While Nintendo seems to have won the pop culture war for most identifiable mascots–Mario, Link and Pikachu are recognized in the smallest corners of the world–it’s easy to forget how incredibly popular Sonic the Hedgehog was upon his debut on the Sega Genesis system in 1991. Sonic was the Genesis’s killer app. I know he was the main reason I asked for a Genesis for Christmas that year.
Sonic the Hedgehog makes me think of weekend sleepovers with my cousin Mike, staying up all hours of the night eating Cheez-Its, cursing the stupid spikes, admiring the awesomeness of the soundtrack to the Spring Yard Zone and making fun of that part of the Marble Zone music that sounded like “I’ll be home for Christmas.”
OK, so Sonic may lack the odd charm of an Italian plumber in overalls. OK, his “cool dude with an attitude” thing may be a bit annoying, he may seem a bit too much like a Poochie-style marketing creation. But he still had a series of great games (in the 1990s, anyway), and he’s probably the most recognizable non-Nintendo videogame character after Pac-Man.
Jazwares has been making Sonic figures for a few years now, and in general they’ve been hit-or-miss. Most of them have been in a 6″ scale which, for some reason, just doesn’t feel right for this sort of license (I feel the same way about Mario and so forth–4″ or under). At larger scales, the simple, cartoonish design makes the figure look like a toddler’s toy. (The exception to this is the Sonic the Werewolf figure, which looks pretty damned cool.)
Finally, however, Jazwares has finally produced some 3″ Sonic figures. Once I saw them, I knew they had to be mine. I ordered a set of Sonic, Tails, and Sonic the Black Knight from CMDStore, but you can probably find them at your local Toys R Us. Be sure to read the end of the review to find out how you could win a 3″ Sonic figure.
Packaging: The packaging for these figures is very simple, almost generic. The back of the blister card just features some graphics of Sonic. That said, I do like the colors and design of the graphics.
Design & Sculpt: First up is Sonic himself. He doesn’t have a complicated design, but it can be tricky sometimes to translate a 2D character into three dimensions. Fortunately, Sonic has been 3D for quite a while now, so some of the work has been done for them.
I think the sculpting looks good. The legs and arms are perhaps a little thicker than artistic depictions, but that was probably inevitable; if the arms were thinner they’d be too brittle, and certainly wouldn’t be able to hold the articulation.
Tails looks sharp, too. Both characters closely resemble their videogame incarnations.
Plastic & Paint: I haven’t actually held one of the larger Sonic figures, but most of them appear to be made almost entire of hard, glossy plastic, which I find unappealing. However, don’t quote me on that, because I could be wrong.
Fortunately, the 3″ figures are made from more durable material. Each is molded almost entirely in the character’s respective color.
There’s not a whole lot of paint work here, but what there is is relatively clean and smooth, considering the 3″ scale. There’s a little bit of missing paint around the torso joints, but that may be more noticeable due to the joint itself.
Articulation: On the one hand, I applaud Jazwares for working so much articulation into these figures. Both Sonic and Tails feature ball joint-style shoulders and hips, hinged elbows and knees, and swivels at the neck, waist, wrists, and ankles. This makes for some excellent playthings for young and old alike–these are great toys.
However, there’s a problem: due to the weight of his head, Sonic can’t stand on his own. You can play around with him for a half hour, as I did, trying to find a sweet spot, but the first good jolt will send him tumbling under the weight of his huge noggin. The only way I got my Sonic to stand consistently was by using a Dremel to drill holes in his feet, then sticking him on a display stand.
Tails is easily supported by his tails, but look closely when purchasing him. My understanding is that the initial shipments of Tails came with his tails inserted up into his rump (as they are when he flies), which causes an even worse standing problem than Sonic. If your Tails has “up” tails, you may need to remove the plug and re-glue it.
Quality Control: No issues.
Overall: One reason I really wanted these figures was to put them alongside my Toy Biz Mario Kart Mario figure. Sonic ends up looking a little small next to the good plumber, but I think that makes more sense than him being taller than Mario anyway–I mean, he is technically a hedgehog, right?
As I wrote above, these are great toys based on a fun license. Jazwares has been around for quite a while now and a lot of their stuff can be hit-or-miss, but this is definitely a hit in my book. If they could just solve the Sonic head/weight issue, they’d be set.
There’s one other set of these, a 2-pack featuring a clear Sonic and Knuckles the Echidna. Hopefully they’ll sell well enough that we’ll also get a Dr. Robotnik and the rest of the Sonic gang.
I mentioned at the beginning of the review that I also got a 3″ Sonic the Black Knight as part of the set. I don’t need this figure, so I’m giving it away to you guys. All you have to do is post one amusing videogame-related anecdote from your childhood–the funnier and/or more embarrassing, the better. For instance: my wife loves to remind me of the time I was fighting the Abomination at the end of Hulk: Ultimate Destruction and threw the controller across the room. Or: my cousin once smashed his controller after losing to Donkey Kong, Jr. at the last second on Star Road in Super Mario Kart.
At noon on Friday, I’ll close down comments and pick my favorite. The winner gets the Sonic Knight.
Oh, and feel free to comment on the review too, of course.