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Treehouse of Horror 4

World of Springfield
by yo go re

Over the past four years, Playmates has made the Treehouse of Horror as much of a tradition for The World of Springfield as Fox has made it for The Simpsons: every year we get a new one, and it's always something to look forward to.

While the TV show always sticks with a "trilogy of terror" format, the playsets seem to alternate: THoHs One and Three were representations of several shorts over several years, while Two (and now Four) represent a single story. Last time it was Season 8's "Citizen Kang"; now it's "Desperately Xeeking Xena," from Treehouse of Horror X.

When a pillowcase full of Halloween candy jams the Springfield Police Department's X-ray machine, Bart and Lisa are blasted by a powerful dose of radiation. Poor Lisa is blasted across the room, where a set of bleachers topple over, apparently crushing the young girl (along with the hopes and dreams of the school's Mathletics team). Lisa emerges from the wreckage unscathed and super strong.

This figure of Clobber Girl is the first Lisa we've gotten in a Treehouse of Horror set, mainly because this was the first time anything interesting happened to her. She's usually just a supporting player, or she stays relatively the same through the tale - it's not like "The Genesis Tub" Lisa would have been an interesting toy. At nearly 3⅝" tall, Clobber Girl is wearing the tattered remains of her Amelia Earhart costume, complete with a white scarf trailing down over her back. Lisa's the chattiest member of this set, with four lines to everyone else's three:

"I don't think the real Radioactive Man wears a plastic smock with a picture of himself on it."
"Bart, with these powers, we can become superheroes."
"Your collecting days are over, Collector!"
"Bart! Just let me drop and save yourself!"

This is the first THoH set to not include a Homer figure, but we do get our third Halloween Bart, in the form of Stretch Dude. Much like DC Comics' Plastic Man, Bart abandoned the life of a bad boy to use his new elasticity to play pranks on criminals. This human rubber band is 3½" tall, and really only articulated at the waist: his neck and arms are made from soft rubber, to allow you to simulate his new fantastic powers; his arms will double in length, while his head can be pulled up about an inch. Though everything snaps right back into place when you let go, it is a nice attempt. Even in his bright red Stretch Dude costume, Bart's a bit of a hellion:

"Wait a minute, I can stretch! Look at me!"
"I must only use this power to annoy."
"What do you think I've been trying to do?!"

In regular continuity, the never-officially-named Comicbook Guy is a parody of every overweight comicshop worker everywhere: he's a rude, condescending know-it-all who never likes anything unless it can make him a profit. In his villainous guise as The Collector, however, he's yet another example of how ridiculous MOCers are. The figure stands 5⅜" tall and moves at the Springfield Four. He's wearing a lime green sweatsuit, dark green cape and a black utility belt. He's got a bandana tied around his head to "conceal" his identity. To help set him apart from the two other CBGs available, the Collector's mouth is open, as if to decree his the "best death ever!" Or maybe just to say one of his lines:

"Behold! I am The Collector, and I'm here to add you to my collection!"
"I'm not insane, I simply wish to take you back to my lair and make you my bride."
"Goodnight, Retch Dude and Slobber Girl. Sweet screams."

I guess it would have cost too much in licensing rights to have him recite his list of names Xena could call him on their wedding night: Obi-Wan, Iron Man, Mr. Mxyzptlk and, of course, Big Papa Smurf.

No, wait, sorry, not Xena: Lucy Lawless. As she reminded everyone throughout the episode, she's an actress, and Xena is just a character. Though the short-lived idea for a "Celebrity Series" of Simpson figures proved unpopular, the show's guest stars are still appearing in the regular series. Though she was drawn in her typical Xena costume, Lucy is the one represented here. She stands 5" tall, and has three phrases:

"All right Collector, stick this in your tweezers..."
*Xena yell*
"You removed it from its original packaging!"

The first one is a bit truncated: it originally continued, "...I'm not Xena! I'm an actress, you lunatic!" To avoid legal problems, this set goes out of its way to avoid mentioning Xena, which also deprives us of one of the episode's best exchanges. After saving Bart and Lisa, Lucy picks them up and speeds into the air. Lisa, always the sharp one, notes that "Xena can't fly," to which Lawless replies, "I told you, I'm not Xena. I'm Lucy Lawless." Sadly, neither line is included.

The base for this year's set is The Collector's Lair, but it gives us something new in terms of WoS playsets: this is the first Springfield environment that is two stories tall. All three Intellitronic pegs are on the ground level, which has the hole in the wall through which Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl burst and the Collector's bubbling vat of Lucite.

The balcony above is a separate piece, which plugs into place and features a wooden railing (perfect for falling through). Molded to the wall are two of the celebrities the Collector had kidnapped, hanging in their over-sized Mylar sleeves: the robot from Lost in Space and Bob Denver wearing his Gilligan costume - we don't get to see the others, such as Yasmine Bleeth, Doctor Who, Jeri "7 of 9" Ryan, Leonard Nimoy or Matt Groening. All together, this set is 9" wide, 5½" deep and 11¾" tall, and it looks pretty cool.

There are some paint problems, though: Comicbook Guy has splotches of the blue used for his shoes in several spots on his body, and Stretch Dude's hands should be yellow (flesh colored), though I suppose that could have been a choice made to keep the color from wearing off. On the base, a wooden beam is left unpainted and there are puddles of Lucite, probably made by CBG as he got into his Lorne Greene Battlestar Galactica pose, though they're the gray of the floor instead of the pink of the liquid. I suppose a case could be made that Lucite is actually clear, and thus the puddles are too, but it looks like a paint app was dropped, in the hopes that the shapes would be mistaken for the stones used to build the wall.

So, are these few errors enough to make the set one to leave on the shelf? Pfft. Hardly. This is another great offering in a consistently great sub-series, and it gives us quite a bit of new material for this line of toys. Of course, it won't be on shelves for long, so act fast.

-- 10/02/03

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