While I can’t say I’m a diehard SpongeBob SquarePants fan, there was a period of a couple years where I watched the show constantly. It’s right up there with Ren & Stimpy, The Fairly OddParents and, of course, Invader Zim as one of my favorite Nickelodeon cartoons. When Palisades put out its excellent Ren & Stimpy, Fairly OddParents and Invader Zim toys, SpongeBob was the obvious absence. Sadly, Palisades went out of business before they could score the license, and it would be nearly five years before JAKKS would pick it up and finally give us the SpongeBob figures we’d been waiting for (well, I’d been waiting for, anyway).
These aren’t quite as nice as Palisades’ stuff from back in the day, but at $3.99 a pop for the individual figures, what you get is pretty good. There are seven individual figures available, plus three playsets that each come with a unique figure: The Krusty Krab, SpongeBob’s Bedroom, and the Frying Dutchman. So far, I’ve only seen the individual figures at Target and the playsets at Toys ‘R’ Us. I’ll be reviewing the Krusty Krab playset later, and I’m still looking for Mr. Krabs, SpongeBob w/ Gary, and Patrick.
Packaging: Each figure comes in a standard blister pack. The card has some nice graphics on both the front and back, though it’s important to note that the cross-sell doesn’t show all the figures available–there are seven figures total but only six shown on the back. Squidward and Mr. Krabs are the two that alternate.
Design & Sculpt: It’s always tricky rendering two-dimensional characters into three dimensions, but JAKKS has done a great job here. The sculpts on the two SpongeBobs are particularly good, complete with little divots on SB’s head to represent his sponginess. Even the foam hands and helmet on Karate SpongeBob have a texture to them. The expressions on the faces of the two SpongeBobs are perfect too.
Sandy is good too, though something about her facial expression, particularly her eyes, make her look a bit too cheery and zombie-ish. Her arms are also too pre-posed for my taste–something more generic, perhaps with an accessory, would have been preferable.
The two SpongeBobs stand about 2 ½” tall, and Sandy is about 3 ¾” tall.
Plastic & Paint: There’s some great paint applications all around here. The colors chosen for SpongeBob, particularly the yellow of his body and the blue for his eyes, are dead-on. The paints are all cleanly applied without much noticeable slop or bleed.
Again, only Sandy’s face fares a bit worse in this department–her paints are a little rougher.
Articulation: On the two SpongeBobs, the only moving parts are the arms. However, you can easily pop them off and swap them between figures, which is a nice feature, allowing you to put together your ideal “plain vanilla” SpongeBob. (I’m not sure this was an intentional feature, because it does take a bit of force to get the arms off, but it’s still easy to do.)
Sandy moves at the shoulders, helmet, the top of her legs, and her head–you can pop the helmet off and move her head to face whichever way you want.
Accessories: Karate SpongeBob comes with his safety helmet, which is removable (that would seem to hint at the arms being intentionally interchangeable, but who knows). The other SpongeBob comes with Plankton and a plate. Plankton has a small peg in the bottom, so you can either plug him into the top of SpongeBob’s head, or into the plate, to let him stand on his own.
As previously mentioned, Sandy’s helmet is removable, though I don’t tend to think of it as an accessory since it’s a necessary part of her outfit.
Quality Control: The legs of my Karate SpongeBob were bent so far forward that he couldn’t stand up on his own. I had to do the old boil-and-bend trick to get him to stand properly.
Overall: When I first got Karate SpongeBob a few weeks ago, I was disappointed…mostly because he kept falling over. I later bought Sandy when I saw her and just set her aside. But when I bought Spongebob w/ Plankton, then opened up Sandy and got all three of them on display with each other, I realized I really liked them–and that I had to have them all. It’s one of those cases where the sum is greater than the individual parts. They work as both fun toys and collector’s items.
At $3.99 a pop, these aren’t a bad deal (compare that price to the smaller, non-poseable Super Mario PVC figures you find at TRU). If you’re at all a SpongeBob fan, I dare you to resist picking up at least the li’l yellow guy himself. That is, if you can find them–I found all three of these figures individually and on their own sitting amongst a pile of stuffed SpongeBob toys at Target.