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Mr. Burns

World of Springfield
by yo go re

"Look at them all, through the darkness I'm bringing. They're not sad at all. They're actually singing! They sing without juicers, they sing without blenders. They sing without flunjers, capdabblers and smendlers!"

C. Montgomery Burns, Springfield's richest man, built his atomic energy fortune from the ground up after inheriting his father's atom-splitting factory. As owner of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, he has been able to control local elections, manage a championship-winning baseball team, hold a chair on the board of Springfield University and build a contraption large enough to block out the sun and plunge the town into complete darkness. After a near-fatal shooting by Maggie Simpson and a brief bankruptcy almost ended his empire, Mr. Burns returned to the seat of power where he resides to this day. More misunderstood than evil, Mr. Burns may possess unparalleled power in Springfield, but he can barely lift a baseball bat. His hobbies include money fights with his assistant, Waylon Smithers, cultivating a wardrobe made entirely of innocent animals' pelts and courting some of Springfield's most eligible seniors like Jacqueline Bouvier (otherwise known as Marge Simpson's mother).

You know, despite the Grinch-like quote and defamatory introductory paragraph up above, Mr. Burns isn't all evil; that's just the face that the town expects from him. When he gets the opportunity to drop this veil (whether through ether or his weekly medical ordeal), he is quite friendly and giving, and has even confided in the Simpson family several times that he recognizes how alone he is and wishes he could fix that. But of course, he then has one of his trademark changes of heart, and retreats to his protective shell. Despite having a cast four, five, seventeen times as large as other shows (Friends is an ensemble piece? My ass), there are no one-dimensional characters in this two-dimensional world.

Speaking of dimensions, the Simpsons have now broken through into the third thanks to Playmates Toys. Since December of 1999, Playmates has been churning out line after line of offerings in their World of Springfield line, and Burnsie here was part of their inaugural series.

Trivia time: C. Montgomery Burns's appearance is based on former Fox chief executive Barry Diller. "Montgomery Burns" is tangentially related to Matt Groening's Oregon upbringing (if you're really interested, ask on our message board), and the "C" stands for Charles, named after Charles Foster Kane. Impressive pedigree, no?

The figure is about 5" tall and comes with a few wads of cash and a bowl containing Blinky, the three-eyed fish. He moves at the neck, shoulders and waist, which is really quite sparse for a toy of this size. Technically, by my own definition, he wouldn't even count as an action figure. This lack of movement cuts across the entire Simpsons line - apparently no one has knees in the World of Springfield.

To make up for this shortcoming, the figures talk when placed on compatible playset environments. For instance, Mr. Burns is obviously most loquacious at the Nuclear Power Plant. Hook him up there, push a button, and he'll say one of seven phrases:

  • "Simpson, eh?"
  • "Negotiations make strange bedfellows."
  • "I prefer the hands-on touch you only get with hired goons."
  • "No one will be spared! No one!"
  • "The watchdog of public safety. Is there any lower form of life?"
  • "Hop to it Smithers!"
  • "Release the hounds."

There are even two variant Burnses out there, though you'll never ever find them; the first, Dracula Burns, came in the Treehouse of Horror set in fall of 2000; the second had his Pin Pals bowling shirt on, and was available exclusively through ToyFare magazine. Both are highly sought after, which translates in the collectors' world as "highly expensive." By himself, Burns isn't really a very good toy, and I wouldn't recommend him. If, however, you have a playset to put him on, he's worth even the prices he's fetching on eBay. Excellent!

One final note: A new Mr. Burns is due out soon, this time with his own playset environment. Clad in his PJs and nightcap, Pajama Burns will interact just like the normal Mr. Burns, but will obviously say a lot of new things in his bedroom.

-- 07/12/02

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