Toy Review: The Simpsons, LEGO Minifigures
When I was growing up, there was definitely a wealth of toys I’m sure my Dad wished he could have had. I recall that he was just as enthralled by Transformers as I was, as well as Hot Wheels cars, and LEGOs.
Growing up in the 80’s, this was the decade when it seemed LEGO really began to take off. Back then, you had City, Castle, and Space sets. Since then, not only have their prices skyrocketed, but so have the number of other themed LEGO sets.
I remember 15 years ago being incredibly excited when LEGO announced one of their first partnerships with an outside entity: Lucasfilm, which enabled them to create the first official Star Wars LEGO sets, both from the original trilogy, and the upcoming Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Since then, they have done figures and playsets for Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Indiana Jones, Ninja Turtles, Marvel, & DC Comics! Hard to believe that in the 21st Century, LEGO has all the pieces you need to create one of the greatest pop-culture showdowns ever (as somewhat hinted at in this year’s The LEGO Movie).
In the last few months, many were blown away when it was revealed that the company had partnered with Twentieth Century Fox to bring us The Simpsons’ house, complete with car, and hinged-side so you could even play inside its walls! However,though impressive, this set will set you back $200.
Luckily, LEGO found another way to tap into our nostalgic memories.
In recent years, the company has also had great success with its blind-bagged mini-figures. These offerings featured various specially-made figures in costumes. While some were just apt to buy-and-open, others can often be seen furiously feeling up numerous blindbags, trying to figure out which figure is inside. It can be understood, given that they normally sell at $3 a bag.
2014 is the first year that the company branched out with more theme-specific blind bags. First with The LEGO Movie, and now with The Simpsons.
Throughout the years, we’ve seen various companies take on the task of making three-dimensional representations of the show’s characters: from statues, to at least 3 toy companies creating several of the show’s main cast (and guest stars) in yellow plastic. Funny that with the color yellow, it took LEGO this long to make them.
I was first unsure about collecting this series. The heyday of my LEGO collecting was during the days when I used to live in Iowa. Since then, I have had a few sets from Toy Story, and several LEGO keychains that have made their way into my possession.
My original intent was to just collect the Simpsons family, but before I knew it, my 5-figure plan snowballed into collecting all 16 of the figures. And given what LEGO has done, I feel they’ve hit a homerun!
Though the figures utilize the standard LEGO figure body and legs, the heads have been sculpted into three dimensions of the show’s characters, and they all are amazing! As well, these are some of the first LEGO bodies I’ve seen that have painted ‘sleeves.’ Since so many of the characters on the show are wearing short-sleeve shirts, it’s nice to see this little addition to the characters. As well, clothing detail also includes little additions, such as Bart’s slingshot in his back pocket, as seen in the picture above-right. Cloth pieces have also been included for Lisa and Marge’s skirts, too.
What’s most interesting is that the heads for Mr Burns, Itchy, and Scratchy, are made of a more rubbery plastic than the others. I assume given the more ‘fine’ points on the character’s features, it was thought that making them less-stiff would keep kids from possibly poking themselves with Mr Burns’ nose, or Scratchy’s ears.
Though figures of the Simpson family and Ned Flanders are included in the Simpsons House playset, the figures in this set are different in clothing and expression. Though if you want a wide-eyed Maggie Simpson, your best bet is to buy the house set…or find her on eBay.
The one thing I really enjoy about the figures is their size. I don’t have a lot of room to display or collect things, so the compactness of these figures works better than say, if I were to collect the Playmates action figures of the characters from over a decade ago.
Added accessories have been a high-point of the other blind-bag figures, and it’s so much fun to see numerous props from past Simpsons cartoons in the mix, from inanimate carbon rods, to a copy of the Springfield Shopper. I’ve included a few close-ups in little squares throughout my review here, as you’ve seen above, and below.
For the last few years, those looking through LEGO blind bag figures, have claimed that to find specific figures, there are specific little dots on the lower portion of the package backs.
However, of the 16 figures I opened regarding The Simpsons (yes, I found all of them with no repeats!), the codes did not match at all. It is known that as a series goes on, these little dots are subject to change (and some packages didn’t have any at all!).
When looking for my figures, I was able to figure out some specific shapes/forms that were able to help me find the proper figures. I’ve decided to include some hints here (along with imagery of them de-constructed, so you may see the parts each figure’s package includes):
Homer Simpson –Feel for his one-pegged donut (with flat surface), or the 2-peg flat piece that is his remote control.
Marge Simpson –Marge’s head with its raised, “pebbly” hair will help you pick her out in no time! You can also feel for her purse, but her head is a dead giveaway.
Bart Simpson –Bart has the most stuff of any character. Try to feel for his skateboard, and the loose wheels.
Lisa Simpson –It can be easy to confuse Lisa with Maggie, but feel for her saxophone, and small leg piece.
Maggie Simpson –Maggie’s uni-body is the key, with a plastic ‘fold’ of cloth in the back. Or, you can also feel for Bobo, the teddy bear.
Grandpa Simpson –Grandpa also has a flat 4-pegged piece like Marge, Milhouse, and Ralph. However, he can be found based on his 2-pegged lower legs (whereas Milhouse and Ralph only have one).
Ned Flanders –Flanders’ four-pegged tool box is all you need to feel to find him. He also has the only cup accessory with a handle on it in the series.
Mr Burns – The inanimate carbon rod is the key to finding Burns, as well as the fishbowl shaped like a LEGO head.
Chief Wiggum –The flat-top of Wiggum’s Police hat is a dead giveaway. His nightstick and megaphone can also help you find him.
Ralph Wiggum – Feel out for Ralph’s head. Unlike Milhouse, the top of his head is smooth. The hole for the neck is also larger in size.
Milhous Van Houten –Milhouse’s head is the key to differentiate him from Ralph – his head will seem a little ‘spikier.’
Nelson Muntz –Nelson’s bat is the accessory that will identify him. Just remember that it’s got a knob on the end.
Apu Nahasapeemapetalan –The Squishee cup Apu comes with is the key (remember, Ned’s cup has a handle, Apu’s doesn’t).
Krusty the Clown –Krusty’s head and pie accessory will help you find him.
Itchy the Mouse –Feel for the Mickey Mouse-style ears, or the spiked club, to bag this rodent.
Scratchy the Cat –Scratch’s axe, and his tail accessory, will help you catch that cat.
At the time I purchased my figures, they were priced at $3.99 at my nearest LEGO Store, though the LEGO Store website lists them currently at $4.99.
To me, this series holds so much promise for LEGO, not to mention the show’s fans. It’s no surprise that the show has amassed one of the largest casts ever in its 25+ years on television. I’m sure many of us are hoping for a Series 2 that could include the likes of Mr Smithers, Ms Krabappel, and possibly the Halloween Special aliens, Kang & Kodos! In fact, if Series 2 were to come out around Halloween time, it would be neat to see a blind-bag set based around various characters from the show’s Treehouse of Horror specials.