Toy Story: Toonzone Reviews Jazwares "Adventure Time," "Fanboy & Chum Chum," & Poptropica Toys
The friendly folks at Jazwares sent over a few samples of recent toys from their Adventure Time, Fanboy and Chum Chum, and Poptropica lines for our review. Which ones deserve to be on your Christmas shopping lists, and which ones get a lump of coal?
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ADVENTURE TIME: Stretchy Finn and Jake with Velcro Wrap Around Arms
It’s ADVENTURE TIME with Jake the Dog and Finn the Human! For once, a Cartoon Network show gets merchandise on the shelves quickly, but is it worth it?
PACKAGING: Stretchy Finn’s package is a simple clamshell on a card, with attractive graphics lifted from the show. You can check your figure easily and it’s a snap to pop him out. Jake comes with no packaging at all, since he’s a plush—just a card on a hang-tag to clip off.
SCULPTING AND PAINT: The 5-inch Finn looks just like he does on the show, from with his awesome hat to his stick-limbs to his “two dots and a line” facial features. The paint job is perfectly good, using mostly flat colors without gradients or washes. This is also in keeping with the show, so it’s certainly nothing to hold against this figure. Paint application is excellent, with only the most trivial slop running over borders. The biggest issue with Finn is that his torso is massive compared to his stick-skinny legs, and while this matches his look on the show, it also makes him very top-heavy and prone to falling over. His hips are articulated enough to get him into a sitting posture, which may be the most stable position for him.
Again, as a plush, Jake has no paint job to speak of. However, he’s pretty well sewn, and the material used for the body is the right color. I’m not too crazy about the way his eyes bug out from his head, though; their dimensionality and the white mesh they used for his irises make them look like insect eyes and trigger a small, unintended “yuck” factor. The velcro on his paws both comes apart easily and holds together well.
ARTICULATION: Jake has no articulation, of course. However, I must admit a bit of disappointment with Finn for a few different reasons. Finn only has 8 confirmed points of articulation: rotating head, shoulder, and ankle joints; and disc-joint hips that can swing forwards and back and rotate in place. Some of the articulation was replaced by the stretchy arms feature, but in practice the stretchy arms are a bit of a bust. Their lack of inner structure means that Finn’s arm sags noticeably when he holds his sword (left hand only — the right hand can’t hold anything), but they don’t have much stretch or give to them. You can’t even really do the “wavy arms” move Finn does on the show. He can stand pretty well on his own, but the limited articulation means you can’t really pose him very much.
The biggest criticism I have is with the knee joints. I couldn’t tell if they were articulated or not, but the knee joint broke right off when I tried to test it. Examining the wound reveals that the leg is held in place by a really thin plastic pin. I can’t believe that the average 4-7 year old is going to be more careful with his/her toys, so you’ll either have to reserve Stretchy Finn for the gentler kids or be prepared for breakage.
ACCESSORIES: Finn’s only accessory is his sword, which is made of rubber and looks almost exactly like the one on the TV show. Since it is rubber, it’s easy to get bent. You could probably call the backpack a second accessory, but since there doesn’t seem to be any way to get it off, I’m considering it just part of the figure. Jake has no accessories other than his general awesomeness, but to be fair Jake does have quite a bit of general awesomeness.
FINAL VERDICT: I can’t really recommend Finn in good conscience based on the broken knee joint, the extremely limited articulation, and the disappointing implementation of the “stretch” feature. Plush Jake is cool, though, other than the insect eyes, and gets a big thumbs up.
FANBOY AND CHUM CHUM: Freeze Pod Vehicle
This toy/figure was probably my favorite of the samples sent over to us, with a Frosty Freeze cup turned into a car and a tiny, 3-inch Chum Chum to go along with it.
PACKAGING: If there is a downside to this figure, it’s the amount of effort required to get him out of the box. The cardboard box has a clear plastic window on it that lets you inspect your toy closely before buying, but the vehicle and Chum Chum are both held in place by lots of twisties and tape:
Definitely not collector-friendly.
SCULPTING AND PAINT: The Freeze Pod is a fun, very well-built little toy that looks really good from all angles and rolls freely. It’s all unpainted colored plastic, so the issue of the paint job is moot. The one and only minor flaw was that the stickers on the sample were already beginning to peel off right out of the box.
I am extremely impressed with the 3-inch Chum Chum, who looks just like he does on the show, with underwear on the outside and all. Considering the size of the figure, it’s surprising how little paint slop there is. Some paint seems to have scratched off on his teeth, and there’s a tiny bit of slop on his shirt sleeves and gloves, but otherwise the paint application is excellent. Chum Chum’s helmet and cape are not removable.
ARTICULATION: As mentioned, the Freeze Pod is an extremely well-built toy that rolls freely. The accompanying Chum Chum figure fits perfectly in both the front and back seats of the Freeze Pod.
Chum Chum is surprisingly flexible and fun to fool around with despite his size and only 8 points of articulation (rotating head, hips, and hands, along with disc shoulders and hips). I’m a firm believer that action figures ought to be able to stand up without assistance, and Chum Chum can do that in a surprisingly wide variety of poses. It was a pleasant surprise to see that I could get him to wave goodbye as he drives away in the Freeze Pod, and do a modified version of the yoga Warrior 1 pose.
ACCESSORIES: None. I suppose you could argue that Chum Chum is the Freeze Pod’s accessory, or vice versa. In any event, these toys are fun enough that the lack of accessories isn’t an issue.
FINAL VERDICT: Of the toys that Jazwares sent over, this one was probably the most fun and the best built. It comes highly recommended.
POPTROPICA: Dr. Hare and Shark Boy
These two toys are tie-ins to an online video game community. I didn’t have time to try it out, but I imagine it’s a pretty strange place judging by these figures. Dr. Hare is a plush doll, while Shark Boy is a plastic action figure.
PACKAGING: Dr. Hare doesn’t come with any packaging other than the name tag and accompanying Poptropica freebie. Shark Boy comes in a clamshell-and-card package that shows him off nicely, but also entraps him pretty tightly. The shape of his head and the snugness of the molded plastic tray mean that it can be a bit tricky to lever him out of the packaging.
SCULPTING AND PAINT: I’m not going to lie: Dr. Hare looks just plain weird. The combination of the pink bunny suit, the maniacal smile, and the giant goggles (which have the same insectoid effect as plush Jake’s eyes) all add up to the kind of doll I wouldn’t give to just anyone. The people who will appreciate this doll are going to be the ones with a finer sense of the bizarre.
The 6.75-inch Shark Boy is pretty weird, too, but not quite as borderline menacing as Dr. Hare is. In fact, he looks amusingly upset, either because he’s in a shark suit or because he’s being stared at for wearing a shark suit. Either way, it’s an impressive sculpt that communicates a surprising amount of personality. Like the Freeze Pod, most of Shark Boy’s coloring is done with colored plastics rather than paint, so the issue of slop or paint applications is almost non-existent. There’s a little bit of paint around his eyes and face, which is applied well.
ARTICULATION: Unfortunately, Shark Boy’s visually distinctive sculpting job has resulted in a figure that is almost impossible to pose, or even keep in a standing position. He has 10 points of articulation (neck, hips, shoulders, wrists, hips, and ankles), but his enormous head makes him too top-heavy for the hip joints to be of any use; move them too far and the figure topples over. The head also blocks his arms from moving much above his shoulders. I suspect he’s also going to end up falling over a lot just from nudges or shakes to whatever surface he’s standing on.
Dr. Hare is a plush figure, so he has no articulation. I’m not sure if he’s really supposed to be huggable in the way most plush figures are, but he’s got enough identifiable body parts to allow that to happen if that’s the way you want to go with him.
ACCESSORIES: Neither Poptropica figure comes with many accessories. Both figures come with a small disc that unlocks content in the on-line community. Shark Boy also gets a fish which fits acceptably in either hand, but his articulation issues mean he can’t do much with it anyway.
FINAL VERDICT: I feel like the Poptropica toys are pretty good, but I can’t say that either one looks enticing, cool, or even just bizarre enough that I’d buy one for its own sake. By the same token, I can’t say that either one created a compulsion to join the website and see what the game is all about. If you’re already on Poptropica, the bonus content discs might make these toys worthwhile, and if what you see tickles your funny bone then they’re not bad for what you get.
Special thanks to Gillian Small of Litzky Public Relations for hooking us up with these samples!