Sonic The Hedgehog 2: The Tornado by Jakks Pacific

If you hadn’t noticed, I skipped Wednesday this week. It was partly because I went really long on my Monday review, and partly because I was being lazy and opted for floating in the pool all afternoon and playing video games all night. But, I’m back to wrap up the week today with a look at some Sonic the Hedgehog toys! I have a lot of Sonic toys, but the zippy hedgehog has only graced FFZ once before when I looked at Jakks’ Greenhill Zone playset. Eventually I hope to get to all the Sonic toys, but this time I’m having a look at some toys from the second Sonic movie!

When the first Sonic movie went streaming, I originally put it on to hate watch it, but I fell in love about twenty minutes in. It was unbearably charming and I felt that it did my blue boi proud. The second film doubled down and while there were some decidedly odd choices for sub-plots, I still loved it. When I first saw this set with the Tornado biplane scaled for the 2.5-inch figures, I was really excited to get it. And then I couldn’t find it outside of scalpers on Ebay and Mecari. And wouldn’t you know it, just when I stopped looking it turned up on a Walmart clearance endcap! Plus, that Walmart was right across the street from a Sonic restaurant, allowing me to celebrate my good fortune with a chili and cheese dog! The Tornado requires a bit of assembly, but nothing too crazy, but let’s check out the figures first!

As already mentioned, these figures are part of the 2.5-inch line, which means they’re pretty small, but they do scale with the above mentioned Green Zone Playset (which I used as a backdrop!) and the other accessories. The articulation is pretty decent for figures this size, with rotating hinges in the hips and shoulders, ball jointed heads, and Tails has his tails on a ball joint as well.

As much as I loved Sonic’s look in the movie, I don’t think it translated all that well to this figure. It’s not bad, but there’s just something off about it. There’s a bit of a furry texture to him, which is at odds with the familiar smooth and cartoony look of the game figures. I do like the head sculpt, so in the end I’ll chalk it up to the proportions. The paint may look a bit sloppy in some areas, but keep in mind just how small these little guys are.

While, I may be a bit iffy on Sonic, the Tails figure is a home run! He still has the furry texturing, but I think this little guy still works just fine as a game-based figure. Plus, he has the flight helmet and goggles, which ties him directly to The Tornado. The only downside to this little fella is that he cannot stand on his own unless you turn his tails down and use them as a tripod to support him being upright.

And then there’s The Tornado, which was obviously inspired by The Sky Chase Zone in the Sonic 2 game, and the big reason why I was after this toy in the first place. Sure, the colors and markings aren’t a perfect match for the game version, but it’s close enough for me! It’s a pretty simple toy, but like the movie, it’s just oozing charm and it’s a lot of fun. The plastic used for the wing supports is pretty soft, but once its assembled it’s a solid enough toy. There’s even a play gimmick where you can pump the back wheel like a trigger to make the propeller spin.

The cockpit is designed with a shelf behind the seat, so Tails can sit in it and still have room to rest his large, bushy tails, and he looks absolutely fantastic in it! When I first saw the solicitation pictures of the toy, I kind of assumed that Tails would be permanently attached to the plane, so it was a pleasant surprise to later find out he was an actual figure that could sit in it.

The Tornado also has a bunch of pegs and grab bars so that Sonic can interact with it, making for a lot of fun display options.

If Walmart’s original listing can be believed, this thing sold for $60 originally. Now, I’m not saying I wouldn’t have paid that if I found it, but I’m crazy, and that price tag seems ridiculously high for what you’re getting. Thirty bucks would have seemed like a reasonable price, and I was happy to find it for $20 on clearance. Considering I’ve wanted a toy of The Sky Chase biplane since the 90’s, this release scratches a very old itch, and I’m thrilled to have it to display in my Game Room on the shelf above my Genesis and Master System games, but I imagine it’s a pretty cool toy for any kids who were just a big fan of the film, providing such a demographic actually exists!

Sonic The Hedgehog: Green Hill Zone Playset and Diorama Set by Jakks Pacific

If you’ve kicked around FFZ a while, you may already know that I was a SEGA kid. I had the Master System and the Genesis, and I still have both and play them regularly. Sonic’s legacy hasn’t fared all that well over the years, I cannot deny that, but whenever I sit down to play some Sonic on the Genesis, I am in 16-bit heaven. I have a number of Sonic toys that I wanted to look at for the 30th Anniversary and I got sidetracked, but picking up a couple more this past week gave me the push I needed to get cracking on reviewing some of this stuff. Time to get serious!!!

Today I’m checking out the Green Hill Zone Playset and a Diorama Set, both in the 2.5-inch scale by Jakks Pacific. I was originally just going to get the Playset because it was on sale, but the Diorama set looked like it would work well with the Playset, so I grabbed it too. Let’s start with the Playset!

Green Hill Zone requires just a quick bit of assembly, and once that’s done you get a pretty cool little slice of Sonic’s very first romping ground. It includes a modern styled Sonic figure, a spring platform, and three rings. There are some pegs scattered across the set, which can be used to peg on figures or the three rings that come with it. The base and grassy bits are nicely textured, and I really dig the checkered rock printed on the sides of the cliffs.

Up until now, I’ve just been collecting the 4-inch Sonic figures, but I have to say this little guy is pretty cool. He has the appropriate level of attitude and with rotating hinges at the shoulders and hips, you get some decent articulation for such a small and stylized figure. The paint could be a little sharper in some areas, but you have to zoom in pretty close to see any of that.

As far as play gimmicks go, the biggest attraction in Green Hill Zone is the loop. There’s a platform on a track with a foot peg so you can plug a figure onto it and there’s a lever on the back so you can whip him around the loop! There are even pegs to place the rings around the loop. I was surprised to see that the platform will even hold the figure steady at pretty much any angle. FUN!

But as fun as that is for a while, the only other play gimmick is the spring platform, which doesn’t do much. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think this is a cool setup, but it’s probably best regarded as a place to display figures than an actual playset. Of course, the other set I’m looking at today makes for some great additions, so let’s bust that open.

The core of this set is the pair of figures! You get Sonic and Tails in a very classic style, which I love! These are great little figures with the same level of articulation as the modern Sonic. The paint on these is a lot cleaner too. Plus, Sonic’s got a bitch-slapping hand!

The rest of the set consists of some “furniture” for the Playset. And yeah, the yellow spring platform is in there, so I’ve got stuck with two of those! Still, worth it! You get two check points, one tall and one short; An item box TV with the forcefield bubble on the screen; and a Spike Trap! All of these are cool items, and they can each attach to the Playset, or you can just put them anywhere. It really spruces things up and offers more display options. I do, however, wish this set included more rings. Heck, I would have rather had just three more rings instead of another spring platform.

The Green Hill Zone Playset was on sale for $12 (down from $20) so that was a great pick up. I rolled the money I saved into the Diorama set, which paid for almost half of it. Both are really fun packages, and I’m going to enjoy displaying them in my Game Room as I get it set up over the coming weeks. I’ll definitely pick up more of these sets if they come my way, and it’s actually got me wanting to grab some of the Mario sets as well.

World of Nintendo: Diddy Kong and Deluxe Donkey Kong by Jakks Pacific

It’s been a couple of weeks since I chronicled my delight in discovering Jakks’ World of Nintendo 4-inch line of figures. I loved Mario and Luigi so much that I quickly snatched up a bunch more. Today we’re looking at Diddy Kong, another of the standard carded figures as well as my first of the Deluxe boxed 6-inch figures, Donkey Kong! I’m excited to have at these toys, so let’s start with the packaging…

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Diddy comes in the same carded bubble as we saw with the Mario Brothers. He even still comes with the mystery accessory. The only real difference is the color of the card is now yellow instead of red. Donkey Kong, on the other hand, comes in an awesome window box to contain his larger stature. Yes, DK is a 6-inch figure, but he’s still designed to be in scale with the 4-inch line and I absolutely love that! While Diddy’s package isn’t collector friendly, DK’s can survive the opening process pretty well if you’re careful getting him off the tray. Let’s start with Diddy.

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Diddy is just a smidge shorter than Mario and the back of his card actually calls him a 3 3/4″ figure, which is really confusing and makes me think that Jakk’s doesn’t get the whole scale thing. Yes, I’m sure that’s his height, but he’s still part of the 4-inch line. Why you gotta be confusing people with that shit, Jakk’s? Anyway, Diddy’s sculpt is packed with personality. While I know he’s been in a lot of games, the only ones of his that I’ve put in a lot of time with are the Donkey Kong Country games on the SNES and Donkey Kong 64. And when I say a lot of time, I mean an obscene amount of time. Especially DK 64. Man, I used to zone out in front of that game for hours and hours after work. Just thinking about it makes me want to dig it out again. Diddy’s got sculpted brown fur and an adorable monkey face. He also comes sporting his red shirt with the yellow stars and a red ball cap with the Nintendo logo printed across it. The paint on my figure is pretty solid with just a little bit of slop around the eyes.

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Diddy comes sort of pre-posed in a bent over monkey-like fashion, but he still sports a good deal of workable articulation. The back of the package claims he has fourteen points, so let’s count them off. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the wrists. The legs are the same with rotating hinges at the hips, hinged knees, and swivels in the ankles. The head looks like it might be ball jointed, but all I can get out of it is a side to side rotation and lastly his tail can swivel at the base. And that does indeed make fourteen points!

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Diddy’s mystery accessory comes in a banana box. What could it be? Yup, it’s bananas! The bunch of bananas is just a molded piece of yellow plastic and doesn’t feature the nicer paint apps found on the Power Up Mushrooms that came with Mario and Luigi. The figure really isn’t designed to interact with it or hold it either, but it’s still a welcome accessory.

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Moving on to Donkey Kong and holy crap, I love this guy! DK is a whole lot bigger than the figures I’ve looked at so far and that’s what makes him a Deluxe. His scale works well when compared to Diddy or Mario and I think it’s really cool that they made him a bigger figure, rather than just do him in 4-inch style like the others. Mr. Kong comes sporting his now trademark red “DK” necktie. By the time this design came out, Donkey Kong had already become a major video game icon. I can’t think of another company that could take a character like that, slap a red necktie on him, make him a mascot, and manage to sell it, but Nintendo can do it and nobody even blinks. The rest of the figure is mostly comprised of sculpted brown fur and a set of big hands and feet.

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Oddly, I’ve seen some negative fan reaction Donkey Kong’s portrait, particularly his ridiculous toothy grimace but I just don’t get it the hate. Sure, it’s goofy, but we’re talking about a gorilla wearing a necktie, we passed goofy about six exits back. No, I really like the head sculpt on this guy. His stare is downright creepy and when coupled with the wide grin he reminds me of those cymbal-clanging monkey toys of days gone by. The ones that caused endless nightmares for so many innocent children. I also like the swirl of hair on the top of his head. It looks like that final swirl of ice cream you get out of a soft serve machine.

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While Donkey Kong is a bigger figure, he actually doesn’t feel a whole lot heavier than the smaller figures and I suspect he’s mostly hollow. He also sports less articulation with only ten points. His arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, have hinged elbows, and the wrists are hinged and also swivel. HIs legs are ball jointed at the hips, and his ankles can swivel, but there’s no knee articulation. Donkey Kong features a hinge in the torso and his neck can rotate. I can still have plenty of fun with him, but the lack of articulation in the knees is a bit of a bummer.

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Some people may be disappointed by Donkey Kong. He’s a larger Deluxe figure, but features less articulation and also no mystery accessory. On the other hand, he was only $14.99, which feels like a pretty great deal. I’m sure Jakks had to cut some costs to make the larger figure work out and I’m fine with that. Truth be told I’m just as delighted with this line of figures this time around as I was when I got Mario and Luigi and I still find myself hoping that Jakks can keep this line going for a long, long time. Meanwhile, I’ve already got my next two figures on deck and waiting to be opened, so I’ll try to swing back next week to check out Wario and Yoshi!

World of Nintendo: Mario and Luigi (4-inch) by Jakks Pacific

Folks, I was a SEGA kid. Now, I’m not talking just Sonic and Genesis, no sir. My first 8bit console was a SEGA Master System and I loved it. What I didn’t love was feeling ostrasized in the playground because I wasn’t playing Super Mario Bros. or Metroid. Nope. I was playing shit like Aztec Adventure and Wonder Boy. And the only kid who I could talk to about that was some weird Polish exchange student. I later remedied the situation by trading a few sundry items for a broken NES system, which my father (who happened to be an electrical engineer) promptly fixed, thus giving me the best of both worlds. I never lost my adoration for SEGA, but I soon learned to appreciate the wonderful world of Nintendo. I’m only slightly aware that there have been Nintendo toys for ages, but it’s only now that I’ve noticed an attempt to build a truly cohesive line of action figures based on The Big N’s various franchises. I spotted these on the pegs a while ago and I couldn’t resist picking up the Mario Brothers.

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This line comes to us via Jakks Pacific. It’s a company that I know so little about that I frequently get them confused with Jazwares and that’s probably only because they both begin with a “J” and have both been associated with putting out some questionable product. A quick scan of my Index of Reviews tells me that the only other Jakks Pacific toys I’ve featured here on FFZ were some Smurfs that I found in Target’s dollar section. Anyway, the packaging is everything it needs to be. You get a bright red card with Mario’s big mug at the top, left hand corner and a large bubble showing off the figure inside. The cards are generic on the front, but character specific on the back. An insert declares the character name with little fanfare and the name of the game they’re from on the bottom of the bubble. You also get a “Mystery Accessory!” Oooooh! I should also note that the figures I’m looking at are from the 4-inch line and that there is also a 2.5-inch line running parallel with this one. They are also putting out some Deluxe 6-inch figures to allow larger characters, like Bowser, to scale with the 4.5-inchers and some Micro Playsets that look like quite a bit of fun. Alright, enough with the Menu Screen. Let’s Push Start. 1UP = Mario.

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First impressions out of the box is that this is a pretty incredible figure for the money, and let me remind you that we’re talking about ten bucks. Mario is chunky and colorful and has a nice heft to him. I can’t fault the sculpt at all, as they’ve really captured all that there is about the essence of this iconic portly plumber. It’s only when I really start to scrutinize the figure that I can start to see some blemishes, like weak paint on his overall’s buttons and some rough texturing on the top of the hat. Of course, these are minor complaints for a figure in this price range and possibly just QC issues on this specific figure. Still, overall I have to say I’m impressed.

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The package boasts these figures have 11 points of articulation, which breaks down to: Rotating hinges in the shoulders, hinges in the elbows, swivels in the wrists, ball joints in the hips, hinges in the knees, and a ball joint in the neck. Super articulated, this figure is not, but it is certainly serviceable and makes for a fun figure to play with. I think my only complaint would be that the neck joint doesn’t have a lot of range of motion.

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Luigi is every bit as good and in fact my Luigi has virtually no paint flubs or rough plastic. Even the buttons on his overalls are bright shiny, leading me to believe that if I hunt around I can find a Mario with better paint. He’s obviously taller and a little leaner than his brother. There isn’t a lot more to say about the sculpt other then once again this figure captures all there is about the character. He also scales wonderfully next to Mario.

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Overall, Luigi feels like he has a little more range of motion than Mario, but that’s to be expected with his less stocky sculpt. I should also note that these figures are beautifully balanced. I love that you can pose them in a running position without even using a stand. Magnificent!

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As for those Mystery Accessories, each one comes in a cardboard box made to resemble one of the blocks in Super Mario Bros, which makes the box itself a nice display piece. Inside, ecah one came with a Power Up Mushroom. A green one for Luigi and a red one for Mario. I don’t believe these items are random. From what I’ve seen these are what you get every time.

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Even a SEGA kid like me can’t deny that Mario is as iconic a pop culture character can get and Jakks has done a really nice job recreating him and his brother as action figures and at a great price too! It sounds like a crazy thing to say, but when you’re as into collecting toys and stuff as I am, sometimes buying this stuff can feel like a sense of duty. Add to that how the Internet has become “The Great Spoiler” of all new releases and it’s rare these days that I can get pleasantly surprised prowling the toy aisles. That’s probably why finding this pair and getting them home and playing with them was sheer delight. They’re just so colorful and durable and so much fun to play with.

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Now, if your’re willing to go all out with your Mario toy buying budget your best bet is probably still the S.H. Figuarts release. I had the opportunity to play around with that figure (and Luigi too) but even at a good price those will run two to three times the cost of either of these guys from off the peg at your local Big Box.. While my own personal Nintendo well of knowledge may not run as deep as this line, I still may go all in just to support it and hope it continues on and on and on. Considering Nintendo’s rich history of characters, if Jakks can keep putting these kinds of figures out at this price point, they could have a veritable gold mine here.

Smurfs (for a Dollar!) by Jakks Pacific

[Ok, so I’m totally spent from the Star Wars Ultimate Battle Pack three-parter and I’ve had a real crappy Monday back at work. Before I get into some of the other new toys waiting in my In Box, I wanted to take it easy so I delved into my folder of unpublished articles and came up with this one that I wrote at some point last year when I picked up these Smurfs. But just so you hardcore Smurfheads don’t think this article is one big tease, the Smurfs are back at Target’s Dollar Spot. I haven’t looked through the new assortment yet, so I don’t know if they are the same as the ones I got last year. Enjoy. -FF] 


If you are a frequenter of Target, no doubt you’ve wandered into that shitty, poorly kept mess that they keep behind the cart corral in the front of the store. I think its official name is the Dollar Spot and you can sniff it out by the fumes of the cheap, petroleum based plastic wafting up from it. While you would expect such a pit of consumer depravity to be full of knock-off crappy junk, it’s surprising just how much officially licensed crappy junk they get in there. It’s not uncommon to see merchandise from Transformers, Marvel, DC, Smurfs, Strawberry Shortcake, Littlest Pet Shop, Star Wars, even Family Guy. The problem is these items are rarely toys and more often crappy stickers, journals, notepads, pens, and the like.

Anyway, I was lured into this vortex of conspicuous consumption by one of these licensed stickers or notebooks or something, but whatever it was, I forgot all about when I saw the pile of bagged Smurfs sitting in a caged up pen for one measily dollar each. Just how many different ones were produced, I do not know. Most of them seemed to be the same three that I got here, but I didn’t dig through all of them, as the fumes of cheap Vietnamese rubber was making me woosy. I had to be content enough with getting Papa, Smurfette and Brainy, three of the most instantly recognizable personages among what was practically a clone race of little blue elf-rats.

Yeah, you might not have guessed it, but I loved the Smurfs. I used to watch the cartoon on Saturday mornings and try to figure out whether Gargamel was trying to eat them this week or spin them into gold or just melt them in a spoon and shoot them directly into his veins. Who knows? Maybe he popped them like Viagra. Whatever the case, there was just something infectious about that stupid cartoon that kept me coming back for more.

Somehow, the Smurfs wound up a lost piece of 80’s pop culture. Toy aisles are full of Transformers and GI Joes and Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony, but until now… no Smurfs. Yeah, they’ve always been available in specialty shops or online, but no major presence in the toy aisles. You had to really want a Smurf to actually hunt one down and by one. Nevertheless I can still remember when I was a wee lad and I used to peddle my bike downtown to that now extinct creature called an independent toy store, and right next to the Star Wars figures was a huge display case full of these little blue bastards and their carts and mushroom houses and all sorts of stuff. Of course, I never actually bought any. There were always way too many Star Wars figures, GI Joes, or Transformers to allow me to throw any money into the Smurfs.

So for you young’uns or just the general uninitiated, Smurf figures are basically just little rubber statues of little blue people who only wear pants and a floppy sock hat. They are all more or less identical except for the accoutrements that give them their personality. There were a ton of different Smurfs plus a ton of different variations on each Smurf. I mean, if you think it was evil of Hasbro to make you buy a Bespin, Hoth and X-Wing Pilot Luke, be thankful you didn’t have to buy 1,000 different Greedy Smurf figures to complete your collection.

These dollar Smurfs look just like the originals and I believe they are exactly the same size. While the original Smurfs came in little boxes, these come rather unceremoniously in little clear plastic bags. They are articulated, but don’t get too excited, because apart from turning their heads, there’s precious little you can do but move their arms just a tiny bit. Still, compared to the original Smurfs, these are like super-articulated. They are made by Jakks Pacific now, and they are incredibly well-made figures with good paint work too. There’s only a bit of slop on my Papa Smurf’s nose. Brainy Smurf is holding a book and wearing his trademark look of smugness, Papa is holding out his arms wide in some kind of magnanimus gesture and Smurfette is posed looking as whorish as ever.

The funny thing is, after mentioning to someone that I found these, they merely shrugged and said, “Target has a whole shelf full of Smurf stuff over in the toy section, you dumbass!” I couldn’t believe it, but he was right. They had lots more Smurfs mounted on cardbacks, Smurfs riding in primitive log cars, and even a bunch of different mushroom cottages. How could this be? How could the Smurfs have returned without my knowledge? Probably because they were squeezed into the plush animal aisle far away from the action figure aisles. The sad thing is they’ve all but disappeared again. When the retailers reset after Christmas the new Jakks Smurfs were consigned to the clearance bins and are now gone. I sort of wish I had picked up some more. Thankfully they’ve popped up in the Dollar Spot again for another chance. So grab them if you see them!