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Mario with Cappy

World of Nintendo
by yo go re

Mario's had a long, complicated history, so it's just good planning that his newest game starts out with a recap.

Bowser's kidnapped Princess Peach, and plans to make theirs the wedding of the century... but not if Mario can help it! Join him and his new pal Cappy on an epic journey through mysterious ruins, a neon-lit cityscape, a forest full of machines, and other thrilling and exotic locales.

One of the reasons that Nintendo makes such good games is that they come up with an interesting new playstyle first, then build their game around that gimmick. As Shigeru Miyamoto has said, "That's how we make games at Nintendo, though: we get the fundamentals solid first, then do as much with that core concept as our time and ambition will allow." The original Super Mario Bros. invented the very idea of stomping on an enemy to defeat it, because the new playstyle they were working with was "jumping." The gimmick Super Mario Odyssey is built on is "throwing your hat."

You throw your hat to beat enemies, you throw your hat to complete objectives, you thow your hat to improve your jumping ability. While this isn't the first time Mario has been seen without his hat - that would be in Super Mario 64 - it's the first time it's been a central pillar of the gameplay, so this toy shows him bareheaded. His brown hair pokes up a little bit in the front, and has two little cowlick prongs in the back. Matching the Odyssey promo artwork, Mario is very happy, not just smiling, but with his mouth open wide enough to see his teeth.

The resolution on Odyssey is the highest any Mario game has yet had, so the promo renders show the texture of his clothes. Rather than reuse an existing body, Jakks has molded an entirely new one, with a denim-like texture on his overalls. He's molded with his left hand in a pointing pose, as in the "twirling my hat on my finger" art that's so associated with this game. Though we must say that this still seems like a missed opportunity to make a toy showing us his Mario-nipples.

Mario's articulationis normal for this line, featuring hinged knees, balljointed hips, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a neck joint of some sort. Doesn't matter, his chin nearly rests against his chest, so it can't move far anyway. Besides, it's the accessory that makes this toy buyable: Cappy.

Cappy is a Bonneter, a ghostly chap(eau) from the foggy land of Bonneton. While he normally resembles a white top hat with a tuft of blue hair poking out the front, when he agrees to help Mario, he transforms into a replica of Mario's traditional cap, just with a large pair of eyes on the front, rather than an M. And if we can go back to Nintendo's design philosophies for a moment, we can see how the concept of making the hat a separate living being was secondary to the idea of "throw your hat" gameplay - that part would work just as well if Cappy were really just an object, not a character.

The accessory is hollow inside, so you can put it on Mario's head. It doesn't really attach in any way: you can either rest it gingerly in place with his front hair poking out, which leaves it in danger of sliding off the figure; or you can tuck the hair inside, but then it seems to sit too far forward on the head, and looks weird.

But what earned Cappy a nomination for 2018's Best Accessory was the fact that, since it's hollow, you can effectively use it to create "captured" versions of whatever toys you want! Yes, in the light and happy cartoonish Nintendo game, Mario's new buddy functions like one of Half-Life's headcrabs, latching onto an unaware victim and usurping control of their body, leaving them screaming internally until they are finally freed either by the whim of their tormentor, or the sweet release of death. So now you can do that with whatever toys are handy.

There are a few things that could make this Mario better - making the hat look better on his head, including a stand so it could fly through the air, etc. - but those would probably also have driven the cost up, and since this is an affordable figure that already has a new sculpt, that wouldn't have been too likely.

-- 01/17/19

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