Toy Review: The Vanellope/Kandy Kart Showdown

Well, this is definitely a first for my reviews on this blog. It’s not often that I decide to pit two different products against each other, but in this case, it seemed inevitable.

Back in November of 2012, I reviewed The Disney Store’s Vanellope Von Schweetz Racer (which also became my most-viewed blog post for 2012!), and had a few things to say regarding its design and quality.

At the same time, Thinkway Toys released their own version of Vanellope and her kandy kart. However, finding one of these was next-to-impossible, until I happened upon one at Toys R Us in mid-December. With both versions of this toy secured, I’ve decided to have a showdown regarding size, quality, price, and movie-accuracy. And so, let my first toy showdown…commence!

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(Left to Right): Physical candy mockup of the kart from the film, Thinkway Toys’ kart, The Disney Store’s kart

Vanellope’s Kart

I know I should start with the driver of the kandy kart, but for me, the design and implementation of the kandy kart itself has been first and foremost on my mind ever since I saw it in action on the big-screen.

In The Art of Wreck-It-Ralph, visual development artist Cory Loftis had quite a time developing the final look for this important vehicle:

“The ultimate design for Vanellope’s kart came from John Laseter’s suggestions to make it look like she, a child, made it. I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of cakes that little kids decorated for Mother’s Day. They’re terrible, covered in everything the kid could get on there.  In comparison, my designs were too orderly. After I started getting more random, the kart came together and was a lot of fun to do.”

In this category, we will explore the pros and cons of each kart, and how they compare to the final on-screen version.

The Disney Store version

Pros:

- The sprinkle and stars on the body are excellent, with raised details, and some glitter thrown in

- Body is ‘sleek’ like the film’s version

- Rear spoiler is held up by striped piping

- The steering wheel inside is a plastic piece

- Treads are multi-colored

- White cream-filling coloring around rear taillights

Cons:

- The gummi worm treads look  more like flattened worms

- The colors of the pipes along the side are inverted, with colored stripes around a solid white

- The front windshield is just a brown piece of plastic

- The front wheels are inverted, and the cookie types of the rear wheels are incorrect

- The kart’s seat doesn’t allow Vanellope to sit, but lean back

The Thinkway Toys version

Pros:

- The tire treads are raised gummi worms

- The colors of the side pipes are correct (though no white striping)

- The rear spoiler is the right size

- The front windshield is clear plastic

- The front wheels (minus the treads) are accurate

Cons:

- Though some of the candy drizzle on the body is raised, the majority of details like the stars and sprinkles appear to just be painted on

- The gumdrop for the vehicle’s front-left headlight appears too prominent

- The kart is missing it’s mouth/front grille

- The steering wheel inside is just a decal

- Rear spoiler simply held up by yellow piping (no stripes)

- Though the treads are gummi worms, they do not have the myriad colors like in the film, with the exception of the rear right wheel, which is pretty close (even though it is a solid magenta).

I was going to fault each of these karts for the rear-left chocolate cookie wheel, but I was more than willing to give this a pass when I saw the concept art for the kart in The Art of Wreck-It-Ralph. My guess is this may have been part of early design information sent to the factories for production, and by the time they decided to make the wheel a shortbread cookie, production was too far along.

The Winner:

Thinkway Toys!

In the end, deciding who wins out was extremely tough, because neither kart is spot-on to the final animated product. If both of these designs were somehow combined, I’m sure the final product would be much closer to my expectations for this vehicle. As someone who loves cars (really, you should see my die-cast collection based on PIXAR’s film Cars!), I’m always a stickler for accuracy.

While I had some issues with details and size in the body of the Thinkway Toys release, it was the factor of proper coloring of the side-piping, the size of the rear spoiler (which looks about the size of a normal wafer-cookie to our size), and the raised gummi-worm treads that pushed this one ahead of some really nice body detailing done by Disney Consumer Products.

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(L to R): Vanellope from the film, Thinkway Toys’ Vanellope, The Disney Store’s Vanellope.

Vanellope Von Schweetz figure

I think like many out there, I didn’t expect to really find myself liking the character of Vanellope. The commercials largely made her out to seem smart-alecky, and a little bratty. However, her character’s story within the film of Wreck-It-Ralph became something that me and many others were talking about…not to mention caused a lot of her character-related merchandise to quickly disappear from shelves after the movie came out.

The Disney Store version

Pros:

- Eye coloration is close to film version, with a brown center and green coloration around the iris.

Cons:

- Skin tone is almost ‘milk-bottle pale’

- Head size is smaller.

- Red horizontal striping missing around parts of her left legging

- Dark pink coloration on nose and lips is a bit too ‘glaring.’

The Thinkway Toys version

Pros:

- head-to-body ratio/size is close to film version (though this means Vanllope is more apt to fall over!)

- pink-stripe present around left legging

Cons:

- Figure seems over-sized when sitting in kart.

- Eye coloration is just brown, with no outer greenish tint around irises.

The Winner:

Thinkway Toys!

This was another tough one.Both companies got down the basic coloration of Vanellope’s wardrobe right, and give her limited arm and leg movement. However,  it was the little things that made me a real stickler for detailing.

While the size of Vanellope in relation to her kart definitely stuck out like a sore thumb to me, Thinkway Toys won me over with the detail on their figure. Thinkway Toys have proven themselves to be incredibly good with making accurate figures from computer-generated information, since they designed Woody and Buzz from Toy Story way back in 1995 (their Buzz figure became one of the most sought-after figures that Holiday season!).

I did wish they would have released a smaller version Vanellope in stores. I would have definitely bought it to put with the kart.

The Disney Store‘s figure of Vanellope looked nice when sitting in her kart, but the little details here and there just made me decide to go with the larger Thinkway figure. While her eyes are closer to the film version, the inner brown doesn’t seem dark enough, and makes her look a little ‘odd.’

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Price

Admit it: most of what we buy is influenced by the ‘P’ word. So, let’s take a quick look at how these toys compare when you bring your wallet/purse to the table.

The Disney Store version

The Disney Store’s Vanellope figure and kart retails for $9.50.

The Thinkway Toys version

Thinkway Toys’ Vanellope figure and kart retails for around $18.

The Winner:

The Disney Store!

Admit it: by now you knew what the outcome of this was going to be. Pricing-wise, I had very little problem putting down money for the Disney Store Vanellope and her kart. The reason why I was so willing to fork over $18 for the Thinkway Toys release, was because it was almost impossible find this figure on store shelves, and secondary-market prices pushed it upwards of $25+ on eBay or other online stores.

Even so, availability regarding Vanellope merchandise seems to be hard to come by when it comes to her and her kart. The Disney Stores I visited after the film’s release were soon bare of Vanellope’s kart and figure from their stocks, with the other racers taking up a lot of the shelf-space.

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So, after going over the kart, Vanellope, and the price of each item, the winner is:

Thinkway Toys’ Vanellope Von Schweetz and her Kandy Kart!

And that was my first toy showdown. I will say, that after looking and analyzing both karts, I definitely did not expect Thinkway‘s product to be my pick. The sad part is, with the limited amount of merchandise for Wreck-It-Ralph, the karts that Thinkway made were not in major distribution in stores this past Christmas. Along with Vanellope, Thinkway had also released two additional Sugar Rush racers: Taffyta Muttonfudge, and Swizzle “The Swizz” Malarkey.

During the showdown above, you may have read my thoughts that if the two kart releases were combined in some way, it would make for a really great release. Well, through the magic of Adobe Photoshop, I present my idea of this combination:

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About MWH1980

Growing up in the state of Iowa, one would assume I'd be enamored with pigs and corn. Well, I wasn't. Instead, I grew fascinated by many things that were entertainment-related. Things like movies, animation, toys, books, and many more kept my attention. This blog I hope to use to express myself regarding my varied obsessions. (P.S. There's no Photoshop involved in that Gravatar-I really am holding an Oscar)

6 responses to “Toy Review: The Vanellope/Kandy Kart Showdown”

  1. Ju-osh M. says :

    Aaaargh! I wish I’d read your review earlier! I was in NYC this weekend, and the Times Square Disney Store had all of the WIR cars — all of ‘em, even Candlehead and the King — marked down to $7.50 each!

    Now that i see how much you like them, I think I’m gonna call them up and see if they ship!

    • MWH1980 says :

      There are some on the Disney Store’s website, and it looks like those on there are around $6.65, though they seem to be short a few.

      Though I don’t know exactly where you live, I’d assume there’d be some large city near you that might have a Disney Store.

      Though like that showdown said, I wish they would have made a kart that looked closer to the one in the film.

  2. Stasher says :

    Great comparisons, great photos, glad you have a list of pros and cons, nice final mash-up pic. Like Ju-osh, I was wondering about the size comparison as well. I know the Disney Store version is small enough to lay in your hand, but how big is the Thinkway one? At $18 I’m sure it’s considerably larger.

  3. MWH1980 says :

    Taking measurements, the Disney Store Vanellope measures 2 1/4 inches tall, compared to the Thinkway Toys Vanellope, which measures 3 1/4 inches tall.

  4. Stasher says :

    *facepalm* What am I talking about, “considerably larger”? The top photo says it all when comparing the two car sizes!

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