email rudy

Robots : Rodney Copperbottom Review
By Rudy Panucci

This spring brings us the new computer-animated feature film "Robots" from director Chris Wedge, and his Blue Sky Studio. These are the folks who brought us the terrific "Ice Age" and their new movie is a beautiful work of art, all about Robots. This is a story set on an entire planet populated by Robots. The film is designed by William Joyce (Rolie Polie Olie) and these characters are tailor-made for toys! Animation junkies have been salivating over this film for a couple of years.

Seriously, Chris Wedge is a pioneer of computer animation who's been plying his trade as long as the folks at Pixar. I remember seeing his early films, done at Ohio State University, nearly twenty years ago. It's great to see his hard work and innovations pay off with the big-time movie money.

One major advantage of basing a toy line on CGI characters is that there is no reason that the toys can't look exactly like they do on the screen. The characters are designed in three dimensions, and translating them into toy form is a piece of cake, compared to traditionally animated characters. A couple of years ago I predicted in that there would be an extensive toy line based on this movie in the Action Figure Zone. I'm not tooting my own horn there, this was a no-brainer. After the smash success of "Ice Age" and the ultra-cool subject matter, how could a toy company pass this up?

Mattel snapped up the rights, and they've done a wonderful job. The figure I'm reviewing here is the star of the movie, Rodney Copperbottom. Thus far, he's the only character to get the 12" treatment, but others are sure to follow if these toys catch on (sadly that's not a sure thing in today's toy climate).

This is an exquisite figure. It perfectly captures the feel of William Joyce's design, which is a wonderful amalgam of steampunk, art deco, and 1950's automotive design. Rodney looks like a cross between a toaster and a '57 Chevy, and oozes personality. He sports a very retro blue and cream colored paint job, and this figure comes with eleven snap-on parts that can turn him into a super robot with a beefier chest and legs and huge specialized arms.

With his color scheme and the general look of the styling, Rodney looks a lot like the "Studebaker" line of retro electronics that was sold at Target stores last Christmas. In fact, I think I caught him making eyes at my transistor radio. This is a look that I can't get enough of. I wish more electronics had the style that they had back in the previous century. Rodney carries on the tradition well. He's got just the right blend of retro-futurama.

This figure has at least 14 points of articulation (more if you take the snap-on accessories into account) and is just the right height to hang out with your GI Joes. You know, just in case the Adventure Team needs a robot butler, or something. Actually, if they do a 12" figure of Fender (the character that has the voice of Robin Williams) we'll have something that's a paint job and some minor tweaking away from being customized into the mechanical manservant from Alan Moore's "Tom Strong" comic book.

But I digress.

Rodney Copperbottom is a first-rate action figure, one of the best Mattel has offered us since Max Steel, and sells for a meager twenty bucks. So far they've only been sighted at Toys R Us, so there's a chance that, if these fellas turn up at other retailers, they may be even less expensive.

Quite a bargain for a 12" cool-looking robot. And not a bad souvenir of what promises to be a great movie, as well. We give Rodney Copperbottom a big thumbs up!