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REVIEW:
DISNEY STORE TOY STORY EXCLUSIVES
By Thomas Wheeler



In the original "Toy Story" movie, the character of Sheriff Woody, an old-fashioned semi-stuffed pullstring-talking Western-style doll, was deeply concerned about his status as "favorite toy" among the toy population belonging to a young boy named Andy, when Buzz Lightyear, an all-plastic, articulated, electronic-talking, spring-winged Space Ranger action figure came upon the scene.

One look in the Disney Store around the Christmas season of 2005, also the tenth anniversary of that movie, would've given Sheriff Woody some real justification for his concerns. Multiple versions of Buzz Lightyear were everywhere.

Hasbro may have the main Disney toy license, but they're hardly the only producer of Disney toys, especially in the world of Toy Story. ThinkWay Toys, actually the very first producer of Toy Story toys, has continued to produce Toy Story figures, mostly in the form of special electronic versions of the highly popular 12" Buzz Lightyear, straight through both Mattel's and Hasbro's runs with the Disney/Pixar concept. This year was no exception, where they actually came up with a remote controlled Buzz Lightyear. He was a little out of my price range, but I have to admit, he was pretty impressive.

Then there's those mysterious toys that just say, "Manufactured for the Disney Store" on their packages. By WHO, huh? I hate mysteries. This isn't necessarily a complaint about the toys. Quality of product is not an issue here, as it often is with anonymous, second-rate toy products that generally end up in the bargain bins at places like Dollar General. There's nothing wrong with these toys. I just don't like mysteries.

It should be noted that, technically, the Disney Stores are no longer operated by Disney. Even the packages to these toys read, "Disney Store is owned and operated by a subsidary of The Children's Place Retail Stores, Inc.", although I'm sure Disney keeps some watch over them. These particular toys were "Imported by Hoop Canada Inc", and it's worth noting that while the packages have some bilingual traits, the second language on them is French, not Spanish as one might expect in America today. French would tend to indicate that these toys are also intended for Canada.

Right before Christmas last year, the Disney Store received four new Buzz Lightyear action figures. I purchased two of them for a general observational review, although thanks to the package information, I can report on all four.

The two I DIDN'T buy were "Terra Whomper Buzz" and "Blaster Wheels Buzz". Each of these four toys features a largely identical 6" Buzz Lightyear figure. The color trim differs from one to another, but they all seem to come out of the same set of molds.

Articulation is -- interesting. The arms are quite well articulated, the legs not so much. Buzz's overall proportions have been altered just a bit, to make him a little more cartoonish. Basically, his legs are more exaggerated than they used to be, especially his boots. He sort of looks like an anime artist got hold of him and only did half a job.

Each of the four Buzz figures comes with a different set of accessories, generally some pretty impressive equipment. Let's consider the two I did
purchase:

ROCKET LUGE BUZZ - This is a 6" Buzz Lightyear figure with yellow and dark blue trim, and he comes with what is easily the most impressive equipment of any of the four figures. It looks like a cross between a sled and an Indy race car. It's a six-wheeled vehicle, with a huge futuristic "spoiler" in the back. The "luge" part comes into play since clearly, Buzz is supposed to ride this thing while lying down. I dunno, if I were in a vehicle that could go as fast as this thing looks like it's capable of going, I think I'd want to see where I was going.

LUNAR CLIMBER BUZZ - I chose this Buzz because I liked the name "Lunar Climber", and because the figure seemed to have the most complex equipment of the four. Basically, it looks like futuristic, and admittedly somewhat cartoonish, mountaineering equipment, crossed with some additional astronaut-type equipment that would let the famed "Space Ranger" set down on a planet with some specialized hardware and scale the nearest lunar valley walls or some such. The amount of detail on this one is really quite impressive, especially the device on the right wrist.

Both TERRA WHOMPER BUZZ and BLASTER WHEELS BUZZ looked to include what amounted to overworked roller skates, and that was just a little too silly for me. Although frankly, given the reddish coloration of the suit details and equipment that came with "Terra Whomper Buzz", they should've named him "Mars Whomper Buzz" or some such. Might've made it a little more appealing, although given the fact that these toys seemed to pretty well fly out of the Disney Store in the mall near me quicker than you could say "To Infinity and Beyond", I don't think poor sales were an issue.

It's nice to see that the Toy Story concept retains its popularity, though. It was a cool couple of movies, and the possibility of further sequels remains. And I believe that any fan of Toy Story, and especially Buzz Lightyear, would be impressed with this new assortment of figures. Sheriff Woody might have to worry a bit, but we don't. I definitely recommend any of these figures, and if you don't have a Disney Store in your area, you might be able to find them online at DisneyStore.Com.

To Infinity -- And Beyond!