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by Poe Ghostal

The only reason I picked up this figure is because Dr. Mrs. the Ghostal and I own two guinea pigs (Tribble and Nibbler), and the novelty of owning a guinea pig action figure - particularly one who looked a lot like Nibbler - was too much to resist.

The figures are based on Jerry Bruckheimer's new Disney action movie G-Force, featuring an elite team of guinea pig spies (the plot seems to involve some sort of Mission: Impossible-style double-cross by their agency, I think, but that's really neither here nor there). In any event, I'm not here to discuss the movie, just the toy.

The figures are produced by a Hong Kong company called SCS. I'm reviewing is Darwin, who appears to be the leader of the team, and is voiced by Sam Rockwell, best known [what? --ed.] for his role as "Head Thug" in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

For a toy based on a movie obviously targeted toward kids, Darwin's package is surprisingly collector-friendly, featuring a nice round blister and a card that can be slid in and out once you cut the tape. But the graphics aren't anything to write home about and the cross-sell on the back is dull (it's inexcusable that a figure based on a movie about spies, especially animal spies, doesn't have some sort of bio or profile card).

Unfortunately, Darwin and friends appear to have been either a rush job, or Disney simply farmed out the contract to the lowest bidder. Probably that second one. While guinea pigs aren't exactly complex sculpts, Darwin ends up being pretty boring. All of his tools and weapons, with the exception of the fly, which we'll get to in just a second, are permanently attached to him.

Darwin's made entirely from solid pieces, and the paint is as dull as the design. Moreover, the paint is simply lacking in some places, like the front of the wrist-mount for the fly. A better way to go with this line might have been slightly larger figures (perhaps real-life scale) made from rotocast plastic.

Also, the eyes are terrible. Real guinea pigs eyes aren't nearly as glassy and dull as these, never mind the ones in the movie, who are a lot more animated (pardon the pun). Good work on the eyes, as opposed to this zombie expression, might have given this figure character and saved it from being a total disappointment. It's telling that he looks better with the goggles on than off.

Darwin has swivel joints at the shoulders, hips, and waist. The waist also features the "twist-and-punch" action from the old He-Man figures. The arms won't hold any position other than the standard one, due to the action feature.

Along with the twist-and-punch waist, Darwin has two huge buttons on his backpack that, when pressed, caused his arms to swing up. He can kind of throw the fly when you do it, but honestly, the feature comes off looking a little shabby. (Man, I'd have a blast tearing into this figure if it were, say, some stupid cheap human figure from a dumb summer blockbuster, but the fact that it's an adorable guinea pig just makes me sad.)

The fly is the only removable accessory, but he also has some sort of gun (or maybe it's an arc welder?) and a pair of flip-down night-vision goggles. The fly doesn't stay on very well.

This figure could have been made in 1990 and it still would have been lackluster. Probably like G-Force itself, I can't imagine anyone enjoying this other other than kids who enjoy the movie and some of my fellow cavy owners.

-- 03/06/10

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