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Fire Dogs

Ren & Stimpy
by yo go re

Ah, Ren and Stimpy. Just saying their names takes me back to the golden days of youth, to the cartoon shows of the early '90s.

Ren & Stimpy is undergoing a bit of a resurgence, even though it's 10 years ahead of the standard nostalgia cycle. Of course, since the kids who had watched He-Man became the teens who watched R&S, it does make sense. The pair recently got a second chance on cable thanks to Spike TV and now they're getting a toy line from Palisades.

The brainchild (brainchildren?) of animator John Kricfalusi, Ren & Stimpy followed the adventures of raging jerkass Chihuahua Ren Höek and the idiotic Stimpson J. Cat. The cartoon was created in the classic Warner Brothers style - recurring characters, but no continuing storylines. Any episode could go in any direction, and every episode happened "now." Ren and Stimpy were space explorers, natural biologists or, in one episode, fire dogs.

To introduce their new Ren & Stimpy line, Palisades took an exclusive preview set with them when they went to Wizard World Chicago. Since it wouldn't be very creative to just sell Ren and Stimpy by themselves, Palisades made a nice little set of variants.

Your troubles are over. Eet es WE who are your fire dogs!

Desperately hungry, Ren and Stimpy saw a poster advertising jobs for fire dogs and signed up. Of course, since only Dalmatians were wanted, it was time for an extreme makeover. Ren pulled out a can of paint, slathered it all over both of them and asked Stimpy what he saw.

"Ugly black spots!"

There was no way Palisades was going to miss a detail like that, Psst! Yes, eet was. See? so of course these two figures have the appropriate colors: plain white bodies with nice black spots. Well, actually, not plain white bodies: they're painted in varying shades of gray, with Ren being one solid tone while Stimpy gets a bright white muzzle. Eyes and mouths get their own colors, and there's some nice subtle shading inside Ren's ears. Just one thing, though - on the cartoon, wasn't Stimpy's tongue the same spotted color as the rest of him?

The edges of the dots are mostly crisp, with no feathering. There seem to be a few "blurry" dots that were applied later - they're a different tone than the rest. Is that an intentional choice, or a poor paint app? Could be either.

Good! Now shut up and look stupid! These aren't just straight repaints, however, since both Ren and Stimpy are wearing the red firemen's jackets they got at the station. The jackets are floating rubber pieces, and are detailed nicely. Though they're very simple, there are big blue buttons down the front, collars at the neck and a few subtle wrinkles in the body.

Both of the figures are articulated well. Ren moves at the Big Five, and the neck and shoulders are both balljoints, which gives him a wider range. The balljointed neck is particularly important, so that you can counterbalance those giant swooping ears of his. He's got a horrified/dejected look on his face, which is different than the big wild smile the standard edition will have.

What's a Dalmatian, Ren? Stimpy gets six points: shoulders, wrists and hips. Since he doesn't really have a neck, he doesn't get a neck joint. Palisades took advantage of this, however, by hollowing out his mouth and providing us with a truly monumental cavity inside that extends way down past his little tongue.

The sculpting is very good as well. Ren and Stimpy's appearances changed a lot throughout their shows (sometimes throughout their episodes), so translating them to three dimensions can't have been easy. Still, at a glance, these are obviously the pair we know. Ren's scrawny little asthmahound body is stretched and bent, and Stimpy is a big huge oval with legs.

Boy, if you think those hydrants are golden NOW, just wait... These brave, brave firedogs come with one accessory each - the Sacred Golden Fire Hydrant Helmets given to them by the fire chief. Instead of just reusing one mold, Palisades made the hydrants different, to match each figure - Ren's is smaller than Stimpy's, and has notches for his ears. The helmets are painted a nice golden color, and have a hole to allow the three little hairs on the top of each figure's head to fit inside safely.

Though there are straps that dangle from the sides of the helmets, those don't hold them on; instead, in the grand Palisades tradition, interior magnets are counted on to save the day. Of course, since the hydrants are taller than the average hat, the magnets prove to be a bit too weak in some poses. For the most part, though, they're fine.

When Ren & Stimpy debuted, it was assailed for its brainless toilet humor. It was part of the shift from happy, feel-good pablum like the Care Bears to more puerile entertainment that kids get today - not a lot of fart jokes on Scooby Doo, you know? Obviously time has softened the pair's impact, since SpongeBob SquarePants is considered acceptable family fare. If the exclusive Firedogs are any indication, this is going to be a very good line.


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