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Super Beaker

The Muppets
by yo go re

Toy fans can't wait to get their hands on the newest stuff. McFarlane Toys has stopped exhibiting at the American International Toy Fair because of this - when fans knew seven months in advance what product was coming, they got wildly impatient. Especially if it got delayed.

Delays happen all the time. Production gets moved back a week, paint isn't drying properly, the ship gets held up at customs... anything can happen. Sometimes those delays don't matter too much - Batman figures that hit shelves at the beginning of August instead of the middle of July haven't lost any real market. But what about the other times? What if it's a Christmas-themed product that can't get distributed until January? Or what, in the case of Palisades Toys, if it's a con exclusive that can't get off the boats until after the con is over?

As Rustin has said, Palisades are the ones who really kick-started the whole "con exclusive" explosion. They're the ones who set the bar every year, showing the other companies what they have to live up to. For the summer cons of 2004, Palisades had a whole selection of toys - one "tour" figure that was available at all the cons, and one specific exclusive at each individual show. For SDCC, the specific figure was Super Beaker. It was supposed to be, anyway.

Super Beaker follows in the path blazed by Super Scooter, sort of - while that figure was based on an actual Muppet Show appearance, Super Beaker was created whole cloth as an early part of what Palisades hoped would be a continuing subset of superhero Muppets.

Super Beaker is based, quite obviously, on the Rocketeer, the modern pulp hero created by Dave Stevens. He's got the jet pack, the helmet and even the color scheme of the comicbook hero. Of course, everything's been "Muppetized" for your protection. And to skirt around copyright laws, but who's counting?

Beaker's traded in his labcoat and checkered pants for a more casual garb: a brown sweater, tan shorts (that show off his little Muppety legs) and a pair of unlaced boots. Since all good heroes wear gloves, Beaker's got a pair of oven mitts on.

Instead of an aerodynamically correct helmet, Super Beaker's wearing... a bucket. You get the feeling that Bunsen slapped that on his head, welded some more pieces on and sent him on his way. The bucket is the right golden color, and it has the big fin, but he didn't even bother to take the handle off! It can hang either in front or behind Beaker's neck as he flies. Maybe Bunsen thought it would work as a chin strap?

Of course, no one wears their superhero costume all the time, so Beaker can take his helmet off. He comes with two replacement heads: a full, normal Beaker head, just like the previous figures, as well as a retracted "half head" that shows him sinking into his own torso in fear, as he did so often on the show. Wish the regular Beaker had that feature. It's very cool.

The paint on my Super Beaker's hair wasn't quite dry when I got it - a reaction between the plastic and the type of paint used keeps the paint from drying as fast as it should. A few days sitting out and that "tackiness" should fade, leaving you with a perfectly normal figure. Still waiting.

Beaker moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips and ankles. The detailing on the sculpt is, as always, excellent. The texture of his "foam" skin, the weave of his sweater and especially the intricate technological detailing on the removable jetpack prove that Palisades employs some of the best sculptors in the business. The fin on Super Beaker's helmet almost reaches the 6½" mark.

Super Beaker was intended to be available directly from Palisades at SDCC, but he didn't clear customs in time to offer him there. To make it up to all their disappointed fans, they offered him through their website with no shipping charges - the next best thing! They also took him along to Wizard World Chicago.

Sometimes delays happen, and in the toy world that can really strike a blow. Super Beaker may have landed a few days too late, but Palisades made sure that he was still available to everyone who wanted one - the sign of a company that cares about its customers.

-- 08/25/04

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