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Talky Tina & Willie the Dummy

The Twilight Zone
by Rustin Parr

It's no secret that nostalgia drives a huge part of the toy collecting hobby, so it's no surprise that modern companies will often look to the past for inspiration. Usually this manifests through new product from old licenses, and sometimes we'll even get toys of characters who were only ever toys, but rarely do we get things that are out to exactly emulate the original product - and for good reason! It's not that good. Case in point: Mego.

I've never understood the obsession with Mego dolls, or why every few years some company has to roll out an attempt to relaunch the aesthetic. I get that they were effectively the first collectible action figures, and are thus significant historically and personally to those around at the time, but seriously: lame sculpts plus ill-fitting clothes equals bad toy. And now Mattel, Diamond Select and Bif Bang Pow want us to shell out close to $20 bucks for this crap? WTF, mates?

But, like all good stories, there comes along one individual who changes everything. Bif Bang Pow's Twilight Zone Megos are the Luke Skywalker of the toy world, fighting back the Sauron of my hate. There is something about the mixture of style, property, and lack of existing product that made me almost immediately excited for the Twlight Zone... and thus I was jazzed to go after the exclusive figures at San Diego Comic Con 2010!

Bif Bang Pow is running their not-Mego (because "Mego" is a company, not a style [or an attitude, right McFarlane?]) lines in series of two figures, so I think we can expect to see all releases individually carded but sold as a pair, such as with this exclusive set - Talky Tina and Willie the Dummy. It's a theme of sorts, as these characters are the infamous "evil toys" from the show: Tina being the "I'm going to kill you" talking doll from the episode "Living Doll," and Willie the bastard ventriloquist dummy from "The Dummy." Both classic, famous episodes and both characters befitting a special release at the toy show for fans.

Like all Megos, these figures share a body with only unique heads and clothing to differentiate. The bodies are fairly standard, simple sculpts with 14 points of articulation: hinged ankles, hinged knees, hinge-swivel wrists, hinged elbows and swivel neck. The shoulders, hips and waist are all balljoints, but rather than the plastic mechanics we're used to they are based on metal hooks at the hip and shoulder pulled together by a taught rubber band. No sir, I don't like it. While the range and motion is just fine, I see rubber band and immediately think of all the old GI Joes with have been halved by detoriated and snapped O-rings. I assume the bands are here because that's what Mego did, but for the love of God that's not how we do things in 2010! The limbs are also able to be pulled out of their sockets, which does allow for a bit more range of flex, but also puts more stress on the rubber bands and decreases the time to the inevitable breakage.

Cloth clothing, or "softgoods," have long been the bane of my collection. It's generally impossible to effectively get cloth to look right on small figures. Especially the smaller they are. Add to that the "Mego style" of poor fit, and these outfits are, well... "true to that style," we'll say. Willie makes out a bit better as his clothes have a better fit, but while Tina's are very well designed and executed, the neckline is way off, causing the dress to loosely hover around her neck. Also, let it be said the figures have no accessories save for their rubbery shoes that and come off and on the bare feet - Tina is even sporting painted socks.

One of the highlights for me is that the figures are black and white, just like the show, and the look is excellently captured. But there is a distinct problem here: the heads. Because the accursed Mego style calls for rotocast heads, Bif Bang Pow has clearly fallen in the pit of perpetual inability-to-match-colors-between-different-kinds-of-plastic. Frankly, I am hard pressed to think of a worse example than this. The bodies are cast in a perfect light gray while the soft rubbery heads have a distinct yellow tinge, almost as if they were cast in glow-in-the-dark material (they aren't, I checked). The paint on the heads is fantastic, and the likenesses pretty accurate (Tina is better than Willie). I would have preferred some black paint to highlight or augment the sculpted lines for Willie's jaw, but I'm highly impressed by the color of Tina's rooted hair, which matches perfectly the shade on the episode.

Bif Bang Pow launched their Twilight Zone line at SDCC with the release of not just Tina and Willie, but also Series 1 and 2 of the line - a total of six figures. There was originally some worry that they wouldn't be able to get the regular series ready in time, but it was great that they did, because fans, such as myself, were able to go ahead and buy everything in one shot, walking away with a full collection already. Add to that the promise of an additional four figures shown (including Burgess Meredith from "Time Enough At Last"!!!!). This is clearly a license with legs and potential, and BBP is fully behind supporting it. On their own, Talky Tina and Willie and underwhelming, but as part of a larger collection? They're must-haves.

Bif Bang Pow is distributed (almost) exclusively by Entertainment Earth, so their website is your best bet for getting these figures. They run about $40 a pair, and while that's pretty damn steep, its still about the same as what Mattel is charging for the DC figures, which have much higher production numbers than these. Plus, these characters have never been produced in a collectible format before. Considering the breadth of additional releases all in the same style, this is completely a bandwagon worth jumping on. While I still strongly dislike Megos, and the Mego style is the root of all of my complaints with these figures, my love of Twlight Zone and wide-reaching toylines more than makes up for them.

-- 08/19/10

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