In my previous post ‘Tribute To Steve Jobs‘, I’ve mentioned that I really love Pixar Studio’s animated movies. And I’s also posted that I think Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) are two of the best animated films that Pixar has ever made. So one would expected me to own some Toy Story collectable toys. But, in reality, it is not the case. The main reason, as I look back, is because Disney kept on putting out toys that looks like they are some bootleg figures from hell. For example below to the left is an authentic Disney’s Talking Sheriff Woody doll. While to the right is a screen shot of what Woody looks like in Toy Story 2. Now as you can see the resemblance is remote at the best. Disney’s toys look like something coming out of a horrible Halloween costume party.
Well no wonder while I was a fan of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, I’ve never purchased any Toy Story merchandise. But all that was about to change…
Little did I know, in 2009, a company called Thinkway Toys started to produce a line of Toy Story toys in a series called Toy Story Collection. Disney & Pixar actually made a big deal out of how authentic the toys in this series are that they posted videos of John Lasseter, the creator of Toy Story series, talking about these toys. You can see these video Part 1 and Part 2 here. I was not aware of releases of these toys until very recently when I stumbles upon a Japanese version of Talking Sheriff Woody and then decided to see what has been released in the English speaking countries. So after looking at the propaganda videos posted by Disney & Pixar, I drove around a few of my local Toys R Us and hunted down a few of these Toy Story Collection toys.
Now let me start with Thinkway Toys’ Toys Story Collection Sheriff Woody. Woody has a price tag of $60 CAD at my local Toys R Us.
It comes with a certificate of authenticity with John Lasseter’s signature on it. However it is curled up and stuff into the side of the box. Now if this is a true collectable toy, then the certificate of authenticity has some value to it. A curled up certificate card is simply silly. Why is it not simply packaged flat at the back of the box is beyond me. Maybe that’s an indication of the things yet to come…
So here’s Woody out of the box, front and back. He’s pretty big standing 15 inches high. The sculpture is good and the outfit looks just like in the movies. It is accurate down to the cow engraving on Woody’s belt buckle. Yes there are some inaccuracies, like Woody’s spur and belt buckle color should have been yellow while it is gold color on this Woody, and his fingers should been separated instead of stuck together. But honestly these I can choose to ignore. But one of the most annoying inaccuracy is the size of the pull string ring. I mean look at the size of it, it’s almost as big as Woody’s entire back side. I don’t know how one can claim Woody is a “highly detailed deluxe film replica from Disney/Pixar’s digital data” when something that’s so obviously different is left in the toy.
Yes Woody does come with his favorite hand stitched polyvinyl cowboy hat.
Despite being categorized as an action figure in Toys R Us, Woody’s not really poseable. If you take him off the stand, he will just fall down on the ground like what you see in the Toy Story movies. Now something is missing here. Woody does not have “ANDY” written on the underside of his boots. Well I guess this one is not meant to be Andy’s Woody, instead this is just any other sheriff Woody doll, so I’m fine with that.
Now here’s where the ranting starts. Look at the back of the packaging below to the right. All kind of odd piece of paper tabs of different colors, some are teared by hand to the right size and some are cut to the right size. Priced at $60 CAD, this is by no mean a cheap children’s toy and honestly this is one of the worst packaging I have ever seen from any collectable toys.
Then there’s the painting quality. For Woody, the only painted part is his head, the rest are fabrics and coloured plastic parts. So let’s take a closer look at Woody’s head. At 15″ tall, Woody is not a small action figure. Woody also doesn’t have any small features on his face nor small details in his eyes. So one would expect to see a good / quality paint job. That is not the case here. Just look at the close up of my Woody below, there’s paint overruns all around the edge of his hair line, there’s missing paint on the top left corner, there’s paint chips right in the middle, and Woody’s teeth is not evenly covered with tiny missing spots around the edge and in the middle. There are all kind of problems you would expect from a low grade toy. And what’s with that ugly pair of eye lids? Woody doll in the Toy Story movie does NOT have eye lids. Didn’t it claim to be a “highly detailed deluxe film replica from Disney/Pixar’s digital data”?
Now onto the fabrics on Woody’s body. Fabrics is fine mostly and pretty accurate to the Toy Story movies, but there are stitching problems. Some knots are made at odd places, I got one knot with thread going right at the outside of Woody’s jacket. I have one button that has its painted face scratched leave a straight silver line on it, and I have some rough edges with threads all over the place.
Now onto the plastic piece. The hand has visible seams but that I will accept. But looking at the underside of Woody’s boots, glues are coming out, and there are plastic runoffs coming out from every where. This is simply bad workmanship.
And look at top of Woody’s boots below. The hole on the boot is so rough it looks like someone just drilled those two holes out using a drill. This is some collectable quality.
For the doll stand there’s a movable hinged part at the front of the doll stand base that I don’t understand what it is designed for. The only thing I see this flap does is that it contributes to the instability when the doll is on the doll stand. With Woody on the doll stand, it tends to get front heavy. And with the front edge of the base being a hinged part that can flip up, it can easily tip forward and fall. A solid stand wouldn’t do that. Great design Thinkway Toys.
The doll stand holds Woody by the neck, the holder shown below on the right is what clips onto Woody’s neck, but the size and design of the holder is bad. After using it only twice, the plastic holder already experience severe fatigue, you can see the light vertical mark on the holder in the picture. I don’t think you can put Woody on the stand and take it off too many times without breaking the holder of the doll stand.
Now let’s look at a toy (I’m not even putting collectable in front of this one) from an entirely different market. This is a picture of Kaiyoko’s Revoltech Woody. This Woody action figure stands 15cm or less than 6 inches tall. Less than half of the size of the Thinkway Toy’s Toy Story Collection Woody. This Revoltech Woody costs about $30 CAD which is about 50% of what Thinkway Toy’s Woody costs. Yet it has a much better paint job than Thinkway Toys’ Woody. Smaller toys technically should be harder and more expensive to paint well, but looks like this one turned out better than my larger and more expensive Woody here. They even got the eye lids part correct. In fact this Woody’s face looked more like the print on the Thinkway Toys’ certificate of authenticity than Thinkway Toys’ own Woody. Keep in mind, this Revoltech Woody is all painted, so it requires much more painting than just the head alone. And yes this toy, just like Thinkway Toy’s Woody, is “Made In China”! So what’s the difference? This one is designed and produced by a Japanese company aimed at Japanese market. They are more serious about quality and about getting the manufacturing done right than North American companies, at least that’s my conclusion.
Well maybe that’s just Woody. Maybe Buzz Lightyear – Woody’s trusted partner will be better. Thinkway Toys’ Toy Story Collection Buzz Lightyear also has a price tag of $60 CAD at my local Toys R Us, so I’ve got Buzz as well to keep my Woody company. I kept on thinking, after all Buzz Lightyear is this advanced space toy that’s way better than Woody. So maybe it will turn out much better than Woody in the quality department.
The packaging is certainly nice, it looks just like the Buzz Lightyear toy in the Toys Story movie.
The packaging inside the box is a bit neater too. The piece of teared paper in Woody’s packaging is now gone, in its place are plastics tabs. But shouldn’t that bottom piece to my left should also a rounded rectangle piece like the one to the right? Okay maybe I’m nit picking here.
Buzz Lightyear also comes with a certificate of authenticity. This time it is packaged flat at the back of the box. Maybe Thinkway Toys finally started to think about their toys.
The good thing is that the box did come with a pair of wings that you can make Buzz’s packaging into a spaceship. Looked pretty good from this angle. That’s a good reference to the movie, and something nice to have no matter how little it is.
Buzz is pretty happy repairing his space ship as well. Tada, it is done…
The only problem? When Buzz Lightyear repaired his spaceship in the Toy Story movie, he attached the wings to the box with the wings spread open forming a triangle instead of inserted as a flat piece. You can see how Buzz repaired his “spaceship” from the screenshot below. So I will quote Thinkway Toys’s punch line that this is a “highly detailed deluxe film replica”. I simply can’t agree with that statement.
Buzz Lightyear does not need a doll stand because he can stand by himself pretty well. Here you can see the front and the back of Buzz with his wing extended. As for the painting quality. Well I know it is not great because it is inconsistent so that I have to pick and choose in the store. One of other Buzz that I left behind for example has two very light purple paint strokes right on his forehead that the manufacturer failed to correct during the quality control process, assuming they have a quality control process at all. Again with a $60 CAD price tag, it is not cheap. I’ve purchased $25 die-cast model cars that has a better and more consistent paint and built than Buzz. Luckly for Buzz other than the head, the rest are coloured ABS plastics. There’s no other painting or stitching required during manufacturing. So other than the head, Buzz looked just fine.
Buzz’s face mask does come down and up. And he will speak the appropriate lines when that happens. But his face mask doesn’t retract all the way. I’m not bothered by the fact the face mask doesn’t retract all the way.
Buzz is a bit poseable, a lot of his joints are movable. His 4 fingers are individually movable but the thumb is not. Why? I don’t know. With a hand/finger design like this, Buzz can only pose with his thumb sticking forward. So he can only pose with his hand flat open or holding a fist. So why bother putting in individually movable fingers then? Thinkway Toys certainly does not think too much about their toy designs.
The motion range for Buzz’s joints are also very limited. See below, Buzz cannot even do a salute properly. That’s as far as his arm and his had will move towards his head. Yes, it has tons of other features like the laser button, like the wing ejection button. It knows how to speak a lot of lines, it knows whether it is flying or landing and speaks the appropriate lines. It even knows when the helmet is opened or closed or if his communicator is flipped open and speaks his lines for those situations. But as an action figure, it certainly cannot pose well.
Trying to pose Buzz in his Karate Chop pose.
Just like Woody, I going to compare Thinkway Toys’ Buzz Lightyear against a similar Japanese action figure – Kaiyoko’s Revoltech Buzz Lightyear. This is an image of Revoltech Buzz Lightyear’s hand. The individually movable finger are the same, but see the movable thumb? Doesn’t that all make sense? Now you can post Buzz grabbing something, giving the thumbs up, or making various of other gestures, all because the thumb can be moved. And this is available in a $30 CAD action figure that’s less than half of the size of my Buzz. Now my Buzz looks like a big dummy.
Well looks like my Toy Story toys experience has been pretty poor so far. Let’s see how bad it can go in Part 2 of The Toy Story Collection…