Review > 3″ Sonic and Tails (Jazwares)

sonicWhile 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.

Accessories: None.

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.

[raven 3.5]


Pic of the Day


And the winner of the Sonic contest is…


  1. louie

    i had a little problom beating some games but i got thrue them at the end the funniest story is when i was playing smack down vs raw 2006 with all of my lil cuzins and they cept complaining that i would always win so one of them thrue the remote at my face and made me bleed and i was soo mad we started resiling and we were all started naming the carractors we are from the game like sonic,vnom,mario,batman it got a little out of hand i got the pillow and hit my cuz with the zipper and he got my brothers shoe (size 13) and thrue it at my face then he tackald me on the ps2 and it smashed into peices

  2. This isn't really an embarassing story, but like Jestergoblin, I was never very good at beating video games. I just remember how super elated I was when I beat Super Mario World. I was 9 or 10, and it was the greatest feeling ever. Corny, yeah, I know.

  3. So I was playing Disgaea, not really looking at the time, but I figured playing it a bit more couldn't hurt. My roommate steps out of his room and we both give each other glassy-eyed stare, like a dead fish. It turns out he had been playing Starcraft while I was in the living room playing Disgaea. At that point in time, we both stare at the clock and see that it's 5 o'clock in the morning. There are addicting games and then there's digital crack. Of course, I kept on playing.

  4. Rampage is a great game but after about 25 levels it gets really boring… It also has one of the most disappointed finales of all games: CONGRATULATIONS!

    Really, all that for THAT?

  5. Kid Nicky

    OMG it does sound like "I'll be home for Christmas!!

    Poe,you forgot Rampage for NES on your list of fun allnighter games. My cousin and I played that till dawn once. I think we actually beat it,too.

  6. MechaShiva


    Sunset Riders SNES or Genesis?The Snes one is superior…I remember playing TMNT turtles in Time with my friend we were acting/screaming out all their voices the neighbors were annoyed.

    Not digging the Sonic figure,I like my Sonic ,cute and Paunchy.

  7. Fengschwing

    When I was first dating my then-to-be wife, she shared a house with a few friends.

    I recall the first Tomb Raider being released and our friend Marcus playing it on a Friday evening as we went out, returning on Sunday to find him in exactly the same spot surrounded by unwashed plates of drying noodles and numerous half drunk cups of tea, still clutching the controller and looking half dead.

    "Are you alright Marcus?" we asked.

    He looked up at us with dead, darkened eyes and uttered in a hoarse voice, "I feel quite unusual.."

    He slept for around 14 hours straight after that.

    Finished the game in under a week though.

  8. Evan Jones

    I remember one time when I was at one of those free Albertsons day care centers where parents put kids while they shop. Some other kids were playing a game based on the Disney Alladin movie, (I don't remember which one, exactly) and were really upset about how hard it was to jump over some lava. Every time they reached that part, I would make a loud noise and they would fall in 🙂 I was eventually banned from the day care…

  9. AAh… I remember sleepovers… so fun. Staying up all night playing video games!

  10. Poe

    Ouch–that's two "I beat the boss then the power went out" stories…that's crazy.

    I still vividly remember the night my cousin Mike and I beat Contra for the first time (God bless you, Konami Kode). And the time we played Zombies Ate My Neighbors all night, only to have one of us get stuck at the side of the screen at one of the highest levels, and we had to quit the game. God, that pissed us off!

    Other great sleepover games (i.e., fun co-op games):

    Road Rash II (for us, the KING sleepover game)

    General Chaos

    Sunset Riders

    Toejam & Earl 1 & 2

    NBA Jam (we killed at this…every single whistle, I would pass in front of the opponent as they passed the ball in, steal the ball and pass it to my cousin, who would dunk it…we'd win 108-8 on Hard)

  11. Mario

    @Newton Gimmick: Man, Alien Syndrome was so cool. My neighbor had the Master System (in many ways superior to Nintendo, just had less 3rd party support, but that's a whole other ball game) & we'd play it & Alex Kidd incessently. It was actually later released on NES, but was definitely inferior.

    Yeah, I love old games.

  12. I saw these the other day at Toys R Us, but all they had was the clear Sonic set. I almost bought it though. I've been thinking about those larger Sonic figures for a while…

    Anyway here's my story. I dunno how "funny" it is, but in hindsight I find it hilarious and sad.

    When I was a kid our first major system wasn't a Nintendo, rather it was a Sega Master System. Sure we'd had Ataris and stuff before that, but my Brother and I were both a bit older now and could really get a good system. My Dad told my brother not to get a Sega because he said they were going to fail and to get a Nintendo, but for whatever reason my Brother defied him and we ended up with the Master System.

    That alone in itself is pretty funny since my Dad was totally right, but alas that's really not the story. One of the games we had was Alien Syndrome. An incredible game for it's time and still a lot of fun. NES never got that game I believe. Anywho, the first boss was nicknamed "Squeamy" by us and I have no idea if that's his real name or not.

    My brother was a few years older and he was pretty good at beating the bosses but for whatever reason I could never get past Squeamy. I played this game all the damn time and couldn't ever beat the first boss. I could beat later bosses if my brother got me past Squeamy, but this guy just wouldn't be beaten by me.

    One night my brother goes off to take a shower before bed and I'm frantically playing Alien Syndrome and I make it to Squeamy and beat him! HUZZAH! Hooray! And then, POOF, the power goes out. About 45 seconds later it comes back on and here my brother comes out from the shower, as I try to tell him how I finally beat Squeamy… But alas, no evidence.

    I'm not sure if he ever has believed I beat Squeamy that night. But I did damn it! I did.

    Now I'm curious if I could do it now. I know a decade ago I could easily defeat him since I was older, but I haven't played that game in a long time. Hmm, off to find out!

  13. Mario

    @Griffin: I'm pretty sure the game you're referring to is Baseball Stars, by SNK. Fabulous game.

  14. Poe

    @googum: I prefer Evil Dead: Regeneration myself…I play that game once a year or so. Love it!

  15. I've been meaning to pick up the 4" Sonic to go along with my PopCo Mario, Luigi Toad, etc. and the Mega Man I got at CVS. I don't think I have because of the reasons Poe mentioned: cheap looking, hard, glossy plastic. This looks pretty cool though!

  16. I had taken an afternoon off to play Evil Dead: Hail to the King, and was playing it well into the evening. It was winter, so it's pitch black outside, and that game was dark, man. I hadda play it sitting about an inch away from the TV, with all the other lights out.

    Sometime later, I realized the color on the TV had been turned down by accident, but I have to say, it may have actually improved it for me.

  17. Griffin

    These look like pretty good figures, too bad about the balance issues.

    One of my favorite video games for the NES was a international little league baseball game the exact name of which I have forgotten. It was nice for little 8 year old me to be able to pretend that I was good at baseball for a change. I remember one of the fun features was the way the batter would hit the ground in anguish when hit by a pitch.

    At any rate I always used to beg my father to play with me. But I would always be the US, one of the best teams if not the best, and force my father, kind man that he was, to be the absolute worst team, Italy. the US was stacked, including a rather portly child named Ward, who was basically a young Babe Ruth clone. I was dissappointed when he didn't hit a homerun. Not satisfied with the hitting of the starter the game chose, I would sub him out for a much better hitter named Saul. The result was the drubbing of the inferior Italy team, who were apparently picking up a bat for the first time, as well as my father. And yet he kept coming back for more. Man I was a brat.

  18. Growing up, I always had an issue with beating games. I don't know why, but I could always do everything in a game except beat the final boss. It wasn't until Super Mario Land 3: Wario Land for the Gameboy that I finally overcame it. But the actual first game I ever beat was Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins.

    Well, almost beat it.

    It was summer vacation of '93, I wasn't even 8 yet. My parents sent us outside to play and I brought my Gameboy with me. I was in the final castle and about to face Wario himself. I'd made it that far before but could never defeat Wario. For those that don't know, Super Mario Land was one of the first gameboy games to have a save feature, so once you beat the game it said so. They put a star next to your save file pipe. My brother had one in Save A, but my Save B didn't. I needed to get it.

    So I sat on the porch in the shade to see the screen and fought my way to Wario. After quiet possible the most stressful two minutes of my childhood but I did it. I beat Wario. As he flashed in defeat, so did my battery light.

    Yes, I beat Wario but before the credits rolled the battery died. I never got the star next to my save file and could never got the chance to play against Wario again because that same Gameboy was later stolen from my brother at summer camp. To this day, he still doesn't believe that I was able to beat that game.

  19. Mario

    I have to agree that Jazwares can certainly be hit & miss. One needs only to think of those terrible Street Fighter figures.

    On the other hand, they can produce gems like these puppies, &, a personal favorite of mine, their Mega Man stuff.

    As far as gaming goes, I've had many stories, but none stick out more than the first time me & my buddy played Resident Evil.

    Obviously, there was no real internet back then, & all we knew about the game was what we had seen from previews (not reviews) in video game mags. Suffice it to say, we were psyched. The big day finally comes & our video store is on the ball; It's available for rent on launch day. We rush back home & start playing & are instantly amazed. Keep in mind that in 1996, this was TRULY are revolutionary game. Still is for that matter.

    Anyways, at this point we're deeply engrossed & totally unprepared for one of gaming's greatest moments; Evil cerberus crashing through window! Man, you've never seen two young men squeal so hard & be so flushed with anxiety as you did that night. We literally had to take a break & compose ourselves. We swore never to spoil it for others, in part to see if we'd be the only ones to "be had" by that amazing scene.

    We weren't.

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