Toy Talk
Volume IX

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 10/7/13

It's time to get started on the ninth installment of Toy Talk! Standing in the bottom row, from left-to-right, we have a 2006 Ban Presto Nintendo Mario, two identical 2010 Hasbro Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop "Playfully Plaid" dolls, and a trio of McDonald's Mattel Barbie: A Fairy Secret dolls (Fairy Bride, Raquelle, and Fairy Barbie). And, perched on top of the wooden box, from left-to-right, are a 1996 Disney The Hunchback of Notre Dame Laverne (Burger King), and a 2012 DC Green Lantern: The Animated Series Grapplin' Kilowog (McDonald's). I bought Mario (fifty cents) and the two "Playfully Plaid" Blythes (twenty-five cents each) from the Ishpeming St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on 10/3/13, and everything else came from the Marquette branch of the same thrift store chain on 9/13/13 (Kilowog was fifty-nine cents, and Laverne, Fairy Bride, Raquelle, and Fairy Barbie, were all in the same $2.44 bag of "girls" toys). If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these figures, 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!

Okie-dokie, it's a me-a, Mario! This 8-1/2" (21.6 cm) hollow rotocast vinyl figure of everyone's favorite fictional Italian plumber was produced by Ban Presto in 2006 for Nintendo. The sculpt captures the simple cartoony nature of the character very well--he definitely looks like he just stepped out of your television screen. Mario's legs are shaped so that he leans forward a bit. While he stands fine, I would have preferred that he had straighter posture, because that lean shifts his center of gravity forward, particularly if you pivot his arms out in front of his body. Nintendo's mustachioed mascot only has rotating cut joints at the shoulders and neck. Some leg articulation, possibly V-cuts at the hips, would have been nice, for jumping or running poses, but rotocast vinyl figures tend to be fairly immobile, so the lack of joints is no great surprise. For the most part, the paintwork is solid, but the white on his gloves was applied a bit zealously--it goes up too far onto his forearms. My sample has a few scuffs and a little bit of paint worn off here and there, but it's in pretty good shape overall. When I bought him, there was a big brown line, running right across the front of his nose, which looked terrible, so I took that off with some diluted nail polish remover (I'll spare you the obvious brown-nose jokes). The only other figure of Mario I own is a simple, unarticulated affair with a spring-and-plunger jumping action, so I'm pleased to add this much larger and better version to my collection, especially since he's such an iconic character and a big part of my gaming past.

Mario with my 3-1/16" (7.8 cm) tall 1989 Super Mario Bros. 3
spring-powered jumping Raccoon Mario figurine.

Mario with my 14" (35.6 cm) 2002 Kellytoy Wario plush.

Mario with several of the Super Mario Bros. 3 creatures I made.
Top row, left-to-right: Para-Goomba and Pirana Flower.
Bottom row, left-to-right: "Boo" Diddly, Bob-omb, and Dry Bones.

There seems to be an awfully high adoption rate for twins in my toy collection lately, eh? Both of these brunettes are Hasbro 2010 Blythe Loves Littlest Pet Shop "Playfully Plaid" figures. I can't use the "they were both in the same bag of toys" excuse this time, because I bought them individually. I suppose one doll would have been sufficient, but I felt like keeping my twins streak going, plus they're small and were only twenty-five cents a-piece, so I figured, why not? Both Blythes have rotating cut joints at the hips and shoulders and a ball-jointed neck. The Playfully Plaid Blythes are molded in a darker skin tone than the "Scooter" Blythe I looked at in a previous installment of Toy Talk (see comparison shots below), but the body appears to be identical otherwise. Their (incomplete) outfits consist of a white knit sweater and a plaid skirt, both of which open-and-close with velcro strips. She also has a pair of pink panties painted on her body, accented with a cute four-petaled flower on her bottom. Unfortunately, because neither of my Playfully Plaid Blythes came with their riding boots, they can't stand on their own because the dolls' feet aren't flat. I forgot to brush the locks on both dolls before shooting these photos, so I apologize for the errant strands, but the tresses are the same high quality stuff (very smooth and silky) that my Scooter Blythe has. My only quibble about the hair is that it has a tendency to get caught in the velcro and neck/shoulder joint seams (I recommend rotating Blythe's head around, so that she's looking backwards, when dressing or undressing these dolls to help keep the hair out of the velcro). A complete Playfully Plaid sample should come with a transparent doll stand, a Littlest Pet Shop white horse, a plaid saddle for said mini steed that matches Blythe's skirt, a pink riding cap, black boots, a brown shoulder bag, a couple of red apples (molded as one piece), and a magenta comb. Cats, dogs, and similarly small-to-mid-sized animals look fine with these mini Blythe dolls, but, looking at photos online, I have to say that a Littlest Pet Shop horse appears somewhat bizarre, in terms of scale, standing next to Blythe, because even a pony should be fairly large in relation to a human. While the doll was designed with a horse rider motif, I think it'd be cruel to make her tiny mount lug around a human twice its size. I like both the Scooter and Playfully Plaid Blythe variations, but, if I had to pick a favorite, I'd probably go with my Playfully Plaid twins, because their outfits are simpler and easier on the eyes (I'm not a big fan of pink), and I also prefer their darker hair and skin. All that said, I think Blythe looks best as a redhead--while I don't currently have one with that color hair, maybe I'll find a ginger Blythe on a future toy hunt.

Playfully Plaid and Scooter wearing each other's outfits.

Scooter and Playfully Plaid in matching outfits.
Please note that Scooter's spring green tights
are a permanent part of her body.

These three ladies are all from Mattel's 2011 Barbie: A Fairy Secret line of McDonald's fast food toys. From what I've been able to discover online, the woman in the white dress with pink hair is the "Fairy Bride", the brunette in purple is "Raquelle", and the lady wearing the teal dress with pink tresses is "Fairy Barbie". The dolls' bodies are pretty plain, but the sculpting on their clothing is fairly intricate--the Fairy Bride's frilly tiered white dress is particularly nice. Unfortunately, all three are missing their butterfly-like translucent wings, which would have plugged into the holes in their backs. The girls still look all right without them, and their hair obscures the holes, but I'd certainly prefer to have the wings than not. Speaking of hair, the quality on all three is good. It's silky smooth and thickly rooted--running a brush through it was good enough, I didn't have to resort to boiling water for this trio. They all have rotating cut joints at the neck, shoulders, and thighs (the legs are fairly difficult to move though, which makes me question if they're really intended to be joints at all), but none of them can stand on their own, which is disappointing (given that they're fairies, I suppose they're meant to be airborne). It's also worth mentioning that, if you wanted to make some easy Jem customs in this scale [five inches (12.7 cm)], the two ladies with pink tresses would work nicely, as their hair is already the right color. I wish I had the wings and that the figures could stand on their own, but, other than that, they're decent fast food dolls.

I've watched Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame animated film in the past, in fact, I caught the tail end of it, on cable television, not too long ago, but, other than the general plot, I have only the vaguest recollections of what it's about. I know that Quasimodo has a trio or gargoyle buddies, including a rather porcine one, but, without looking anything up online, that's the extent of my knowledge regarding Laverne here, a 1996 Burger King toy. By the way, who names a gargoyle Laverne of all things? According to Lareina Rule's Name Your Baby book, Laverne is an old French girl's name that means "from the alder tree grove" or "spring-like", does either of those things sound even remotely gargoyle-esque to you? The most notable thing, design-wise, about The Hunchback of Notre Dame gargoyles is that they had no legs and just hopped around on their flat waists. Otherwise, they fit the stereotypical gargoyle "look" pretty well (wings, horns, grotesque features, etc.) Humorously, Laverne has a darker gray pigeon perched on her horned melon, which might explain why she freaks out so much when you wind her up--nobody enjoys bird shit shampoo. Laverne is molded from a light gray plastic that has tiny dark flecks suspended in it, which does a fair job of suggesting stone (Mattel's Monster High character Rochelle Goyle is done with a similar effect). There's some slight yellow discoloration around the seams of my figure; I'm not sure if this is an adhesive, holding the toy together, a sign of aging plastic, or just grime. Her circular brown base has a wood grain texture to it which looks very nice, but a paint wash or dry brushing would have done wonders to bring out that detail. The arms have rotating cut joints at the shoulders, but, because they're quite loose, they don't hold their positioning very well, which was probably intentional to facilitate the action feature. Speaking of which, Laverne's works amazingly well. Wind up the lever underneath her left armpit, and then release it, and both of the arms will whirl around at high speed. Or, at least, that's all that I thought there was to it when I did it holding the figure in my hands, up in the air, but I later discovered that, placed on a flat surface, Laverne totally flips out, bouncing around like a maniac hopped up on crazy juice. I handle a lot of toys, so I'm rather jaded as far as wind-up features go, but, I have to say, the sheer violence of Laverne's action feature really left a favorable impression on me (and it also explains why she needed that big base). If that's how the character acts when she gets worked up, I wouldn't want to be anywhere near her when she blows her cool (keep in mind that gargoyles are made out of solid stone, so she'd do some terrible damage to her surroundings...not to mention any soft, squishy humans who had the misfortune of getting in her way).

You little Poozers had better finish your Chicken McNuggets before Kilowog gets angry! This 2012 McDonald's toy was a tie-in with the Green Lantern: The Animated Series show (which I've never watched). In the comic books, Kilowog is the Green Lanterns' trainer--he's responsible for showing the new GL recruits the ropes and how to properly utilize their power rings. His sculpt is simple and smooth, but it has the necessary bulk and shape to accurately convey Kilowog's stout, muscular form. Sliding the lever on Grapplin' Kilowog's spine back-and-forth makes the fingers on the large, translucent, ring-projection hand open-and-close. It's simple, but fun, and the grip is strong enough that you can use it to pick up various objects. Apparently Kilowog hates insects, because I found a dead, dried-up fly of some sort inside one of his hollow fingers when I got him home, and it was a bugger (pun intended) to get it out of there. It's a bit amazing that Kilowog can actually stand with that large hand threatening to throw off his center of gravity, but stand he does. Other than the aforementioned action feature, Grapplin' Kilowog's only points of articulation are rotating cut joints as the neck and knuckles (where the ring projection hand joints his real one), so, he's pretty much a one-trick pony. I do appreciate that the hand grasping feature still works, regardless of how it's orientated, which was smart engineering on the part of whomever designed this toy. I've probably read dozens of their comic books over the years, but, I'm not a huge fan of DC's Green Lantern Corps, and, while Kilowog is one of their more popular members, I have to admit that I bought him mostly because I enjoy his giant green hand gimmick.

« Return to my Toy Review Index

Site hosted by Build your free website today!