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Space Ghost

by yo go re

Jazwares is the company that made its name by offering low-rent copies of SOTA's Street Fighter toys, and they've never really gotten past that. Their Mortal Kombat figures are shoddy and confusing, the Sonic the Hedgehog toys won't stand, and they tend to grab movie licenses that don't deserve toys. They're like the Silence on Doctor Who: when you're not looking right at them, you forget they exist.

Which is probably why it was such a surprise when a five-figure series of Hanna-Barbera toys suddenly appeared at Toys Я Us. Nobody was excpecting them, but there they were: Fred Flinstone, Hong Kong Phooey, Huckleberry Hound, Tom (of "~ & Jerry" fame)... and, randomly, Space Ghost.

Hanna-Barbera doesn't actually exist any more: it was bought in 1991 by Turner Broadcasting System, and became the property of Time Warner when that conglomeration merged with TBS in 1996. All the work that had been under their purview (namely, producing content for Cartoon Network) was eventually taken over by Warner Brothers Studios, and now Hanna-Barbera only exists as an in-name-only company used for marketing purposes; so, like if Hasbro were to put out a toy with the Kenner name on the packaging. So in theory, these figures could have been made by DC Direct, the way the Looney Tunes figures were a few years ago, but it was probably a better deal to make Jazwares pay

We've had a Space Ghost figure before, but that was based on the Coast to Coast talkshow, rather than the old cartoons. Not that there's really a difference in the designs: white body suit, yellow cape, black Batman cowl with no ears... it's all the same. Space Ghost isn't like Birdman, who got redesigned for his modern revival.

Space Ghost was designed in May of 1966 - you can tell, because Alex Toth dated his sketchbooks. Toth told a story about how Fred Silverman insisted that SG have a "Batman" kind of look, inspired by Batman's appearance on the cover of Life magazine (actually, he said it was both Batman and Robin, but Batman only ever appeared on the cover of Life one time, and Robin wasn't there - but that's an easy enough mistake to forgive). The issue in question was released on March 11, and by May 2, Ghost's cowl was the solid black we know and love today. Well, we love it: Toth thought it was stupid to have a black hood on a guy who worked in space, because his head would disappear against the background.

Jazwares' Space Ghost has a mostly detail-free body, with just a few simple lines to accentuate the muscles on his chest and arms. The proportions on this toy are closer to the actual Space Ghost model sheets than Art Asylum's attempt, with thinner legs and a broader chest. The arms, however, are cut like any random superhero toy, which seems to defeat the purpose. His belt, chest emblem and the buttons on his wrist bands are all sculpted, but the buttons have molding artifacts that mess up the animated design.

You might think, since the previous Space Ghost figure came out 13 years ago, that the articulation would be better on this figure. Yeah, you might think that. It is better, a little bit, but not 13 years better. Space Ghost has hinged ankles and knees, swivel thighs, H-hips, a swivel waist and hinged torso, hinged wrists and elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders and a swivel neck. The hips are an improvement, as is the chest joint (ugly as it is), but the fact that the neck is just a plain swivel is shameful. The old toy was one of the first that had a balljointed head to allow for realistic flying poses, so this is a step back. And hinged wrists? Without any kind of swivel to help them? What's that supposed to accomplish? And the shape of the arms just cries out for a biceps swivel, but there is none. What. The eff.

Strange as it is to say, this Space Ghost's paint is better than the last one. His white is painted, rather than just molded, and the tones used for his cape and skin are more vibrant. The interior of the joints are unpainted, however, so they really don't match the rest of the figure. Not too professional.

Space Ghost doesn't come with any accessories, but he does have a pack-in: the space monkey Blip. And jsut think, you didn't have to attend a convention (or make friends with the moderators of a site no one would go to otherwise) to get him! Blip is not articulated - he's just squatting there with his finger in his mouth - and he's about twice the size he should be, but he still makes a nice companion piece for the big guy.

Jazwares' Space Ghost is not a substantial improvement over Art Asylum's version, but it is an improvement. Yes, it's slightly better than a toy that was produced 13 years ago. If you have the old one, you don't need to upgrade, but if you don't have a Space Ghost, this one is fine. He's a lot cheaper, too - retail is $10.99, for a figure that's almost on par with DCU Classics. The bad news? For some reason he's shortpacked, coming in at one per case. So good luck.

-- 10/28/12

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