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Grunkle Stan & Bill Cipher

Gravity Falls
by yo go re

"Remember: reality is an illusion, the universe is a hologram, buy gold, bye!"

"Stanford" Pines is the great-uncle of Dipper and Mabel. Since he has the same last name as them, it's easy to deduce that he's their paternal grandfather Sherman's brother. Always looking to make a quick buck, Grunkle Stan runs the Mystery Shack, a tourist trap designed to exploit the citizens of Gravity Falls, who he considers "literally the dumbest people in the world." And if there's one thing he knows for sure, it's that the whole "monsters in the forest" thing is just local legend, drummed up by guys like him to sell merch to rubes; he'll be the first to tell you that there's nothing strange going on.

As you know, Dipper and Mabel are based on the show's creator and his sister, and the summers they spent on family vacations, so does that mean they also had a Grunkle Ford? Well, kind of, but not quite: they had a grandfather named Stan, and his sister (thus their great-aunt) Lois referred to herself as "Grauntie Lois" and insisted they keep journals of everything they did, meaning she influenced the show in two ways!

The sculpt of the figure isn't... bad, per se, but it's very... meh. It definitely looks like Grunkle Stan, but there's just something "off" about it. You know how, when a kid traces a piece of art they like, it never looks as vivacious as the original? It's like that. He's got his fez, his square glasses, his big old-man ears, everything you'd see on the character's model sheet, but it just seems like an unskilled copy, somehow.

Some day a toyline that features both children and adults will actually get the scale right between them, but Gravity Falls isn't it. Grunkle Stan is 3⅞" tall, when he'd really need to be about 50% larger to actually be the right size. On the show, the twins are about as tall as the lapels on Stan's tuxedo - here, they come up past his chin. Jazwares didn't use this size to improve the articulation very much: like the kids, he moves at the neck, shoulders and waist, though he does get hinges in the shoulders in addition to the swivels. Wow. Decadent. His right hand is molded to hold something, but he comes with no accessories. There are so many things we could have gotten, but instead, nothing. Great work, team!

That's not to say the figure is alone in his package, because all the Gravity Falls figures are sold in two-packs. Or, because the packaging was packaging was designed by a Google translation-bot that gained sentience, a "2 Figures Pack." Anyway, Grunkle Stan comes with Bill Cipher. If Gravity Falls had a mascot, this would be it.

Bill appeared early in the series - in the opening credits, in fact! He's a flying pyramid with a top hat and a single eye, inspired by the Eye of Providence on the back of a dollar bill. He seems to have the unlimited cosmic powers of a Fifth-Dimensional Imp, like Bat-Mite or Mr. Mxyzptlk, and also shares their reckless abandon in using said power. Bill is permanently attached to a clear stand, to create the illusion that he's hovering, but he has no articulation. Regardless, he's a very important character, so it would have been terrible if we didn't get him.

The figures are sold in simple blisters, with an image of Gravity Falls' forest on the card. It's nice, but just as uninspiring as the figures themselves. Imagine if they'd all come with different scenes behind them, like Star Wars figures used to: the Mystery Shack, the kids' room, the forest... there are lots of locations that would have made appropriate backdrops, but we get diddly. We already know they were making different cards for everybody, because the code on the back of this one reads WKHVH WRBV ZLOO ZDWFK BRX VOHHS!, which isn't directly related to this set, but kind of is? Anyway, none of the others say the same thing.

Unlike a lot of creators, Alex Hirsch knows how to go out on top. Rather than continue to churn out sub-par material long after he should have given up, he chose to end Gravity Falls after just two seasons - it was conceived as the story of "one epic summer," and that story has reached its end. In fact, the finale will be airing the day after we post this review. It's great that we'll always have the two seasons we did get, but disappointing that its toys have been so bad.

-- 02/14/16

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