With the release of Princess Celestia and Princess Luna in late December, Funko and Hot Topic gave fans of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic animated series, two of the show’s major secondary characters to add to their collections.
With the Mane 6 characters already out in stores, the door seems wide open now for additional secondary and background characters to find their way onto store shelves. Of course, the realm of secondary characters still has plenty to go through on the checklist.
Spring of 2015 saw a few more of these characters come to prominence…including one that wasn’t actually a pony at all…
He’s been a part of the My Little Pony legacy for many years…but it was largely within the Friendship is Magic series, did Spike gain a little more respect…and a small legion of fans.
The baby dragon assigned to be Twilight Sparkle’s assistant has been on some interesting journeys of his own. Spike’s time with the Mane 6 definitely helped him gain a wider perspective on things that were considered “girl’s stuff,” and he also ended up having a crush on Rarity. Some have considered Twilight and Spike’s relationship to be akin to a Mother and Son. To me, I saw them more like an older sister and an adopted brother, with the older sister kindly allowing her brother to join in with her friends and their adventures.
Spike’s figure is the first of a smaller wave of Friendship is Magic figures, that are not in the exaggerated FunkoPOP line-up. Even so, his vinyl material is made from the same type as the POP figures.
With animation, Spike’s form is exaggerated at times, but the sculptors at Funko managed to do a decent job translating him into 3 dimensions. They even worked on giving him more of a dynamic pose. Instead of just having his arms to his sides, we get his right arm with a raised claw, as if he’s ready to make a suggestion.
The sculpt does shave down the size of his head’s scale ridge, and his eyes seem a little big when seen from the front. An impressive little detail, is the faintly-painted eyebrows over his eyes. They could have done away with this, but I think the light paint application works well! Size-wise, Spike is pretty close to his scale on the Friendship is Magic cartoon series, and puts him at chin-level with the main ponies in the Funko lineup.
Even with some minor issues here and there, I think he’s a great little purchase to add to many collections, and for many fans of the under-used “number one assistant,” is a great new figure.
Final Grade: A-
As any series continues chugging along, numerous characters are introduced that were not part of the original story pitch. With the 2-part Season 2 finale, A Canterlot Wedding, many were introduced to Twilight Sparkle’s brother: Shining Armor. But he wasn’t just any sibling: he was Captain of the Royal Guard in Canterlot! (Twilight and Shining’s parents must be very proud of their two famous children).
Considered Twilight’s BBBFF (Big Brother Best Friend Forever), Shining’s role on the show has largely been of a supporting character. After the reappearance of the Crystal Empire at the start of Season 3, he and Princess Cadance were assigned to protect and rule over the Kingdom, starting with the beginning of Season 3 of Friendship is Magic.
Much of the world press went crazy over the wedding of England’s Prince William to Kate Middleton in April of 2011, and in April of 2012, the royal wedding story seemed to make little references to England’s real-world union.
Much like Prince William, Shining Armor is befitted in a jacket that seems very similar, along with a blue sash. This also makes Shining Armor the first male stallion to be (almost) fully-clothed. The jacket also helps hide the seam between his head and body, making for a nice, clean assembly.
Shining also is a first in two areas regarding stallions produced by Funko for this line. Not only is he the first male unicorn, but he is the first medium-sized one, between the smaller Dr Hooves, and the larger Big McIntosh figure.
The one area of Shining Armor’s design that is a little wonky, are his eyes. By the looks of it, he was meant to be viewed from a 3/4 angle, giving a “too cool for mule” smirk. The eyes don’t work so well in a front view, which makes him go wall-eyed. Also of note, is that when seen from the front, his unicorn horn is placed slightly to the left.
As it stands now, Shining Armor’s figure is one of the better crafted ones, with the exception of being viewed from head-on. Given that he only wore his royal jacket just one time, I do wonder why they didn’t just release him as a non-clothed stallion, given his many other appearances sans jacket.
Final Grade: B+
Probably of all the characters introduced in Season 2, Twilight Sparkle’s former foal-sitter and new sister-in-law, racked up quite a lot of fan-based eye-rolling when she was revealed to be another alicorn…though not quite on the same levels of power as Celestia, or Luna.
While Celestia and Luna seemed to buck the trend of being “pink pony princesses,” Cadance seemed to fit that role to a “T.” A sweet-voiced alicorn whose power seemed to be centered around love, she didn’t seem as deep or serious enough to please those who took the show’s world super-seriously. Much of her appearances have simply been relegated to being in bad situations, which leads me to feel that she’s almost the equivalent of an assistant. I mean, Celestia pretty much gave her and Shining Armor total control over the Crystal Empire, and put them in extremely-stressful situations in protecting the place from the evil King Sombra.
In regards to her Funko sculpt, Cadance did surprise me in several ways. My first thought was they had simply re-used Princess Luna’s mold, but much like some other pony sculpts, she’s a brand-new one! For example, Cadance’s wings are slightly smaller than Luna’s, and her neck seems thicker than Luna’s as well. They also added a slight airbrushing of purple to her wings, much like Cadance’s wings on the show.
Even her head isn’t looking straight-ahead, but is tilted down and to the left slightly. Cadance also has a pretty large shock of hair, though looking a little more like taffy than cotton candy, given the texture of the vinyl being used.
Like most first-releases, Cadance is not without some sloppiness, but she seems a little more sloppy in paint areas than Spike or Shining Armor. A positive is that the vinyl “seams” in parts of her face are not as noticeable as those on my Princess Luna figure. Even with these issues, I still find her release to be very well done.
Final Grade: B+
The figures should now be available at your nearest Hot Topic stores, or on their main website. Shining Armor and Princess Cadance each retail for $18.50 apiece. In the case of Spike, his smaller size puts him at a cheaper price, of $12.50.
As of this writing, these three figures will also escape the exclusivity of Hot Topic in late September, when they become available through several other retail outlets.
I had thought that along with Shining Armor and Cadance, we’d get our first villain figure since Discord, in the form of Queen Chrysalis (who also appeared in A Canterlot Wedding). However, her absence does bring up a thought that has been on my mind since these figures were announced: is it possible that Funko might not give us the villains in the series, at this size? Sure we have Discord, but he’s in that grey area due to his reformation episodes.
Recently, pictures surfaced showing Chrysalis being a figure in the smaller, Mystery Mini’s series of Funko figures for the show, but it does make one wonder if she’ll have a larger counterpart or not.
As it stands now, the main secondary characters regarding royalty have all been released, which leads to my speculation that Funko will try to produce some of the more normal secondary characters we’ve seen the Mane 6 encounter, such as Zecora, or Ms Cheerilee. The upcoming Fall release of their Mystery Mini lineup also includes figure of Season 4’s characters of Cheese Sandwich and Maud Pie, which leads some of us to believe they’ll be joining their larger counterparts soon.
As one can see by the paragraphs above, there’s plenty of room for speculation in keeping the series going. With Friendship is Magic almost halfway through its 5th season, there’s bound to still be some momentum and demand for more characters.
Of course, the big question will be how long the line can last, since almost all of the more important members of the cast have all been released.
*For every Toyline that takes hold like Star Wars or My Little Pony, there are many that never get beyond their first steps, and quickly die out. In this column, we’ll take a look at some of those Lost Toylines*
In the Summer of 2005, there was much teeth-gnashing by many moviegoers. It wasn’t enough that George Lucas had made Darth Vader whine in agony with James Earl Jones’ voice, but to many, Warner Brothers and Tim Burton were committing a major crime against childhood, by (re)making Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The majority of those who were upset, claimed the studio was remaking the 1971 film (titled Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory), which was based off of author Roald Dahl’s most famous book. Even with Burton and Johnny Depp telling theater goers that their take was closer to Dahl’s writing, many just claimed Depp wasn’t as awesome as Gene Wilder’s take on the Wonka character.
Aside from giving Willy Wonka “daddy issues” and making him a pale-skinned eccentric, there wasn’t really that much I could see to complain about. Then again, I’m sure many would express the same ire if word came that The Wizard of Oz or The Neverending Story were going to be more “faithfully adapted.” Plus, I never really held the 1971 film in as high of a regard as some people (live-action musicals were not a staple of my childhood viewing ‘diet’).
Unlike the 1971 adaptation, Charlie’s distributor Warner Brothers knew there was money to be made from merchandising. Familiar companies like NECA Toys, and MediCom(known moreso for its collectibles in Japan), were soon touting their wares. But in a press release from Warner in January of 2005, it was announced that a lesser-known company would be joining in on the mix(ture).
That company was called Funrise Toys (oh, clean up that dirty mind right now!). Though NECA and MediCom would craft more specialty items like Wonka Bar style throw-pillows and collectible vinyl dolls, Funrise’s products focused on the film’s younger demographic. The results were puzzles, games, and…action figures.
The other two companies would also make figures, though they would moreso focus on those of Willy Wonka, and several of the Oompa Loompas. Funrise‘s figure releases were more notable, as their assortment would contain the only figural representations of the films’s 5 lucky golden ticket winners.
The full assortment of figures included:
Willy Wonka Augustus Gloop Violet Beauregarde Veruca Salt
Mike TeeVee Charlie Bucket Oompa Loompas
Each figure came in a blister pack, along with a green base, and a sculpted candy plant, based on the same designs of those seen in the film’s Chocolate Room.
The green base that comes with each figure is identical, with a peghole for each of the specific plants, as well as a peg for the figures to use for standing. The only difference among the bases, is the one for the Oompa Loompas, that has an added peg for the additional Loompa to use.
One would assume that with a major summer film like Charlie, the figures would have been popping up at every single toy/retail store. Instead, it seemed very few of the retailers bit at Funrise’s offerings.
When the series of figures was released that summer, it was (scheduled) to be released in two waves (to the best of my knowledge). I recall seeing figures of Wonka, Charlie, and Augustus at a Spencer’s Gift shop, as well as a few Wonka’s at a Toys R Us. However, I never saw any of these figures hit the big-box retailers like Walmart, or Target.
As for the release of the additional figures (aka ‘the second wave’), I couldn’t find any information on how Violet, Veruca, Mike, and the Oompas escaped into consumer’s hands.
The only place I ever saw the additional figures show up, was on eBay, and most of them were being sold from overseas. While many of the auctions for the film’s figures were made up mostly of the first-wave figures like I had seen at Spencer’s, if you were patient, every-so-often the others might show up. Of course, they wouldn’t come cheap (I recall an unopened Violet figure going for around $70 on one auction I watched, a few years after the film came out).
The figure’s packaging appears to have also not fared well since their initial release. Finding a ‘Mint on Card’ rendition of each figure proved to be well-nigh impossible. Every carded figure I obtained had bends or slight tears in their cardbacks. As well, the adhesive used to hold the plastic bubble to the card, had begun to wear off on several of the cards I have. Below, you’ll see a few examples of the packaging ‘problems.’
While looking online, I was able to find some early prototype images on one site. What was most notable were the figures of Veruca, Mike, and Willy.
Veruca’s prototype image shows a different type of candy tree, and unlike her pink purse being a removable object, it is actually underneath her fur coat (which is how she wears it in the film as well).
Mike not only has a different candy tree as well, but his prototype shows the ‘flaming skull’ image that the character has on his t-shirt in the film. For reasons unknown, this design was not included on the final figure release, even though the assortment image on the back of each figure’s card shows the proper shirt design.
Speaking of the back of the figure’s cards, one interesting difference can be seen regarding Willy Wonka. The figure image on the back shows Willy with an open-mouthed smile, whereas the final sculpt differs greatly. It may be just me, but it almost looks like they did a last-minute head re-sculpt. My guess is they were trying to make Wonka look more enigmatic, but the end result looks like either his head’s too big, or his top hat shrank in the wash.
Along with the single-carded figures, Funrise also released a Wonka Figure Assortment consisting of Willy, Charlie, and the two Oompas, but without their candy room bases and plants.
After 2005, it seems Funrise did not consider another attempt at being the main action figure producer for a feature film. According to their current website, they are currently producing additional plush and toy offerings, for successful brands such as My Little Pony, Pound Puppies, and they also appear to be the official license holders of a toyline I recall from my youth:Tonka Trucks.
Originally, I was going to end this Raiders article here, but a little voice in my head reminded me of something. In looking for information on these figures online, I think I am the first person to ever do an article on these ‘lost toys,’ and as such, I could very well run several in-depth reviews on each of these figures. There are only a few other reviews of this figure series online, and they only covered the Willy Wonka figure.
There’s not a whole lot to these toys, but I think there’s plenty to analyze and review, and besides, I’ll be adding a little more information to the World Wide Web. Be on the lookout for my 3-part review of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory action figures, in the not-too-distant future.
Toy Review 1 – Willy Wonka, Oompa Loompas, Charlie Bucket
Toy Review 2 – Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde
Toy Review 3 – Veruca Salt, Mike TeeVee
With the late August releases of Rarity and Discord, Funko had quietly declared two major events for fans of their My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic vinyl figure line:
1) Rarity’s figure concluded production of the “Mane 6” figures from the show.
2) Discord’s release signaled the inaugural start of larger vinyl figures from the series
I had noted at the end of my review of those two figures, that it now seemed an open field to finally see some of the other major supporting players in the world of Equestria, and that’s what Funko gave us. As 2014 wound down, they released two figures of Equestria’s most powerful Princesses: Princess Celestia, and Princess Luna.
Some cartoons have a major figure who is a mentor, or a god-like presence, and Princess Celestia fits that mold. The all-powerful ruler of Equestria for untold centuries, Celestia towers over almost all her subjects, commanding the utmost attention, as her ever-flowing mane of colored hair continues to waver in the wind.
The princess has been given multiple depictions by Hasbro since the Friendship is Magic toyline began…as well as her “Principal” counterpart from Equestria Girls. However, none of the designs really seemed to come close to the Flash-based cartoon stylings that many had become accustomed to on television.
I held off on other variations, certain that Funko could eventually deliver the goods, and…they kinda, did?
Given her design, Celestia looks almost like she was made by a committee…one that said, “make this figure, but shave off about 22% of her overall proportions to save on money.”
For this review, I’ve included a screencap of the episode, “Keep Calm, and Flutter On,” seen below. This image shows a good representation of Celestia, as well as her height when it comes to the regular ponies of the show.
Comparing the screen cap to the images I took of the Funko figure, it’s like they put the princess in a vice, and squeezed her down in size. The length of her legs is definitely smaller, as are the size of her wings. It’s almost like she’s a video game character that is a few levels away from achieving level-up to her final form. As well, the small representation of her on the box, is closer to her actual cartoon appearance, proportion-wise. It feels like the only thing that survived the money-crunch, was the length of the horn on her head.
Celestia’s toothpaste-like mane also is different from other pony releases, in that it is a hollow plastic shell. Probably not surprising, as the amount of vinyl to make her hair, would have made her heavier (and more expensive) than what some would hope to pay. As it stands, the bulk of her hair probably would have outdone Fluttershy’s pink mane and tail.
The hair is rather ingeniously attached to her head in such a way, that they are pretty well hidden, and just like Big McIntosh, her neck/head attachment is hidden in the necklace where her body joins the neck, giving a nice clean ‘flow’ to the design.
Some have made mention that the attaching of the mane to her head, can cause an ‘imbalance’ to the Princess’ pose, and mine also seems to suffer from this symptom.
As you can see in the image to the left, the hair slightly raises Celestia off of her feet…but then again, how often does one look at her hooves?
Some will be quite pleased with the princess, but as someone who expects more accurate quality regarding the sculpts I’ve seen, Celestia sadly falls short. She’s not a mess, but if Funko could have put some more money and effort into crafting her, I’d have been fine paying for a larger, more show-accurate version of ol’ “Sunbutt.”
FINAL GRADE: B
Of the two ruling Princesses in the world of Equestria, it is Princess Luna who has most fascinated the Brony fanbase. Luna’s jealousy of her sister eventually pushed her to become Nightmare Moon, leading to her banishment to the moon for 1,ooo years. Luckily, upon her return, Twilight Sparkle and her friends were able to harness the Elements of Harmony, and purge Luna of her dark powers.
Since then, her characterization and appearances have been very irregular to a ravenous fanbase who want to know more about the Princess of the Night. Some episodes that have been fan-favorites for her appearances, have been Luna Eclipsed, Sleepless in Ponyville, and For Whom the Sweetie Belle Toils.
For the character of Luna, the image of her on the packaging seems a little odd. Instead of a more regal and somewhat statuesque pose, the image Funko has chosen, shows her almost about to break into a playful gallop.
Packaging aside, I think I can best sum up my feelings about this figure with: OMGWTFBBQ!!!”
When Funko released the first images of this figure, it was jaw-dropping: they had managed to make a version of Luna that shut down any critiques. The only thing my brain was thinking was: “…it’s Luna!”
Seriously, it’s hard to get my brain to be so accepting. Going over the figure, it’s one of the few I’ve gotten where I can find almost nothing to really criticize. The use of glittery clear vinyl, with a purple-blue overlay in portions, is a great way to make her ethereal mane and tail come to life. As well, her wingspan is also a thing of beauty, and not undersized like the figure of her sister.
When it comes to size, Luna’s height is at a mid-level between the normal ponies, and her sister, Celestia.
Unfortunately, the version of Luna I got had some abrasive marks on her head and neck (as seen to the right), almost reminding me of some of the issues that plagued a few of my other early pony purchases. As it stood, she was the only one I could find at my local Hot Topic, and so it was either this one, or nothing.
When it comes to figures that have been produced, Luna joins some of my other favorite sculpts that include Discord, Applejack, and Big McIntosh. If she’d had some very minor tweaks here and there, I might have pushed her to the highest grade there was.
FINAL GRADE: A
Due to some issues at several ports this December, plans to release both Celestia and Luna around the same time failed to pass. In fact, I didn’t receive my figures until a month after their planned release dates.
Luna was said to be released first, but one wouldn’t know it from the Hot Topic stores I visited, where not a single Luna was to be found…but there were several Celestias to be found.
Also when it comes to these larger-sized figures, a comparison image is often something that I feel compelled to include.
2014’s release of Discord is still the biggest figure in the vinyl series, height-wise. In truth, Celestia should almost be eye-to-eye with Discord, and not slightly shorter than Big McIntosh (her horn gives her a slight height advantage). Luna’s height level is acceptable, but when put between Twilight Sparkle and Big McIntosh, it does make her look a little puny.
These releases of Celestia and Luna showcase the good and the bad of Funko’s line. On one hand, it proves they can still do some wonderful detail. On the other hand, they are still working within a ceiling of size and pricing.
This does pose a dilemma when some consider an unmade character that could possibly be made, that is almost as tall as Princess Celestia: and that would be Queen Chrysalis (seen on the right), the villain revealed at the end of Season 2’s “Royal Wedding” episode.
It seems a given that we’ll probably get that episode’s characters Shining Armor, Princess Cadance, and Queen Chrysalis…but like Celestia, it does feel we may be in for a letdown, with one of the remaining large-scale figures yet to come (note: as of the time of this writing, there has been no word if Chrysalis is coming. This is largely me fan-speculating).
On the other hand, I’m hoping that the medium-t0-normal scale figures that have yet to be made, will still turn out to be the kind that have made me excited in the past. The sky now seems open, regarding several of the show’s supporting characters, and maybe a fan-fave or two. I know after Season 4 of Friendship is Magic, there’s a few one-shot characters that would be eagerly snapped up by the show’s fanbase.
Almost 25 years separates the release of the films Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Wreck-It Ralph, but they both seem to have done a great job in capturing the essence of both the worlds of hand-drawn animation, and video games. As well, each one has given us characters that have stuck with us due to some rather amazing moments.
And, they each boast villains that are more than what they seem. The two in these films were so memorable, that I soon found myself having to buy their Funko POP figures, and weigh in on these villainous icons that have stuck with two different generations of Disney fanatics.
*Spoiler Alert: Each portion of the review will reveal secrets about each of these characters from the films they were in. If you wish to not find out these secrets, it’s best to watch these films first, and then come back to see what I have to say about these figures.*
With an ominous bassoon and death knell from Alan Silvestri’s score, Eddie Valiant and audiences were introduced to the black-robed judge of Toontown. Not much was known about Doom, but there was something considerably off about this human judge who seemed all too willing to make an example out of a sentient toon shoe, to prove his methods of “justice.”
Eventually, it was revealed just why the judge was acting so strangely, when after being flattened by a steam roller, he was revealed to be the unknown toon who had killed Eddie Valiant’s brother Teddy, many years ago. Now red-eyed and demented, the judge intended to dip Roger and Jessica Rabbit, as well as finish off Eddie with an arsenal of toon props hidden in his right hand.
Over the years, Judge Doom has definitely fallen into that category of “1980’s nightmare fuel” for many of us who were children in that era. Doom is definitely one of those creations that made me sink deep into my theater seat when I was 8.
When it comes to figural representations, Doom has only ever had a few made of him. A company named LJN made several tie-in figures of Doom, one in bendy form, and another in action figure form.
Until Funko’s recent release, Doom had never been rendered without his hat and glasses on, and the Funko POP line has done a great job once again in their exaggerated depiction of a rarely-produced character.
This rendition of Doom is an amalgamation of different parts of his appearance in the film. The hair atop his head is a translucent vinyl, and the swirling red-and-white vortex of his eyes is a nice touch. I think it’s a good thing Funko didn’t include a mouth, as I think an open-mouthed grin with the Judge’s fake teeth would have made the figure a little more scary.
The Judge is realized here in his trademark black suit. One would assume they would have given him the toon buzz saw or anvil for his right hand, but instead, they have it clutching a POP version of the toon shoe he dips in the ACME Gag Factory. And just like in the film, the little guy here doesn’t quite know what is in store for him (they even made him smile!).
Doom is part of a 4-figure set from the film, with other characters including Roger Rabbit, Jessica Rabbit, and Smarty Weasel (because they couldn’t call him by his real name: Smart@$$). Sadly, Funko did not make a figure of Eddie Valiant, which I think would have been a great inclusion instead of the Weasel, since Eddie interacted with the other characters in one form or another throughout the film.
Doom’s retail price starts at $10.99, and should be showing up at local retailers very soon. Online, he and the other Roger Rabbit assortment have just been released to a number of outlets.
2012 gave us a film that I feel was one of Walt Disney Feature Animation’s strongest releases yet: Wreck-It-Ralph. Not just a film about mashing together all kinds of old-school video game characters, director Jim Reardon instead decided to tell the story of an arcade bad guy who is tired of his “job” that has gone on for 30 years. His quest to try and become the good guy, eventually leads him to the arcade racing world of Sugar Rush, presided over by the uppity King Candy.
The unhinged King Candy it soon turned out, was a re-purposed racing contender from another arcade game named Turbo Time. Turbo was constantly attempting to always be the best, but when a new game called Road Blasters was introduced into the arcade, Turbo abandoned his game, and attempted to take over the hot new racing game. This just resulted in his messing up the game’s coding, and leading to both games being pulled, with Turbo supposedly perishing when he didn’t return to his.
Noone knows when it happened, but sometime in the 1990’s, Turbo found his way into the new arcade racing game Sugar Rush in Litwak’s Arcade. He then usurped the Candy Kingdom, and took the throne from Princess Vanellope Von Schweetz. Adopting the high-strung persona of King Candy, Turbo was master of his new domain, until Wreck-It-Ralph showed up, and helped Vanellope reclaim her kingdom.
Turbo’s appearance is definitely jarring when one sees him rendered in 3-dimensions in the game of Sugar Rush. With his glowing yellow eyes and teeth, as well as light blue skin, he definitely seems to have a menacing persona, and one that does seem a little scary when one sees him. His reveal when I saw it in theaters, definitely made me flash back to the unmasking of Judge Doom.
In the fall of 2012, Funko released 4 POP renditions of Wreck-It-Ralph, Vanellope Von Schweetz, Fix-It-Felix, and King Candy. The demand for these figures soon caused them to sell out almost immediately, and Funko reissued them in the fall of 2013…but included a POP rendition of Turbo, the only figure made so far of this character.
Turbo’s size is definitely moreso on par with Vanellope, though this means that the bulk of his mass is in the shape of his helmeted head. Funko has also taken to putting a little more detail into his head than most other POP figures. His all-yellow eyes are rimmed slightly with some magenta, and his eyes have a dark outline around them. Of course, they definitely help add an air of eeriness to him.
Turbo also is one of the few POP figures that comes with a mouth. This one is full of crooked yellow teeth, all outlined in black as well.
His pose is also one of menace. With his outstretched hands, it looks like he’s about to push someone off a cliff (or into oncoming traffic!). I originally thought that the size of his head would mean he’d easily fall over (his head is almost 2-3 times the size of his body!), but the squat pose they have Turbo in, helps make sure he’ll stay standing even with a minor shove.
Of course, like most interesting bad guys these days, Turbo has amassed a small following of fans online. Even so, Disney has not given the fandom of Wreck-It-Ralph much of anything with him on it. This makes Funko’s figure of him a must-have for those wanting something of the psychotic racer.
Originally retailing for $10.99, it’s rare to find Turbo in stores these days. Your best bet is to find him from online outlets like Amazon.com.
When Funko originally started their POP line-up, I didn’t immediately spark to it, given the exaggerated stylings and limited facial features. However, the POP line has been instrumental in giving us numerous properties that one can display side-by-side. Aside from the LEGO brand getting multiple licensees, POP is one of the other places one can mash up all sorts of superheroes, pop-culture icons, and characters from TV and film.
The line’s ability to give us obscure characters like Judge Doom and Turbo, is also one reason why I have made several purchases from them. They have even made POP figures of such obscure characters as Edna Mode, Remy the Rat from Ratatouille, and Carl Fredricksen. One hopes there may be a few more obscure characters to come in the future (I’m sure some Tangled fans would love a figure of Mother Goethel!).
In the fall of 2012, fans of the TV series My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic rejoiced when Hasbro allowed vinyl figure producer Funko, to help bring more collectibles to the series’ older fan base.
Collectibles for the older fans of the series have been somewhat problematic outside of the general clothing-based merchandise. Because its one of their main franchises, Hasbro generally has their hands in almost all toy-based materials. However, while they do acknowledge older fans loving the cartoon series, Hasbro is not the kind of company that is going to sink millions of dollars into partitioning out merch for the older fans.
This seems to be the niche that Funko is filling. Though their vinyl figures are more like collectible sculptures than toys, they seem more willing to follow the design of the show, giving collector’s something nice to display.
Funko’s first figure releases were of a main pony character, and one of the fanbase’s favorites. In this case, we had main character Rainbow Dash, and fan-favorite Derpy Hooves (which was reviewed here).
In February of 2013, Funko has again followed this chain-of-thought, by giving us the main character of Fluttershy, and fan-favorite (and first stallion) release, Dr Whooves.
Like Derpy Hooves, Dr Whooves started out his life as a non-descript background character. In this case, a stallion with an hourglass cutie-mark on his flank. Due to his rather spiky mane, along with the hourglass markings, some felt that he seemed to be a stallion version of the Tenth Doctor, played by David Tenant.
Originally called ‘Time-Turner’ in some materials, he gained the Dr Whooves moniker unofficially in the last few years, notably on some clothing merchandise.
His release in Funko’s second wave of Friendship is Magic figures, also clears the way for a new mold. Unlike the more curved faces of the series’ ponies, Dr Whooves’ look is more angular, giving him a straight-bridged ‘nose.’
It’s also enjoyable to see that his mane and tail hair are neat and ‘symmetrical,’ compared to the ponies that are asymmetrical. This gives one a better chance to see the full-body sculpt of the figure
Unlike the vinyl figurine of Derpy, Dr Whooves’ is more of a smoother, shinier finish. However, this also makes a few abnormalities stand out.
One controversy that also followed the first releases, was that only one of the figure’s flanks had a cutie-mark, and this time, the same thing has happened. One has to wonder why it is so hard to put this mark on both sides of a figure, giving only one ‘good side’ to display them.
The paint applications are also a little spotty in places. Of concern to me, was the painting around the eyes, which seemed a little ‘soft.’ Speaking of his eyes, this is an area where the figure ‘fails’ to me. Compared to the package design (and the screenshot above), the figure’s eyes are about 20% larger than they should be!
The large eyes on the figure are a bit too distracting for me, and I put my figure into Photoshop to see what shrinking the eye down would do. As you can see on the right image above, it seems to make the sculpt a whole lot better, and closer to the Doctor’s animated counterpart.
Unlike the first wave of figures, the second wave has several different variants. Dr Hooves comes with either a green, or red tie. There’s also a rare sparkly-clear variant. Though they are limited editions, the majority of fans claim they just want a ‘normal’ Doctor.
In the end, the fan-favorite Dr Whooves is a good figure, and most likely the only chance we may get to seeing this figure made (I doubt Hasbro would make him, as the majority of their figures are ponies and not stallions). Not bad for the first Funko attempt at a stallion figure, but one hopes that if future stallions are made, this first step will lead them to make improvements.
FINAL GRADE: B+
Even though there are ‘earth’ ponies and unicorns in the land of Equestria, Funko decided to give us another pegasus pony in the wake of Rainbow Dash and Derpy Hooves’ release. This time, we get one of the more timid-yet-sweet characters from the television series: Fluttershy. The soft-spoken, animal-loving pony has many fans out there (myself included), and I did wonder if Funko could do a proper figure of her justice. I must say, that Funko has impressed me greatly with what they have brought forth, and she has surpassed Derpy’s Funko figure to become my new favorite!
First off, as Sweetie Belle might say, “I really like her mane!” Fluttershy has the largest shock of hair compared to her friends, and the vinyl sculpting on it is quite a sight to behold. Though this means she can only be posed properly on her left-side, the design holds up well when compared to the profile image of her animated counterpart. Plus, if angled correctly, one can also make out a heart-shape in her curved mane design. Some might pitch a fit that her hair color is more magenta than light-pink, but I’m not that picky.
Unlike Dr Whooves, her eyes also seem to be a decent size, their half-closed/shy appearance works well in profile, and head-on, seem to pull off a pretty cute look. The placement also looks more natural on her face than previous pony releases. Derpy’s wall-eyed look worked well in a 3/4 profile, but head-on, seemed rather odd.
Like the other releases, only one side of Fluttershy contains a cutie-mark (featuring three butterflies). The shinier vinyl I feared would be a bit distracting, but it’s not as bad, and helps accentuate the curves in her sculpt.
Also, what I originally thought was Funko’s attempt to reuse an already-made mold has been debunked. Fluttershy’s head and body sculpt are brand-new. Her features are a bit rounder and ‘softer,’ which helps a great deal, notably in the area around her cheeks.
Her packaging also seems to be a first for this Funko figure series, in that it contains some pink in it (notably due to the coloration fitting Fluttershy’s colors).
Like Dr Whooves, Fluttershy is also being released with a variant design: a clear-bodied figure that is said to be inserted at random. I was just glad I didn’t get it, as I’m more partial to original designs, and not ‘crystal ponies.’
There’s very little I have to say negatively about this figure. A few vinyl abnormalities can be found here and there, but just looking at the figure sitting atop my computer, the good outweighs what little bad there is in this release. If anything, Fluttershy should be the benchmark Funko should use when figuring out how to make their next releases even better.
FINAL GRADE: A
Average prices for the new releases runs about $16.50 apiece. I pre-ordered mine from Hot Topic, but they should be hitting store shelves there very soon. At this time, Hot Topic is still the only place to pick up Funko‘s pony figures.
Rumor is the next wave of two figures should be announced very soon (Funko has stated on their Facebook page that Hot Topic will tell the masses what will be next). Speculation has been that we may see the curly-haired party pony, Pinkie Pie, and the shades-wearing DJ named Vinyl Scratch next. However, this is just rumor, but it would fit with the previous releases of one main pony, and one fan-favorite.
Funko have definitely cemented themselves as one of the premier sellers of vinyl-based toys and collectibles based around popular culture, and this second wave of My Little Pony figures should definitely help get more fans interested.
“Hoverboards have been around for years, but parents groups have not let the toy manufacturers make them. We got our hands on some” – Robert Zemeckis, Director of the Back to the Future Trilogy
Like many young children out there, when I heard Robert Zemeckis say those words, and saw the film Back to the Future Part II in theaters in 1989, I believed it, and wondered how soon we’d see them in stores given how popular the Back to the Future sequel was. I remember playing with my LEGO sets as a kid, and crafting a Hoverboard out of scotch tape, paper, and colored pencils that a LEGO person could ride.
Of course, just before Back to the Future Part III was released, Kirk Cameron blew the lid off our childhood fantasies in the television special, The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy, in which he admitted that Robert Zemeckis was only kidding. The film’s co-writer/co-producer Bob Gale even backed this up recently, saying that at the time, Mattel got upset by all the letters and requests they got from kids wanting their own Hoverboard. To me, that anger seems misplaced. I mean, if there’s demand for a product, why not get started trying to make it a reality?
In recent years, the toy company Mattel acquired the rights to make action figures and other products based around one of the least-merchandised trilogies in film history (seriously, 25 years later and no action figures? Even The Goonies got action figures made!).
After having released prop replicas of items such as the ghost trap and PKE meter from Ghostbusters, Mattel has decided to tackle the one Back to the Future prop that had their name written all over it (no seriously, in the film, their logo was on this thing in two places). Through their website, MattyCollector.com, a special pre-order (featuring limited quantities) went up in March of 2012. I placed my order, and waited the required 8-9 months before my credit card was charged, and a large package arrived at my apartment!
Like many of MattyCollector.com‘s releases, the Hoverboard comes packaged in an all-white box with minimal markings:
Once you cut the tape, flip up the tab, and pull out the inner-box, you get an example of what the board’s future packaging might look like:
I was a little surprised that they didn’t try to photograph a real little girl riding a hoverboard. Then again, maybe marketing in a couple years will start to shift back to more artistic-based imagery. A fun little nod to the film, is that a majority of the girl’s fashion stylings are modeled after clothing the hoverboard girl (Lindsey Whitney Barry) wore in Back to the Future Part II.
A downside to this packaging, is that unlike the tabbed outer-box, or some of their resealable packaging for some MattyCollector action figures, the top and bottom of the official box can be ripped with none of the collector-friendly convenience one would hope for something of this caliber.
Turning the box around, it gives a layout of the board, both top and bottom, outlining several of the features of the board. They even include the future-slang term, ‘bojo.’ If you notice, there’s a little asterisk after lettering on the top left. What is that for? Well…
Yes, just in case by now, if you hadn’t read the disclaimer when ordering your board from MattyCollector.
In the lower-right of the back of the box, they even show an example of the Hoverboard coming in different colors. One has to wonder if maybe they’ll try to make a ‘boys’ Hoverboard in the future, or the orange (unseen) one the hoverboard girl’s friend was using in the film. Speaking of the Hoverboard:
A small users manual is inserted with the board, giving plenty of information about the board, and also cautioning about disassembling the Hoverboard, claiming ‘the anti-gravity lift cushion inside may launch you into orbit.’ It’s a nice little booklet, but only a few pages long, in black-and-white, and about the size of a smartphone. One would almost wish they’d do something a bit more futuristic, maybe printed on a transparency, like the Sports Almanac receipt from the Blast From The Past store in the second film.
When it came to the films in which the Hoverboard appeared, we rarely got a lot of time to look at it in super-fine detail. Throughout the production of Back to the Future Part II, different versions of the Hoverboard were made, given the needs of the various scenes. What Mattel has given us, is a prop replica that attempts to combine the best traits of the various boards that were used during the film’s production (over 30 in total, according to the information on the Matty website), and find a ‘happy medium.’
By the way, one would assume a Hoverboard to be light considering how easily Marty McFly was whipping that thing around all over the place, but you’re in for a surprise. This prop replica has a little weight to it, and definitely will keep some from wanting to chuck it onto the ground like Marty did.
The construction of this board is largely plastic, along with stickers/decals, and velcro. Yes, velcro. The rear strap on the board and the green area underneath were velcro, and are the same on this board. Unknown to some, velcro was also used on an area one would probably never have considered:
The two pink angles at the front of the board. The box and users manual claim that these are “velocity control pads.”
The majority of the surface designs of the board are made up of large decals. In several places, one can see that the decals consist of several layered together:
Of course, Mattel wanted to include some extra ‘bells and whistles,’ and they did that by inserting a chip and sensors inside the board, that would sense when it was placed horizontally, or when it moved. Requiring 3 AA batteries (not included), one simply turns over the Hoverboard, and can find the battery compartment in the futuristic-looking box underneath:
Using the same sound effects from the film, the board makes an activation sound when placed horizontally (causing the board to vibrate slightly), and shuts off when tilted vertically. As well, sending it gliding along some carpeting (seriously, do not glide this thing on concrete or any other hard surface!) will cause it to make a ‘whooshing’ motion sound. It’s a cool feature, but isn’t 100% accurate a majority of the time when I was testing it. While it is a touted feature, I think I’ll be fine with leaving the batteries out of my Hoverboard.
Of course, there are many of us who will not be spending a lot of time sliding their prop replica across carpeting, and Mattel has included a clear-plastic, hinged stand. Using the design of the central battery compartment and a few well-placed peg-holes, the stand allows the board to be displayed, angled at 45 degrees. It isn’t easy to put together, and the stand clattered to the ground several times as I tried to get it placed properly.
By now, some of you may be asking, “Well, what do you think? Was it worth it?”
Having seen numerous pictures of the Hoverboard over the years, and wanting one myself, it’s a good piece, but not great.
For the last several months, the web has been filled with many die-hard fans, scrutinizing any information out of Mattel, regarding the release of the prop replica. Early concepts, convention displays, and even early reviews of this board have criticized everything from the spacing and size of the ‘magnets’ on the bottom of the board, to the lack of lenticular graphics regarding the board’s decals. Even the pink strap on the rear is not the right size/material.
On December 10th, on the fan-run Back To The Future website, BTTF.com, co-creator/co-screenwriter/co-producer Bob Gale expressed some of his own thoughts. He recalled the enthusiasm that the crew at Mattel had when they sat down to talk with him and visual effects supervisor Michael Lantieri, but was surprised at several ‘quality’ points that were missing from the final production Hoverboard. Notably the lenticular graphics, which according to a letter he received from Scott Neitlich at Mattel, was due to them being unable to replicate the effect, finally settling on the simpler decals. Bob does make an interesting point in his letter: if visual effects supervisor Michael Lantieri and his crew were able to make lenticular decals for the prop boards made in 1989, how can it be so hard for Mattel to replicate the effect all these years later? You can read Mr Gale’s full letter here: Bob Gale says Mattel’s Hoverboard did not live up to his expectations; okay to throw eggs at him
In that respect, it’s a good prop replica, but it is not the greatest. Then again, what keeps it passable in my mind is that it’s an item made by the same company as in the film. And what does Mattel mainly produce? Toys! So, not every toy company is going to give you top-of-the-line stuff. That is also part of my thinking regarding toys in the world of 2015 in the Back to the Future universe. I would assume that the board Marty handled in the film was plastic as well, seeing as it’s a kid’s toy Hoverboard. One would assume the Hoverboards used by Griff and his gang are more technologically advanced (and more expensive).
Another question some may have is: is this a toy, or a collectible? To me, it’s a collectible piece, given its price-point. You’d need to have a pretty good-sized bank account to give this to a child to play with. I can only imagine what one of these would look like after being handled by children.
The final total (not including taxes and shipping and handling), was $130. While a lot of people balked at this price for the Hoverboard, I was a lot more willing to pay that than $4-6000 on the special-edition 2015 Nike shoes that came out last fall. Even a prop replica of the Flux Capacitor (i.e. the thing that makes time-travel possible!) will run you upwards of $300!
These days, almost any collectible item released will have someone say, ‘It costs this much? I’d think it would have cost that much.’ When I first heard about the Hoverboard being made, I told myself one thing: ‘unless it’s priced under $150, I won’t buy one.’ Though with the final product, I could see some saying it would could be priced in the $100 range.
Because I pre-ordered my Hoverboard in March of 2012, this entitled me to get a special bonus: a miniature Hoverboard & the handlebar attachment like we saw in the film.
Promotional information tells that this board will fit most 6-inch figures. Since I don’t have any 6-inch figures from Mattel, I decided to have a couple of my other 6-inch figures help show off this additional item:
The handlebars are on a small pivot, so they can be turned outwards or in, depending on the arms of the figure using them. It can also be snapped into the hole in the board, and removed. The rear safety strap can also be rotated. One has to wonder if this is some sort of small promotional hint that Mattel just might be bringing us those Back to the Future action figures many have been wondering about for some time.
For December of 2012, Mattel has re-opened ordering of the Hoverboard prop replica. Unlike the March pre-orders, these will not come with the 6-inch Hoverboard ‘freebie.’ Mattycollector.com has been Mattel’s place to sell higher-priced, more collectible-based material, and by the sounds of things, obtaining one of these may be easier than some of their exclusive figures.
There are fan-made Hoverboard replicas out there (some made out of wood), which I’ve seen often run for more than what Mattel is offering for their prop replica. That might be the deal-breaker for some. Some people out there can make a board that more closely resembles the screen-used props, but these can often run upwards of $150+. If you’re looking for one that seems kind of close to the film prop, and you have some extra money left over for (or after) Christmas, you may want to get yourself one. Unless you’re a perfectionist regarding props, many would be hard-pressed to find all the differences.
Once I received my Hoverboard, I decided to take it for a small photoshoot at the one place that screamed for it: The Wormhole. This humble coffeeshop in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago has gained a small following for its nostalgic theme. An old television in the back has a Nintendo Entertainment System hooked up to it, and metal lunchboxes line the overhead ducts. Though what first caught my attention, was this:
Yes, that’s a flying DeLorean hovering over the rear of the building. The guy who owns the shop is a pretty big Back to the Future fan. So big in fact, that one of the replica Flux Capacitors that was made a few years ago, is mounted on a wall behind the counter. Word was, when Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis was in town, he actually stopped by to check out the DeLorean.
The Wormhole even has its own merchandise, from T-shirts to bumper stickers, with many of them tying into the Back to the Future theme.
If you’re ever in the Wicker Park neighborhood and want a non-Starbucks cup of coffee, The Wormhole has plenty of choices, and is usually a popular hangout for many nearby college students. You can find out more about The Wormhole by clicking Here.
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.