Toy Talk
Volume XLII

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 5/23/14

I can't be online Monday, the day on which I usually post the new edition of Toy Talk, due to the Memorial Day holiday, so, instead of being a day late, I decided to be three days early. How's that for service?

In this chapter of Toy Talk, starting on the left, and moving right, we have: a 2002 WizKids Mage Knight Feral Bloodsucker gaming figurine (twenty-five cents "boys" grab bag on 5/10/14); a 2004 DC/Post Justice League Superman figurine (twenty-five cents "boys awesome" grab bag on 5/9/14); a 2004 Mattel Wee 3 Friends Stacie doll (fifty cents on 5/15/14); a 2000 Disney/McDonald's The Tigger Movie Eeyore plush clip-on (twenty-five cents "girls" grab bag on 1/14/14); and, finally, four Hello Kitty items: a watch, bubblegum tin, and two figurines [2010 McDonald's watch and Boston America Corp. bubblegum tin (both items were in a twenty-five cents "girls" grab bag on 1/24/14); 2013 McDonald's Loves Music & Loves Baking figurines (both items were in a twenty-five cents "girls awesome" grab bag on 5/13/14)]. 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!

It must me disconcerting to see your very life play out beneath your feet.

This is a 2002 WizKids Mage Knight Feral Bloodsucker gaming figurine. The Clix gaming system (the name is a direct reference to the clicking, rotating bases that the characters are mounted on) focuses on combat between small armies of miniature characters. In addition to the Sword & Sorcery setting of Mage Knight, there are also similar Clix figures based on comic books (Marvel, DC, etc.) and other properties.

The gimmick with Mage Knight gaming pieces is that the figures' rotating bases contain all of their gameplay statistics. Each time that the character is successfully hit by an attack, you turn the base clockwise, which changes the figure's stats [for example, the Feral Bloodsucker's speed (boot), attack (sword), defense (shield), and damage (starburst) attributes all decrease as it suffers injury], and, when three skulls come up, the character has been killed/defeated. The benefit of this design should be obvious: you don't have to keep track of all that stuff on a piece of paper like you do with something like Dungeons & Dragons. Initially, I had trouble turning the dial on the base, with how thin it is and the unusual ‡ shaped handle, but, once I got a feel for it, I found that it worked well.

Predictably, Feral Bloodsuckers belong to the Necropolis Sect, a faction that focuses on death. Hordes of these vampiric beasts dwell in the mountains around the dead city. They're not very smart (the winged creatures are barely capable of speech), but they're fearsome, bloodthirsty opponents on the battlefield.

For its small size, the Feral Bloodsucker's sculpt is pretty good. The wings are veined, the musculature is well-defined, and you can even see his little fangs. It thankfully hasn't snapped in two yet, but there's a small stress fracture in the ankle on the right leg of mine--given how tiny and spindly the figure is, that's no surprise. The paintwork, while a little sloppy and thin in spots, is decent as well. I particularly like that they dry-brushed some gray over the black, as that really helps make a darker colored character like this come to life. All of the printed text and graphics on the circular base are crystal clear and easy to read. At the tip of the raised right wing, and including the height of the stand, this vampire stands 2" (5.0 cm) tall.

I've read about, and seen photos of, the Mage Knight and HeroClix figurines many times over the years, but this is the first one that I've ever owned. Having never played through a Mage Knight battle, I only have a superficial understanding of the gameplay mechanics, but I very much like the idea of having all of the character's statistics incorporated into the figure itself, so that you don't have to mess around with keeping track of all that stuff the old-fashioned way. If a gaming piece needs a stand to remain erect anyway, why not take advantage of it like this?

Help us, Superman, we're out of milk!

Here we have a 2004 DC/Post Justice League Superman figurine. This was a promotional item that was included as a bonus when you bought a set of Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Pebbles cereal (both of which are great tasting by the way). Unlike when I was a child, cereal companies seldom include toys like this anymore, which is a shame--I've read online that it's due to the choking hazard issue, and resulting legal liability, but I don't know if that's true or not. Anyway, when it comes to toys tied to edible products, I mostly get fast food items (like the Hello Kitty and The Tigger Movie stuff further down this page), so, it's nice to acquire one that originated from cereal instead for a change.

I found this photo on eBay--I don't own the joined cereal boxes or cardboard store display, just the figure.

Supes looks all right, but he's just an immobile statue, so you'd better like what you see, because it's never going to change. Speaking of which, something more dynamic than just standing there, with his arms held at his sides, probably would have been better, like a flying or punching pose. It seems to me like the sculptor was going for his animated Justice League Unlimited look, which isn't a bad choice. The "S" symbol on his chest, the boot tops, and his belt are all raised/recessed elements, not just painted on, which I appreciate, as that gives them more definition. The figure is a solid construct, but the cape was molded separately and then later attached, via a large circular plug in his posterior, to the body. And, while we're on that subject, the back of that hanging garment has several abrasion marks, but it's not so bad as to seriously detract from Clark's appearance. Some of the cut lines, between the colors, are fuzzy, or spill over, but, generally, the paintwork is good. Including the height of the base, this incarnation of Superman is 4.2" (10.6 cm) tall.

The circular base is made entirely from hollow gray plastic. "SUPERMAN" is molded on the front, in raised letters, and there's a detailed, seal-like design on the top, underneath Supes' boot-clad feet (I'm not sure if that's supposed to represent the Justice League, the United Nations, or something else though). Like the cape, the back of my base is a bit scuffed up, but, as one typically displays this type of item with that region of the figure facing away from you, against the wall, it's not something that will get noticed most of the time. On the other hand, something that probably is going to attract attention is the unsightly glue residue around Mr. Kent's feet.

Group photo of all the Superman toys that I currently own.
They're also arranged in the order or their production date, from oldest (left) to most recent (right).

Superman isn't really my thing (despite the line-up you see above), but this is an okay figurine of him that you can use to adorn a shelf, computer monitor, or whatever. Paint the whole thing gray or a metallic hue and you could use it as a Superman statue in a custom diorama display too.

Don't you just hate it when your little sister borrows your clothes without asking?

Here we have a 2004 Mattel Wee 3 Friends Stacie doll. Her head is actually the only thing that's dated 2004, the back of her body is marked 2000--that's something you should keep in mind when you're trying to identify toys, particularly dolls, as sometimes manufacturers will mix-and-match parts from different years like that (I had no luck whatsoever when I was attempting to find out more about this figure online using 2000 in my search criteria).

Stacie Roberts (originally known as Tutti, who debuted in 1966) is one of Barbie's younger siblings, and the twin sister of Todd. That said, the Wee 3 Friends line focused entirely on Stacie, and her two best friends, Lila (Caucasian and a redhead) and Janet (African American with black hair), not the Roberts family. Truth be told, when I purchased this doll, my assumption was that she was Skipper (yet another of Barbie's numerous younger sisters)--I had completely forgotten that Stacie/Tutti even existed.

Stacie's head sculpt and facial paint are pretty, although she does look a bit vacant. You can definitely see the resemblance to her older sisters Barbie and Skipper, but her face is broader/rounder, implying her youth. I much prefer inset glass/plastic eyes to painted ones, but her blue peepers, eyeshadow, and eyebrows are all applied flawlessly, as are her lips and teeth.

Her blonde locks are attractive and the fiber is soft/manageable. The hair is thickly rooted all over the head, but more densely so at the edges, which is to be expected. It combs out pretty easily, although the side locks, near her ears, have a tendency to "poof" outwards, particularly on the right, which is probably the hair's "memory" of a previous styling arrangement. I suspect that a prior owner may have given her a slight haircut, on the right side, as some of her tresses there are noticeably shorter, but it's not so bad as to ruin her, so, I can live with it.

Stacie isn't super poseable, but she is a little above average in comparison to a basic Barbie doll. She's got a ball-jointed neck, shoulders, and hips; pin-and-post elbows; and internal ratcheting knees (those are pretty limited though, they only "click" into three different positions, which amounts to about 30o of motion). The fact that she had elbow articulation was one of the primary reasons that I decided to purchase her (had her arms only been jointed at the shoulders, like most Barbies, I probably would have left her in the doll bin). I think that this particular Stacie doll may have originally been marketed as a dancer, as out of all the Wee 3 Friends pictures I looked at, the only one I saw with articulated elbows like this was a ballerina Janet. Stacie stands 9.9" (25.2 cm) tall.

One of the first things that I noticed about Stacie is that her feet are a lot larger, and flatter, than Barbie's. While that is a bit unusual for a Mattel play doll, it is more realistic, and, unlike Barbie, she can actually stand unassisted, which is a big plus in my book. On the downside, getting the legs of pants over those clompers is an exercise in frustration--I'd recommend using skirts or dresses with her, if you can, as they're a lot less trouble to get on-and-off (pivoting ankle joints would likely have alleviated this problem). She didn't come with a pair, and I don't have any shoes that fit her, so, like many of my dolls, she's going to have to go barefoot for the time being.

My Stacie came wearing a glittery, lilac halter top and a pair of purple pants with a permanently attached belt (you can unbuckle it, but the belt is sewn to the back of the pants, so it won't come off). She's also sporting a pair of chromed hoop earrings, but I don't think that they can be removed from her ears (I tried, but I'm afraid to apply too much pressure, lest I snap and break them). Flesh-toned panties, with a flower pattern, are molded onto Stacie's body, so her bottom is never bare, even when she's unclad. Both the top and pants open-and-close, in the back, with velcro flaps. The halter top had some light yellow stains on the front (keep your pee jokes to yourself, thank you very much), when I bought it, but those came off fairly easily with some cleaning "goop" and water. I'm not sure if these clothes actually belong to Stacie, or the Wee 3 Friends toy line in general, but they fit her pretty well and color coordinate with one another, which is good enough for me. Clothing from 12" doll lines, like Mattel's Barbie and Spin Master's Liv also look good on her (see below), although you might need to roll up the sleeves/cuffs on longer items.

Here's Stacie sporting a few different looks for variety's sake.

When I first undressed her, I noticed quite a few specks of glitter firmly attached to Stacie's legs (I should have taken a photo, but I forgot). The pants she came with aren't glittery, so, I'm guessing that her original outfit might have been and/or a previous owner had her dressed in something sparkly. I couldn't get the shiny particles to wipe off, but, fortunately, the glitter was easily removed by patting the legs with the sticky side of a piece of tape. While I'm on the subject of her legs, I'd also like to mention that the bendy vinyl that they're made from is a bit tacky, so pants have a tendency to stick to them when you're trying to pull them up-or-down, which, again, makes skirts or dresses a more appealing alternative.

(Left) Three of the Roberts siblings: (left-to-right) Stacie (formerly Tutti), Chelsea (formerly Kelly), and Barbie.
(Right) Her proportions are different, but, height-wise, Stacie is pretty close to a normal Bratz doll (Jade pictured) in size.

Overall, I'd say that Stacie is a pretty good play doll. The addition of articulation at the elbows, and her larger feet, which give her the ability to stand on her own, make her better than a lot of basic Barbies in my eyes. That said, I'd like her better still if she had even more joints (wrists, waist/torso, ankles, and proper knees instead of internal ratchets).

This is a 2000 Disney/McDonald's The Tigger Movie Eeyore plush clip-on toy. Said film's plot centered around Tigger trying (and failing) to find other Tiggers like himself (he is the only one after all, as the hyperactive feline is fond of telling anyone who will listen). Feeling sorry for the bouncy cat, eventually all of his animal pals from the 100 Acre Woods end up dressing up like Tiggers to try to fool him and cheer him up. In addition to the perpetually insecure and depressed donkey, you could also get Tigger himself, Winnie the Pooh, Owl, Piglet, and Roo. Mine doesn't have it, which is an absolute shame, but all of the plush figures originally came wearing a cool tiger-striped hoodie (to resemble Tigger of course, although why Tigger himself needs one is beyond me--how can the striped cat look more Tigger than he already does?) Out of the set, Pooh and Eeyore were the cutest in orange-and-black in my opinion (I haven't watched it in a while, but I believe that they were all wearing complete Tigger bodysuits, not just hoodies, in the movie).

The donkey's clip-on clasp is molded from purple plastic and shaped like the bow on his tail, which is a nice touch (each character had a uniquely-shaped clip-on). The clasp on mine has a few scuff marks here and there, but it still works fine--I like to imagine that wear-and-tear came from this Eeyore being some child's favorite accessory and that he dangled from their backpack throughout the school year. Excluding said clip-on, the stuffed animal is 3.0" (7.5 cm) tall in a sitting position.

Eeyore perched on top of my 1998 Fisher Price Sing & Giggle Tigger.

This Eeyore plush toy is very well done, with the correct fabric colors, good stitching, and an excellent likeness to the cartoon source material. There were some stray black threads sewn into the base of Eeyore's tail, which didn't seem to serve any purpose, so, I snipped them and pulled them out, as they looked out of place. Considering how often Eeyore loses his tail in the Winnie the Pooh fiction, that was not an operation I performed lightly. I may be wrong, but I'm guessing that those threads might have once attached the striped hoodie to the plush figure, and, if not, perhaps they were meant to represent the nail that typically fastens Eeyore's tail to his posterior. Well, regardless, they're in the trash now, so I guess it's a moot point. I wish that I had his Tigger hoodie, but, even without it, this is still an excellent Eeyore plush animal.

Hello Kitty, created in 1974 by Yuko Shimizu, is the Japanese company Sanrio's incredibly popular mascot, recognized by people all over the world. Her full name is Kitty White and she's a Japanese bobtail cat of British nationality. While she was originally marketed towards little girls, over the years, Hello Kitty's appeal has spread to encompass all age groups.

I've accumulated a small pile of Hello Kitty items, so, I figured that it was about time to take a look at them in Toy Talk. I'm a big fan of both cats and Japanese culture, thus, Hello Kitty is right up my alley.

This is a Sanrio/McDonald's 2010 Hello Kitty watch. In addition to her, the six timepiece assortment also included Superbunnies (white rabbit), Chococat (black cat), Keroppi (green frog), My Melody (white rabbit in a pink outfit), and Batz-Maru (black bird). These watches commemorated Sanrio's 50th Anniversary. Laid flat, this item measures 8.1 (20.6 cm) long.

The watch face is a large representation of Hello Kitty's melon, with the digital LCD display embedded in her forehead. A transparent plastic sheath covers the front half of the watch, but, even so, little bits of dirt and dust have found their way inside, which probably wouldn't be that big a deal except for the fact that Hello Kitty is a white cat, so any kind of dark spot is very noticeable.

The bendy red strap has three notches and two circular nobs. I could just barely get it on the second notch on my wrist, which was a very tight fit, and the third notch was a bit too loose. Depending on the size of your body, you may have better, or worse, results than I did. "Hello Kitty" and "Sanrio 50", inside a heart with a bow, are both molded, in raised relief, on either side of the strap.

In addition to displaying the time, the watch can also cycle through the current date (month/day) and seconds when you press the uppermost button. Like a lot of cheap digital watches, this one tends to slowly lose minutes over time. When I pulled it out to take photos for this review, I found that it had fallen behind about ten minutes, since I had first bought and set it, months ago, and I also had to add an hour, due to the nonsense that is Daylight Savings Time. I am impressed that the battery still works though, considering that this piece is about four years old, as button cells in watches usually don't last that long in my experience.

Provided that it fits your wrist, and you're not too embarrassed to be seen out in public sporting a Hello Kitty watch, this is a decent decorative representation of her.

Here we have a metal Sanrio/Boston America Corp. Hello Kitty bubblegum tin, shaped like a purse/handbag. Mine didn't come with any, so, I'm not certain what shape/kind of gum this item was originally filled with. I was able to find two photos, online, of the open tin full of candy, but each image displayed different contents. One had stereotypical, multi-colored gumballs (like those illustrated inside the gumball machine on the front of the bag), while the other had all-red, individually-wrapped ones. Of course, this item may have been sold with different types of candy, in a variety of countries, so, it's entirely possible that both photos are correct (if anyone reading this ever bought one, brand new, and can recall what the candy looked like, kindly send me an e-mail and let me know, eh?). Regardless, you can stick whatever confections you want in there, bubblegum or otherwise.

For a cheap candy container, this item is surprisingly well-constructed. Both handles pivot, as does the hinge on the bottom and the locking clasp on the top. Said bottom hinge is a little loose, so the two halves don't quite lie flush with one another when the bag is closed, but that's a fairly minor complaint. The pink finish looks good and all the printed graphics and text are sharp and clear. As it's a secondhand sample, sure, there are several small dings and scratches, but, overall, this Hello Kitty tin is still in nice shape. At the top of the handles, this item measures 3.6" (9.2 cm) tall.

As the tin is all metal, it's more durable than a typical plastic piece would be. However, that being the case, you do have to guard against rust, particularly the interior, if you want to keep it in good condition. It shouldn't be stored anywhere wet, and likewise, damp items shouldn't be kept inside it.

Liv "School's Out" Sophie wants to know why I'm making her pack Bratz clothes when they don't ever fit her.

In addition to employing it as a storage container for small treats or treasures, it also makes a decent travel case accessory for dolls, which is probably what I'll be using it for. All-in-all, this bubblegum tin purse is a sturdy and attractive item.

This is the 2013 Sanrio/McDonald's Hello Kitty Loves Music figurine. The assortment included six different version of Hello Kitty; besides this one, you could also get Loves Painting, Loves Dancing, Loves Reading, Loves Tennis, and the Loves Baking one discussed further below. Several months ago, I almost bought the Painting and Reading ones, priced at twenty-five cents a piece, but didn't, and, of course, now that I have these two, I wish that I had done so. No worries though, I'm sure that I'll run across the others again, as they were recent releases and, like most McDonald's fare, produced in large quantities.

Loves Music is a bobble figure. Simply nudge her and Hello Kitty will rock and sway, at the hips, not unlike one of those hula dancer figurines that people keep on the dashboard of their cars. If you use your imagination, it does kind of seem like she's gyrating back-and-forth as she strums her guitar. The figure itself doesn't have a whole lot of detail, but the yellow instrument has a molded soundhole, bridge, and strings. At the tips of her ears, she stands 3" (7.7 cm) tall.

And this is the Hello Kitty Loves Baking figurine from the same 2013 Sanrio/McDonald's assortment as the Loves Music piece above. They're both nice, but, out of the two, I prefer this one. Her ensemble is a bit more elaborate (particularly the quilted texture on her oven mitts) and she's holding a pie, and I love pie. If you gave me a choice between having Hello Kitty perform my favorite song on guitar, or baking me my favorite flavor of pie, I'd pick the dessert every time (provided that Hello Kitty didn't get a bunch of cat hairs in it that is).

She's got rotating cut joints at the arms, but, due to the huge size of her head and rotund body, they can't turn very much, so, that mobility ends up being next to useless. I suspect that the separate arms were more of a molding/casting solution than an actual desire to articulate the figure. At the top of her chef's hat, she stands 3.7" (9.3 cm) tall.

My secondhand sample doesn't have them, but, originally, this toy would have come with a long roll of scented stickers (strawberries and Hello Kitty heads). You would insert the rolled strip of paper into the bottom of the figure, via the hinged access flap, and then pull them through the narrow slot cut into the front of the pie. I'm not a huge sticker fan, but that's a neat design choice for dispensing them.

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