Review by The Enthusiast
Like many children of the eighties, I have fond memories of Inspector Gadget. The cartoon was action-packed and funny to boot, a rollicking spy thriller following the exploits a foolish cyborg detective. Don Adams’ performance as the witless inspector was pitch perfect. The inimitable Frank Welker, of Megatron fame, provided the voice for Dr. Claw.
Before researching this review, I wasn’t aware of any Inspector Gadget toys, but it turns out that Galoob produced a nice deluxe figure in 1983 and Tiger Toys released a series of mediocre action figures in the early nineties.
That said, the Inspector never gained enough traction to justify a substantial toy treatment. Even when the late-nineties big-budget Disney film adaptation was released, fans were treated only to a few Mcdonald’s Happy Meal Toys. Fortunately, some of them were awesome. I’m not at all a fan of throw-away fast food premiums, but the McDonald’s Gadget is nothing of the sort. This is a full-fledged, legitimate toy.
What makes this toys shine in a sea of miserable disposable flotsam is the Gattai (or ‘Build a Figure,‘ if you prefer) gimmick. By releasing a collection of parts, McDonald’s was able to transcend its usual fare. It was a huge gamble. Sure, you hope that the customers will collect all of the pieces, but how do you make each individual component fun while preserving the unity of the whole?
Eight parts contribute to the complete figure.
Assembly is easy and intuitive. The colored pegs in Matthew Broderick’s chest (see below) indicate the correct limb placement. The final product is a staggering 12 tall!
The hat and belt are forced, making the piece far goofier than it needs to be. Let’s remove them, shall we? Much better.
All of the limbs extend with gray plastic baffles, but the legs really need to be extended. Gadget looks ridiculous with them collapsed, but maybe that’s the point. It’s too Dorf for my tastes.
Each component has its own unique play feature.
The head/torso really makes the toy. When you pop off the chest,Gadget takes on a striking retro quality, evocative of the 12” Mego and Takara sci-fi figures of the seventies. The clear plastic, colorful inner gears, and soft plastic head look fantastic together.
When you push Ferris Bueller’s head down, the gears in the chest activate a sparking wheel. Another classic touch.
The rest of the limbs and accessories are fine, but less cool. The right arm is a squirt gun, activated by extending and collapsing the forearm. The styling of this gun reminds me of Ghostbusters.
The left arm extends and grips.
The left leg unfolds, Leatherman-style, into a pair of plyers. A screwdriver head pops out of the foot.
The right leg has a green light within, activated by a switch on the ankle, which shines out of a lens at the top and a clear plastic panel on the thigh. Sorry for the shakycam image, but you get the idea.
The chest unfolds into a communicator. Pressing the red button plays one of eight sound effects
The belt is a digital watch.
The Hat recreates the Gadget-Copter of the cartoon. When you spin the blades, they turn a friction motor which creates a siren sound.
This toy is way better than it has any right to be. It’s sturdy, funky, and surprisingly satisfying. One of my great joys in collecting is uncovering elegant little pieces of cultural detritus which have been forgotten, yet possess their own innate charm and beauty.
|Posted 10 August, 2010 - 22:38 by The Enthusiast|