For all its humor, for all its satire, for all that it's the longest-running comedy ever shown on tv, The Simpsons is still, ostensibly, set in the real world. Sure, you'll never see the King of Queens taking three successive comedy tumbles down a gigantic cliff, but other than the annual joy that is the Treehouse of Horror, Homer and the clan never really get into "cartoon" adventures.
Peter Griffin, on the other hand, exists in a world of pure inebriation... er, imagination. You never know when a seemingly straightforward story will spiral off into levels of lunacy seldom seen in recent years. For instance, the time that Peter literally met Death.
Okay, make that "times." But really, it was Death, the Grim Reaper, Joe Black. And in the second series of Mezco's Family Guy toys, we, too, get to meet Death in action figure form.
Death stands 7" tall, and he looks great in three dimensions. Mezco really did a great job converting the show's models into plastic form - Death is wearing the stereotypical Grim Reaper robe, though he's opted to complete the ensemble with a sporty pair of sandals. The robe has a few wrinkles along the bottom half, just enough to give it some heft without ruining the cartoony look.
The few bones that poke out of Death's robe are also detailed nicely. The fingers and toes have individual segments, but again, they're just cartoony enough to work. Death is articulated at the neck, shoulders, right elbow and wrists. The elbow is a peg joint, designed to keep Death's arm bent to hold his 7"-tall scythe. his left arm is straight, so you can either have it hanging at his side or pose him pointing menacingly at your other toys.
While original plans for the figure would have seen Death packaged with an extra, unrobed head (yeah, it was just a skull), that didn't make the final production figure. Death has no face inside his hood, just a curved hollow. Nice choice.
Still, Death does have a few accessories besides his blade. First up is a bottle of Pawtucket Patriot Ale (called "beverage" on the packaging, since we live in a neo-Puritanical age) from the episode "Wasted Talent," which opens with a long Charlie and the Chocolate Factory spoof that sees everybody and his brother trying to find not a golden ticket, but a silver scroll. The bottle is nearly 1 1/2" tall, and can be held in either of Death's hands.
The second accessory is the Death Dog, a canid grim reaper who came to reap family dog Brian after he choked on a piece of dinner roll in the episode "Mr. Saturday Knight." Death Dog is 2 3/4" tall, and though he moves only at the neck, he's just as detailed as his mythological master: hollowed hood, wrinkled robes and cute little bone segments in his four feet and tail - they even tried to get the right sort of crooked look to the legs. He's got a bright red collar and yellow tag sculpted around his neck, and the paint apps are perfect.
Trivia time! While he was voiced by Norm MacDonald in his first appearance ("Death is a Bitch"), in every subsequent appearance Death was brought to (un)life by the husky timbre of shambling, ape-like manbeast Adam Carolla. Death Dog, in his sole appearance, was voiced by Adam's buddy Jimmy Kimmel, making this single figure the only place to get a two-pack of the only two funny Man Show hosts.
Now, reading this review, you might think I like Death, and while I do, buying this one figure has made me a lot less interested in the rest of the Family Guy line. Why's that? I don't know, I just don't feel very excited about getting any of the other figures.
Fair or not, this line is going to be measured against Playmates' Simpsons figures, and it doesn't really compare. The articulation is slightly better, and the sculpt is on par, but those figures were five bucks, while Mezco has to ask more than twice as much because they're a smaller company. I wish this line nothing but success, and I like my Death well enough, but I don't expect I'll be buying any more Quahogians until they reach clearance.
Family Guy: worth it? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.