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Treehouse of Horror 2

World of Springfield
by yo go re

Drop your drawers and prepare to be boarded; Treehouse of Horror 2 has landed.

Everyone's favorite Rigelian siblings have become quite the dependable characters, showing up at least once a season since 1990. Whether as major players or just quick cameos, Kang and Kodos probe our hearts as well as our anuses.

After the wonderful reaction to the initial Treehouse of Horror playset, Playmates made the set an annual tradition. Scalpers, unfortunately, saw their opportunity to make a quick buck, so I had to resort to eBay to get my spaceship.

Unlike the previous THoH set, which gave us a panoply of figures from many different years, the Alien Spaceship was self-contained. If I had to guess, I'd say it's from THOH VII's "Citizen Kang." The bridge of the ship looks much like it did when Homer killed Clinton and Dole (ah, if only...).

I'm not sure how you're supposed to tell the aliens from Rigel IV apart, on the cartoon. They walk alike (scurrying about on their tentacles), they talk alike (Harry Shearer and Dan Castellaneta both doing their best James Earl Jones impression), it can blow your mind! When aliens are two of a kind.

Both aliens are sculpted with five tentacles - three "legs" and two longer "arms." The tentacles are solid plastic, to protect the voice chips within, though rubber bendy tentacles might have served the playability better. Of course, when has that ever been a concern of this line? Most of the toys move horribly.

Kang, in addition to sharing his name with a famous time-travelling Marvel Comics villain, is 7⅛" high (including that little pointy dealie on his helmet), and moves only at the neck/waist combo anatomical area. He can hold the included probe, and be recognized (in figure form, at least) by his open mouth, which makes sense considering how verbose his action figure is:

"My name is Kang."
"Come, earthlings, eat!"
"You'll be the guests of honor."
"Commence bio-duplication!"
"Earth is now ripe for the plucking!"
"This is a mission of conquest!"
"We come to you in the spirit of hostility and menace!"
"We are travellers from a certain nearby ringed planet."
"We have reached the limits of what rectal probing can teach us."
"Well, we did build this spaceship, you know."

The aliens' large domed heads plug into their respective bodies (notches on the inside let you know which is which). The plastic dome is not removable, and the point on top is soft rubber so that no one gets blinded or sued. The sculpting on these figures is great, with the appropriate winkles and bumps, and even the trademark drool captured in plastic form.

Kodos is the same height as her boisterous brother, but much more demure:

"Your superior intellect is no match for our puny weapons!"
"Aaahhh! He's got a board with a nail in it!"

So, where exactly do these aliens come from? "Rigel IV" implies that they come from the fourth planet circling the star Rigel, the same way that we could say we come from "Sol III" (or some crap like that). Well where's this star, then? For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Rigel can be seen in the constellation known as Orion (it's his left foot). Visible with the naked eye, Rigel is about 900 light years away; thus, the light you'll see from the star tonight left Rigel sometime during the early Middle Ages. Does Rigel have any planets? Astronomers can spot nearly 20 dark ovals hanging about, pointed toward the star, so those are likely planets (though they'd be gaseous, rather than solid). Count out four from the middle, and you'll have our target.

Anyway, back to the toys. No set would be complete without a Homer, it seems, so he shows up yet again. This one is a nice mix - he's got standard Homer's body and Casual Homer's head, which sets him apart from the others while saving mold money. He's articulated with the Springfield Four, and comes with one of my favorite props: the alien cookbook.

Titled How to Cook for Forty Humans, the cookbook is one of the best examples of The Simpsons' humor - they never explain the connection to The Twilight Zone, and the joke stands without it, but is much funnier to an informed viewer. It works on many levels, but truly rewards intelligence.

Homer says four phrases (on this base - the electronics in this Homer are the same as the normal ones, so he'll talk on any Homer-compatible set), none of which would make Serak the Preparer cry:

"Oh, no, aliens!"
"Don't eat me, I have a wife and kids! Eat them!"
*gulp* "I suppose you wanna probe me?"
"Let's get some applesauce out here."

The playset itself is decent, with a molded plastic viewscreen and joystick, and two ribbed... walls? Acoustic panels? Doors? I don't know, somethings. They're pink. Fully assembled, the base is 9" by 6" and 7" tall. There are three plugs, enough for all of the set's figures. If Homer had to be abducted, at least he's been abducted in style.

-- 10/08/02

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