I have never been been much of a SpongeBob SquarePants fan. At most Ican only admit to having seen just a few episodes. The show itself is the only surviving Nickelodeon cartoon from the ’90s, having made its debut in May 1999 and is still in production today. I am however a huge fan of Mr. Potato Head, a passion that was reignited in my early adulthood and since then I have on and off collected all things spud.
In recent years, Hasbro has produced many cross-over Potato Head sets based on various media properties that they own licenses for. At first it was Darth Tater, released in 2005 to coincide with the opening of Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith. Darth Tater was very popular and also very hard to find, being deemed a must-have by both Star Wars and Mr. Potato Head fans alike. Since Darth Tater, we have also been given a slew of Potatified crossovers including Spudtrooper, Artoo-Potatoo, and other Star Wars Tater sets exclusive to Walt Disney resorts. Hasbro didn’t stop there, in 2007, Opti-Mash Prime was released to coincide with the opening of Transformers. Also produced were Spider-Spud (Spider-man), Taters of the Lost Ark (Indiana Jones), Tony Starch (Iron Man), Bumblespud (Transformers 2), and finally Woody & Buzz Lightyear (Toy Story).
Packaging: SpudBob comes the familiar Mr. Potato Head square box with window. The box has a nice undersea/SpongeBob theme, and to the right there are images of all the pieces inside. When viewing the box from the side it appears to be at a slight angle, no doubt to aid casepackaging (the nose kind of protrudes out of the front). Opening the package was actually kind of a hassle. This is a case where instinctively opening the top is wrong, since the bottom is wider than the top its best to turn the box upside down and go in that way. Even still, the “undersea” theme cardboard insert was stuck to the plastic tray. Just ever so slightly annoying.
Design & Sculpt: First off let me just say that this is not the Mr.Potato Head of your childhood. At Toy Fair 2011, Hasbro unveiled a brand-new slimmed down Mr. Potato Head. Poe even wrote about it, questioning the motives of this initiative. The potato head body has gone through several updates over the decades and this is just the latest one. He’s noticeably skinnier and a littler shorter too. According to the official Hasbro product description the parts are supposed to be compatible with other versions of Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head, however when I took one of my older, more rotund spuds down I did not find this was quite so.
These Mr. Potato Head Crossovers represent a real leap of faith on the part of design, you want to make sure that the character is recognisable, but you need to ensure that elements of Mr. Potato Head are still included and that at first glance its obvious that it is a Mr. Potato Head. With some of the previous crossover releases I’ve always just envisioned them as being some sort of an alternative universe where all of the people just happened to be of the Potato Head race… Potatian? With some of the more later releases, such as Spud Lightyear, I’ve often just thought of them as Mr. Potato Head dressing up for Halloween and wearing Buzz and Woody costumes. With SpudBob I think I will have to go with the former.
SpudBob stands about 7″ tall with his head and shoes on. The new Potato Head body measures just about 5 ½” tall.
Plastic & Paint: Despite having slimmed down, Mr. Potato Head’s body is still made of the same hard shell. The parts are all made out of the same glossy plastic we’re all accustomed to. There are few paint applications, the mouth, freckles, and the square pants. There is just a little line bleed on the tie, but I can let that go. The yellow of the Spongebob head, nose, and cheeks is dead on. It would have been nice if they painted the little divots green, but I also kind of like it nice and clean as-is. Besides if you really wanted to it should be easy to paint in.
Articulation: There are no moving parts, though since you’re able to mix and match parts I guess you could consider that a swivel joint!
Accessories: In addition to the potato body, Spud Bob comes with a nose, one pair of eyes, one pair of square pants, one pair of legs with shoes, one mouth, two arms, and one Sponge Head. The sculpt on the SpongeBob parts are good. The Sponge Head has little divots to represent the sponginess. The Square Pants fit snugly on his bottom side, with holes for the arms in the sleeves. Aside from the eyes, everything here is newly sculpted. The arms and legs with shoes are also part of the standard new slimmed down Mr. Potato Head. A few more standard Mr. Potato Head parts would have been nice, such as the mouth, nose and ears.
Quality Control: No major quality control issues here. Hasbro has been making Mr. Potato Head for over half a century, I’d hope they’d have it right by now. I am disappointed that the parts are not compatible as stated. I first took the old potato body and tried using the SpudBob parts, but they were too loose. Then taking the slimmer body, I tried putting in older parts but they wouldn’t fit right. If I wanted to force them in I suppose I could have tried, but for a toy recommended ages 2 & up, I don’t think any “force” should be required.
Overall: When I bought SpudBob it was almost on basic instinct, much like the character in Conspiracy Theory played by Mel Gibson has an uncontrollable urge to purchase multiple copies of The Catcher in the Rye. A lot of my Potato Heads have been stored in a cool, dry place,but this was just something I couldn’t resist. With Darth Tater,Optimash Prime, Tony Starch, and Spud Lightyear on the shelf, adding SpudBob to the mix makes for quite a diverse display.
Mr. Potato Head is one of the few essential toys that every kid should own at least one of, and SpudBob is a bizarre yet fun addition to an awesome family of wacky Potato Head crossovers. At $9.99 this is a pretty good deal and would be just as at home on your desk or in a college dorm as he would be in a child’s playroom!