Tuesday, September 10, 2013

REVIEW: Imaginext Collectible Figures - The Mummy

Produced by Fisher-Price | Released September 2013

Imaginext is a line of toys created by Fisher-Price as a kind of ''entry level'' range of action figures and play sets for younger kids. Yet despite their super-cute simplicity and kid-friendly approach (even going so far as to rename the DC character Killer Croc ''K. Croc'') there's a kind of retro-charm that's always appealed to me. So when I saw Fisher-Price was releasing a new line of blind-bagged minifigures, I thought this would be a good opportunity to see if the on-shelf appeal would extend to an actual purchase...

The Mummy
When I saw the initial line up there were a few figures that immediately jumped out at me. If you've seen the full ten figure line-up then I'm sure, given my sci-fi/geek/horror/fantasy leanings, you can work out which ones I was drawn to. After finding the pack codes online I hit the store and was able to find , one such figure in the form of the subject of today's Review, The Mummy.
Note: Due to the fact that I've become a little more selective in my purchasing, I noticed a trend was developing where every figure or toy I Reviewed received an A rating. As this isn't really very helpful I'm going to abandon giving scores to toys in my upcoming Reviews as an experiment to see how adopting such an approach works. Feel free to comment below if this is something you agree or disagree with but for now let's just go with it and see what happens!

Sculpt & Design
As I mentioned above, the Imaginext toys are intended for a younger audience (ages 3-8 is the official line) and that's reflected in the design. The figures are chunky, solid and very durable, with a nice sense of toughness to them. Everything is slightly over-exaggerated, with the figures sporting larger hands and feet and thick, chunky limbs. It may not be anatomically correct but it's a neat, very stylized look that works well for the line.
The Mummy himself is everything you'd expect him to be - and a little more beyond that. He's swathed in wrappings as you'd imagine but not only are there some neat details in the bandages (such as tears and loose ends) but there are also some really cool ''gold'' adornments on his wrists and ankles and around his neck. 
There are some great micro-details in these pieces, all sporting the appropriately Egyptian iconography of scarab beetles and Ankh symbols. I particularly like that his bracelets are not symmetrical. His right wrist detail includes a beetle, with his left including an Ankh, which I think is a really cool touch.
Scale-wise, the Imaginext figures are around twice the size of a Lego Minifigure, as you can see from the above image. It's interesting to note that despite the much larger scale of these figures, the blind-bag Imaginext Collectible Figures actually retail for the same price as Lego's offering...
The overall silhouette is also surprisingly cool-looking and despite a very stylized design created for younger kids, the basic anatomy is pretty good, with a more lifelike shape than you see in many figures, certainly way more realistic than something like a Lego figure or even the Doctor Who Character Building figures. There's just a very neat, dynamic look to the sculpt that accentuates all the right elements. I like it a lot.

Given the ''kid-friendly'' sculpt, one would assume that the articulation would be similarly pretty basic. And on the whole it's pretty much as you'd expect, although I was surprised when I discovered that the shoulder joints incorporate both forward/backward rotation and a second hinged joint, allowing for outward swing. This additional joint opens up an entirely new realm of movement and poseability and was certainly most unexpected.
As for the remaining joints, each Imaginext figure features a rotating neck joint, rotating wrists and a single hip joint. And by that I do mean joint in the singular, as both legs move as a single piece. Whilst it provides just enough movement to allow the figure to be posed standing or allow him to sit, it's a little disappointing that they don't move individually, because, given how great the arm movement is, it would have been so cool to have had a similar level of motion with the legs. But these are figures intended for younger children whose idea of making their figure walk will, I'm sure, simply be to bounce them along the table top, so I can just about forgive that.
But individual leg joints would have been awesome.

The paint app is also pretty good. Obviously this isn't a super-realistic, highly-detailed collectible but what we have here works well enough, with the detail pieces (such as the wrists) being painted gold (and the app itself being very clean, if a little thick) with a few additional color points such as the red gemstone in his neck piece and the tampo transfer across his exposed face (which I believe may also glow in the dark) all being equally cool.
The accessories - which we'll come to in a moment - are also neatly painted, although one minor point is that the cowl/hood is depicted as being black on the character check list but is actually dark blue. Color confusion aside, the paint app on this piece is very neat, with the white teeth and red eyes being very clean.

Extras & Accessories
Each figure sports a number of accessory pieces. In the case of The Mummy the figure comes with an Anubis-inspired headpiece/mask and a cool serpent staff.
I like the design of this headpiece. It's scary enough to be spooky (because let's face it, kids love a good scare, despite what grown-ups might think) but it's also designed to follow the same ''chunky'' aesthetic of the figure, which softens the scare factor by just the right amount to avoid anxious parents complaining about their children's ''Satanic'' toys.
The piece itself is a snug fit (you may actually have to bend the back piece of the cowl over the figure's back to get it to fit) and there are no worries about it coming loose. The downside is, of course, you lose the head/neck articulation but it's a great looking piece so we can let that pass.
The serpent staff is also a winner. The design captures the Ancient Egyptian look perfectly, featuring a crook and Ankh design, with the serpent wrapped around it. I have to admit that the serpent looks a little too cute for my tastes (his hood also looks a little ear-like) and its presence does limit the available ''grip points'' on the staff a little. As a result The Mummy has to hold the staff at a point too close to the base for my liking (a second grip point at the mid-point would have been a great addition) but this is really another minor quibble.

The pack also contains a checklist, featuring a shot of each figure and a preview of other toys in the Imaginext line.

Final Thoughts
It's quite difficult to know where to start with this summary, as I'm trying to round-up my thoughts about both the individual Mummy figure and the Imaginext Collectible Figures as a whole, so I'm just going to start with the latter then move onto The Mummy itself - so please bear with me here.

The Imaginext figures are a lot of fun. Despite being designed for modern youngsters they remind me very much of some of the figures I owned as a child and there's a oddly nostalgic feel to them. Maybe I'm just associating the Imaginext figures with the Adventure People toys because they're both from Fisher-Price but, stature differences aside, they definitely share the same kind of robust feel and a similar, fun aesthetic. By extension I'm also reminded somewhat of the Glyos toys, which have the same ''designed to be played with'' feel to them, a legacy of The Adventure People line.

I have to admit I was also surprised by the sophistication of the Imaginext sculpts. They may be cute and slightly twee but the skill and craftsmanship of the sculptors is second to none, with the figures sporting some really cool close-up detail and design work. I'm also impressed by the shoulder/arm articulation, which allows for some really expressive posing and was something I didn't expect in so ''kiddy'' a line of figures. The single hip joint is a little disappointing but it does help keep the figure stable when standing so I can almost excuse it...

But for all these positive points (and the occasional minor glitch) the thing I find most impressive is his Fisher-Price (or Mattel) manage to produce such chunky, large-scale, accessorized figures at such a low price point. As I mentioned earlier, the figures retail at around $3 which, in some places, is less than you'd pay for a Lego Minifigure that's half the size of this toy. That's not to take anything away from either line but it is something I still find quite amazing.

As for The Mummy himself, this is a pretty awesome figure. The timing is perfect for fans of Halloween/scary toys or if you're just a collector of monster figures then you'll find a lot to love here. Sure, there's a quasi-cuteness to the toy but it's really no worse than you'd see in some other Halloween-themed figures and the chunky, almost super-deformed nature of the Imaginext figures works really well here for some reason.

Add to this the superb accessories (the headpiece is particularly awesome) and the spookiness of the toy - which manages to walk the line between being cute and scary perfectly - and you'll see why I'm such a fan of this figure.

A surprising, fun and very affordable not-so-minifigure. I'll certainly be buying more from the line.

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