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Tom & Jerry

Hanna-Barbera
by yo go re

Remember when Jazwares unexpectedly released their Space Ghost figure? Well that's just part of their toyline. Even without getting into the plushes and the immobile PVC figures, they have two lines of action figures: 6" like Space Ghost, and a slightly smaller 4" line. Sometimes it pays to mix and match, however.

The first Tom & Jerry cartoon didn't actually star Tom or Jerry: it was called "Puss Gets the Boot," and the cat in question was named Jasper (the little brown mouse was called "Jinx," but only among the animators - he was never named in the cartoon itself). The short was released with no fanfare, and the designer and director moved on to other projects - no big deal. But "Puss Gets the Boot" was popular with theater owners, and was nominated for an Oscar, so MGM quickly got the team back together to start working on more cat and mouse cartoons (and held a contest in the studio to name the duo).

By the way, the pair that had made "Puss Gets the Boot?" William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It was the first cartoon they ever worked on together, and over the next 18 years they would make 113 more, until MGM shut down the animation department and Hanna and Barbera went off and started their own studio.

Tom and Jerry have had lots of different art styles over the years. Well, Tom has; Jerry almost always looks the same. This figure uses a fairly classic design: it's neither the horrible Czechoslovaian-produced Gene Deitch era, nor the later Chuck Jones era that followed it. You can tell by the eyebrows. His mouth is open in a big smile, which seems unusual - shouldn't he be scowling of scheming? He really only looked this happy on the title cards, not in the actual cartoons.

The figure is exactly 6" tall, and has a very simple sculpt designed to mimic the animation. The line around the light patch on his stomach is etched in, and the edges of fur around his wrists and ankles are jagged. The paint over those joints is incomplete: there should be dark grey on the feet, and there isn't, and there should be a little bit of white of the forearms, and there also isn't. Of course, that means we're asking for NECA-level paint apps from Jazwares, which may be foolish on our part. We're lucky that all the paint on Tom's face is where it's supposed to be.

His articulation isn't very impressive, either. Tom moves at the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips and ankles - and all 12 of those points is just a swivel. Yes, swivel elbows. Which means they don't actually serve any purpose when it comes to posing. There might also be a swivel joint at the base of his tail, but it's sure not moving for me.

We also get an action feature: raise the figure's right arm until it clicks, then press the button and he brings it swinging down. This is designed for use with his only accessory, a massive hammer. It's a nice, cartoony mallet, and can be held in either hand. But not in both hands, because of the elbows. Of course, as the handle slides into the hand, you do get some pretty substantial paint rub. Poor Tommy's already got a bald spot on the side of his thumb.

The hammer is the only accessory this figure comes with. There's also a 4" Tom that comes with both a hammer and a mouse trap, and yet we recommend this one. Why? Because sometimes it pays to mix and match your scales.

While there are both 4" and 6" Toms, there's only one Jerry - he's in the 4" line, but doesn't even reach 3" tall. Now technically that makes him too big to stand next to 6" Tom (in the cartoons, Jerry came up to about Tom's knees), but it would make him way oversized next to the 4" version, yeah? This is the best combo we can get with the toys that exist right now.

One factor that Tom & Jerry always had over other "chase" cartoons was balance: in the early days, Jerry was always getting one over on Tom, but eventually there were a few shorts where Jerry was the loser in the end. That minor change made it seem like they were just (antagonistic) acquaintances rather than an unsuccessful predator and his prey.

Jerry's expression is just as happy-go-lucky as Tom's was, though in his case it's much more appropriate, as he actually did look this way in the cartoons - typically when he was thwarting one of Tom's schemes. Swug little bastard. Considering how utterly small he is, though, shouldn't he be looking up, instead of down?

The articulation is commensurate with the size and style of the figure, and yet it's better than Tom's. Jerry has a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged wrists, swivel waist, V-crotch and hinged ankles. Granted, the hinges at this size are mostly useless, but they exist nonetheless.

Jerry has two accessories: a wedge of cheese, and a stick of dynamite. He can't hold them, and neither has a great level of detail, but they're definitely cartoony and will be good display pieces.

Actually, that sums up these figures as a whole: definitely cartoony and better for display than for play. And sure, you have to buy two separate figures from what are technically two separate toylines to complete the pair, but these are still better than McFarlane Toys' sad attempts.

-- 05/02/13


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