Friday, December 21, 2012

Toy Review – Nicktoons Stimpson J. Cat By Jazwares

I talked yesterday about rediscovering Ren & Stimpy recently, and I intentionally left my initial exposure to the show for today.
I’m almost positive that I was there for the premiere of The Ren & Stimpy Show in 1991. I seem to recall that Nickelodeon was promoting it heavily and I think I made a point of tuning in. Something about the look of the animation really appealed to me.
Whatever the case, I was absolutely addicted. I was fifteen years old, and while I was an admittedly innocent and naïve fifteen, I was old enough to get how subversive the cartoon was. It was weird and intentionally off-putting. It both mocked and paid tribute to all of the cartoons that I had grown up watching.
There wasn’t a lot of merchandise at first. As a matter of fact, there wasn’t a lot of merchandise for a long time if I’m remembering correctly. My family made a trip to Orlando sometime after the show debuted and it was a huge deal that I found a Ren & Stimpy t-shirt at Universal Studios. People were very impressed when I came back home with that thing.
Later on there were plush toys and other types of merchandise, but I don’t think there were ever proper action figures. I had farting plushes of Ren and Stimpy. I don’t know what happened to the first ones I had, but I bought replacements on eBay maybe ten years ago just because I found a set for cheap. Unfortunately, they were some of the casualties in the flood in 2009.
But now, thanks to Jazwares’ new licensing deal with Nickelodeon, we have some new Ren & Stimpy toys to enjoy. Ren was a worthwhile addition to my figure collection, but how will his pal Stimpy fare?
First Glance: I immediately liked the Stimpy figure more than the Ren, mostly because he’s closer to being neutral. This is Stimpson J. Cat at his most vacuous.
Articulation: Jazwares’ articulation can be a little rickety sometimes, but I’ll give them credit for squeezing in as much as is reasonable.
Shoulders – swivel/pivot
Wrists – I think they are supposed to swivel, but I am too nervous to make them
Hips – swivel/pivot
Considering Stimpy is essentially a big blob with tiny arms and legs, there’s not a whole lot that could have been done here. The joints are tight and sturdy enough to have survived my photo posing and a bit of play from Lil’ Troublemaker.
Stimpy stands a bit more easily than Ren despite his teensy, little legs having to hold up more mass.
Sculpt: For its size this is a pretty heavy figure. He’s made of the same solid, slightly textured plastic as Ren and I really like this stuff for these cartoon characters. While a lot of cartoons might benefit from a glossier plastic, The Ren & Stimpy Show was anything but glossy. Jazwares chose the right materials here.
Unlike Ren, Stimpy does not have a butt. But he does have a big wrinkle of back fat and it's gross.
The head/body sculpt is as good as I could have expected. I suppose if this were a Japanese figure they would have done twelve different removable faces, but then the thing would have cost fifty bucks. I’m good with the one face Jazwares chose. The hanging tongue is good and the expression is mostly neutral/stupid. It’s Stimpy all the way. Although I have to say - if they release a “Thoughtful” Stimpy I’ll have to buy that one as well.
His arms and legs are the correct proportions. The hands are a little wacky, but they could have been even wackier. The feet are the simple blob designs rather than being toes or anything. Ren and Stimpy both had their appendages depicted numerous ways throughout the run of the cartoon. I think Jazwares chose well with the simple, blobby ones.
Coloring: Stimpy’s paint job is a little more involved than Ren’s. Not only does he have a distinct stomach color, he also has facial patterns and that big, blue nose.
The colors on the figure reflect the cartoon perfectly. The shades are immediately recognizable. This may seem like a simple thing, but sometimes I’ll get a figure based on specific media and something about the coloring just doesn’t seem right. This actually happens with Star Wars figures a lot since they use so many different sources for reference and they often do not match what the actual film looks like. But Stimpy is solid.
The actual placement of the colors is good. Nothing bleeds or overlaps and there’s none of the fuzziness that I’ve seen on some Jazwares figures.
Flair: Is his tongue flair? Nah.
Accessories: Stimpy comes with an excellent accessory – Muddy the Mudskipper. Admittedly I would have liked to also have a bag of Gritty Kitty Litter and Stimpy’s litter box, but if I could only have one thing Muddy is a win.
Muddy looks perfect. Not only is he the correct size to go with these scale figures, he is a great sculpt in a good pose for the character. All of his proportions are spot-on. I love his fishily enthusiastic expression as well.
Muddy’s coloring is good, with more detail than Ren or Stimpy. Everything is tight and well-placed.
Packaging: I do love the new packaging for these Hanna-Barbera toys. It has a nice, distinctive shape and the design can carry across all the different licenses and seem right. Also, it isn’t a clamshell. So bonus points for that. Jazwares cheaped out(!) and opted not to print bios or cartoon histories or anything neat on the backs. That’s pretty lame.
Value: I think these guys were $8.99. But anything between eight and ten dollars is a pretty good deal for these. And I can’t help but feel like their exclusivity to Target (and the fact that I haven’t seen any more since I bought mine) adds a bit.
Overall: This is a great Stimpy. The only way I can imagine a significantly better one is if somebody made a Japanese-style version with interchangeable faces and hands and feet. And costumes. And that would probably be eighty bucks.

4 out of 5

If you happen to see a Stimpy, grab him. He’s fun to have on the shelf.
-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for reviewing these Ren and Stimpy toys! I'm a long-time fan of the cartoon, but I didn't know these toys even existed. I guess it's because they're "Target Exclusives," and I haven't been inside a Target for a while. Now I'm going to have to seek them out.

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    1. I'm happy to have been able to review them! Good luck finding a set. Maybe they'll start popping up again after the holidays.

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