Toy Talk
Volume XVIII

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 12/9/13

I have a tough time choosing which five items I'm going to include each week in Toy Talk. Typically, I have about 15-20 individual reviews written up beforehand, and I select a quintet out of that pool (the remaining ones get rolled over for the next time). I try to have a diverse and interesting lineup each week (and I also make an attempt to balance "boys" and "girls" toys, although, while I like both, being a guy, my interests tend to lean more towards the former than the latter), but, depending on what I've been buying, that's not always practical. For this, the eighteenth installment of Toy Talk, starting in the back, and moving left-to-right, we'll be looking at a 2006 Hasbro G.I.JOE: Sigma 6 Tunnel Rat, a 2008/2009 MGA Yummi-Land girl (I'm afraid I wasn't able to successfully identify which one she is), and a 2003 Toy Biz Hulk: The Motion Picture Punching Hulk. Moving down to the front, there's a 2004 Dreamworks Shrek 2 Shrek ornament (Hardee's), and a Spin Master/Sega Toys Zoobles! Jumper. I bought Tunnel Rat (ninety-six cents), the Yummi-Land girl, and Shrek (both items were in a big $2.44 bag of toys) from the Marquette St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store on 10/25/13. Punching Hulk (fifty cents on 11/21/13) and Jumper (one of the items in a twenty-five cents mystery grab bag of toys on 11/26/13) both came from the Ishpeming branch of the same thrift store chain. If anyone reading this knows more information about any of these items (particularly the identity of the Yummi-Land girl), 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!

When you need someone small enough to squeeze into some tiny, nasty hole and chase after the bad guys, Tunnel Rat is your go-to guy. While the original 3.8" (9.7 cm) tall Tunnel Rat figure was released way back in 1987, this newer, and much larger [7.8" (19.7 cm) tall], version of the character is a 2006 Hasbro G.I.JOE Sigma 6 soldier. His sculpt is good, but, compared to the other Sigma 6 Joes, Tunnel Rat is pretty short and lanky--probably too much so; his long arms are almost simian-like. My sample didn't come with any of his accessories, but a complete Tunnel Rat should include a pistol with a removable clip, a submachine gun with a strap, a working butterfly knife, two grenades, goggles, dog tags, a soft goods tactical harness, a wheeled sledpack (imagine a hi-tech version of one of those platforms that car mechanics use when they work underneath vehicles), and two snake-neck lamps. Many of said items could be plugged into the circular ports found on various parts of his body. Tunnel Rat is as poseable as you'd expect, with a ball-jointed neck, pin-and-disc ball-jointed shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees, pin-joint ankles, a pivoting mid-torso joint, rotating cut joints at the waist and calves, and a hinged forearm communicator panel. Speaking of which, I was shooting photos of Tunnel Rat for this review, and, much to my annoyance, I found that both shoulder joints were super tight and didn't want to budge. I was really cranking on the right one, even though I told myself it was a bad idea, and, sure enough, this happened:


A section of his back just sheared right off the body and went flying across the room, narrowly missing my face. I've broken a lot of toys over the years, but I can't say that this particular scenario has ever happened to me before--if anything, I expected the shoulder joint itself to snap, not the back. Even though the shoulders were stuck, in Hasbro's defense, our house was pretty cold at the time [around 35o Fahrenheit (2o Celsius)], which probably didn't help matters, as plastic tends to become brittle at low temperatures. Fortunately, this was a relatively easy fix with some super glue. All the adjacent joints are still completely functional after repairing the toy, so, other than a barely visible fracture line, Tunnel Rat still looks and works just like he did before my little accident. Anyway, learn from my mistake (because I certainly won't), and be very careful when trying to free up stuck joints. I can't say that I like the design of the Sigma 6 Tunnel Rat as much as the original (which was based on Larry Hama, the much-admired scribe of the Marvel G.I.JOE comic book, as well as all those entertaining biographical files on the figures' cardbacks), but, stuck joints and odd proportions aside, he's a good toy.

This lass is a 5" (13 cm) tall 2008 or 2009 MGA Yummi-Land girl, but I haven't been able to figure out which one (other than hair, outfit, and skin tone variations, they all have the same head and body as far as I can tell). This toy looks similar to MGA's Bratz line, and, at first, that's what I assumed she was. Arguably the coolest aspect about the Yummi-Land dolls was that they came packaged in transparent pop-bottle-shaped containers that doubled as figure stands, or, in the case of the larger 13" (33 cm) scale versions, coin banks. I always like when a company goes above-and-beyond the call of duty to make their packaging something functional that you want to keep. The toys were also scented (which is doubtlessly what the "yummi" part of the title refers to)--I can just barely detect a fragrance on this one, but I couldn't hazard a guess as to what it is, which is too bad, because that would have helped me identify her. Unfortunately, her former owner(s) took a pair of scissors to her blonde hair, so her tresses have been pretty badly butchered (her locks were pulled back into a ponytail when I got her, which was probably an attempt to hide how mangled it is). It might not seem too horrid in some of the photos, but, trust me, it looks terrible in person. Badly cut hair is one of the few things that I just cannot stand on a secondhand doll (I could tell you stories about some of the tragically disfigured ones I've seen for sale in thrift stores over the years). I would have never bought her in this condition as a stand-alone piece, but, as she was only one of many items in a bag of toys, I didn't have the luxury of choice (other than not buying the bag at all, of course, which I wasn't going to do, since there was other stuff in there that I did want). I wonder what drives a child to want to cut, and ruin, a doll's hair? Now, being a guy, I didn't have a lot of toys with rooted tresses when I was a kid, but I can't remember ever feeling the urge to give my Masters of the Universe Grizzlor figure a shave. On the upside, she did come with a complete outfit, although, not being able to identify her, I couldn't say whether the articles actually belong to her or not. The summer dress opens and closes in the back, via a velcro strip, and has a nice pastel rainbow stripe motif with yellow tulle trim. Her purple plastic sandals feature cute, cupcake-like decorations on the straps above the toes, which is a neat touch, as it ties into Yummi-Land's food theme. They're pretty hard to get on and off her feet though (inserting a foot into one sideways, and then rotating the sandal into place, worked best for me, although it still required quite a bit of force), so, I'd advise you to save yourself some frustration and leave them on. Her white panties are just painted onto her body, which is pretty typical for a play doll. In regards to poseability, she only has rotating cut joints as the neck, shoulders, and hips (the neck might be a ball-joint, but, it sure doesn't move like one if it is). She can't stand on her own, even with the sandals on (her bare feet aren't flat, so that won't work either); however, the sandals have peg-holes in their soles, which are doubtlessly there for attachment to the previously mentioned pop bottle stand that I don't have. The fact that her right leg is slightly shorter than the left doesn't do anything for her stability either. If her hair wasn't ruined, I think I'd like this doll more, but, even ignoring that, she is kind of bland. If nothing else, I can use the dress and shoes with some of my other smaller dolls.

My hair! My beautiful hair! What did they do to it?! For variety's sake, here she is wearing a pink Arabian-esque outfit from one of my Barbie Kelly dolls. It's big on her, as she's a lot slimmer than Kelly, but I think she looks good in it.

I was pretty sure that I already had this 6.7" (17.0 cm) tall Punching Hulk figure at home, yet, I managed to convince myself that the one in the store had a darker paint job and therefore must be a variant or re-issue of the one that I had, so, I bought it. Well, when I got back to the house and compared the two, it turned out that it was indeed a duplicate of the one that was already in my collection (which I also purchased from that same thrift store, way back on 9/19/08, but that one only cost me twenty-five cents--and, in case you're wondering, no, my memory isn't that good, I just maintain a detailed spreadsheet of all the crap that I buy). So, now I have yet another set of identical twins. This 2003 Toy Biz Punching Hulk was a tie-in with the Ang Lee Hulk live action film that was released around the same time (which, in my opinion, wasn't a very good movie). The jade giant was computer generated in said film, and this figure does a pretty good job of replicating that look. His musculature is suitably over the top and I like how the tattered ends of his torn jeans continue down past the knee joints. Speaking of articulation, he's fairly mobile for a character of his bulk. He's got a ball-jointed neck (which moves more like a cut joint), "clicky" pin-and-disc ball-jointed shoulders, a spring-action cut waist, pin joint elbows, wrists, and knees, and rotating cut joints at the hips and ankles. I don't have it, but this figure is supposed to come with a silver brick wall accessory that had three break-away, fist-sized holes that the Hulk could "punch" through with his action features. Pumping the lever on the mean-green-machine's back makes his arms swing violently up-and-down, and rotating his waist to the left, and then releasing it, will cause it to snap back, delivering a spring-loaded punch (who knew that the Hulk was a South-paw?), just like a classic Masters of the Universe figure. This is a great rendition of the ol' Hulkster, provided that the lever projecting out of his back doesn't bother you, but, I still have some buyer's remorse with this guy, simply because I already had one and really didn't need two. I guess, just like Betty Ross, I have a hard time saying "no" to Mr. Banner.

Double your pleasure, double your fun!

I'm an ogre! Don't believe that warning sign--Shrek's a big softy at heart and his bark is much worse than his bite. This jolly-looking green fellow is a 3.4" (8.7 cm) tall 2004 Dreamworks Shrek 2 Hardee's ornament. Finding something from Hardee's is a bit unusual, as the vast majority of the fast food toys that I acquire are from McDonalds, and, to a lesser extent, Burger King. In fact, I believe that this item is the only toy in my entire collection that originated from that particular restaurant chain. The detail on this piece is quite good. They actually went to the trouble of doing each individual leaf on the bush and Shrek's vest and boots have a reptilian leathery texture pattern that I like. The paint could be better, but it's decent work, and I dig his "Beware Ogre" sign. My sample is missing the string for hanging the ornament, which is supposed to come out of the top of his head, but, as I don't have any intention of hanging it (and the figurine has a flat bottom, so it stands just fine), that's not a big deal.

Spin Master/Sega Toy's Zoobles! are essentially Bakugan for girls; as such, instead of monsters and warriors, Zoobles! focuses on cute and colorful animals. This particular one is #167: Jumper. In kangaroo form (my initial impression was that she was a rabbit, but, according to Wikipedia's list of Zoobles! toys, she's one of those hopping marsupials), Jumper is 3.3" (8.5 cm) tall, while in "sleeping" sphere mode, she has a diameter of 1.8" (4.5 cm). Jumper is a "Mama" figure, so she's supposed to come with a smaller baby Zoobling, Bumper, that would have fit inside her belly, but, alas, her little one is missing from my sample, which is a real bummer (when Easter rolls around again, I plan on sticking a mini chocolate egg in that cavity--just try and stop me!) Zoobles! toys are relatively common finds at thrift stores, so, while I might not ever get Bumper, it's pretty likely that I'll run across a properly-sized Zoobling for her empty womb one of these days. Jumper also originally came with a Happitat (Happy + Habitat) environment/base, with an embedded magnetic hot spot (more on that momentarily) that I also don't have. I must admit, I never get tired of the instant transformation feature of these figures. Simply place a Zoobles! sphere on any magnetic surface (I used an old, cylindrical speaker magnet in these photos) and they automatically change into their animal form. It's magic I tell you! Jumper can't stand on her own as a kangaroo, because her design makes her lean backwards a bit, so, she tips over without some kind of support. Overall, I'd say my sample is in pretty nice physical shape, but Jumper's eyes aren't quite straight--I'm not sure if that's just the paint or if the orbs are misaligned inside the head. The establishment that I got this from usually sells individual Zoobles! for fifty cents a piece, which isn't a bad price, but I got Jumper for a steal, as she was one of several items in a twenty-five cents mystery grab bag of toys (and probably the best thing in that entire paper sack to boot). At the moment, I prefer Zoobles! to Bakugan. Aside from the cute factor, I think it's because they're just toys for the sake of being toys whereas Bakugan is more of a battle game.

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