Toy Talk
- Brief Looks at Recent Thrift Store Acquisitions -

Volume LVII

By Mark Patraw
Published on 4/24/15

I've been a relatively "big spender" this April, at least as far as thrift store purchases go, which I know isn't much in the greater scheme of things, but, whatever. I'd say that's a combination of three factors: (1) Spring is here (or what passes for it where I live), so, with the warmer temperatures and nicer weather, I'm more likely to check out their wares multiple times a week; (2) they've had a pretty good selection of stuff that interests me; and (3) I've just been in kind of a spending mood lately, broadening my horizons and picking up items that I might not have touched otherwise.

I feel that I was fairly successful in limiting the amount of photos/text I used this time (as I indicated would be an ongoing goal of mine in last volume's introduction). Hopefully, I can continue to exercise similar restraint in the future.

As always, if anyone reading this knows more information about any of these items, that I haven't already discussed below, and would like to share, or just chat about toys, feel free to e-mail me and let me know!

Toy line: Cutie Pops.
Manufacturer: Jada Toys (2012).
What I paid: One dollar on 2/24/15 at the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: [Excluding ponytails] 7.5 cm (3.0") wide x 27.5 cm (10.8") tall.
Articulation: Neck, shoulders, hips, and knees.
Notable features: Interchangeable ponytails, eyes, and "style pops".

Cutie Pops were Jada Toys recent attempt to capture some of the play doll market. The gimmick with these Lolita-fashion-sporting, large-headed girls was that they all had interchangeable ponytails, eyes, and style "pops" (small charms that plug into their clothing/accessories). As is often the case in our tough, and often fickle, toy industry, the line didn't have the legs to last very long before it was canceled. There were several different assortments of Cutie Pops, including pets and mini dolls (Petites), but this particular Chiffon doll comes from the very first wave of figures that Jada Toys released. I also ran across one of the Cutie Pops dogs several months ago, but, as it was missing a lot of parts, and I'm a cat person anyway, I left said canine on the shelf for someone else to adopt.

Chiffon's anatomy is dominated by her gigantic head, but, otherwise, she's fairly well proportioned. The doll's articulation is so-so: she moves at the neck, shoulders, hips, and knees. I would have liked to have seen the addition of elbow, wrist, torso/waist, and ankle joints. Her feet point inwards, which is cute. It takes some work, but, with the boots on and some patience, you can actually get her to stand unassisted, although I'd recommend employing a doll stand for long-term display, as it wouldn't take much to unbalance her. As is the norm these days, panties are permanently molded onto her pelvis, for modesty purposes (as well as placating easily-offended parents/guardians), and there's some kind of code printed on the small of her back.

Without her eyes attached, Chiffon looks pretty freaky/creepy. The heart-shaped holes add some pizzazz, but I think Jada Toys should have painted the sockets black, to match the pupils, as that would have looked more natural. The eyeless look isn't something I'd want to use on display, that's for sure!

I was fortunate to get a lot of Chiffon's original clothing and accessories, but I'm still missing a fair amount of stuff. In addition to what I do have, a complete doll should also include: (1) another set of ponytails, made from synthetic blonde hair, instead of yarn, (2) a pair of closed "sleep" eyes, (3) four bows for her ponytails (which you could also plug pops into), (4) five more style pops (I'm missing two hearts and three cupcakes, and the sucker pop I got with her actually belongs to one of the other Cutie Pops dolls, Candi, not Chiffon), and (5) a plastic hair brush. My sample of her pink gingham dress is also missing a plastic accent that should be attached to the center of the collar [I would speculate that the original owner thought it was a pop (given the nature of these dolls, that's an honest mistake), and ripped it off, only to find out it wasn't]. Out of those items, I'd most like to have the sleep eyes and alternate hair ponytails, as they'd add the most variety to her appearance, but, given the choice, I do prefer the look of the yarn tresses.

I tried out some clothes from other doll brands to see how they'd fit on a Cutie Pops body. Mattel's Barbie: Fashionistas dress (left) was too big, but MGA's Bratz (center), and JAKKS Pacific's Disney Fairies (right) garments worked very well. So, while their giant heads make them a similar height to a standard Barbie, you'll have better luck using fashions from shorter dolls, with more petite torso proportions, on your Cutie Pops.

Note to self: don't photograph black pants on a dark background!

I was intrigued, after reading several online reviews, but I wasn't sure if I'd like Jada Toys' Cutie Pops dolls or not, however, now that I have one, I think they're pretty cool and the interchangeable components have some fun customization potential. Like many mass-market play dolls, they could use more joints/mobility, but, other than that, I'm giving Cutie Pops a thumbs-up. I'd be interested in acquiring some more of these girls, especially to have more eyes, ponytails, and style pops to swap around.

Toy line: My Little Pony (Generation 3.5).
Manufacturer: Phidal for Hasbro (2010).
What I paid: Twenty-five cents on 3/27/15 at the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: 22.0 cm (8.7") wide x 33.3 cm (13.1") tall.
Articulation: [Magna-doodle] slide eraser.
Notable features: Infinitely reusable magnetic drawing pad and pen.

I love these combination children's book/toy items! Hasbro partnered with Phidal Publishing to bring us My Little Pony: Fancy Drawings (ISBN: 978-2-7643-1828-7). Mounted above the tome is a coordinating "Magna-doodle" pad and pen (attached with a string, so you don't lose it), which is just all kinds of awesome! Utilizing the latest in scientific methodology, I've determined that a Magna-doodle is approximately 1,000 times more fun to use than an Etch-a-Sketch (it's so much easier to just draw with a magnetic stylus rather than working that pair of dials).

The book itself is a combination story and drawing guide. The plot involves Pinkie Pie throwing a party, at which all of the ponies play a game of guessing what the others' favorite things are, and Toola-Roola, the artist of the group, draws them (with your help of course). There are twenty-two pages all together (eleven story ones and eleven drawing guides) printed on very thick cardstock (probably to make them more resilient to damage from younger children). Katherine Eaves is credited with the text, but the artist(s) didn't get any recognition for their beautiful full-color work (shame on you, Phidal/Hasbro!)

There are only two aspects of this drawing device that I don't care for. First, while they're neat-looking (although all three of mine have paint wear, particularly on their eyes), the 3-dimensional Rainbow Dash, Pinkie Pie, and Toola-Roola ponies projecting out onto the magnetic screen reduce your work surface, which was a poor design choice in my opinion. I'm fine with embellishments like that, but they should have been kept off the screen itself to give you as much space as possible to draw upon. Second, the lines created by the magnetic pen are pretty broad, which makes it difficult to do any kind of fine detail work. That said, given the nature of the ferrous powder inside, perhaps it's impossible to provide any finer control than that. I suppose it would have been nice if the pad was removable too, but it's permanently attached to the elongated back cover of the book (well, you could rip it off if you really tried, but I wouldn't recommend that course of action).

Out of all the My Little Pony items that I currently own, this Fancy Drawings book/pad combo is easily my absolute favorite. If you have a young child (it's recommended for ages 3-and-up) that enjoys both drawing and MLP, then I simply can't recommend this enough. The only potential hiccup is that these are the G3.5 ponies, rather than the current Friendship is Magic G4 ones, so, while some of the characters are the same, they look and behave differently (i.e., G3.5 Rainbow Dash is an earth pony fashionista, which is at odds with G4's more aggressive and athletic pegasus rendition of the character).

Because I have no shame, and clock in at about negative five on the maturity scale, several times I stopped, in the store's aisles, and checkout line, to sketch ponies on this thing, and I didn't give a damn who was watching me do it either. That's how much fun and engrossing this toy is! Sadly, the cashier didn't have any comments to make about the equine "masterpiece" I had created when I placed the book on the counter to be rung up . . .

Toy line: The Amazing Spider-man (Web Battlers assortment).
Manufacturer: Hasbro for Marvel (2012).
What I paid: Fifty cents on 4/1/15 at the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: [Excluding the tail] 8.9 cm (3.5") wide x 15.7 cm (6.2") tall.
Articulation: Neck, shoulders, waist, hips, and tail.
Notable features: Claw-slashing action.

This is the "Slash Attack" version of the Lizard, who was the main antagonist of Sony's 2012 The Amazing Spider-man film. In said movie, he was portrayed by Rhys Ifans. While I haven't seen that particular Spidey flick, I am familiar with the original comic book incarnation of the character. Dr. Curt Connors was researching reptiles, and their ability to regenerate missing appendages, in the hopes of applying that healing process to humans, like himself, who had lost a limb (in Dr. Connors' case, his right arm had to be amputated when it was mangled in a blast during his service in the military). While he was successful in creating a serum that did just that, it also had the unfortunate side affect of transforming the patient into a humanoid reptilian monster, and thus, the Lizard was born. In the comics, the Lizard looks similar to the movie version in the general sense, but, usually has a more elongated, reptilian-shaped head, and, instead of running around naked, is adorned with a tattered pair of pants, shirt, and lab coat. More than anything, the somewhat silly-looking head on this figure reminds me of Voldemort from the Harry Potter films.

The Lizard's sculpt is great (I like how two of the fingers are fused into one digit on his right hand), with lots of attention paid to the variously-sized scales covering his leathery flesh. The paintwork, on the other hand, while decent, is relatively sparse, consisting of just the eyes, mouth, and front of the torso (at the very least, I think Hasbro should have painted his nails too). My sample has some rub marks on the lighter-hued abdomen and groin but is in otherwise excellent shape.

Like the Whip Attack Spider-man Web Battlers figure I covered back in November of 2013, Slash Attack Lizard's design is a slave to his action feature. Repeatedly pressing his left thigh inwards makes his waist pivot and his arms swing up-and-down. This slashing action works all right, but it's not terribly exciting. You can't do a whole lot else with him either, in terms of posing, due to the relatively small number of joints. I'd much prefer that he had been a "normal", highly-articulated action figure instead of this one-trick-pony . . . er, lizard.

I was also surprised that his tail doesn't have an internal bendy wire armature, as characters like this usually do. The appendage does rotate at the base, but you can't reposition it beyond that. On my figure, the tail, in its "proper" orientation (aligned with the scale pattern sculpted on his posterior), rests slightly lower than the feet, as such, it has a tendency to make the figure lean forward, knocking him down. That's easy enough to correct by twisting it slightly to the side though.

I definitely prefer the classic comic book look for the Lizard character to this cinematic design, and the toy's limited articulation hampers its play value, but, those points aside, he's still a cool-looking and intimidating reptilian monster who's a welcome addition to my collection of Marvel Comics villains. In a pinch, he'd also make a decent stand-in for Batman's nemesis, Killer Croc.

Toy line: Disney Princess: Little Kingdom (Beauty and the Beast Story Collection).
Manufacturer: Mattel for Disney (I can't find any copyright data molded/printed on the figure, but I think these were sold in 2014).
What I paid: Twenty-five cents on 2/6/15 at the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: 6.1 cm (2.4") wide x 11.4 cm (4.5") tall.
Articulation: Neck, shoulders, and hips.
Notable features: None.

It's kind of silly, but, even if I don't have much interest in them, I also like to have a character's spouse/lover if possible--even plastic playthings need romance in their lives (plus it makes for good photographs). Case in point: I acquired a Beast for my Belle (although, since I currently have three Belles, they're going to have to share!)

In the unlikely event that you don't know the story of Beauty and the Beast or have just forgotten, here's the quick version: The Prince ticked off an Enchantress by refusing her shelter in his castle during a storm and she got revenge for his heartlessness by transforming him into a Beast, his servants into household objects, and the castle itself into a dreary-looking fortress. Only by learning how to love, and finding a woman to return his affections, despite his monstrous appearance, can the spell be broken. And, to make matters worse, the Beast only has until the last of the petals fall off of the magic rose given to him by the Enchantress to find such a girl, or he'll be cursed to remain inhuman forever. Moral of the story? Don't cop a 'tude with a spellcaster, or you'll be sorry!

The Beast's sculptor(s) did a great job bringing the animated character to life. His clothing is fairly smooth, but there's a lot of nice detailing in the fur, and his build is appropriately massive. Unfortunately, the Beast's paint job is a bit on the sloppy side, as there are stray marks, overspray, and incomplete applications in some spots. For example: the white of his frilly jacket cuffs continues down onto his wrists where it doesn't belong, and the ribbon tying off his ponytail isn't painted on the sides or bottom, only the top. Don't get me wrong, he looks good overall, but, upon closer inspection, the flaws in the paint work mar the man-turned-creature's appearance.

Alas, the Beast doesn't have much in the way of joints either; other than raising his arms into the air, or turning his head to the side, you won't be doing much with him. The hips also rotate, but both his actual tail, as well as the tails on his coat, tend to get in the way (I can barely get his right leg to budge at all).

Ahem! Your hand belongs on my waist, not my derrière, Beast!

Brand new, Beast was part of a 7-piece boxed set that also included Gaston, Belle, Lumiere, Chip, Mrs. Potts, and Cogsworth, which is a good selection of the main characters from the animated film. As of this writing, on Amazon, said package retails for around $23-$28. That's more than I'd be willing to pay, but, in today's generally overpriced toy market, said amount isn't unusual, and, in Mattel's defense, I imagine that the licensing costs for Disney characters aren't cheap either.

I mainly bought this Beast action figure because it seemed like he was about the right size to pair with my Polly Pocket Belle (which he was and he looks great by her side), but he's also a nice rendition of the character in his own right too. I just wish that this Beast was painted a little better and was more poseable (as does Belle--it's tricky to dance with a guy whose legs barely move!)

Toy line: Fraggle Rock.
Manufacturer: Sababa Toys for The Jim Henson Company (2006).
What I paid: One dollar on 4/22/15 at the Ishpeming, Michigan St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store.
Size: [Excluding tail] 15.0 cm (6.0") wide x 35.5 cm (14.0") tall.
Articulation: Bendable tail.
Notable features: None.

Where I live, Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock originally aired on HBO (1983-1987), which, being a premium channel, wasn't part of the basic cable service my family had. As such, I seldom got to see it, except on those infrequent occasions when HBO would do a free week or so of broadcasting in an attempt to entice new customers to subscribe. There was also a 1987 cartoon adaptation, which played on Saturday mornings on NBC, and I believe I did view that regularly, while it lasted.

Red (performed by Karen Prell, in the live-action puppet version, and Barbara Goodson, on the cartoon) was one of the five main characters of Fraggle Rock (Gobo, Wembley, Mokey, and Boober comprised the other four members of that quintet of friends). Befitting her fiery locks, she was a feisty and athletic Fraggle who often tried to assert control over the others. Due to her antics and bright coloration, Red is the most memorable of the bunch to me (the thrift store's cashier also immediately recognized her as a Fraggle when I was paying for Red at the checkout counter, a testament to the enduring power of Jim Henson's many creations).

This figure does a good job of capturing the general likeness/proportions of the Muppet, but, then, it should, as those were essentially stuffed animals to begin with. I particularly like the texture and look of the wispy, feather-like ponytail puffs on Red's head and the tuft at the end of her tail. In the fiction, Fraggles are supposed to be 18" tall, so, at about 14", Red isn't quite 1:1 scale, but she's close enough for me.

Red's tail has a bendy armature inside, allowing you to twist it however you please. Alas, that just makes me wish that Sababa Toys had done the same with her limbs, as that would have added a lot of personality and posing options. For example, I tried to get her hands to stay in her mouth, like she was in shock or frightened, while I was shooting photographs for this review, but they just wouldn't stay put; however, had there been bendable wire inside, like her tail, that wouldn't have been a problem. And, while I'm on the subject of wishing, it would have been equally cool if she was a hollow puppet so that you could wear her on your arm and manipulate her mouth with your hand inside. I love this Red toy, make no mistake, but there was additional potential here that the manufacturer didn't take advantage of.

The scarlet turtleneck sweater is removable, if you feel like dressing her in something else or prefer Red without said garment. It's kind of a hassle to get it on-and-off though, as both her head and hands are relatively large, so, I'd recommend just leaving her be. Besides, Red's crimson apparel is part of her iconic look.

While I never got to watch much Fraggle Rock when I was a kid, I enjoyed the character designs and the fictional universe that they inhabited [not to mention Jim Henson's Muppets in general--speaking of which, on the same day that I bought Red, the store also had Sesame Street plush Grover and Count figures that I was interested in, but both had some quality issues (staining and stitching coming undone), so I left them there.] I would have loved it if Red was an actual hand puppet, and had bendy wire armatures in her arms and legs, but, I'm still very pleased to add this feisty redhead to my collection of plush critters! If I happen to find any more of her friends, particularly Mokey or Boober, in the same scale and in good shape, I'd likely purchase them as well.

« Return to my Toy Review Index

Site hosted by Build your free website today!