Thursday, June 18, 2009

I'm A Grown Man And I Bought This: Mezco Underdog Figures

A couple of weeks ago I was browsing in a used book/comic/DVD and came across a set of these cool Underdog action figures (well, almost the whole set).

I picked up three of the four figures in the set; Underdog, Simon Barsinister and Riff Raff. The only one I didn't get was Sweet Polly Purebread. That's not surprising, because she's a dumb old girl, and kids don't like girl figures. Sadly, I'm not making that up; every toy company in America is apparently run by secretary-chasing middle aged men who truly believe that old trope, so on the rare occasion they deign to make a female figure at all, they usually pack it one per case, making it virtually impossible to find.

These figures actually came out a couple of years ago, and I remember seeing them but passing because of their outrageous price tag of $15 each. The ones I found were on sale for half price, so I decided to take the plunge.

If you're not an action figure collector of if you don't have kids, then you're probably unaware of the recent ridiculous price gouging phenomenon currently going on in the action figure world. When I first started collecting in the early 1990s, figures like these in the Underdog series were a reasonable $5 each. Now the average figure is $12 to $13, and some are even going for $18 or $19 a pop! It's put a definite crimp in my collecting habit (which probably isn't a bad thing). I can't justify that kind of expenditure on a toy anymore, especially in this time of economic hardship and woe. It makes me wonder-- I'm an adult with a full time job and I can't afford to buy action figures anymore. So how do the toy companies expect a kid to buy them?

There are several theories as to what's causing this rise in price. Since plastic is made from petroleum, some have suggested the price increase is tied to the ever-rising cost of crude oil. Others think it's due to Chinese workers (where most of the toys are manufactured) finally standing up and demanding a living wage. Some think that since kids have so many other distractions these days, they're not into action figures any more and the toy companies are manufacturing smaller runs, which drives up the cost per unit. Whatever the reason, they're in real danger of pricing themselves out of business.

Anyway, enough of that. On with the review. Underdog wasn't my favorite cartoon, but I remember liking it well enough and watching it when I was a kid (back in prehistoric times when we had TWO TV channels, three when the weather conditions were right). These figures are very well sculpted and excellent representations of the characters. It's often difficult to translate a simple 2D character drawing into a 3 dimensional figure, but Mezco has done an excellent job here.

Each figure comes with a variety of accessories, including extra hands in various poses. The paint jobs are very well done too; which is often not the case with mass produced figures.

Best of all the figures have no trouble standing. You have no idea how many figures I have that can't stand up by themselves for more than a couple of minutes. It's really frustrating to have to have to pick them up off the floor every morning and stack them back on the shelves. In fact recently I've taking to using poster putty to stick my figures to the shelves. When I first saw those skinny little legs on the Simon Barsinister figure, I expected him to topple over immediately. I mean look at how top heavy he is; it doesn't look like there's any way he, or any of the figures for that matter, could possibly stand. But to my great surprise, all the figures are extremely stable and have no trouble standing.

That's the way it ought to be! I don't think it's too much to ask for an action figure to be able to stand upright under its own power for more than a few seconds. In fact I think it should be a law. I urge you to write your Congressman and demand it.

Underdog comes with two extra posed arms, and an extra set of lower legs in "flight pose."

Simon Barsinister comes with extra hands (one of which is holding some kind of electronic doohickey) and a poster that says "Simon for Dictator).

Riff Raff comes with extra hands (one of which is holding a blackjack!) and a pile of loot. I love that he comes with a revolver and a cigar. You don't see a lot of toys with smoking accessories these days.

Here's the family portrait. The scale of Underdog and Simon seems about right; I'm pretty sure Simon is supposed to be shorter. Riff Raff is a lot larger than the other two though. I honestly don't know if this is just a mistake, or if he's really supposed to be that big. It's been too many years since I've seen it. It's not a deal breaker though.

Overall I'm very impressed with these figures and like them a lot (Now I need to start looking for the Polly figure to complete the set). At their original price of $15 a pop I couldn't recommend them, but if you ever see them on clearance, they're definitely worth picking up.


  1. That wolfish character is actually named "Riff-Raff". "Noodles Romanoff" was Roger Ramjets' nemesis. Just sayin'.


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