Within a week of moving back to Southern California I was at the Disneyland Resort buying myself an Annual Pass. I just love me the heck out the Disney Monolith and especially its theme park branch! It's been over five years since I was a regular visitor so I must admit my purse strings were particular loose upon my return, and so much brand-new product didn't help matters much either. So, sit back, relax, and soak in all of these wonderful Disney Park Exclusive toys!
Disney Parks: Collector Packs Series 5 - Haunted Mansion, Woody, Tower of Terror
Back in, oh I don't know, the early-mid '00s Disney decided to cash in on the "delightful" fun of blindbagged toys. There was always one or two things in a set I'd want, but happily avoided the abhorrent blindbaggery. Well, nowadays the Lego Collectible Minifigure line has made my plump digits quite good and identifying through touch so I was able to filter through and actually find a bag with two things I wanted (hint, Woody ain't one of them). If you know anything about ol' Rustin its that he's nuts for the Haunted Mansion so that was my main charge for this set. It's a nice representative though not a wholly accurate sculpt (which is identical on the front and back, as well as left and right). It's got simple but clean paint and is a light aqua color making it more an "old haunted house" than the famously pristine white of the actual facade at Disneyland. Next up is the equally cool Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This is the original found at the now-known-as-Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida (you can tell by the "Hollywood Tower" sign being linear). Much like the Mansion it's cast in white plastic with a pastel beige base coat and limited paint over it, but it's all done clean and has more sculptural detail than I'd expect for this scale (the Tower is just over an inch tall). Woody is of the same ilk but fares worse being a character. Plus the wall-eyed pupils make him weird. The buildings are fabulous though.
Disney Parks: Collector Packs Series 12 - Starspeeder 1000, R2-D2, Naboo Water Speeder
Series 12 is the second all-Star Wars series and it conveniently ties in to 2011's opening of Star Tours 2.0 and features two vehicles, both of which I was able to find in one pack. First up is a little R2-D2, with nice sculpting and paint but it's nothing all too special - just a better version of those minis that came with Action Fleet vehicles in the '90s. More important is the Starspeeder 1000 vehicle, making it the 3rd version of the new Starspeeder I have as well as the third scale. This is just a repaint of a Starspeeder sculpt from a previous wave but, say it with me, it's a good sculpt and has nice paint. I thought I was also getting a Naboo Starfighter but it turns out this is a "Water Speeder"? I don't think it's in the movies but it might pop up in the Naboo scene of the new ride, I can't recall. It takes the familiar form of the Starfighter but shortens the engine "spikes" and features an open canopy with seating for four. A fun design regardless of its source. These sets run for $7 which is not terrible for the better-than-expected quality of these pieces. Plus each piece comes in its own polybag to keep them safe from paint damage and so on. The blindbagging sucks but most non-characters can be easily felt out pre-purchase.
Disney Parks: Indiana Jones - Temple of Doom Indy
Several years back Disney surprised us all by producing a 6"-scale Indiana Jones figure, and lord only knows what kind of loopholes they were able to swing to make that happen. Well, now they're back at it with a Temple of Doom Indy! This guy shares a great deal with the previous figure but what's new is really fantastic. Indy's the same from the waist down and has a swivel waist, balljointed hips, hinged knees and balljointed ankles. It's a fair share but no thigh articulation means the balljointed hips are just a pain. Upstairs he gets balljointed shoulders and, shockingly, double-jointed elbows! Even though these figures are coming from Disney itself, clearly whoever is behind them is a toy fan. Sure the proportions and QC isn't on par with the product coming from some mainstream companies but it puts to shame the work of others. But more impressive than the figure is the accessories. He comes with the same base as the last Indy but repainted in yellow and green to give more of a feel of India's environs. He also gets the same hat, messenger bag, sword, journal, gun and whip as the previous figure. But, new to him are the signature machete, a sankara stone, a voodoo doll and even a tiny blue vial of poison antidote from the prologue! Insanely cool, and all for only $15 (i.e. the price of a Walking Dead figure, or, less than DCUC). What this figure lacks in "really looking good" he more than makes up for in accessories and elbow joints!
Disney Parks: Pirates of the Caribbean - Mickey as Jack Sparrow
Disney has been doing a brisk trade in Star Wars/Disney mash-up figures so it only made sense that they'd try their hand doing the same with their own successful Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, though the results are far less enchanting. This hybrid of Mickey Mouse and Cap'n Jack Sparrow looks more like an Original Series Klingon than either character. He comes with a sword and compass while featuring the "big five" points of articulation (swivel neck, shoulders and hips) with swivel wrists as well. Something like this really relies heavily on the design but it's clearly lacking here. Not helping it at all is remarkably weak paint, particularly on the head and face. The one up side is the base, sculpted to look like wood and featuring a "hook" on two sides and "ports" on the other two allowing you to interconnect and tile the bases any way you'd like. Each figure comes with a little "something" on the base and Mickey gets a small pile of the cursed Aztec gold. I'm friends with a cast member who got me this guy at a discount, which was sadly still more than he is worth (and he retails for something like $9 or $10).
Disney Parks: Pirates of the Caribbean - Stitch as Barbossa
Not as bad as Mickey but less appealing because it's the uber-annoying Stitch. And you know what, lets take a minute and pontificate on why he's included. How the hell is Stitch in the same grouping as Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Chip & Dale, etc? Lilo & Stitch is a standalone story that is definitively not in the Mickey-verse! I know Stitch merchandise sells insanely well but if that's the rationale, why isn't Jack Skellington in these mashup lines? Barbossa should have been Pete (Donald is Will Turner) but whatever. Same articulation as above with his sword and hat as accessories. He's got possibly the best base since it features appropriately cartoon-y skull and bones. I had previously purchased Goofy as Davy Jones, so these two figures completed out my set of favored characters (not to mention Donald/Will and Minnie/Elizabeth are even less appealing than these). It's no wonder they're unloading these for cheap to CMs, it's just a very weak line devoid of all of the charm in the Star Wars one.
Disney Parks: Star Tours - Starspeeder 1000
We've been waiting 24 years for this! A Star Tours Starspeeder in 3¾" scale!!! This thing is big, like 20" long, and full of little features. Included is a non-articulated but in-scale R2-D2 and a little camera droid. The raised center section of the roof pops off to access the interior which features a removable captain's chair and seating for nine figures (three rows of three with one large seat-belt per row). Push down on R2 in his compartment to hear a variety of his chirps and toots. Press a button near the windshield and two blasters flip out under the window while headlights and cannons below light up (blue and red, respectively). On the back of the ship are four thruster looking things, each a button. The top two not only open the all five passenger doors on their respective side, they also turn on yellow LEDs inside the cabin and play the signature Star Tours jingle. The bottom two "thrusters" play different C-3PO lines, which you can change by inserting different plastic cards into the viewport, each with a different destination graphic on it. Basically, this thing does a lot. But, there's always a downside. I'm okay with the cheated scale and limited seating but disappointed by they wholly inaccurate design of the fore-cabin and that the windshield is painted on and not translucent. Also, there's no way to set the LEDs to remain on, which is mainly annoying for the cabin lights. The folks at Disney designed and executed this so, like the Indiana Jones figure, it's good, but not great. I really wish they would have worked on it with the guys at Hasbro who could have given them some really good advice. This'll set you back $60 which is remarkably fair considering it's a park-exclusive and has electronics and play features. Now, if only they'd do a repaint in the classic white and blue of Star Tours 1.0 for the 25th anniversary this year we'd be set!
Disney Parks: Star Wars - Minnie as Leia (as Boushh)
Disney has managed to keep their Star Wars mash-up line alive for four series, which is pretty remarkable consider the $9 pricepoint, lackluster quality and esoteric concept. Minnie/Boushh comes from Series 4 and is one of the most "loaded" figures in the line. She's got swivel joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists and hips and comes packed with Boushh's rifle/staff, a thermo-detonator (it has a peg hole which fits snugly on a peg on her left hand) and interchangeable heads for helmet on or off looks. While nothing to write home about she'll go handsomely with my Donald-in-Carbonite and Pete as Boba Fett.
Disney Parks: Star Wars - Beaker & Bunsen as C-3PO & R2-D2
How many years has it been since we begged Palisades to do figures from the Star Wars themed episode of The Muppet Show? They wanted to, too, and even got the thumbs up from SW licensee Hasbro but Lucasfilm slammed the door in their face. To the best of my knowledge these are new designs, perhaps inspired by that Muppet Show episode but certainly not drawn from it. First up are the inseparable duo of Beaker & Bunsen appropriately as 3PO & R2. Sure they err on the side of "toy" rather than "collectible" but come closer than arguably even the Indy figures. Beaker is cast in a metallic yellow plastic and includes an alternate head (it's the same sculpt) painted to look like his normal face. Bunsen also features a removable helmet to duplicate R2's dome and it has a hinged translucent blue window in front of his face. Sadly, the hinge uses up enough space that it kind of obstructs Bunsen's face. His glasses are removable, and have tiny pegs which plug into holes on the top of his ears. It's a pretty loose connection so the glasses risk an easy loss. Bunsen even has some subtle texturing on his hands and head. Beaker features a shocking 9 points of articulation with swivel hips, balljointed shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists and swivel neck. Bunsen's the same, excepting no leg articulation. The arms are articulated perfectly allowing for the most cherished of functions - variable poses!
Disney Parks: Star Wars - Fozzie & Link Hogthrob as Chewie & Han
Rowlf really seems a more proper choice for Chewie, but I understand Fozzie is more popular and there's no one else really for him to play. That said, I'm impressed they went third-tier and used Link for Han, which is both perfect and inspired casting! Each figure has a swivel neck, balljointed shoulders, elbows, and swivel wrists with Link getting a swivel waist and Fozzie having swivel hips. Sadly, Fozzie's purse isn't removable but Link's vest is. Both figures come with their character's weapon of choice. While the Bowcaster is a fantastic, one-piece sculpt (suck it, Hasbro) Fozzie can't hold it properly on account of big hands versus small handle. Link holds his blaster right well, though it doesn't fit in the holster. As soon as Disney bought the Muppets they put out a seven piece PVC set of Star Wars Muppets and all but Yoda-Rizzo are represented in the line. Link has the distinction of being one of two characters, though, that is new to the theme having not appeared in that boxset.
Disney Parks: Star Wars - Kermit & Miss Piggy as Luke & Leia
As predictable a pairing and casting as you could imagine. They follow the standard 9 points of articulation that is common to this line, though Piggy has an articulated waist instead of hips while Kermit is the only figure to get balljoints at his elbows! Each comes with their character's weapon of choice, though clearly the lightsaber is notably warped for my set. Kermit get's a very subtle felt texture where as Piggy is smooth as silk - not dissimilar to the figures from the first wave of Palisades' figures. This is the weakest of the four packs, which results from the uninspired figures and the dominance of white, making for little visual stimulation. Each two packs costs $19.95, essentially making each figure $10. No, they're not worth that as compared to mass market figures. However, they have more articulation and accessories plus far better paint and execution than the Star Wars/Disney figures which also cost $10. Add the exclusivity and novelty to these and the guilt disappears - especially once you get these open and start playing with and posing them.
Disney Parks: Star Wars - Sam Eagle & Gonzo as Obi-Wan Kenobi & Darth Vader
Without a doubt this is by far the best set in the series. Not only is it the most visually interesting (signature costumes plus bright colors) you also get the most extras. Sam (the other character not in the PVC set) comes with Ben's lightsaber (and has his big tail feathers as seen on the Palisades figure) while Gonzo comes with Vader's saber and an alternate, fully enclosed helmet (unlike Beaker these are two different sculpts). As if that wasn't enough you also get Camilla who gets a removable Stormtrooper helmet. She's essentially a statue on a little base but the sculpt and paint are just as good as the full figures and amazingly the helmet fits on her so well that it stays on even when she's turned upside down! I simply can't say enough about this set. Perfect casting, great figures and plenty of accessories!