Toy Talk
Volume XX

By Mark Patraw
Posted on 12/23/13

A bunny, a wolf, and flowers, I spy! And a mobile burger and black kitty, oh my! It's already the twentieth time I've done Toy Talk, I sigh. Well, now that I've gotten that awful example of poetry out of the way, let see what we have here. Starting on the left, and moving right, there's a 2011 Universal Studios Hop E.B. in Backpack figurine, a 2012 JAKKS Pacific Monsuno Backslash creature, a Domed Floral Diorama, a 2008 Viacom/Learning Curve Brands Spongebob Squarepants Patty Wagon vehicle, and a 2005 MGA Bratz Big Babyz Kool Kat pet. I bought E.B., Kool Kat (both items in a twenty-five cents grab bag on 12/19/13), the Domed Floral Diorama (fifty cents on 12/19/13), and the Patty Wagon (twenty-five cents grab bag on 12/21/13) from the Ishpeming St. Vincent de Paul Society thrift store, while Backslash ($2.44 bag of toys on 10/25/13) came from the Marquette 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!

All I can say is that those had better be chocolate malted milk balls, and not rabbit droppings, at the bottom of my backpack! Here's an unarticulated 2.8" (7.2 cm) tall figurine of E.B. from the 2011 Universal Studios movie Hop, which is yet another film I've never seen (I haven't been to the theater in years, and I don't watch much television). The basic premise of said movie is that E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand) doesn't want to follow in his father's footsteps to become the next Easter Bunny, so he runs off to Hollywood to fulfill his dream of becoming a drummer instead. Yeah, being the Easter Bunny is such a horrid job. You only work one day out of the year and can eat all the Cadbury Eggs that you want--where do I submit my application? This E.B. toy originally came in a 3-pack with Carlos and Phil (two chicks, and I mean chicks as in baby chickens, not women, we're talking about Easter here, remember?) which I don't have. I believe these Hop figurines were exclusive to Walmart, but I may be wrong. Anyway, the sculpt is great. Posed peering out of the bag, E.B. is incredibly adorable, and I love the fur texture all over his body. The paintwork could be better, particularly the white straps on the backpack, but that's a fairly minor quibble. Even without much familiarity with the source material, I really like this piece.

Like Bakugan, Beyblade, and other similar toy lines, JAKKS Pacific's Monsuno is another one of those collectible figure battle games. This 2012 purple wolf is named Backslash. The creature is pretty small, only standing 1.2" (3.0 cm) tall at the top of its back spikes and measuring 2.2" (5.6 cm) in length, from nose to the tip of its tail. The various Monsuno figures are supposed to fit inside cylindrical "Core" containers (I don't have any, but you can see a photo below, between my fingers, of how Backslash would look folded up inside one). I'm not absolutely sure on the gameplay mechanics, so I may be wrong here, but I believe that one player spins his or her Core, on a flat, hard surface, while the other player tries to burst it open by throwing their Core at it, scoring points if a successful impact causes one, or both, of the Monsuno creatures within the capsules to pop out. In addition to a Core, the characters are also supposed to come with some playing cards, which also factor into the gameplay in some fashion. Backslash has the number 10 printed on the underside of its chest; I'm guessing that corresponds to its attack power, hit points, or something similar. Some of the monster's articulation is dedicated to making Backslash assume its proper wolf shape when it pops out of its Core, but, the figure does have some poseability. The tail, hips, knees, and back spikes all have rotating pin joints that you can manually adjust, while the double-jointed shoulders and waist are automatic spring-loaded affairs. I guess I can't fairly evaluate one of these Monsuno toys without at least two critters and a couple of Cores to battle with, but, I will say that the figure itself is pretty cool looking. The color scheme is attractive, and the bony projections jutting from its flesh give the animal an exotic flair that a normal wolf lacks.

Well, here's another little treasure I found that most people probably wouldn't consider a toy, but, I'm the one writing this, so, I'll do as I please. It's winter right now, and I despise the cold and snow, so, I like to think of this 8.4" (21.4 cm) tall domed floral diorama as being a little piece of summer frozen in time that I can look at whenever I need some help to dispel the winter blues. It's an attractive object, but, upon closer inspection, it's obvious that the construction/materials are pretty cheap. Hardened glue is clearly visible where the plastic bouquet was joined to the wooden base, and, likewise, where the butterfly was attached to the blooming rose, which kind of ruins the lifelike illusion. I can't decide if the dome is made out of glass or plastic. On the one hand, it's really light, which suggests plastic, but, on the other, there's no molding seam, yet there is a circular spot where the transparent substance was poured or blown, which says glass to me. Short of breaking it, I guess I'll never know (given how careless and accident-prone I tend to be, I may find out sooner than later). This item was made in Taiwan and originally retailed at Kmart for $12.97 (the price tag is still on the bottom). While I wouldn't pay that much for it, I suppose it's not that unreasonable a sum for a display piece of this size. Our local Kmart closed around a decade ago, so, either this item is relatively old or it came from outside my immediate geographical area. I was rather surprised by how little (fifty cents) the thrift store was asking, as they'd typically sell something like this for something more in the $2-3 range. I was afraid that low price was due to a flaw (they typically mark down knickknacks if they're broken), most likely a crack in the transparent dome, but, upon inspecting it carefully in the store, I couldn't, and still can't, find damage on it anywhere. I dunno, maybe they got it from the estate of a little old dead lady and they just wanted to get rid of it. If that's the case and it's haunted, her spirit is doing a piss-poor job of it so far, but, then again, maybe Egon already solved that problem for me (having a Ghostbusters toy around does have its advantages).

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? This is a 2008 Viacom/Learning Curve Brands Spongebob Squarepants die-cast Patty Wagon vehicle, piloted by Spongebob himself and accompanied by his best friend, Patrick Starfish. At the top of the flag post, the vehicle stands 2.3" (5.8 cm) tall and the burger has a diameter of roughly 2" (5 cm). In addition to the rolling wheels, the cockpit of the vehicle can also rotate. At first, I thought that Spongebob and Patrick were supposed to spin around as you pushed the vehicle along, which would fit with their usual comical antics, but, because that wasn't happening, I was concerned that the toy might be broken. Well, after getting out a screwdriver and taking the vehicle apart, it became apparent that the ability to rotate the figures was just a bonus point of articulation and not actually tied to the motion of the wheels in any way, so, my worries were unfounded. If you're not familiar with the show, the "KK" on the flag stands for "Krusty Krab", the fast food establishment where Spongebob works as a cook. Likewise, the vehicle itself is shaped like a Krabby Patty, which are the popular brand of burgers made and sold there. The cartoon-ish detailing on both the figures and the vehicle itself is very good, while the paintwork is bright and colorful, albeit a bit on the sloppy side. I don't know if you noticed or not, but methinks Patrick may be getting just a little too friendly with Spongebob, as he's got his arm around his buddy's back. Overall, I find this to be a well-designed and attractive vehicle, and, out of all the Spongebob Squarepants toys I currently own, my favorite.

Yay, a kitty! I don't care what anybody says, black cats can only bring good luck. This is Kool Kat, the pet that came with Jade from MGA's 2005 Bratz Big Babyz line of 13" (33 cm) dolls, which were infant interpretations of the Bratz girls. I like the teenage Bratz dolls, but I don't care for babies in general (including real ones), so I'm fine with just having the feline in this particular case. Kool Kat stands 3.8" (9.6 cm) tall at the tip of its left ear, which is pointed slightly higher than the right. The sculpt is really simplistic, even by cartoon standards, but I find it incredibly charming. It reminds me a lot of a designer vinyl toy. The large head obviously makes our obsidian friend top heavy, but, the cat stands quite well despite that. Oddly, even though it was intended to be completely black in color, the tail was molded from rubbery pink material and then painted the proper hue. I found that out the hard way when I attempted to remove what I thought was stray pink paint and ended up removing even more of the black paint instead. What the hell, MGA? How is it cheaper to mold something in pink and then paint it black instead of just casting it in black to begin with? Maybe someone at the factory in China goofed, I dunno. The tail appears like it would rotate at the point where it joins the body, but that doesn't seem to be the case, and I'm afraid of trying too hard, lest I tear it. The neck, on the other hand, does turn, so you can make Kool Kat look in different directions at least. This item is just about as basic as a toy feline can possibly be, but that minimalism works very well in my opinion.

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