this set a little bit, but the basic standing thing was definitely the line’s style, and you wouldn’t want to break from it too much.  Millhouse seems to be more accurate to the source material than Radioactive Man.  He may be helped slightly by the larger size, but I’d guess he’s also helped by Millhouse’s comparatively more cartoony design.  Like the standard Millhouse, this figure’s glasses are a separate piece, glued in place; you can even make out his eyes squinting beneath the lenses, which is a cool touch.  Fallout Boy’s paintwork is bright and clean, just like Radioactive Man’s.  The blue and green is a nice combo, and contrasts well with the red of Radioactive Man.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted back when I reviewed Bart’s Treehouse, despite its heavy presence at retail around me back when it was new, I never really got into the World of Springfield line, due mostly to me not being super into The Simpsons.  I vividly remember seeing every assortment pop-up in ToyFare, however, and I remember eyeing this set up.  What can I say, I’m an easy mark when it comes to super heroes.  Though it doesn’t have the surprise wow factor of the Treehouse, I do think this set makes for a pretty nifty display piece, if that’s the sort of thing you’re looking for.

This set was loaned to me for review by All Time Toys, and is available for purchase via their eBay store.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

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#0990: Mark Hamill

MARK HAMILL

THE SIMPSONS: 25 OF THE GREATEST CELEBRITY GUEST STARS

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It’s a rather rare occurrence for one toy company to deliberately design a toyline with the express purpose of directly emulating and continuing another company’s toyline.  But, that’s what NECA did when they picked up the Simpsons license for the property’s 25th anniversary: they put together a line of figures deliberately designed to emulate the style and scale of Playmates’ World of Springfield line, despite it having been years since World of Springfield had ended.  It’s worth noting that NECA did have a much more focused aim than Playmates, placing a direct focus on The Simpsons’ plethora of celebrities who had guest stared as themselves.  The line introduced 25 new figures for collectors to add to their Simpsons displays, including today’s figure, Mark Hamill!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

MarkHamill2Mark Hamill was released in the second series of NECA’s The Simpsons: 25 of the Greatest Celebrity Guest Stars line.  He’s based on Mark’s guest appearance from the Season 10 episode “Mayored to the Mob.”  The figure is about 4 ¾ inches tall and he has the same 4 points of articulation that would be sported by a standard WoS figure.  Sculpturally, Mark is tasked with two things: capturing his look from the show, and capturing the style of the Playmates figures.  These can be slightly conflicting ideals, since the Playmates figures weren’t always 100% accurate (though they were always very close).  Ultimately, I think this figure does a good job balancing the two aesthetics.  He’s about as good a 3D rendering of the 2D design as you’re gonna get, and he also manages to fit in pretty seamlessly with prior offerings.  Hamill is just wearing a fairly generic button-down shirt and a pair of khakis, <which is one of the outfits he wears in the show.  The other is the more distinctive Luke Skywalker outfit, but something tells me that there would have been some legal issues with trying to do that look, which makes this the more preferable design>.  The likeness to Hamill is admittedly filtered through the usual Simpsons style, but it should be pretty clear to most fans who this is supposed to be.  The paintwork on Mark is pretty basic and straightforward.  Lots of flat color work, which is befitting of an animated design.  Everything is pretty clean, and he matches up pretty nicely with what’s seen on the show.  Mark Hamill includes no accessories, which is a little sad, since accessories were one of the defining parts of the WoS line.  Obviously, he couldn’t come with anything Star Wars specific, but a microphone or I don’t know, a fork in reference to the “Use the forks” gag would have been pretty amusing.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Since I mostly skipped the World of Springfield line, I also mostly skipped this line while it was at retail.  I did occasionally eye up one or two figures, but I’m honestly not a huge Simpsons fan, so I never felt a big pull to get them.  However, I do remember “Mayored to the Mob” being one of the few episodes of The Simpsons that I saw when it was still current (mostly due to Mark Hamill being in it).  Back when ToyFare magazine ran their article proposing potential celebrity guest stars who might be made in the World of Springfield line (this was the same article that revealed that it was Stephen Hawking who would actually be getting a figure), I was rather disappointed to find out that the Mark Hamill figure shown was just a custom, and no official figure would be made.  So, when NECA finally released the official figure, I really kept meaning to pick him up, but never got around to it.  While taking advantage of my local MovieStop’s going-out-of-business sale, I came across this figure for under $3, a price at which I definitely wasn’t passing him up.  Is he the most exciting figure of all time? No, he’s a normal guy in normal clothes, and he’s not even all that posable.  That being said, he’s perfect for the style NECA was going for, and he’s pretty much exactly what I was looking for when I bought the figure.

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#0944: Bart’s Treehouse

BART’s TREEHOUSE (W/ MILITARY BART)

WORLD OF SPRINGFIELD (PLAYMATES)

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With a whopping 27 years on the air, The Simpsons is the longest running scripted TV show in American history. During those 27 years, The Simpsons has found its way into just about every corner of merchandising, which of course includes my very favorite type of merchandise: action figures. Simpsons figures have been produced by the likes of Mattel, McFarlane, and even NECA, but the most successful, most popular line of Simpsons toys by far was Playmates’ World of Springfield line. Running from early 2000 through to 2004, the line managed to produce just about every named character from the show, alongside prominent variations of the main family, leading to over 200 unique figures produced. They didn’t stop with figures, though. One of the line’s main hooks was the recreation of some of Springfield’s more memorable locales as playsets. Each playset included a unique figure and had the ability to interact with most figures from the line. Today, I’ll be looking at Bart’s Treehouse and its included figure, Military Bart.

THE PLAYSET ITSELF

BartsTreehouse2Bart’s Treehouse was released alongside Series 12 of the World of Springfield line, which hit retail in the spring of 2003. The first 10 series each got two playsets, but Series 12 was when the line was nearing its end, so Playtmates had cut back to one playset per series. The Treehouse is 6 ¼ inches wide, 6 ¾ inches tall, and a little over 4 ½ inches deep. It’s not really articulated in any really conventional way, but there is a hinge on the roof, allowing it to swing up for easier access to the interior.  The construction of the treehouse is fairly basic, but that seems about right. From the screenshots I’ve found online, it doesn’t look like a horrible approximation of the in-show setting. The basic detail work is actually pretty nice. The boards are all fully detailed, with nails and everything, and there are even a few spots for posters on the walls. The actual tree bit is decent, if maybe not as exciting as the rest of the house. The bark in particular is a little on the soft side. It’s also worth noting that the entire back of the set isn’t meant to be seen, so the leaves on the tree just abruptly stop. There isn’t a whole lot in the way of paint on this set. The tree bark is all painted a rather drab greyish-brown, which is appropriate I guess. The two maps and the Krusty the Clown poster are all done via decals. They’re pretty well applied and don’t look to be going anywhere, so that’s BartsTreehouse4good. The rest of the pieces are pretty much just molded in the appropriate colors. It was a tiny bit of a letdown to find out that the bulb in the light fixture was just left green, but that’s pretty minor. In addition to the Bart figure (who I’ll get to in a second), the Treehouse includes a table (with assorted supplies on it), a pile of water balloons, and a pair of binoculars. The set also included the usual interactive feature of all the playsets in the line. There are three ports where compatible figures can be plugged into the set. By each port, there’s a button, which will play a random clip of dialogue associated with the figure on said port. The set is compatible with 51 figures in addition to the included Bart (though a good number of those are just variants of the main family), and there are over 25 unique phrases included. The sound quality’s nothing to write home about, but it’s a pretty novel little feature nonetheless.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

BartsTreehouse3Included with this set is a variant of Bart Simpson, who was one of the more recurring characters in the line. This particular Bart is based on his appearance in the episode “Bart the General,” which had the Treehouse in it, so it’s a good choice. The figure is 3 ¾ inches tall and he has 4 points of articulation (the standard for the line). Overall, he’s a fairly standard Bart, with the usual orange t-shirt and blue shirt (which Bart will no doubt demand you eat). He’s in a fairly generic pose, aside from his arms, which he’s got held up and bent at the elbows, as if he’s doing the chicken dance or something. The head is the main distinctive part here: Bart’s eyes are in a more serious half-lidded position, and he’s got a bit of wheat sticking out of his mouth. He’s supposed to be serious and military, but he ends up looking a bit dopey. To aid with his military look, Bart includes a helmet, sunglasses, and a baton, all of which are pretty well sculpted and sit nicely on the figure. The glasses even cover up the weird eyes and make him less silly looking, which is good. Bart’s paintwork is overall pretty clean, with nice, bright colors, and no really noticeable slop. For the talking feature, Bart gets six different lines with this set: “I promise you victory! I promise you good times!”, “I ain’t gonna get out of the fourth grade alive”, “We are happy, we are merry! We gotta rhyming dictionary!”, “I’m gonna have to teach you a lesson.”, “There’s this boy at school who keeps beating me up.”, and “I can’t squeal. It would violate the code of the schoolyard!”

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

World of Springfield was all over the place when I was growing up, but the only figure I ever got was a Series 1 Bart. The playsets always fascinated me, but I just never got one, since I was a bit young for the show at the time. I was at a thrift store with my brother two weeks ago, and happened upon this particular set for less than half its original retail price. The box was super beat up, but everything was there, so I figured “what the heck?” This is actually a pretty fun set, and I’m glad to have found it. Of course, now I need to resist the urge to go back and pick up the compatible figures!

BartsTreehouse5