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By Thomas Wheeler

With Disney/Pixar's latest movie, THE INCREDIBLES (see reviews in Entertainment Zone), having netted $80 million in its first weekend, a record for any Pixar effort, and anything with the name Pixar on it is practically a sure thing, it's no surprise that there is an abundance of toys available. Most of these are made by Disney's present main toy licensee, Hasbro.

Now, Hasbro's done a good job filling the shelves at Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart, Target, and everywhere else. There's mini-figures, non-poseable but an extensive line good for display; medium-scale action figures, and large, 12" scale action figures, as well as vehicles, playsets, and a wide range of assorted merchandise.

However, in my opinion, the two best toy sets for THE INCREDIBLES -- did not originate with Hasbro.

One originated with ThinkWay, which has been a producer of Disney toys, especially Disney/Pixar toys, since the original Toy Story. They still turn out a generous sampling of Buzz Lightyear figures exclusive to the Disney Store. Fortunately, this new Incredibles set is not a Disney Store exclusive, although it is available there, as well as Toys "R" Us.

It's a set of three, 12" scale, interactive electronic action figures, including Mr. Incredible, his son Dash, and the villain Syndrome. The figures are clearly very highly poseable, are superb likenesses of the characters from the movie, and each can talk on his own, or be set up for an interactive conversation. The set retails for $40.00, which isn't bad for three 12" scale action figures (2-1/2 if you want to get picky about Dash's size) with these sorts of capabilities.

The other series of toys I want to mention is exclusive to the Disney Store. I have no idea who the manufacturer might have been. It's not listed on the package. For all I know, it might've been Hasbro. It might've been ThinkWay. It could've been McFarlane Toys for all I know, but the lack of blood and gore makes me think it wasn't (!)

The one problem, if it can be called that, with the main Hasbro line of Incredibles action figures is that most of them have some sort of built-in action feature that their "play value" is highly dependent upon, and that in some cases could be a hindrance to the figure's design and articulation. I'm not saying this is so in every case. It is worth mentioning that some of their large-scale Incredibles figures don't look like they're articulated worth a darn.

So, what do you do if you're interested in a line of just nice, basic, fairly gimmick-free, well-designed, and nicely-articulated Incredibles action figures? You go to the Disney Store. They had half a wall of them there.

They had some other stuff. What's funny is that whoever made these figures for the Disney Store produced a "fashion doll" of Violet, the young teenage daughter of the Incredibles. So did Hasbro. And comparing the similarities and differences can be quite amusing, but I'm not going to get into that here. This review is for the action figures.

There are six figures available in the series. Mr. Incredible, Helen (ElastiGirl) who comes with infant son Jack-Jack, Dash, Violet, family friend Frozone, and the villain Syndrome. He was the only one I didn't bother with. Just too much of a creep, frankly. I didn't buy him even though the day I picked these figures up, they were on sale for 25% off. I don't think this was a clearance sale. I think now that the movie's out, the Disney Store knows they are likely to sell more than enough figures to compensate for the sale, however long it lasts.

These figures are overall excellent. They look like their movie counterparts, they are articulated at the arms, elbows, waists, legs, and knees -- and in a few cases go beyond that with swivel arms, wrists, or ankles. Each has accessories of some sort. Frozone comes with skis. They all come with kid-sized rings and collector cards. Mr. Incredible, Dash, and Helen have light-up insignias.

There's a few minor issues. The kids are not to scale with the adults. Of course, if they had been, the result would've been some pretty small kids, or some distinctly larger adults. A couple of them have trouble standing. Mr. Incredible and Dash have pretty tiny feet. For a CGI movie, that's fine. For a real-world plastic action figure, it creates some problems. And I'm not fond of the rather lopsided eyes that Violet's headsculpt has. Makes her look like she's been smokng something illegal, and there was certainly no indication of that in the movie.

My only real complaint is with the packaging. Three layers of plastic, hermetically sealed, no easy way to open it, and then the figures are held in place with half a dozen miserable little plastic-coated twist-ties. If you buy these, I suggest you arm yourself with an X-Acto knife, a pair of sharp scissors or small wire cutters, two aspirin, a couple of Band-Aids, and your favorite swear words, although I'm sure that Mr. Incredible wouldn't approve of that last one.

I have no idea how long these toys may be available. Over the years, it seems that the only Pixar movie that's had real staying power in the toy aisles has been Toy Story. We all may think fondly of Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., or A Bug's Life, but go try to find toys based on them anymore. Buzz Lightyear's still around, but Flik and Sulley hit the clearance section years ago.

Having said that, if you enjoyed THE INCREDIBLES and want some really nice plastic counterparts of them around, then I highly recommend paying a visit to your nearest Disney Store. These figures are also available online, through DisneyDirect.Com. But -- I wouldn't wait too long. These toys might race out of the stores faster than Dash, and vanish for good quicker than Violet. And that wouldn't be Incredible. It'd just be a darn shame if you missed out.