The PopCult Toybox
Today we’re gong to take an in-depth look at an action figure I found over the summer, in a bit of an unusual place. It’s not really unusual to find an action figure in a toy store, but this one, which had previously escaped my notice, was an interesting find anywhere.
A couple of months ago, during your PopCulteer’s anniversary trip through cool places in Eastern Pennsylvania, the day before the big Hershey Toy and Action Figure Show, Your humble reporter and his wife checked out a really cool independent toy story near Hershey called “Toys On The Square.” They had a pretty good assortment of the kind of stuff you tend to find in stand-alone toy stores–lots of building sets, plush, STEM toys, cars and trucks and dolls and more–but on a shelf next to their Barbie dolls, they had two figure sets made by Wild Republic, a company usually known for their plush and plastic animal toys. One set featured a generic fashion doll, packaged with a toy tiger cub and a few accessories, while the other featured a 12″ male action figure, with a larger tiger, and a cool hat and a large machete.
The price wasn’t too high ($20 is little high for what might seem like a cheesy knockoff, but it’s not outrageous, and I’ve learned to never pass up oddball figures like this because you may never see them again). I picked up one each of the male and female figures and they’ve sat in my living room for the last two months waiting for me to write about them.
I’m going to do a detailed review of the male figure below, but I’m just posting a photo of the female version of the Jungle Guide Adventure Playset here, because she’s not that special. The figure in the box has less articulation than the figure pictured on the box, and neither figure comes close to the “25 Points of Articulation” promised on the back. I think the female figure only has nine points of articulation. She’s basically a knock-off Barbie, dressed in a simple outfit–shorts, a sleeveless shirt, socks and boots. Her accessories are a cloth hat, a cloth bag, plastic binoculars and a plastic tiger cub.
I can tell by the price tags, that Toys On The Square received these sets in March and April of this year, however neither can be found at the Wild Republic website, so it’s possible these have already been discontinued. There are some available at Amazon, in different skin tones and with Dolphin Trainer Females, and Reef Diver Males. That link is there just in case anyone is interesting in getting these for potential kitbashes.
Whether you want to consider doing that might want to be something you decide after reading the review.
First of al, the packaging is nice, with bright colors. The front is open so you can see the figure, with no clear plastic keeping them from prying fingers. The box is adorned with little education blurbs and choking hazard warnings in many languages. The claim on the back of the box that each figure has 25 points of articulation is simply incorrect.
Once out of the box, we can see the good and the bad with the set.
The headsculpt is nice, if a little generic-looking. The tiger seems like something you’d find at Dollar Tree. The hat is a decent sculpt of an Australian bush hat, but might be a tad oversized for some figures. The figure itself is…interesting.
Our Male Jungle Adventure Guide feels very lightweight. The skin tone on the head is considerably more colorful than the rest of his body. His pants are simple camo-pattern pants with no closure and an elastic waistband. The shirt is a decent black T-shirt. He also has a scabbared for the gigantic machete, which I have to admit looks pretty cool. His boots are uni-boots (doesn’t matter if they’re left or right) and they look pretty good.
The figure poses well. He has fourteen points of articulation and can maintain his balance standing and kneeling. Let’s take a closer look…
The machete scabbard, close-up.
A headsculpt that could be modified into several different characters.
Decent posability and balance for a figure that is deceptively lightweight.
One odd feature, which indicates to me that this toy might have been “designed” by the toy company asking their Chinese manufacturer what kind of existing molds they had that could be combined into a new toy is that the back of this figure has a battery compartment and what looks like soundholes for a talking mechanism. That might also explain why the body is so light, perhaps to compensate for the weight of a talk box for whatever figure first used this body.
The re-use of body molds is pretty common in the toy industry, so it’s not a shock to see one here. The battery cover has no screw holding it in place, and is either glued on molded in, but if a customizer was looking for a body for a potential talking custom figure, this might be a decent candidate. There are no batteries or anything to make him talk inside. There are little flecks of green paint all over his back, which is a bit odd.
The hands are a bit huge, but they are sculpted in odd poses, so they may be just exactly what some customizer is looking for. I guess the right hand is meant to hold the machete, while the left pets his pygmy tiger.
Here’s a closer look at the accessories, still attached to the card. I didn’t remove them because I wanted to return the figure to his box for storage.
All in all, this figure is a curiosity, but aside from the momentary glee of finding a 12″ action figure that I didn’t previously know about, most collectors will choose to give the Wild Republic Jungle Guide Adventure Playset a pass. The body might be good for flying vehicles that need a lighter figure inside, and the headsculpt is pretty good, but I don'[t see this as something collectors will want to rush out and snap up.
One note: If you decide to order from the Amazon link, be warned that the photos appear to be prototypes, and some of the show the figures with outfit pieces that may not be included. Also the boxes appear to be prototypes, and don’t match up with the ones I found.