Toy Review: Derpy Hooves vinyl figure
With any major series or worldwide phenomenon, the fandom of such things often find some way to adopt a character, and push that character into the stratosphere of popularity.
Take Star Wars. George Lucas had wanted to make the bounty hunter Boba Fett a simple, silent-but-deadly bounty hunter intent on capturing Han Solo. Instead, Fett’s popularity opened a new realm of fandom related to speculation, expanded universe stories, and much more.
When it comes to the recently-popular revamp of My Little Pony, the show’s growing fandom rallied around a character who was essentially a mistake. Online fandom soon began to follow a grey-colored, blonde-haired pegasus pony with crossed eyes, who began to be known in the MLP fan community as Derpy Hooves.
Once the show’s creators found out about how popular she was with the fans, they began to give her minor background appearances (ala Where’s Waldo?). In Season 2 of the series, the showrunners gave her a few minutes in the spotlight, and a cute-yet-dopey voice to match her try-but-often-clumsily-fail persona.
However, those few minutes roused the ire of some parents, who contacted Hasbro to say that Derpy’s name, crossed eyes, and dopey actions were seen as offensive to disabled persons. And with that, Derpy’s moment was re-edited, and her television name was now to be Ditzy-Doo.
Specialty retail stores like Hot Topic would keep the merchandising of Derpy alive with t-shirts and hats, but many fans wanted a figure of her that could stand next to the others that Hasbro had made.
They got their wish in the Summer of 2012, when Hasbro released Derpy as a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive. Packaged in a special box with no name on it (maybe Hasbro was afraid to use the fan name for fear of more parental teeth-gnashing?), the figures quickly sold out, and reached prices of $90+ on eBay. While many wanted a Derpy Hooves figure, some of us had limits on just how wide our wallets would open up.
And then, salvation came in vinyl form, from Funko. Known for their numerous, block-headed/beady-eyed interpretations of pop-culture figures, Funko has entered the arena of My Little Pony merchandising with its recent releases of Derpy Hooves and Rainbow Dash to Hot Topic stores. Personally, this could be just the ticket for some of the older, more die-hard fanatics. While many love the series, it’s safe to assume that Hasbro is not going to devote much of their marketing power to target older fans. This seems to be the niche that Funko is filling, and with these recent releases, I think they may definitely have a good source of new income on their hands.
The packaging Funko has wrapped their pony figures in is definitely different from the packaging one is used to when it comes to MLP toys from Hasbro. The biggest shock: not a single bit of pink on the packaging! I don’t think any other MLP products have even had this much black on their packaging.
Unlike the vinyl figure release of Rainbow Dash, Derpy has no name on her packaging. Instead, she is titled with an ‘I Heart’ moniker that seems like code for fans of the series. Though it does make me wonder what non-MLP fans or young kids will think her name is. It should be noted that even though her name shows up nowhere on the packaging, she did ring up in the system as Derpy Vinyl.
Once out of the package, Derpy is a very solid figure. If she hits the floor, she’s going to make alot of noise, or hurt somebody.
Given her non-Hasbro production, Derpy’s size is slightly larger than the regular-sized ponies. Most impressive about Funko’s figure is the sculpting that has been done. Derpy’s body is more in scale and design to the original character work on the show, with legs that taper closer to the body, and wide hooves. Unlike Hasbro’s toys, this figure comes with non-grooming, sculpted hair, which definitely helps those of us who want a figure with volume in her hair.
For those looking for super-accuracy, you’ll have to keep wishing. Paint applications on her eyes do not gradate from orange to yellow, and her ‘cutie mark’ in the form of several bubbles, only adorns her right flank, and not both as in the cartoon. Also, the sweep of her mane only goes down her left side, and not down either side as in the cartoon series.
One area where the sculpting gets iffy, is in the front-view of Derpy’s face. In the cartoons, the front of the face is ‘cheated’ by being a simple oval shape. Here, we have some ‘blocky cheeks’ and some rounded dimensionality that warps the eyes slightly. But, this is often a side-effect when one takes a 2-dimensional character, and makes them 3-D.
Assembly of the figure is made up of the separate hair pieces, the head, wings, and body. Unlike the smoother vinyl textures of Funko’s other figures, Derpy’s is not perfectly smooth. If you look at her up close, you’ll see some slight abnormalities. As well, the area where the head joins to the neck is not a perfect/clean line. Btw, in case you were wondering, no, her head does not turn.
It isn’t the greatest My Little Pony fan-figure, but I think it comes incredibly close. I’m sure word-of-mouth about these Funko figures will spread quickly among fans and customizers (who will most likely buy extra figures to disassemble and fan-make other characters from the series).
Derpy (and Rainbow Dash) currently retail for $14.50 (plus tax) at Hot Topic.
Word is, a third pony may be making its way to Hot Topic shelves from Funko soon. On Funko’s Facebook page, they did say that more ponies would be making their way into collector’s hands in 2013, and they would not be just Hot Topic exclusives. I’m sure this will give some hope to adult collectors of the series, leaving them hope of seeing fan-loved background ponies that most likely would not be produced by Hasbro.