It's no secret we're not only big fans of the Imaginext line but particularly of the Pirates line-up here at That Figures. And why shouldn't we be? They're great, retro-style toys with fantastic sculpts, great play features and great value-for-money pricing. But sadly - and yes, sadly (I'll explain in a moment) - we're not the only ones to think so. You see, some sets or figures prove so popular that getting your hands on them becomes an exercise in frustration that will also empty your bank account pretty quickly. One such set is the Crab Walker, a vehicle/driver set which, for reasons we'll explore later, has become a highly-collectible, much-desired piece in the Imaginext universe.
I have to admit that I'd given up all hope of finding one (having previously passed on the set a number of months ago) so you can imagine my delight when I spotted the set in a Kohl's store (complete with a very nice discount deal.) But had I set my expectations too high or would the Crab Walker prove to be as good as I'd hoped? Read on and find out!
The Crab Walker - An Exercise in Steampunk Crustacean Design
The Crab Walker features the Steampunk aesthetic Fisher-Price incorporated into some of the more recent Imaginext Pirate sets, with a look that owes as much to Jules Verne or H.G. Wells as it does Robert Louis Stevenson.
As you can see, the set includes both the Crab Walker itself and a skeletal pirate, so let's begin by taking a closer look at the vehicle's driver.
The Skeletal Pirate
The Skeletal Pirate may appear familiar to some readers. That's because - minor paint app and accessories aside - we've already seen him as part of the excellent Skeleton Diver set.
The major difference comes with the accessories. Like the Skeleton Diver, the Crab Walker pilot is wearing a full-head helmet and tabard-style armor. But whereas that figure was clad in a diving helmet, here he's wearing some kind of scratch-built armor, constructed from various - and varying - metal plates.
Combine that with his wrench accessory (and the mechanical nature of the Crab Walker) and I'm beginning to suspect he's some kind of undead engineer. It's certainly a very different look and although ''Pirate Purists'' may not respond too well to this design, I really like it.
As ever, the figure is well-assembled, with some neat paint applications and the usual Imaginext articulation set-up (swivel neck, double-joint/swivel shoulders, swivel wrists and connected, single hip) which allows him to both stand and also sit comfortably within the Crab Walker.
Speaking of which...
The Crab Walker
As neat as the Skeleton Pirate Engineer is, he's not going to be the reason you buy this set (unless you really love Skeleton Pirate Engineers...) No, the meat of the set comes in the form of the Crab Walker itself.
As I mentioned above, it's a great example of the Steampunk school of design, featuring all manner of brass bits, wooden planking, smokestacks and an aesthetic straight out of Luther Arkwright (well, almost...)
The Crab Walker features move-able legs (I should really say more ''pose-able'' than ''move-able,'' but considering crabs walk sideways, their lack of forward articulation makes sense) and a set of twin ''arms'' that can be moved in a ''pincer'' manner (no pun intended) at the press of the large button on the vehicle's rear. The right arm features a working pincer that can be used to snap and snip at your enemies and the other features a SHARK CANNON. SHARK CANNON may quite possibly be my new favorite expression but it must be rendered in capitals as SHARK CANNON. Oh and the SHARK CANNON actually launches the shark from within, making the SHARK CANNON not just a fantastic concept but also a perfectly viable weapon. SHARK CANNON.
And as you can see, there's also a moving canopy to allow access to the cockpit, which features a superb (and very comfortable-looking) padded captain's seat.
It's a really cool little vehicle that's very clearly a crab but has enough extra detail and mechanical styling to it to really sell the idea of it being a steam-powered ocean bed explorer. I love the ''everything AND the kitchen sink'' approach to the way it's designed, as it reminds me of the kind of thing a kid would come up with (in a good way), like insisting it feature a SHARK CANNON.
Like the Skeleton Pirate Engineer, the vehicle features some great tooling and a firm build. It feels durable without feeling cheap or clunky and I can imagine it would survive some fairly heavy play without suffering too many knocks or bangs.
The Crab Walker is, for a lot of Imaginext collectors, a bit of a Holy Grail. Along with the Dive Armor and Skeletal Knight, it's one of those sets that either never seems to appear anywhere or, when it does, is gone next time you go to grab it. That was certainly the case with me and it always irked me that it looked to be a one-time thing. Thankfully, due to Kohl's policy of marking everything up by 50%, I got my second chance and I'm certainly glad I did, as this is, overall, a great toy.
I love the way the designer took the crab concept and ran with it. It's so obvious what the vehicle is modeled after and yet it also manages to add a few new twists into the mix to really make it interesting and exciting. The interior detail is great (the padded seats are pure Victoriana ripped straight from Professor Cavor's moon sphere), the clunky, mechanical look of the ''limbs'' is perfect and of course... well, I don't even need say it.
If you're a fan of the Imaginext line you'll already know how awesome this set is, even if you don't own it. The Imaginext toys are consistently great and this is certainly a prime example of just how much fun the line can be.
The Crab Walker may be a little hard to find these days but trust me, it's worth the effort.
A fun, super-detailed, durable slice of Steampunk retro-awesome. (With a SHARK CANNON.)