Playmates’ run of Simpsons action figures back in the early years of the decade is the gold standard for toys of the show. They produced (almost) every major character from the show, and a whole heck of a lot of minor ones too. More recently, McFarlane Toys offered a different take on the license with dioramas depicting famous Simpsons moments.
But as much as I enjoyed these lines (particularly Playmates’), I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Mattel’s early effort in 1990. The short-lived line still offers the most articulated figures of the Simpsons ever made.
The sculpting isn’t as spot-on to the show as Playmates’ work, though, and the figures had an odd feature–they came with little plastic word balloons that could be plugged into a hole in the characters’ soft, hollow heads. You could swap out the cardboard cards with different sayings, and best of all, the cards were blank on the back, allowing you to write in whatever classics Simpsons bon mot you wanted. Homer’s other accessories were a radiation hood and an inanimate carbon rod.
The line included the Simpsons family, as well as a “Bartman” figure and a Nelson Muntz (who represented the typical action figure line “villain,” I guess). There was also a purple couch and TV playset. I used to have them all, then stupidly sold them sometime during college, in the early days of eBay. I’ve since picked up a Homer, and someday may try to track the rest of them down.