Wednesday, November 14, 2012

REVIEW: Squinkies Fun Pack

Produced by Blip Toys | Released 2012

The Squinkies Fun Pack
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you'll probably be familiar with Squinkies, the incredibly popular line of squishy minifigures from Blip Toys. As well as producing a number of licensed lines (including WWE, Hot Wheels and Marvel), Squinkies also come in an ''original flavor'' that features a line-up of assorted cool characters and themes, such as Ninja, robots, monsters - all the stuff 8-year old boys love. 

Today we're taking a look at the Squinkies Fun Pack, a 2-figure ''grab bag'' featuring a selection of figures from this non-licensed Squinkies assortment, along with a few fun surprises.

Packaging Shots

So... What's Inside?
As the cover graphic promises, the pack contains two Squinkies (sealed in their capsule toy-style bubbles), along with a sticker card, 4 character cards and one tattoo card.

The cards are pretty much the standard trading card fare, featuring images of the characters from the line (although disappointingly, nobody seems to have names in the Squinkies universe. Unless of course it's so kids can make-up names for each character...) On the flip-side of each you'll find an assortment of puzzles, games or activities. As an adult I think this is a neat idea. Anything that stimulates a young mind is good in my books and I could see them being a useful way to entertain a kid on a long car journey or whilst waiting at a doctor's office. Whether kids enjoy these things is a different matter but it's good to see the backs being put to some use.

The artwork is... acceptable. It's done in the clean, almost draftsman-like style of the cover illustrations and does a good job capturing and conveying the essence of each character but there's a lack of dynamism in the illustrations that really makes them feel a little flat. It would have been nice to see them interacting or in some kind of setting, rather than simply being presented as face-on, static images. I don't know, maybe that's just my personal preferences and some people will like this presentation style.

Of the cards included, the tattoo and sticker cards were the stand-outs for me, though. As a kid I loved stickers (my bedroom door was covered with Star Wars, Buck Rogers and Guinness Book of Records stickers), so you know that's going to be popular with me and the tattoo (which, yes, is only temporary!) is a neat touch I'm sure ''tough guy'' kids will love.

My pack contained - as promised - two Squinkies, a red shark and a black ninja.

Of the two I have to say the shark is my favorite. I'm a sucker for a good creature or monster and this little bugger fits in with the kind of aesthetic I like. That's not to say there's much wrong with the Ninja but he's just a little less interesting. I'd have preferred to see him in some kind of Ninja pose but my guess is Blip's designers stick with these more ''compact'' sculpts to make molding easier and to avoid limbs being ripped off by over-zealous kids.

It's a shame that the sculpts - which are in the acceptable-to-OK kind of realm - aren't helped by some very sloppy paint apps. I understand these are tiny figures and that painting them is difficult. And although the tampo transfers on the eyes and Ninja hood are excellent, there's a bit of a slap-dash approach to the detail paint. There's certainly a lot of effort behind the design and I do like that there's been an attempt to add some color and detail to each. It's just a shame the execution doesn't live up to the vision.

And... that's pretty much all I can say. I don't mean to sound overly harsh or critical but there's really little else I can add that the images don't show you. If you've seen Squinkies before then you'll know exactly what to expect from these two figures. If not then look at the photos and you'll get enough of an idea to make-up your own mind about them.

Final Thoughts
I have to admit that the Squinkies toys leave me cold, and in all honesty, I don't know why because on paper I should love these things. Blind-bagged minifigures of Ninja and monsters? Where do I sign up! Yet for some reason I just can't get into this line of toys.

It's not that there's anything particularly wrong with the figures - I actually really like sharky's design - and if they were about twice their size I'd really love these toys. But as it is, they're just too small and insubstantial to really get me excited or make me want to recommend them.

I do applaud Blip Toys for trying to add a little extra something to these Fun Packs, though and the idea of combining trading cards with swap-able minifigures is a neat one kids will, I'm sure, love. And the sticker and tattoo cards are both neat ideas but sadly for me it's just not enough to make me want to buy any more of these packs, or indeed, Squinkies.

The bottom line is this: if  you like Squinkies, you'll probably like the Squinkies Fun Pack. If you're not a fan, then you're not missing much here. So rather than unfairly try to comment on something I simply don't get or understand, I'm just going to leave it at that.

Final Score: N/A

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