Review: U-Repair Wall-E
The summer of 2008 was a good year for movies. Of course, a good year for movies means a good year for action figures, and the aisles have been packed. The most anticipated of these was certainly for The Dark Knight, which sold out instantaneously around here. But that's all right: I have more than enough Batman figures as it is (obviously a lie: no one can have enough Batmen). At any rate, there was a film whose figures intrigued me far more, a film whose design caught me at first glance. It is rare that I ever buy an action figure before seeing the picture it's connected to, but this was an exception: I owned Search and Protect Eve and U-Repair Wall-E long before the movie opened.
You can read my review of the movie here. If you don't want to waste your life reading a geek ramble, here's the short version: it lived up to expectations (of course, if you didn't want to read the ramblings of a geek, it's unlikely you'd have read this far in the first place).
We're going to take these one at a time, so lets start with the title character of the best picture of the summer and the third best computer animated picture of all time. U-Repair Wall-E is made by Thinkway toys, and they did a respectable job putting him together.
First of all, I have to say that the concept behind the figure seemed far less disturbing before I saw the film than after. The scenes in which Wall-E is reassembled are among the more emotionally distressing in the film.
The concept behind the figure is simple: Wall-E comes in several pieces and you put him together. The point of this activity is somewhat lost on me. First of all, the number of pieces is less than astonishing. Really, you're attaching his wheel treads, his arms, his head, and calling it a day. This isn't exactly a model kit or a puzzle.
By now, you must be wondering how I can be so hard on a figure yet rate it so high. The reason is simple: nothing above matters.
If you're buying this as a construction kit, you're going to be disappointed. But I'm not looking at this as some sort of
construction project, and I could care less that the "U-Repair" gimick falls flat.
I bought an action figure, and it looks great.
The sculpt and paint work delivered the goods, providing a near-perfect representation. They captured the "look" of Wall-E, managing to convey his personality and character. One of the more impressive points, in my opinion, is the eyes. I should mention that they deviate from the eyes in the movie, which are far more complex. Rather than try to reduce the gears and servos (which I suspect would have lost much of their effect in this scale), the toy was made with with simple black eyes. Whether it was intentional or not, these are somewhat reflective, and catch the light in a manner that's evocative of both a living creature and a set of binoculars. Even though this isn't perfectly screen accurate, I find it hard to imagine an end effect more appropriate to the character and original design. Look at this figure long enough, and you'll fall in love with him. He's that good.
Nothing detracts from his appearance: the only "action features" (if they can even be called that) are invisible and unobtrusive.
I'm giving the figure itself a perfect 10 out of 10.
Packaging and Extras: -2
Well, the package looks good. Not good enough to keep (at least in my book) but still good. I found the packaging a bit misleading, actually: at a glance, it looks as if he has extra arms (he doesn't).
It seems odd to me how few "extra" pieces the figure comes with. All you get are a couple of additional worn out treads. Anyone who's seen the movie knows that Wall-E... traded... his in early in the movie. While I appreciate the thought behind this, I really have no use for a pair of ugly treads; at least not when there are good looking ones
included. I can't imagine kids would be all that interested in replacing Wall-E's treads, either. While youngsters might enjoy disassembling and reassembling the figure to their hearts content, these accessories (the only ones Wall-E comes with) seem extraneous.
There's nothing else. No cooler full of various objects, no cockroach, no movie screen... nothing. Even the concept is a missed opportunity: if this is a Wall-E in need of repair, where is the cracked chest plate, the crushed head piece? This little guy took a lot of punishment in the film, and a few of these items would have really added to the figure. All we got were a couple of treads no one's going to display.
I suspect that there may have at one point been plans to release more: certainly there was opportunity to do so. I wonder if perhaps it was decided that releasing a version of Wall-E that could be constructed in a state close to death would be too much for young kids. Just a theory.
It hurts, but I have to deduct 2 points from the final score for failing to give us sufficient accessories when there are so many possibilities.
Play and Display: --
The articulation is good - there's no denying that - but there are several points that could be better.
First, the good. Wall-E's head tilts back and forth, spins around, and even has a little give in the middle. You can get a lot of expression out of the little guy.
But my favorite point of "articulation" is in his treads. This is the reason I purchased the U-Repair Wall-E instead of the other versions (and there are several). Rather than having tiny wheels sticking out the bottom, they've given us working, turning treads.
Both the front and back panels open, not that they give us anything to put inside (other than the treads, and that's where mine are). In addition, if you so choose you can take Wall-E apart and put him back together again. It isn't really all that exciting, though, and I suspect once you've assembled him you'll want him to stay that way.
And now for the not so good. The arms are limited, and the hands are worse. The arms aren't really a problem: I'm just picky. I wish they could slide around his body in a track like they do in the movie, but at this price, that's maybe asking for too much. The hands, on the other hand, are an actual disappointment. You get a little bit of motion, but no where near what you'd want or even expect.
In addition, the neck is good, but could be better. Actually, the neck IS better if you look at some other Wall-E figures. I don't know why there is a joint missing on the U-Repair that's on the "Lift and Load" figure, but such is life. I'm tempted to pick up a "Lift and Load" and swap out the neck piece, but it seems like a lot of money for something so minor (but if I ever come across one on sale....).
The figure's head and arms are posable enough that you've got a large number of options at your disposal. Best of all, none of the action features interfere with the figure's appearance. You have a lot of options to explore here.
The articulation is mixed: they went above and beyond with the treads, but the hands and the neck keep counter balance that. In the end, we won't be subtracting any points here, but we won't add any, either.
One quick addendum: this figure picks up several posing options if you have him and Eve, who comes with an assortment of accessories.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 8/10
These are going for about ten dollars, plus or minus, and that seems fair. I'd rather have a few more accessories, but considering how good this looks, I have no reservations about picking him up.
He's worth the money, even at full retail. What more can you ask for?
How about a companion? Well, it turns out that can be arranged....
Is the reviewer blind or just stupid? Head on over to his blog and let him know what's what.