Mutant Mania is a new line of collectible, blind-boxed figures from Moose Toys. the people behind the incredibly successful Trash Pack Trashies line of toys. Like their garbage-themed figures, Moose Toys' Mutant Mania figures combine the same gross-out designs, neat sculpts, multi-figure packs (ranging from single figures to 8-figure packs) and 'gotta get them all'' collectible fun.
Running with the concept introduced in the Trash Pack's Ultimate Fighting Trashies series, each of the Mutant Mania figures is a pro-wrestler, representing one of the various factions or stables competing in this wrestling league. So where the Trash Pack had Bin Monsters, Grubz and Hard Trash, this new line features Mutant Men, Evil Zomboidz, Brutal Beasts, Robo Mutants, Insect-A-Zoids, Reptiles of Rage and the ''Limited Edition'' Astro Mutants. The group concepts are fairly self-explanatory but we'll see examples of them below as we look at the individual figures.
Most importantly, however, there's a new ''build a figure'' mix-and-match gimmick. called...
Stretch 'n' Connect
If there's one major innovation with the Mutant Mania figures, it's the concept of Stretch 'n' Connect.
Each figure consists of four pieces: a head, a torso, a set of legs (sometimes more than two!) and the component that binds it all together, the Flexi Spine, a piece of stretchy, rubbery plastic that resembles - shape-wise - a dog chew. The head and feet pieces feature sockets into which the Flexi Spine can be popped and, once attached, it's simply a matter of gently stretching the two to allow the torso to be slotted over it, thus not only affording a degree of articulation but also allowing you to mix-and-match pieces to create new characters.
It's a neat concept but the actual execution isn't quite as well realized: I struggled to connect the spine into some of the pieces (the figures are cast from a surprisingly hard plastic) and the resultant ''wobble'' of the flexible rubber connector can make it difficult to get some of the top-heavy figures to stand. These are minor points though and I applaud Moose Toys for incorporating this gimmick, as it's an interesting and fun addition to the collectible figure concept.
|''This isn't my original torso!''|
Open the Box!
Now we've established just what the Mutant Mania figures are, let's take a closer look at what you get for your money.
The 8-figure pack - as you may have gathered - features a total of eight wrestlers, each built from the four core pieces. Of these eight figures, six are blind-boxed, with the other two appearing in the packaging's blister. In the case of my set, the two figures were Scorpiax and Ragin' Rhino. We'll take a closer look at each below.
Each 8-pack also a storage can, themed around the Mutantade energy drink, the fictitious brand that sponsors the Mutant Mania wrestling league.
Keeping with the ''blind'' theme, there are variants to each can, each - presumably - representing one of the various factions or stables in the line-up. In the case of my 8-pack, I have the can with the Reptiles of Rage ''packaging'' graphics.
The can is a nice touch, harking back to both the Trash Pack Trashies' garbage cans and the similarly-themed storage containers of the MUSCLE toys. It's a nice addition and gives you somewhere not only to store your figures but also the spare parts (see below) that are included. The addition of foot pegs on the top also allow you to use it to pose/display your figures, which is very welcome, as some figures can be a little difficult to pose.
The pack also comes with two spare Flexi Spines and a collector guide/instruction manual, detailing each of the seven stables and their rosters, plus a quick and easy guide to using the Flexi Spine.
So what of the figures themselves? Let's jump right in and take a quick look at each in turn.
Brutal Beast Ragin' Rhino is the only figure that comes fully assembled (Scorpiax is broken down completely, with the other figures having the head and leg components pre-attached to the Flexi Spine, ready for you to pop-on the torso) and, in my case, is one of the non-hidden figures featured in this 8-pack.
The Mutant Mania line features quite a few homages and it's fairly obvious that one of their designers is a fan of the Ninja Turtles - or more specifically, the duo of Rocksteady and Bebop, because Ragin' Rhino is pretty much what the lovechild of those two characters would look like...
Of the eight figures in my pack, he's definitely one of my favorites. I'm normally a big fan of translucent toys but in this instance, the design of his paint works so well as to make him actually more eye-catching than his more transparent pack-mates. More on that later...
Going back to the homage vibe for a moment, if you're going to be inspired by a character... why not Zoidberg?
I mean, OK, so he has a tail with a stinger but if you've ever wished for a 1'' tall figure of everybody'd favorite incompetent alien physician, then your wish h as been granted.
Pedants will probably find it annoying that this scorpion-inspired character is categorized as an Insect-A-Zoid but we'll just let that slide, as he's a fun figure. In terms of sculpt, he's pretty good, although his broken claws do have an unfortunate design that makes them look as much like injection/fault lines as they do a deliberate feature. His paint app is also a little loose but I like the gradient effect on his claws.
Sawtooth is one of the Robo Mutants and, of the figures in my pack, he's probably my favorite. I like that the designers embraced the cyborg aspects of the character and used them wherever possible. From his Swiss Army Penknife hand to the cog ''hair,'' he's every bit the busted-up robot-human hybrid.
The minimalist paint app serves to really highlight the sculpt detail. I also love his crazed expression and pose. It's just a shame the rest of the figures weren't up to this standard.
Meanwhile, back at the Insect Well we find Mozzsumi, a mosquito-themed Insect-A-Zoid. This is the clear variant (which is as Common as the painted, regular version.) I'm struggling to really find anything to say about this figure, as - for me - he's the weakest of the bunch. I found it impossible to get him to stand and although the transparent blue looks cool, it also masks a lot of his detail, which is a shame, as there's some nice stuff here like a flying helmet and elongated stinger. With such a wide range of characters, there's a chance you'll find one that doesn't resonate and in my case, it's this guy.
Killer Cobra comes from the Special Edition range, the Reptiles of Rage. Quite what makes them Special Edition isn't immediately apparent but shine a light on Killer Cobra and then take him into a darkened room and you'll discover he is cast from glow-in-the-dark plastic. I was surprised to see his plastic glow is more of a green color than blue but that's actually kind of cool.
I like this sculpt, overall. It's fairly simple but there are some nice touches like the serpents coiled around his body and it's pretty obvious from the head sculpt that he's a humanoid hooded cobra.
I'm not sure if these figures are exclusive to specific packs or whether they're deemed ''Special Edition'' toys due to their GITD nature. Oddly, there's a fully-painted variant, too, that also appears to glow in the ark, although the collector sheet makes it appear that the above version is semi-transparent (at least that's how it looks to me) but, again, if you have the painted version and can shed some light on the differences, then feel free to let me know in the comments below.
Another figure, another homage!
This time around, Troma's Toxic Avenger gets his own tribute in this figure from the Mutant Men roster, with the fantastically-named Atomic Drop (for those unfamiliar with it, an ''Atomic Drop'' is a move in pro-wrestling, so the name works on multiple levels.)
Again, this is the clear variant (which is, like the painted version, a Rare figure) but, as much as it pains me to say this, I actually think I'd have preferred the non-translucent version of Atomic Drop, simply as so much of his detail is lost due to his semi-transparent status. Still, from what I can see of the figure, it's a cool-looking mutant-style character and I do dig his overall look.
Bone Cracker is a member of the Evil Zomboidz stable and, as the group's name suggests, he's a reanimated corpse - or in this case, skeleton.
Again, this is a figure where the painted, non-transparent nature of the figure really works to its advantage, as you can make out all the detail, from his excellent Jolly Roger-style head design to his bony limbs and even what I'm taking to be a wrap-around shades and bandana look inspired by the Macho Man himself, Randy Savage. OOOH YEEEAAAH!
Of particular note is the figure's pose. His arms are set at a really odd angle that helps sell the idea of him being a reanimated corpse. I love the way this figure looks and his overall concept is great. A definite stand-out.
Joining Bone Cracker in the Evil Zomboids line-up is Gutless. Again, semi-transparent yadda yadda lost details yadda yadda. And that's a shame, as the figure's sculpt is one of my personal favorites. I love the combination of Hellraiser mid-resurrection Frank and Return of the Living Dead Tar Man head. And even the red coloring works in its favor. It's just a shame a lot of the detail is lost due to the use of clear plastic.
Before we move onto the Final Thoughts, here's a quick breakdown of what was in my pack. How applicable this will be to each, I don't know, but it should hopefully give you some idea as to what to expect should you purchase an 8-pack.
Of the 8 figures, 4 were fully painted, 3 were semi-transparent and 1 was a glow-in-the-dark variant.
In total I received 4 Commons, 2 Rares, 1 Ultra Rare, 1 Special Edition and 0 Limited Editions
Roster-wise, I received 1 Mutant Man, 2 Evil Zomboids, 1 Brutal Beast, 1 Robo Mutant, 2 Insect-A-Zoids, 1 Reptile of Rage and 0 Astro Mutants.
Again, if anybody would care to comment below with their Pack Stats, I'd certainly be interested in seeing them.
There's a lot of fun to be had with the Mutant Mania figures. I have to admit I'm a follower of pro-wrestling, so the idea of such figures - which of course, harks back to the awesome MUSCLE toys of yesteryear - is a great one. There are also some great sculpts, paint is neatly applied (where it's used), the use of multiple parts to create each figure adds a lot of fun (and some most-welcomed articulation) and, overall, the concept is something fans of Monster in My Pocket or the aforementioned MUSCLE figures will really like.
And yet... I just don't see myself buying more of them.
I can't really put my finger on why I'm not more excited about these toys. There are some neat designs, they're blind-bag/box toys, they're themed around a lot of things I like and they even feature semi-transparent plastic, something that should have me doing cartwheels. But once I'd opened the pack, assembled the figures and posed them I found myself instantly thinking about other toys.
Don't get me wrong: they're absolutely fine at what they do (and in some cases, even very good) but now I have these eight in my collection, I just don't have any interest in adding any more of them but I just don't know why that is. There's just something a little generic about the concepts and designs that just doesn't resonate with me or have me wanting more of them.
They're like the fast food hamburger of toys. Nothing wrong with what they do and when you have a craving that needs to be fulfilled they do the job perfectly well. But once the experience is over, you kind of forget about it and don't really feel the need to have a repeat for some time.
Perhaps I was unlucky with my figure roster (and that happens with blind-bag toys, particularly when there's a wide range of figures to collect) but having bought this pack and seen what's here, I simply don't find myself clamoring to rush back for more and unless I find the Mutant Mania toys in the discount aisle (with their prices significantly slashed) I really don't see myself going back to them. They're utterly fine for what they are but I just found the initial thrill of tracking them down was probably more fun than the figures themselves, as my interest in them dropped off very quickly once I'd seen what was in the pack.
Don't take this as a negative review. I know these figures will be a huge hit with kids and collectors looking for a MUSCLE-style vintage vibe. The execution of the figures is excellent, with neat sculpts being - in many cases - augmented with clean paint apps. The concept is interesting and the Flexi Spine is a nice touch that will certainly be fun when you have additional figures to create your own mix and match figures. But for me, personally, I don't find the line engaging enough to really want to invest much more money or time into it.
It's a tough one to call. If the concept appeals all I can say is that you'll probably like them (and they're certainly worth $10 of anybody's money) but if you're not a fan of blind-box monster figures, there's not really anything here that will convert you.