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Mom & Dad

The Brak Show
by yo go re

On December 21, 2000, at 5:15am, Cartoon Network aired a stealth pilot for a show called Leave it to Brak, a parody of old sitcoms starring two of the sidekicks from Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Brak and Moltar. On September 2, 2001, when Cartoon Network officially launched its [adult swim] programming block, the production had been renamed The Brak Show, and in 2005, when Palisades released the first series of their [adult swim] toys, one of the four sets was based on it.

Inside a quintessentially suburban house are tables, chairs, lamps, Brak, bookcases, Mom, beds, closets, rugs, Dad and a large mantis named Zorak. Some of these objects constitute a family. Others just drop by. Still others are inanimate. Welcome to the Brak Show!

This set does not feature Brak - if you want that, you'll have to lay out a substantial chunk of change for the Toycom figure from the '90s. No, this set features Brak's mom and dad.

Brak's mom had two voice actors during the show's run: Marsha Crenshaw for episodes 1-14, and Joanna Daniel for episodes 15-28. Yes, despite the fact that the show was in production for three years, they only ever made 28 episodes. To be fair, that's still faster than Shocka writes reviews. [Besplinky! --ed.] Her original voice was very much in the June Cleaver/Carol Brady mold, while the second version was violent and British for some reason.

Mom is dressed like a 1950s housewife. She's wearing a knee-length blue dress with short sleeves, matching blue shoes, a frilly pink apron, and yellow dish gloves. Finding a picture of Mom from the back is nearly impossible, but it seems like whoever sculpted this (Gentle Giant is credited on the back of the packaging) was confused about how an apron works: it's designed more like a shirt with a long front, when it should really leave her back bare. If it fits like a shirt, why would it need to tie in the back? Think, guys!

Designer Matthew I. Jenkins originally gave Mom thick, animal-like legs, just like Brak has, but they switched to a more human style before the design was finalized. I needed to boil and reshape the legs on this toy, because her ankles were tipped so far forward that she couldn't stand, and the articulation was no help in correcting that: Mom has swivel joints at the head, waist, shoulders, gloves, and then where her legs come out of her dress. She's posed with one hand on her hip, and her other hanging straight down. There's not much you can do with her, other than some kind of crazy Ultraman pose.

On the original Space Ghost cartoon, Brak was some kind of space cat - on The Brak Show, his mother is presumably a member of the same species, though she has more human features (the aforementioned legs, the lack of fangs, the shape of her head, the... well, you get the idea). She does have orange skin and green eyes, and black markings around her eyes and down her nose. The black is a sculpted element, by the way, not just paint. She has pure white hair, instead of whatever that "ear-curtain" thing was Brak had, and it's done up in a real Donna Reed 'do.

Brak's dad was voiced by George Lowe, most famous for being the voice of Space Ghost - the modern one, not the vintage. The one people care about. Anyway, he's got a bit of a Cuban accent, which suggests he's meant to be cut from the Ricky Ricardo cloth (although he's admitted to being an unregistered alien without proper driving credentials). Like any sitcom dad, he dispensed advice and moral lessons, though in his case, the advice was terrible and the morals were either non-existent or non-sequitir.

Just like Mom, Dad is wearing 1950s fashion: a light blue shirt, an orange tie, a sweater vest, blue pants (not jeans, because those are for farmhands, dullards and roustabouts), and wingtip shoes. His articulation is better than average, with a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, swivel waist, T-crotch, and hinged knees. Of course, since he spends most of his days sitting in the kitchen reading the newspaper, being able to sit was a must! He's only 4½" tall, because he was always miniscule on the show: it started as a mistake, when one of the animators dropped a wrong-sized version of him into a scene (remember, all those early Williams Street shows were Flash-animated), but they stuck with it because making him a midget was funnier.

Matthew I. Jenkins designed Dad, and in the first drafts he didn't have a mustache. Uh, Dad, not Jenkins. I don't know if Jenkins had a mustache at the time or not. Or at any point since then. But that's not important, because we're talking about Dad here! His head sculpt is not quite as terrible as the unfortunate Sealab figures, but it's still pretty far off the mark of what we expect from Palisades. The jaw is too round, the eyes are too high, and his nose points up instead of down. Plus his hair is poofy, rather than flat. And really, his mustache should be wider.

What really makes this set nice, though, is the selection of accessories we get. Since about 90% of the show took place in Brak's kitchen (Brak's parents' kitchen, if you want to get technical about it), what we get is the table, two chairs, a bowl of fruit and two place settings. And also a newspaper for Dad to read, plus a family photo. Fun!

The table and chairs are... well, a table and chairs. There's not much to say about a table and chairs, other than they're stable and will easily support things set upon them. Oh, and they're sized perfectly, because Dad's feet don't reach the floor when he's sitting down. The "place settings" are identical, a single molded piece comprising a napkin folded into a triangle and a knife, fork and spoon laid on top. The fruit bowl is green, with a trio of red apples, a green pear, a bunch of three yellow bananas, and an orange (of indeterminate color).

The newspaper is plastic, not paper, but molded with just enough of a bend to make it look natural. Dad can hold it in his hands, and the pattern printed on it is an exact match to the paper Dad was always reading on the show. Great attention to detail! The family photo is a sticker applied to a gray frame, featuring Mom, Dad, Brak and his little brother Sisto. It doesn't have a stand or anything on the back, so all it can do is lay down. To complete the scene, the insert behind the figures in the clamshell is printed with an image of the kitchen. Oh, and lest we forget, there's a black oval stand for the figures - but Dad doesn't need it and the holes in Mom's feet don't seem to fit it, so there's not much point.

This isn't a great set of action figures, even for its age, but it's not bad, either. A quick dip in hot water fixed Mom's gravity problems, and Dad's face isn't the most off-model in this series - plus the accessories are mundane enough that they'll be fun for pretty much any toy you have. Honestly, the worst thing about this set is that the back of the packaging shows an [adult swim] Series 2 that never came to be, thanks to Palisades going out of business around that time. Such a bummer!

-- 02/19/15

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