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Wall Smashing Ralph

Wreck-It Ralph
by yo go re

When Disney announced, years ago, that Home on the Range would be their final hand-drawn film, there was an uproar among animation geeks. It was a travesty, it was a sacrilege, it was the death of Disney as a creative force... it was a lot of things. Except it wasn't. Complaining about Disney going to computer animation was like complaining about Disney going to color or Disney going to sound: it's not the technology that determines the quality of the film, it's the story.

Ralph is a heavy-handed Wreckin' Riot with a secret soft spot: contrary to his brutish appearance, he's a sensitive soul suffering from bad guy fatigue.

Aww, isn't that sweet? Fix-It Felix, Jr. was one of the most popular 2D platform games ever made. Launching in 1982, it became a pop culture sensation thanks to its colorful 8-bit graphics, simple controls, and addictive gameplay. It's so ubiquitous, you probably even forgot you'd ever played it until someone mentioned its name to you recently. But now your memory has been jogged, and you can remember all those hours you spent playing it after school, either pumping quarters into an old arcade machine, or maybe you played the home port.

The Wreck-It Ralph figures are made by Thinkway Toys, the people we first heard of when they made the WALL•E toys a few years ago. The figures are based on the 3D renders, not the pixelated retro-styled "game" graphics, so we get a decently cartoonish likeness of John C. Reilly (in case you ever wondered what Dr. Steve Brule would look like animated).

Ralph stands 6¼" tall, but it's hard to say what scale the toy is in: the exaggerated proportions of videogames mean a "real-life" Ralph could be up to 15' tall. He's twice as tall as Felix, and three times as tall as the rest of the humans in the game, and is at least as tall as a single story in the building he's attacking - so basically, a giant.

The sculpt of the figure is good. There's no telling if this was done by hand or was taken from a (simplified) digital model, but the proportions and details match what we see in the trailers. Ralph is wearing a dirty pair of brown overalls with tattered hems, holes in the knees and only one intact strap. Beneath that is an orange shirt that he doesn't button all the way up, and a green T-shirt beneath that. There are two pockets on his butt, and another just visible under the folded flap on his chest. Each hand is twice the size of his head, and his feet are totally blocky.

One area where the toy doesn't match the film is the paint. Like we said, the toy's shirt is orange - but in the movie it's orange plaid. There should be four different shades of orange, plus thin blue lines running across it. Plus, they may not have been able to sculpt all the tiny stitches on his pants, but those could have been painted, too. On the other hand, they went to the trouble of creating a separate paint app for his buttons and the silver clasp on his overalls.

Articulation on this figure is decent. Ralph has a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge hips, and swivel ankles. That doesn't sound like a lot, but it's about as much as the character's design would allow. You can certainly get a decent variety of poses out of him, even though he's got an action feature: press down the large lever on his back and he swings his giant fists downward, and his head twists to the right. Fortunately, you can still "click" the bodyparts into different positions, so the feature doesn't ruin him.

Wreck-It Ralph's action feature would be useless if he didn't have something to wreck, so he comes with a 3" x 4" section of the Niceland apartments. It's red brick with white trim, and a window right in the center. When you (or Ralph - he's got the action feature, after all) hit the button hidden on the top of the wall, two sections pop off and fall away. It's a neat little thing, and adds a bit of playability and some scenery for the figure.

Wreck-It Ralph looks like a Pixar movie - which seems only fair, since Brave looked like a normal Disney flick. Anyway, the movie looks like it's going to be a lot of fun, so it's very exciting to find some quality toys for it. The good ones cost $13-$14, which is a little expensive, but not awful. The only thing missing is a pixelized version to really capture the retro feel.

-- 11/01/12

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