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Bob's Burgers
by yo go re

Do you remember the show Allen Gregory? No, of course you don't, no one does. It was a cartoon that ran on Fox for seven episodes in 2011, and the most noteable thing about it is that it was co-created by Jonah Hill. Anyway, when Hill was promoting the show, he talked about how Fox had approached him to do a voice in one of their cartoons, but he wanted to create something of his own instead. He didn't say what show he was pitched, but given the timeframe and his range as an actor, it seems likely they were trying to get him to play Gene on Bob's Burgers.

Gene is the Belcher family's middle child, a year and a half younger than his sister Tina, and so is two grades behind her - he's in sixth. He attends Wagstaff School, which somehow manages to have students everywhere from third grade to eighth grade. That seems... unlikely. Especially in a town the size of wherever it is they live. {Seymours Bay --ed.] You're more likely to have a K-5 elementary school, a 6-8 middle school, and a 9-12 high school. (Or if it's one of those weirdo places that have junior highs instead of middle schools, make that K-6, 7-9, 10-12.) Even in the New York/New Jersey area where the show is set, a two-story brick building founded in 1889 would be way too small to hold that many kids. You might get two grades at most, even if (like Springfield Elementary) there only seems to be one teacher per grade. And come to think of it, the sixth grade teacher has never been shown or even referenced!

Gene is voiced by Eugene Mirman, and even looks a little like him, too, with his round face and dark hair. In the episode "Broadcast Wagstaff School News," it's revealed he looks almost exactly like Bob did when he was Gene's age - which briefly depresses him, since he now knows what his future will hold. But he's a resilient kid, so he leans into it instead.

Actually, Gene's willingness to go with the flow is one of his biggest strengths. He wears feminine clothing sometimes, and he doesn't react badly if someone treats him like a girl. It's not that Gene is gender-fluid, necessarily, but that he's young enough that distinctions like that don't matter to him yet - it's more that he's just impulsive and eccentric. This toy is in his normal outfit, a yellow T-shirt, blue shorts, and red shoes. The sculpt accurately captures the shape of his slightly pudgy body - in the past, he would have been called "husky," but thanks to America putting liquid corn sugar in every kind of food imaginable, he's honestly modern-day "average."

His articulation, though, is what you'd call "below average." PhatMojo has given these action figures almost the bare minimum of "action" imaginable. Gene, like all the Belchers, has a swivel neck, swivel shoulders, swivel waist, and swivel ankles (well, thighs, where the legs come out of his shorts, but the idea is the same). It's really not enough to do anything other than stand in one place and look around, which is disappointing.

The paint is decent, but could be better. Oh, they've painted his eyes pointing the same direction, and gave us the little line for his chin and eyebrows, and even the little bit of slop on his shoes isn't a deal breaker. For some reason, all the Bob's Burgers figures have a slight blue tint to them. It's really noticable on Gene, whose shirt is way less vibrant than it should be. His shorts should also be lighter, but the endemic problem is the skintone: by adding too much cyan to the color mix, everybody comes out darker and less pink than they are in the animation.

Even worse are the accessories. Accessory. Singular. The only thing Gene has is his Casio SK-5 keyboard (the same kind creator Loren Bouchard had as a kid). it has a handle on one side, so the toy can hold it, but the keys and other on the front are just a sticker, not sculpted. Wow, that's chintzy! Plus, why is that all he gets? Where's his megaphone? Where's his burger costume? Where's his Beefsquatch mask? Where's his talking toilet? Gene is less than 3⅜" tall, there should have been plenty of budget for more extras to fill up the packaging.

Like we said, Allen Gregory managed to air seven episodes in the span of three months, and as soon as it was over, Fox scrubbed any reference to it from their websites and digital platforms. Bob's Burgers, meanwhile, has been going for a decade and is one of the most wholesome, likeable shows on the air. Way to make good career decisions, Jonah. As great as the show is, though, these toys are less than mediocre, hardly worth the $5 I paid at a GameStop sale.

Gene | Linda | Bob | Tina | Louise

-- 09/02/20

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