Thursday, December 20, 2012

Toy Review – Nicktoons Ren Höek By Jazwares

Jazwares is kind of irritating the crap out of me. They have a tendency to produce extremely flimsy or otherwise low-quality action figures like yesterday’s Space Ghost, but they keep nabbing licenses that interest me.
The fact that they have the Hanna-Barbera license is irritating. They also have the license for Regular Show, which bothers me. And Adventure Time. That’s just… ugh. The one that I didn’t care one way or the other about was their Nicktoons license. Or at least, I didn’t care until I saw the Target Exclusive Ren & Stimpy merchandise.
In one of those weird universal coincidences, I had just recently rediscovered The Ren & Stimpy Show on Netflix. I cautiously let Lil’ Troublemaker watch one – remembering how weird and controversial the cartoons had been back when they debuted in the early 90’s – and he loved it. I didn’t find too much content-wise to be concerned about and it’s something fresh that we can both enjoy.
Target has a whole endcap of Nicktoons merchandise set up – half Ren & Stimpy and half some other Nicktoon. I mentioned above that I didn’t care about Jazwares having the Nicktoons license. That’s because I have never been a fan of Doug, Rugrats, The Fairly Oddparents, or really any of the other cartoons that fall under the banner. I don’t know exactly what it is, but so many of those cartoons were extremely off-putting to me. But the Ren & Stimpy half of that endcap was exciting to see.
They had plushes of the titular characters as well as action figures, and a box set of PVC figures featuring more of the cast. It had Ren, Stimpy, Log, Mr. Horse, Powdered Toast Man, and Stimpy’s cousin that wore the lederhosen (I can’t remember his name). This was the most appealing item, but the figures’ scales were all off. Mr. Horse and Powdered Toast Man were far too small. I can’t deal with figures in the same line not being in scale, let alone figures in the same box set. So I passed on that and bought the plushes for Lil’ Troublemaker and the action figures for myself. Plush is much less likely to fall apart than plastic.
First Glance: Ren has the flimsy appearance and apparent disregard for balance shared by many Jazwares products, but he sure does look like Ren. I can’t fault the sculpt.
Articulation: Despite Ren’s diminutive stature and narrow limbs, he has nine points of articulation.
Head – ball joint
Ears – swivel/pivot
Shoulders – swivel/pivot
Wrists – swivel
Hips – swivel/pivot
Maybe not a ton of joints, but I’m impressed they aren’t all just swivels. Each one is fairly tight and was sturdy enough to handle not only my posing for pictures, but Lil’ Troublemaker playing with the figure for a while.
Despite being massively top-heavy, Ren stands up fairly well. It takes some adjusting, but once you get him upright he stays that way.
I love that his ears are articulated. Ren’s ears moved around with his moods in the cartoon, and even though we’re stuck with his crazy face on this figure, I like the posing options.
Sculpt: The head sculpt is amazing. I would have preferred a more neutral look, but I say that about everything. I almost always want my figures to be that way unless they’re variants from a particular scene or situation like that “KHAAAAAN!” Kirk that DST made. But I get that Jazwares was going for Ren’s maniacally happy look from “Stimpy’s Invention”. And they nailed it. This is a very involved and intricate sculpt, what with the eyes and weird mouth and everything. He even has a uvula.
The rest of Ren is proportionate and looks good. His body is the right shape and size compared to his head and the posture is spot-on. And... he has a butt. The hands and feet are oversized in the right way and are apparently what help to balance the figure. I think Jazwares made good choices in how to represent the limbs and body on this guy. Every part of Ren looked a hundred different ways over the course of the cartoon, but Jazwares has captured a fairly iconic and functional style with this figure.
I also like the plastic used to make the figure. It has a bit of a texture that makes look more cartoony and gives it a different feel than other figures. This guy feels very flimsy. I was nervous while playing with him and felt sure something was going to break off. But nothing did.
Coloring: Ren’s paint job looks very good. Most of the detailing is on the head and it is all tight and accurate.
The beige on the body is accurate and the sickly pink and red of the eyes is well done. The placement of the details is great, as the teeth, mouth, nose, and everything else all stay within the borders and aren’t fuzzy or blotchy anywhere.
Flair: Nothing to report here.
Accessories: Ren comes with Stimpy’s Invention, or the Happy Helmet. It’s a great sculpt that looks exactly like the animation and the coloring is well done on the exterior. They didn’t really bother with the inside, but that’s okay with me. No big deal.
It took me a minute to figure out exactly how this thing was supposed to sit on the figure’s head, as there are a couple of ways it can look right. You have to sort of push it all the way back and down.
There are any number of possible accessories this guy could have come with, but I agree with this one. “Stimpy’s Invention” is still one of the very best animated shorts ever made and features so many iconic moments. I’m always surprised when I’m reminded that it’s the twelfth episode of the first season.
Packaging: I do love the new packaging for these Hanna-Barbera toys. It has a nice, distinctive shape and the design can carry across all the different licenses and seem right. Also, it isn’t a clamshell. So bonus points for that. Jazwares cheaped out(!) and opted not to print bios or cartoon histories or anything neat on the backs. That’s pretty lame.
Value: It’s been a few weeks since I bought these and I can’t actually remember how much they were. I know they weren’t more than ten bucks. I’m thinking they might have been $8.99. I’ll say this for the value – ten bucks is a bit steep, but worth it. If they were eight bucks then they were a bargain.
Overall: I think the only thing that could have made me happier with this figure would be if he had interchangeable heads rather than the helmet. A neutral-faced Ren and also this crazy Ren with the helmet on. Otherwise, this is a pretty great figure. I can’t complain.

4 out of 5

I don’t know what the plan is for these toys. I haven’t seen them in any of my regular Targets since buying ours. Not the figures or the plush. I would hope they’ll be restocked, but who knows? If you happen to see them and are a fan of Ren & Stimpy, these toys have my recommendation.
Come back tomorrow and find out about Ren’s idiot friend.

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