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Sackboy -Happy-

LittleBigPlanet
by yo go re

There was recently a message going around the toy sites that Toys Я Us had released an internal memo saying that sales were way down and they were going to restructure in favor of electronics rather than traditional toys. It turned out to be utter bunk, in no small part because videogame sales fell last quarter, while traditional toys overperformed. That's good news for collectors like you and me, because TRU continues to fight back against Wal*Mart by courting our demographic.

At Toy Fair 2009, Mezco announced they'd be making LittleBigPlanet toys, with the first release scheduled to be an exclusive Sackboy at SDCC 2009. A few weeks before the con, Mezco quietly cancelled the exclusive, and indeed, the entire line. We asked for comment at the time, but they were unable to say anything. Pretty soon after, word came out that a company called Impact International had the license to sell Sackboys in the UK and Middle East, but that still left those of us in the US hanging.

Then this year at Toy Fair, LBP was back at the Mezco booth, and although Sackboy didn't make it to San Diego this year, he has finally made it onto store shelves - sure, we had to wait an extra year, but hey, better late than never, right?

Shocka's already reviewed Impact International's super-lame-for-lamers Sackboy, because Australia never got it in gear to have a revolution and throw off the yoke of Imperialism. [America: F&#% Yeah! --ed.] But now we there's a Sackboy from a company anyone's ever heard of, so let's review it, instead.

Apparently a "real life" Sackboy is eight centimeters tall, which in real numbers is about 3⅛". By that rubric, Mezco's Sackboy is too big, coming in at a massive 4¼", but the added size gives him an appreciable heft - he's not as big as a Mighty Mugg or Mez-It, but neither is he some dinky little thing that looks like a glorified keychain. Sackboy was never going to fit in with your other videogame toys, but this is a great "desk decoration" size.

There are three Sackboys in the first series - two plain (ie "Brown Knit"), and one "Neon," apparently based on one of the in-game costumes. The plain ones have either a neutral expression or the adorable "Happy," with his bright red tongue hanging out. The promotional photos on the back of the package (and everywhere online) show a very small tongue, but as you can see, it's actually quite large. It's made from a more flexible material than the rest of Sackboy, so it really looks great.

Speaking of looking great, Mezco has really delivered a terrific sculpt. Sackboy's distinctive twill pattern is duplicated perfectly, even inside his mouth, and his black button eyes are raised above the surface. The little stitches that hold his yarn panels together are clearly meant to be string, not staples, but the teeth of his zipper really look like they're interlocking, and the pulltab swings freely. The proportions are perfect, and unlike the foreign figure, Mezco got the head right. Not only is the head on the one Shocka reviewed too small, it's the wrong shape - Mezco has properly duplicated the asymmetrical lump on one side of the little guy's cranium.

Continuing the parade of reasons this Sackboy is awesome is the articulation. His neck is a balljoint, so you can tilt it whatever way you want, using body language to create different expressions. The shoulders are swive/hinge joints, and his wrists swivel. His hips swivel as well, and though it's easy to overlook, he actually has a swivel waist. Outstanding! It looks like he has swivel ankles, but he doesn't - it's something much more odd. The feet are separate pieces plugged into the legs. But rather than making them swivel, to help in keeping him balanced, the peg holes are D-shaped, to keep the feet from turning at all. Why?

And then, the accessories. No, they're nothing special, but they exist, and that's always nice. All thre Sackboys come with the same stuff: a tranlucent pink bendy Pop-it Lasso (the thing you use to move things around while designing stages) and a sheet of stickers. None of those are really for use by Sackboy, in the traditional sense, but they still belong to him, as features of the game.

If you're wondering what any of this has to do with our digression about Toys Я Us at the top of the review, don't worry, we're coming back around to that now. After waiting a year and a half for LittleBigPlanet toys to come out, I snapped one up the first time I saw them. That was at FYE (one of the few stores to carry toys now, since Spencer's and Hot Topic have pretty much gotten out of the game), and Sackboy cost me $18. Last week he showed up at TRU, and I got him for $10. Ten bucks is right about on target for the toy you get, and that's why TRU courting collectors is important: it's not just about selection, but about price and competition. With a major player like Toys Я Us still in the game, our wallets aren't being held hostage by specialty stores or online scalpers. It's great that TRU is supporting collctors: when the toys are as fun as Sackboy, it's easy for collectors to support TRU right back.

-- 09/29/10


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