Palisades always seems to be on the prowl for great, unexpected licenses. Their newest acquisition is the animation block that shows some of the strangest stuff on basic cable, Cartoon Network's [adult swim]. Now, since [adult swim] isn't just one show, the toy line is quite varied. In Series 1 alone, we got figures from four different shows, including Sealab 2021.
Sealab is what Cartoon Network refers to as a "repurposed" cartoon - drawing upon the copious Hanna Barbera library and recycling old footage with new voices to save money. The original show was Sealab 2020, a short-lived environmentally minded show that no one on earth would remember if not for its new incarnation. The cartoon featured a team of scientists living and working in a massive undersea complex. Now, one year later, it seems that nitrogen narcosis has set in, because everyone's pretty much abandoned their real jobs and now spend most of their time standing around talking about such weighty, grown-up issues as HappyCake Ovens and dodgeball.
This set features science officer Dr. Quentin Q. Quinn and marine biologist Debbie DuPree, a perfect pairing if ever there was one.
Brett Butler (no, not the southern comedienne) voices Dr. Quinn (no, not the medicine woman), the only guy on the premises who seems to do any real work. While everyone else daydreams about what kind of robot they'd be, Quinn's outside performing emergency welds on the superstructure. No matter how far below the sea they were, Quinn tried to keep his head above water.
Quinn is wearing his orange wetsuit, and it's looking pretty good. It's got the white patches on the shoulders, a zipper down the front, and not much else. Normally we'd slag on the figure for such a lack of detail, but remember, this is based on '70s animation: it's supposed to look cheap!
In truth, the sculpt has more detail than the average DC animated figure - there are a few wrinkles on the wetsuit, and definite knees - but it's all very subtle. Quinn moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist and hips, which is a decent amount, but why no knees? We may just be being picky, but the lack of knees seems rather chintzy, especially since Palisades is claiming that at least one future figure will have them.
The real low point of this figure is the head. For whatever reason, they really didn't capture the look of the cartoon in anything but the broadest terms. Yes, this is a black guy with an afro, but that's it. His hair is too small and hangs too far over his ears, his eyebrows are too thin and his nose is the wrong shape. After the job they did with their uncannily accurate reproductions of Muppets, fans expect better than this from Palisades.
If Quinn is the only one on Sealab actually trying to work, then Debbie is the one who's usually keeping him from it. Though she's ostensibly the station's marine biologist, she really seems more like the official undersea mattressback advisor, a sex-obsessed slut who's on 24-hour man patrol. Although the only person we really know she had a relationship with was Quinn. I guess in the future, a woman who dares admit that she enjoys sex is still looked down upon.
Really putting the "wet" in "wetsuit," Debbie is wearing the same orange uniform as Quinn, but it looks much better on her. Like before, the suit is given some light detail, but not enough to make it look out of place in a cartoon world. If nothing else, Palisades managed to create a cute little butt for Debbie.
Debbie also moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist and hips. The lack of knees is particularly bad in this case, since Debbie is more likely to use them than Quinn is. You know. She's got a v-crotch, so you can at least pose her for some (in)appropriate play.
Just like Quinn, Debbie doesn't bear anything more than a passing resemblence to her cartoon self. Having blonde hair in a ponytail does not an accurate likeness make. It doesn't help any that her eyes are painted crooked, but the flaws go deeper than that - her mouth is too low, her eyebrows are too high and her chin sticks out too far.
Palisades' strength with their offerings has always been their accessories, which is what makes this set so disappointing. For the most part, the extras are oversized, generic and generally unimpressive, ranging from screamingly dumb to mildly okay.
On the extra-dumb end, we have a TV and an underwater camera, neither of which has appeared on the cartoon. Or if they did, it wasn't in any memorable capacity. The tv is a bright pink bubble on a stick, and the camera has a moveable arm... handle bar... thing. Yeah. Whatever you call it, these are both wastes of plastic.
Slightly better are the various beverage containers: three whiskey bottles, a glass and a can of Captain Murphy's favorite soda, Mingus Dew. Yeah, the soda's nice, but why is it in this set? Just give us the whole assortment with Murphy in Series 2. And while Quinn can hold the glass, it's the only thing he can hold: not the bottles, not the soda, not the back of Debbie's head... nothing. Way to design, guys. At least the bottles and (way too large) can will makke good accessories for you other, better toys.
The best accessories are both Debbie's, and they're both from Episode 4, "Chickmate." First is her biological clock, only about 25 minutes from going off. Tick-tock, Debbie. Then we've got her baby (a dolphin), which is unarticulated but designed very nicely. Want a bit of trivia? The woman on the original Sealab 2020 was named Gail, and her pet dolphin (not a baby) was named Tuffy. So go Tuffy! More than two decades after your show went off the air, you're an accessory!
Kind of sad when the best accessory in a Palisades set is an immobile rubber dolphin when, with just a little thought, they could have come up with something great. How about a piece that fits over Quinn's chest to re-create the scene in Episode 3 - "I, Robot" - where he opens his wetsuit to reveal the superfly cybernetic body he built to survive the viruses of the 21st century? How about something similar, with Debbie showing off appropriately pixelated breasts? How about interchangeable "wetsuit" heads for each of them, and slip-on flippers? Something, anything, better than what we actually got.
Palisades is generally very good at knowing how to treat its licenses. But as far as the [adult swim] line goes, they really dropped the ball with the Sealab set. I know Palisades hates to hear criticism, but Quinn and Debbie could have been much better if they'd tried. Let's hope they shape up in time for Series 2.
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