As someone who primarily collects action figures, but who has been known to enter into other areas of toy collecting to one degree or another from time to time, I find myself with a philosophical quandary regarding the toys based on Disney/Pixar's hit movie CARS:
Are the main toys from this line die-cast vehicles, or are they, in some sense, action figures of characters that themselves just happen to be automotive vehicles?
However one wishes to define them, there can be no doubt that the main toys from the CARS line, that is, the more-or-less Hot Wheels-sized character cars of Lightning McQueen, Mater, Sarge, Fillmore, and everybody else from that movie, have been one of those very rare movie-based toy lines that manages to keep in going, and very strongly, well after the movie has run its course.
While it is still possible to find Toy Story figures in the toy aisles -- and that was practically a "gimmie" anyway -- one is not especially likely to find any major toy presence for Bug's Life, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, or Monsters Inc. Don't get me wrong. Those were all very popular movies, and they all had very decent toy lines. But once the movie had run its course, those toy lines disappeared. That particular phenomenon is hardly restricted to Disney/Pixar movies, either.
CARS has proven to be one of those rare exceptions. Mattel still can hardly make them fast enough to satisfy the demand. For a while, the only real indication that there even was a toy line were empty hooks in toy departments with marked price tags. While that's no longer the case, the line is still certainly a top seller for Mattel.
It's relatively easy these days to pick up the main cast of the movie, and a fair percentage of the secondary cast that used to be impossible to find. But throw a new face into the crowd, and good luck tracking him down. Such was the case recently with YETI.
So who's Yeti? An odd name for a vehicle, certainly. Until one takes into consideration the fact that the Cars line has expanded to include vehicular versions of popular characters from other Disney/Pixar movies, most notably Toy Story and Monsters Inc. I have heard word that a couple of Cars based on characters from A Bug's Life are in the works, as well.
For Toy Story, there was a two-pack featuring Cars representing Buzz Lightyear and Sheriff Woody, as well as an individual car for Hamm, the piggy bank. For Monsters Inc., there was a two-pack representing Cars based on the lead characters Mike and Sulley. Now we have an individual Car representing Yeti.
So again -- who's Yeti? During the course of the movie Monsters Inc., Mike and Sulley find themselves exiled to the human world, specifically a frozen mountaintop apparently near Tibet. There they encounter the Abominable Snowman, known of course in the native language as the Yeti, who had been exiled from the monster world years before. Far from abominable, he proves to be a friendly if rather talkative sort who offers the two monster buddies shelter and snow-cones.
So -- what's he doing as a Car? Well, it seems that the movie "Monster Trucks Inc" is one of the hits playing at the Radiator Springs Drive-In. It's worth mentioning that the package art for the Mike and Sulley two-pack of Cars shows the two characters on the screen, in the midst of the same frozen wasteland that their non-vehicular versions were exiled to in "Monsters Inc", and where they encountered the Yeti. So it makes sense that he would be the third Monsters-based addition to the CARS lineup.
Now, as much as possible, the Cars based on other Disney/Pixar characters have tried to be logical extensions of the characters. This hasn't always been possible. Both Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story and Mike from Monsters Inc needed a little more creative approach to their designs. But the Cars version of Sheriff Woody does in fact greatly resemble a 1940's Woody, an actual car, and Sulley from Monsters Inc has indeed been designed to look like a monster truck!
With Yeti, we have yet another very logical extension of the character transformed into a vehicular form. Specifically -- he's a huge snow plow.
Yeti as a snow plow fits in very well in the Cars universe. Of course he's somewhat exaggerated to give him a certain amount of personality, but not so much so that he looks implausible as a vehicle, very much in keeping with most of the Cars designs, that for the most part look like passable cars with cartoonish faces.
Yeti has been molded mostly in a very pale blue-grey. He has a certain amount of dark blue trim on his sides, dark blue molded treads, and a shovel up front. One might expect his mouth to be the shovel, but it isn't. His visible mouth is on the front of the cab. Amusingly, he has the word "YETI" on his sides, but the "I" has been styled to look like a snow cone.
Interestingly, there are some rather considerable modifications that took place between the prototype, pictured on the back of the card, as well as the CGI-based illustration of the character on the front of the card, and the finished product. The illustration on the front seems to have much wider treads than the finished vehicle, and bizarrely, the shovel is missing entirely. The prototype shown on the back of the package card does have the shovel, and somewhat narrower treads, but the dark blue trim on the side of the cab is missing, as is the "YETI" word. Curiously, the headlamps on the prototype, which comprise Yeti's eyebrows, are painted yellow, while they are unpainted on the finished product, and unlit on the illustration.
None of this is a complaint whatsoever. Merely an interesting observation into the development of a toy. Honestly, I'm pleased that they added the additional trim on the side of the toy, especially the "YETI" word, and although I think it might have added a little bit more color to paint the headlamps, maybe it was a tradeoff between that and the side trim, and if so, I'd rather have the side trim.
A smattering of speckled snow has also been added to the treads and the shovel. While normally I dislike such "weathering", in this case it fits, and doesn't detract from the look of the toy.
It took me several months to track down Yeti from when I became aware of his existence. Frankly I was starting to think he was as elusive and hard to find as the legendary snow beast that BOTH the Monsters Inc and Cars versions are based on. But I finally found him one when a Mattel representive whom I have met before was in the store, and informed me that she had JUST unloaded a brand new shipment of Cars.
Hopefully YETI will become more available as the case assortments for
Cars are updated. Certainly he's a cool addition to the line, and will
appeal to anyone who is a fan of either CARS or Monsters Inc. As such,
YETI definitely has my recommendation!