When the infamous Muppet character, the Swedish Chef, first uttered his immortal line "Bork, bork, bork!" did he already know that years later he would appear in action figure form in one of the most awesome, detailed playsets ever made?
No, of course not. He's a puppet, you doof. A non-living piece of material, it is entirely inconcievable to come up with such a proposterous idea that an inanimate object might have such precognitive ability. You're foolish to have even considered something so ridiculous. For shame!!
Following on from the enormous success in 2002, Palisades just keeps on outdoing themselves with the impressive Muppets line. The Muppet Labs playset from last year was one of my favourite toys of 2002, and although I missed out on the follow-up Electronic Mayhem playset, I couldn't pass up the next in the elaborately detailed and clever series playsets accompanying the regular figure series. Despite the curious name "Swedish Kitchen" (it's just like any other kitchen!) this playset is one of the most awesome toys I've bought of recent, featuring a great action figure and lots of awesome features and accessories, blowing away previous playsets and burying those overpriced Simpsons playsets by far.
Let's start with the box. This is the perfect boxed set for collectors who don't open their toys - a nice clear window into the playset so collectors can admire all the detail and just some of the accessories. It's also perfect for the window shoppers to get just a taste of how cool this set is, not to mention the fact that it's FRICKIN' HUGE!!! This is one of the biggest playsets to date, particularly those comprised of only one room.
Get the toy open and you can begin to admire the enormous detail on this set. It's amazing - this isn't a toy kitchen, it's a real kitchen, just miniaturised. We have a tiled floor, kitchen tops, cupboards, a telephone, a fridge w/ freezer, a tap & sink, an oven & stove, even a see-through window - this is a kitchen! Everything is beautifully, realistically detailed, and almost everything works. Most of the cupboards open, as does the fridge and the oven, it's perfect. This is the kind of toy that chicks dig - with all of the miniature stuff, it's so cute! Girls would love a kitchen toy like this (yes guys, imagine your girlfriend peering over your shoulder to look at the toy, making all those little 'awww!' cute sounds *) and it's only the beginning.
To go with the enormous kitchen, it's got all the accessories - plates, utensils, food, jumper cables, everything! We count altogether 40 accessories, all detailed beyond belief - none of that Simpsons sticker-nonsense going on here. Let's take a look at them! As far as cooking goes, we have two pots, a large and a small, both with lids, and a frying pan also with a lid. The lids are well made to stay on the utensils and everything fits into the Chef's hands so he can cook. There are also three glass mixing bowls of different sizes, a mini muffin tray which fits into the oven, a kettle and a blender (I'd like it noted right here that I love putting Booker T's head into the blender). For food, there is a "kitchen mess" of various vegetables and munchies, a cutting board with bread and breadknife, another bigger cutting board with peanuts and butter, a plate of pancakes, (on sausage, mmmm) a ham, and a talking cake - no, it doesn't actually talk! I just has a mouth - you'll have to do the talking yourself.
There are four plates which fit onto the top shelf, as well as a radio, salt and pepper shakers, an ice tray for the freezer, and two bags of flour and sugar, respectively. I have to rave about these bags - I think they're the coolest accessory I've seen for ages. Essentially just cotton bags with a soft filling inside, they give the illusion of actually being filled with sugar or flour, looking entirely realistic, on a cute little red checkered material sheet. They look awesome, and I was surprised to actually feel them after admiring them in the package. Then we have the bulk of the accessories, the utensils. The Chef has everything you need: a cleaver, two links of sausages, a tenderizer, a baton, a spatula, a wooden spoon (which feels like real wood), jumper cables, a handsaw, a big mallet, a nice big pipe wrench, and finally, a tennis racket. That's a ton of accessories, all of which fit neatly into the kitchen for use by the Chef, or any other toy you have. It's just staggering and such fun, not to mention the detail!
Now for the Swedish Chef himself, and believe me when I say I could write an entire review about him by himself. He is simply the most awesome Muppets figure we've had to date, and he is alone reason enough to buy the playset. He stands 7" tall with his chef's hat, bigger than other Muppets figures - this is because the Chef was always a bigger puppet than other Muppets, because his hands were real hands rather than puppet hands. His sculpt and detail is perfect - McFarlane, eat your heart out! His shirt is perfectly striped underneath his apron, and his checkered pants flow down over his shoes, and his little pink bowtie actually looks like it's real material until you touch it. His face is great, with his big nose, bushy hair and bushy eyebrows suiting him perfectly into action figure form, and his hat is actually removable - with the aid of a magnet in his head, the hat can be removed and put back on him, keeping sturdy. Very inventive and useful, I've never seen this in an action figure before, and it's awesome!
The Chef is articulated at 9 places - ball-jointed arms, peg jointed elbows, wrists, neck and legs. This doesn't sound much compared to those fang-dangled Marvel Legends, but considering what this guy can get up to in his kitchen, it's plenty impressive - he can cut and dice and dance and all, with all the movement he needs. This is where I think quality rides over quantity - his joints are all useful, allowing him to move exactly how you want him to be - he doesn't need a huge quantity of articulation points, nor is he stuck with something like the Springfield 4. The Swedish Chef has the perfect balance - even the peg joints for biceps, which I normally hate, are done very well because of the matching of the striped shirt. His hands (which, in tribute to his puppet origins, have fingernails) are both sculpted to hold different accessories, and also to look good without holding anything. The Chef is a superb figure, surpassing Beaker for my favourite Muppet toy.
Overall, this is an excellent toy, surpassing my expectations. And the versatility of this toy is unbelievable - you can have the Swedish Chef in the kitchen doing a Muppets gag, or you can do your very own Iron Chef with some robot toys! What about putting in Leatherface for a nasty take on those cooking shows (or the Twins), or, my personal favourite, getting your wrestling toys to have a match in the kitchen, throwing pots and pans at each other, breaking things over each other!! There's such fun to be had if you've got my sort of imagination - if not, it's also an excellent display piece and a great toy MIB. And the Chef himself is a must for Muppet fans, and everyone else - I love this playset, and I recommend it ever so much. Bork bork bork!!
*Girlfriend sold seperately
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