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Dr. Stephen Hawking

World of Springfield
by yo go re

This one goes out to all my homeys working in the field of evolutionary science.

Palisades may have outsmarted Playmates when it comes to giving their licensed properties a bit of life, but the World of Springfield isn't facing Armageddon yet; though variations and minor characters are still the bane of the line's existence, there are scores of unproduced celebrity figures left to be mined.

When Mayor Quimby skipped town, the members of Springfield's Mensa chapter found themselves in charge of the town's daily operations. Dreams of a Platonic Republic soon turned to dust as their Utopia turned out to be more of a Fruitopia - according to Dr. Stephen Hawking, at least.

The Simpsons has drawn its fair share of guest stars over the years, but certainly none smarter than Hawking. Self-​congratulatory (yet laughably empty) claims from Marilyn vos Savant aside, Stephen Hawking is widely recognized as the world's smartest man. Proving that Lou Gehrig wasn't the only person to come down with Lou Gehrig's Disease, Hawking has slowly been overcome since the first signs appeared while he was in college. Despite having appreciable control over only his eyes and one hand, he's authored such books as the best-selling A Brief History of Time and is the world's foremost expert in the field of astrophysics.

Befitting a man of status, Dr. Stephen Hawking has finally been captured in action figure form. Recreating his appearance from "They Saved Lisa's Brain," Hawking stands (sits?) 4½" tall and moves at the neck and shoulders. The designers did a good job of capturing his withered posture without making a mockery of the man, which I'm glad to see. Even his face has been made to look a bit more attractive; his real skintone is rather gray, while his lips are beet red. So yellow's kind of an improvement. His glasses have a bit of trouble staying on, and might have been better served as a permanently affixed piece.

His wheelchair has free-rolling wheels, as well as all the other little extras seen on the show: not only his speech synthesis machine and control switch, but also rocket boosters, helicopter blades and a spring-loaded boxing glove. The rotor is about 4" tall and has three 2¾" blades that can fan out or be folded away; the glove turns on the end of its spring, though the rockets, sadly, are fixed in position. He also comes with a frosty mug of beer that fits perfectly in his left hand. All the accessories are detailed nicely (for this line) and can be removed from the chair if you want to have Dr. Hawking in a more normal setting (as seen at the top of the page).

Actually, between Stephen Hawking and Number One, you could build your own Simpsonized Professor X.

Like most World of Springfield figures, Stephen Hawking talks when connected to a compatible base. Slide a tab on the back of his wheelchair and his connector moves down to be plugged into place; move the tab up and the unit retracts, so as not to mar the look of the figure. Though it would have made sense for him to speak at Moe's Bar, he does not: you'll only hear his sexy synthesized sounds at the Antique Shop ("If you're looking for trouble, you've found it."; "That's the smartest thing I've heard all day.") or the Aztec Movie Theatre ("I wanted to see your utopia.").

There was some question, when the show aired, whether Hawking actually recorded his lines for the show or if the producers were just pulling a fast one with some low-rent speech software (like the hilarious folks over at McHawking's Crib; download their songs!). Yes, he really was in the booth for his scenes, and has said that "I'm a great fan of The Simpsons. I think it's one of the cleverest shows on television and it always has a moral. So, I was delighted to be asked to appear." So the next time someone says cartoons are dumb, tell them to take it up with the world's smartest man.

-- 08/12/03

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