Toy Talk
Volume VI

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 9/16/13

For my sixth installment of Toy Talk, I present to you (in the front, from left-to-right) a couple of 2011 McDonald's Strawberry Shortcake Plum Puddings, two bears, a 1988 Playmates TMNT Cheapskate vehicle, and a 2011 McDonald's Liv Alexis styling head. And, finally, in the back, towering over everything else, is a 2006 Hasbro G.I.JOE Sigma 6 Sea Ops Duke. I bought Alexis at the Ishpeming Saint Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on 9/14/13 for twenty-five cents, Duke from Goodwill on 9/13/13 for $2.09, and the Cheapskate (fifty-nine cents), two Plum Puddings, and pair of bears (those four items were in a $2.44 bag of toys) all came from the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on 9/13/13. If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these figures, that I haven't already discussed below, or would just like to chat about toys, feel free to e-mail me and let me know!

Who wants a second helping of Plum Pudding? These two identical 2011 Strawberry Shortcake Plum Pudding McDonald's Happy Meal figurines were in a big bag of girls' toys that I bought. They stand about four inches (10 cm) high, including the base. This particular line of toys was scented. As you'd expect, two years after their release, the smell is pretty faint now, but you can still catch a bit of it if you hold one close to your nose--I couldn't say how powerful the fragrance was when they were new. It's kind of a generic fruity/floral smell; it doesn't suggest anything in particular to me (in my experience, real plums don't have much of an odor, unless they're rotten). I wonder if anybody used these as air fresheners in their car/truck, once their child got tired of playing with them? Ms. Pudding also has an action feature, if you roll the toy across any hard surface, she twirls around-and-around in what I assume is meant to be a ballet-esque spin. It works well enough, but I would have preferred that she was a simple action figure instead, as that would have been more versatile for play purposes. The mix of various shades of purple plastic and paint makes for an attractive toy, and the sculpt, while simplistic/cartoony in nature looks nice. Her base is, of course, a plum, with some flowers and leaves sculpted in raised relief around the perimeter, as well as a little figure that I'm guessing is a bee or fairy of some sort. Other than the two wheels and the pivot, underneath her left foot, that facilitate the spinning action, her only point of articulation is a rotating cut joint as the waist (the shoulders look like cut joints, but they're actually immobile.) Given her attire and production date, I'm going to assume that Plum Pudding is from a more recent reboot of the Strawberry Shortcake franchise. I used to watch the 1980s cartoon once in a while when I was a kid, so, I have some familiarity with it, but I can't say that I was ever that big of a fan of Strawberry Shortcake and her friends (the Purple Pieman villain was kind of cool though, but then I like evil/deranged chefs in general).

There isn't a whole lot I can write about these two (but you know I'm going to try anyway). I have no idea what company manufactured these or when, as the only markings on the bears' bodies are 'MADE IN CHINA'. Both animals are made out of hollow vinyl and have no articulation. The sculpts are quite good, although not terribly exciting (it would have been nice, for variety's sake, if one of the bears was rearing up on its hind legs). The shiny ring (melted vinyl or some sort of adhesive?) where the animals' necks are joined to their bodies is pretty obvious and unattractive. While the two are very similar in appearance, there are some differences besides size (leg positioning for example), but I could certainly believe that they were modeled by the same artist. The larger bear has green eyes and brown paint applied to its dorsal region, which shows up a lot better with my camera's flash than it does in person (with the naked eye, he just looks black), while the smaller bear only has its' eyes painted red (Satan spawn!) Probably the best thing about these two bears is that they're just about the perfect size to use with 3-3/4" (9.5 cm) scale figures (G.I.JOE, Star Wars, etc.) Oh yeah, whomever packed the bag of toys that these bears, and the Plum Puddings, came in put a couple of pieces of sidewalk chalk in there too--needless to say, several of the figures, including the bears, needed a good washing as a result. From my experiences with younger children, I'm sure that they would have been delighted by the inclusion of said chalk (indeed, some kids would probably enjoy that more than the toys themselves), but I was not amused. I think a good compromise would have been to put the chalk in its own baggie, and then put that into the larger plastic bag, so that it didn't get all over everything else.

Regular readers may recall that I primarily bought this Ertl hunter so that I could take pictures of him getting attacked by creatures.
Well, these bears are the perfect critters for the job--it's mauling time!

Cowabunga, dudes and dudettes! Like, this totally gnarly contraption is a Playmates Toys 1988 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cheapskate vehicle. The machine is about 5-1/2" (14 cm) long, 3" (8 cm) wide, and 3-1/2" (9 cm) tall. My sample is missing a silver decal (on one of the two side exhaust pipes) and the plastic flag that's supposed to project up from the fan frame. The orange handle/cord is also showing some discoloration from plastic stress/fatigue (probably from being bent into unnatural positions), and there's some general wear and tear, but all-in-all, this Cheapskate is in fair condition. Regarding articulation, the four wheels spin, as does the fan blade in the back, and the handle/cord rotates up and down. Most importantly, the spring-powered foot-kicking action feature is fully functional (you pull the green lever, on the back of the vehicle, up to activate it). I like that there are three footpegs, so you have some options for mounting different sized/shaped feet on the board's surface (or even multiple figures). The Cheapskate was one of the smaller and simpler TMNT vehicles, but I dig its cobbled-together look and bright colors.

The store I got this from had several TMNT vehicles for sale, but the Cheapskate was the most complete, and, as such, the only one I felt was worth purchasing. I also saw the Turtle Blimp (without the balloon or bombs, which is no fun at all), the Psycho Cycle (I think...the original TMNT toy line had several different bikes, so I'm not 100% sure on which particular one it was), and the Army Tube (only the inner tube itself, without all the weapons and embellishments). They were also trying to sell a single side pontoon from the Toxic Crusaders Toxic Turf Surfer vehicle, a toy I owned years ago (which was actually a redesigned TMNT Michelangelo's Sidewalk Surfer--most, if not all, of the Toxic Crusader vehicles were re-releases of TMNT contraptions with small tweaks to make them fit into Toxie's universe). That pontoon only represents maybe 15% of the complete toy, so, unless you just happened to need that component, there would be no point at all in buying it. Unfortunately, it's pretty common to see thrift stores selling stuff like that, probably because they simply aren't aware that what they're offering is woefully incomplete (I saw not one, but two, G.I.JOE Rise of Cobra Night Raven stealth jets, missing a bunch of pieces, including their wings, at Goodwill, the very same day). I suppose I could have informed one of the employees about the condition of these items, but I doubt that they'd pull them from the shelves just on my say-so. In my opinion, toys in that kind of shape should either be recycled/tossed or put in a "free" box (which, to their credit, is something the local thrift stores will sometimes do). Being fairly knowledgeable about toys, I can usually recognize if something is broken and/or missing parts, but I find it depressing to think of children ending up with toys that are badly damaged or that don't have their more essential components. That said, kids are probably more forgiving of a toy's condition that an adult collector is.

Alas, the Headless Horsemen must have overtaken Alexis on Halloween night, for all her friends found the following morning was this! Said item is a 2011 Spin Master Liv Alexis mini styling head from a McDonald's wave of Happy Meal toys. There were actually two different types of McDonald's Liv toys you could get, these styling heads and 5-1/2" (14 cm) full figures with minimal articulation, rooted hair, and sculpted clothes (I bought some of those too, which you'll almost certainly be seeing in a future installment of Toy Talk). You could get all five Liv girls (Sophie, Alexis, Daniela, Katie, and Hayden) in full figure form, but only Sophie, Alexis, and Daniela were available as styling heads. The store I bought Alexis' noggin from used to have Sophie's mini styling head too, but I dragged my feet too long on buying them, so, when I finally decided that I was going to start collecting these, in addition to the actual 12" Liv dolls, somebody else had snapped up Sophie on me. While I wanted both, if I can only have one, I'm happy it was Alexis, because she's my favorite Liv character. As a cheap fast food toy, the hair quality isn't the greatest (it's coarse and prone to frizziness), and, typical for a secondhand doll, Alexis' mop was a tangled rat's nest when I bought it. After several dunks in boiling water, and a whole lot of stroking with a Monster High doll brush, her auburn tresses look much nicer. Speaking of which, brand new, these heads also came with a small comb, which mine lacks. While it wasn't entirely successful (they look kind of robotic and creepy), I like that McDonald's at least made an attempt to replicate the beautiful inset eyes of real Liv dolls (they appear to be made from transparent light green plastic with the eye whites done on top of that with opaque paint.) I also like that they used almost the exact same head/neck/shoulder sculpt as a real Liv doll, which puts them in the proper scale so that you could use them with your full-size Liv dolls as beauty school practice heads (how cool would it have been if the hair came off these, just like the real Liv dolls' wigs, so that you could play switcheroo?) The line where the crown connects to the rest of the head is very noticeable and distracting though, but you can cover it somewhat with the hair. I'm also going to give McDonald's some kudos for giving each of the three styling heads unique sculpted necklaces/halter tops, when they could have easily taken the lazy route and used the same mold for all three girls. I think smaller styling heads like these are a really great idea, because the full-sized ones, while cool, take up a lot of space (I often see them in thrift stores, and they're tempting, but I usually leave them on the shelf for that very reason--where on earth would I put it?) On a side note, if you want one of these, but can't find any, and have a Dollar Tree store in your local area, they sell similar small generic styling heads (both African American and Caucasian varieties)--I haven't purchased one of them for comparison, but they seemed to be of about the same level of quality as this Liv one.

This is how crazy her hair looked when I bought her.
If a bug crawled in there, it'd probably never find its way out again!

Scale comparison with a full-size Mattel 2009
My Scene Barbie Madison styling head.

Alexis thinks this is super creepy,
but here's how she looks
holding her own head.

Instead of a wide variety of unique characters, Hasbro's 8" (20 cm) G.I.JOE Sigma 6 toy line was plagued with an overabundance of Duke and Snake-Eyes variants, yet, despite how many times the character was produced, this 2006 Sea Ops Duke is the first Sigma 6 version of Conrad Hauser to come home with me. He also has the distinction of being only the second Duke I've ever owned in my entire life (the other being the 12" electronic Voice FX Valor vs. Venom Duke, which is one of my favorite toys of all time). Being secondhand, I was amazed he still had a few of his accessories, as that's a rare thing indeed to see in a thrift store. My Sea Ops Duke has both his removable flippers and web harness, but he's still missing a lot of stuff (his dog tag, two pistols, a water sled, a harpoon gun, the harpoon for said weapon, a scuba tank, goggles/mask, and two breathing hoses). To save on manufacturing costs, the Sigma 6 Joes mostly shared the same body, but it's an excellent one. There's a ball-jointed neck; pin-and-post shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles; a rotating cut waist; and pivot hinges in the mid-torso and computer panel on his left forearm. Sigma 6 figures have a very rugged feel to them and the joints are very strong/tight--I think that they're one of the toy lines from this era that are really going to hold up well, decades from now, in terms of durability. I paid a bit more for Duke than I think he's really worth, but he's still a welcome addition to my Sigma 6 ranks.

Sigma 6 Sea Ops Duke meets Valor vs. Venom Voice FX Duke.

« Return to my Toy Review Index

Site hosted by Build your free website today!