Toy Talk
Volume XIV

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 11/11/13

The fourteenth go-around of Toy Talk begins now! Starting on the far left, and moving right, there's a 2010 Hasbro/Playskool Marvel Super Hero Adventures Wolverine, Crepes Suzette and Angel Cake, both from the 2007 Strawberry Shortcake line of McDonald's toys, a 2011 Hasbro Transformers: Bot Shots Jetfire, a 2012 Hasbro My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic Rainbow Dash (McDonald's), and a 2010 20th Century Fox Marmaduke Darting Lightning (Burger King). Wolverine, Jetfire, and Lightning were all in a $2.44 bag of toys I bought from the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on 10/25/13. Rainbow Dash (one of the items in a pony-themed twenty-five cents mystery grab bag on 10/12/13) and Crepes Suzette (twenty-five cents on 11/9/13) both came from the Ishpeming branch of the same thrift store chain. 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!

Wolverine is the best he is as what he does, and, despite what he thinks, what Wolverine truly excels at is getting made into gazillions of plastic action figures. Oddly enough, despite having a big cardboard box filled with toys of Marvel Comics characters, he's the only Wolverine in my collection at the moment. In particular, this is the 2.6" (6.5 cm) tall 2010 Hasbro/Playskool Marvel Super Hero Adventures adaptation of the popular mutant. Wolverine looks pretty good, even in simplified "kiddy" form--the only detail that's missing is his burly arm hair, which probably wouldn't have jived that well with the minimalist aesthetic and target audience. I've always preferred his brown and yellow costume, doubtlessly because that's what he usually wore during the years that I collected comic books, but his original yellow and blue outfit is sharp too. The paint coverage is a little off here and there, but it's mostly solid work. Logan's got six points of articulation: pin-and-disc ball-jointed shoulders and rotating cut joints at the neck, wrists, and hips (the legs move as one unit, not individually). You can get some good poses out of him, but elbow joints would have given him a lot more versatility for slashing. The Playskool Marvel characters are quite similar in scale and appearance to Mattel's Imaginext DC mini figures, so, that means you can have characters from both comic book universes interact with one another, if that's your thing, bub.

Now it's time for something fluffy and sweet: a serving of Angel Cake (the blonde with the lilac hat) and Crepes Suzette (the one with pink tresses and the red beret), both of which come from the 2007 Strawberry Shortcake line of McDonald's figures. There were eight toys available in that wave, so, in addition to A.C. and C.S. here, you could also pick up two different versions of Strawberry Shortcake herself, Raspberry Torte, Tea Blossom, Ginger Snap, and Orange Blossom. I acquired Angel Cake first, in a big bag of toys, and, after evaluating her, I didn't think that I'd want anymore figures from that particular toy assortment, but, roughly a couple of weeks later, when I saw Crepes Suzette, I found her too adorable to leave behind. At 3.7" (9.5 cm) tall, Angel Cake is a little bit bigger than Crepes Suzette, who clocks in at 3.5" (9.0 cm); that difference can probably be attributed to Suzette's legs, which are bent, reducing her height. Both dolls have four points of articulation: the neck, shoulders, and waist all have rotating cut joints. Their (nonremovable) outfits are fairly detailed and cast/painted in pastel hues. In the case of Angel Cake, I have to wonder if white might have been a more appropriate choice for the character--that's the color that comes to mind when I think of the dessert. If you don't know (I sure didn't before consulting my Webster's Dictionary), crepes are thin, rolled-up pancakes, with a filling, and, in particular, crepes suzette have been rolled in a hot, orange-flavored sauce and are served in flaming brandy--maybe her red beret and skirt are meant to represent that fire? Angel Cake's got a great mop of curly blonde hair, which, on my figure, came pulled back into a ponytail with a transparent rubber band (it may not look like it's restrained in any way in the photos, but trust me, it's there), while Crepes Suzette's style is more pedestrian, consisting of long pink locks with a slight wave to them. I have to say that these figures look a lot more like the Strawberry Shortcake characters that I remember from my childhood than the two 2011 Plum Puddings that I reviewed in Toy Talk Vol. VI, although that may well be just because they have rooted, rather than sculpted, hair. Between these two dolls, I can't really pick a favorite; I like both for different reasons.

Soaring through the skies . . . okay, cruising across the dining room table, it's a 2011 Hasbro Transformers: Bot Shots Jetfire! In robot mode, Jetfire stands 1.9" (4.8 cm) tall, and, in jet mode, he measures 2.3" (5.8 cm) long and 1.2" (3.1 cm) high. All four of his wheels spin independently, and, while he has other moving parts, with the exception of his rotating chest panel, they're all spring-loaded affairs tied directly into his automatic transformation process, not for posing. You can't turn his head or move his arms up-and-down or anything like that. The sculpt and paintwork are both great--there's lots of little mechanical detailing all over his body and he has the appropriate heroic white and red color scheme for the character. The only thing I find odd is that he doesn't have a single Autobot insignia anywhere on his chassis.

Playing the Bot Shots game is fairly simple. Each figure has a revolving panel on their chest with each of the three facets depicting a colored attack type and a numerical power score. In the case of Jetfire here, he has a blaster (blue) power of 480, a fist (green) power of 780, and a sword (red) power of 360. In a manner similar to rock-paper-scissors, blaster beats fist, fist beats sword, and sword beats blaster--in the event of a draw, the character with the higher power score wins. Simply rotate into position whatever attack type you want your figure to use, transform it into vehicle mode, and then send it crashing into another Bot Shots character--when they both transform on impact, you compare their chests to see who beat who. The only other rule of note is that if one of the combatants fails to change into robot form as a result of the collision, it loses by default. It's sort of like the old Battle Beasts toys with their wood-water-fire rub signs, except more physical. I think it might have been neat if the chest panel itself was also spring-loaded, which would have resulted in your attack type being randomly selected, but that would have also taken away any element of strategy and left things completely up to chance. When I first saw photos of the Bot Shots figures online, I thought that they were lame, but, as life has taught me once again, you shouldn't judge something before you've had the opportunity to experience it firsthand. Now that I have one, I think that they're pretty neat and I commend Hasbro on the concept and execution. I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for more (I can't very well play the game properly with only one robot, after all).

Rainbow Dash is my favorite Generation 4 (G4) My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic character (I've never watched the cartoon--I just like her vibrant coloration and the fact that she's a pegasus), so, just finding her in the mystery grab bag of MLP toys I bought instantly justified its purchase. This particular Rainbow Dash is from Hasbro's 2012 My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic line of McDonald's Happy Meal toys. With the circular yellow accessory projecting up from her head removed, she stands 3.0" (7.7 cm) tall. The problem with cheap fast food toys and a colorful character like Rainbow Dash is that it's almost inevitable that she's going to suffer from cost-cutting measures, as is the case with this figure. To be accurate to the cartoon source material, her tresses, both sculpted and rooted, should exhibit the full spectrum of the rainbow, which this toy does not. For example, her tail should have red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet in it, but it only has orange, blue, and violet. Likewise, her mane should exhibit all those colors, but it's mostly orange with a little bit of red, purple and yellow. While you can certainly tell who she's supposed to be at a glance, I still find it disappointing that she's not as "rainbow-y" as she should be. I can understand the cost concerns, but, if you're going to do Rainbow Dash right, a company has to be willing to invest a bit more in her than the other less-chromatic figures. Moving on, the removable yellow key ring on her head also doubles as a comb, which was a clever design choice that I applaud. The only bad thing about it is that, removed, it leaves a nub projecting up from the top of the pony's head, which looks weird. If you wanted to, you could cut it off and paint over it to have a "normal" Rainbow Dash. Griping aside, I really like this toy.

The Miniature Pinscher pictured is a 2010 "Darting" Lightning from the Burger King toy line that was a tie-in with the Marmaduke live action film (the character was voiced by Marlon Wayans). I've never seen it, nor do I care to (it received generally poor reviews), so, I don't know that much about the movie, or its characters, other than that it's about dogs (duh, right?) The figure stands about 2.3" (5.7 cm) tall and measures around 3.9" (10.0 cm) in length. The sculpt and paintwork are decent, although some of the lighter brown color has rubbed off in spots on my sample. To make him live up to his namesake, place Darting Lightning on a hard, flat surface, pull him back to wind his wheel mechanism, and then press down on his tail to make him take off like, well, a bolt of lightning. This action feature works very well, but, you know, it'd be pretty funny to see an actual dog scooting across the floor in that position, because anyone who's ever owned a canine knows that they don't move like that. Other than the three wheels, on his belly, and the tail trigger that are both tied to his action feature, Lightning doesn't have any joints, so, you'd better like his pose, because it's never going to change.

I sometimes feel like a traitor reviewing dog toys--I can just see the disapproval in our cats' eyes whenever they see what I'm up to. In my defense, the bags of toys that I buy always seem to have more dogs than cats, so, I'm going to say that the toy industry favors canines over felines and it's not my fault. I doubt that excuse is going to fly with the cat goddess when it comes time to give an accounting of my life, so, in the meantime, I'm going to hedge my bets by slipping my kitty friends extra snacks whenever I can.

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