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Forky & Duke Caboom

Toy Story 4
by yo go re

It's a new chapter in the lives of Woody, Buzz Lightyear, and the Toy Story gang. From their new kid Bonnie's house to an exciting road trip, they'll encounter friends - old and new - and face all kinds of adventures along the way.

Is it, though? As actual fans have pointed out, Toy Story 4 was less about "the Toy Story gang" than about the new characters - but maybe that fits with the story's theme of letting go of expectations and finding the things that legitimately make you happy? That was definitely the thinking behind Forky, the pile of garbage that came to life.

Forky was originally a kindergarten arts and crafts project: a popsicle stick, a lump of clay, a pipe cleaner, and a spork. It's such a simple construction, in fact, there was a whole trend of parents helping their kids make their own Forkies (and consequently a black market for sporks, since they're only sold in bags of 500). Pixar was bound and determined to make fetch happen, and to make some money off it, so there was no shortage of Forky merchandise. Because why make your own thing for a cost of approximately 30¢ when you can pay a corporation $29.99 to make it for you?

This Forky only cost $2.50, because it's half of a two-pack sold at Five Below. The sculpt is remarkably lifelike, from the hard plastic molding artifacts on the spoony body to the sculpted fuzz on the arms. I'm not really sure what his mouth and eyebrows are supposed to be made of - it's raised, so... decorative glue, maybe? More clay? [something called "Wikki Stix" --ed.] The googly eyes are different sizes, as they should be, and there's a rainbow sticker on his left foot (no "BON NIE" on the bottom of his feet, though). If you want impressive detail, though? They actually sculpted fingerprints into the clay that joins his body to his feet, as though it had actually been wadded on there for real.

Forky's only articulation are his bendy arms. That's true to the movie, where he has to waddle everywhere because his legs don't move. His expression - a happy mouth and a quizzical eyebrow - is fixed, so don't expect him to look any different. How would they have done that, anyway?

As mentioned, this is a two-pack. And it's the second figure in the set who I was after.

Duke Caboom is a 1970s toy based on Canada's greatest stuntman. Riding his powerful Caboom stunt-cycle, Duke is always prepared to show off his stunt poses with confidence. However, Woody learns quickly that Duke has a weakness: he has never been able to do the awesome stunts advertised in his own toy commercial. For years, Duke has been sitting in an antique store, constantly reliving the failures of his tragic past.

Duke Caboom was sort of a cross between Buzz Lightyear in the first movie (haunted by his own commercial) and Lotso in the third (rejected by his owner). But unlike Lotso, he didn't let that rejection stew into resentment. At least, not resentment of the kid who abandonned him the same day he was received as a gift - just resentment of himself, for not being able to do the cool things he was supposed to be able to.

Duke is a pastiche of Evel Kinevel, wearing a Canada-themed jumpsuit instead of one with the stars and stripes. It's a very 1970s design, with bellbottom pants and a collar on the jacket that's wide enough to amost tough his shoulders. The jumpsuit is white with red trim on the sleeves and pantlegs, and he's wearing a red turtleneck beneath it. He has a maple leaf on his belt buckles, and is wearing a short cape with a dynamically explosive maple leaf design on the back. There's no question he loves his country, and there's definitely no question what country that is.

Being a cool '70s man, the sort who be right at home on PlaidStallions.com, Duke's got a thick head of hair, long sideburns, and a handlebar mustache. He must have been absolutely drowning in hot snatch (or whetever the appropirate inappropriate slang was back then)! This Canadian import was voiced by another Canadian import: Keanu Reeves.

The figure in this set is a re-release of the one previously available as "Stunt Racer Duke Caboom" - he doesn't come with his bike this time, though he does still have his helmet (and there are holes on the sides of his feet where he would have pegged onto the bike). Since one of the fake Duke Caboom toy's selling features was his ability to be put in action stunt poses, so this toy has decent articulation: swivel neck and waist, and swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees. There are a few instances of faux joints in the sculpt, but none of them actually take the place of any real movement - like, there are fake visible hinges on the front of the knee, and a line around the bicep that's clearly meant to be the elbow's swivel, but all those joint stsill exist even if they don't exist where the sculpt would lead you to believe. Wouldn't it have just been easier to put the joints there than to fake them?

Toy Story 4 was not a necessary film, and was part of the trend of Disney/Pixar sequels that served only to split up the main leads (cf. Wreck-It Ralph 2, Frozen 2). What was in the water in 2015-ish that made everybody want to sever their characters' relationships? At only $5, this two-pack may not feature the best friends in the world (did Forky and Duke Caboom ever even meet? I honestly can't remember), but it's hard to beat that price per figure!

-- 11/11/20

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