Background The release of all mass market action figure lines based on TV or movie characters are timed to the initial release of the project as part of its promotional and marketing messages taking advantage of the promotions, P.R. and comsumer awareness. The figures themselves also act as advertising and promotional vehicles for the TV or movie on which they are based. Most movie/TV tie-in action figures are successful for the brief period of the theatrical release, the video/DVD release and the possibility of a successful sequel but rarely for any longer period. Typically the pattern for action figure sets is no more than a few dozen figures are released along with some playsets to serve as background dioramas, with sales dropping off a few months after the last film is released. The Kenner/Hasbro Star Wars movie line, in the marketplace since 1978, is considered the gold standard, with all the figures in the same scale. The closest TV equivalent might be the Star Trek line (also from Playmates Toys) though it is non-contiguous and not technically from one TV series. Level of Success The mass market appeal of The Simpsons encompasses everyone from young kids who loved the slapstick comedy to adults of all ages who appreciate that the jokes and situations that work on multiple levels of our intellect. Like other classic TV series, fans remember and quote the lines, and Playmates Toys managed to capture that appeal with its interactive playsets. Each figure came with its own “coded” chip generally set into the character’s foot that when contacted with the “trigger” tab on each playset would complete the circuit so by then pressing a nearby button, you would hear playback of one to five phrases for that character. Unique features included audio playback from the show and the actual voice actor; placing the Homer Simpson figure on an appropriate playset would trigger the playback of a quote as performed by Dan Castellaneta on the original episode. Each playset held quotes and voice clip performances for a variety of characters so that placing the Marge Simpson figure or the Bart figure would trigger different quotes and voice clips. One limitation was that not every character worked with every playset some for story logic reasons (character might not appear at that setting), release logistics (figures released long after a playset) or presumably for cost reasons (as each voice clip had to be approved and licensed). The sets were released during the dot-com bubble and a healthy economic environment in the United States. The figures themselves cost between $5.99 USD and $7.99 USD each, while the playsets generally ranged from $20 USD to $25 USD at the end of 2004. There were also special releases that were in the $60 USD range. Even at minimal retail, 200+ figures and 40 playsets meant a large financial commitment. In addition, there were a dozen exclusives and mail-in figures that required extra work to obtain the figures often via an online auction. However, the early success of the series and the healthy economy added extra momentum to the line for a few more years. Fan interaction The World of Springfield line set a new standard of company/fan interaction in its relationship between Playmates Toys and the collectors, specifically based at the Simpsons Collector Sector (SCS) website and forums. Starting in mid-2001, with contacts from board moderator Michael Crawford, Playmates executives (first Jeff Trojan and later Pat Linden) reached out to the collectors in a mutually beneficial relationship fans got input into the line; the company got free market research. Playmates Toys answered a monthly Q&A from collectors, and regularly gave exclusive details about upcoming products to the SCS website directly. Collectors had opportunities to affect the line’s future on a few occasions. Collectors were asked to give suggestions on what figures and playsets they wanted to see; polls were generated. The results of these polls had an impact on future lineups, with collectors getting many of the figures they had requested. This interaction reached a peak in 2003 when the Simpsons Collector Sector hosted a panel discussion at the San Diego Comic Con that July. A representative from Playmates Toys was the featured guest and engaged in Q&A with attendees and handed out free figures to all. Fans continued to have a voice through the end of the line, although larger issues such as voice contracts and licensor disagreements sometimes prevented collectors from getting everything they wanted. This model of interaction has been followed by many other toy companies since. A controversial incident occurred in summer 2001 after the release of a ToyFare mail-away figure, Pin Pal Burns. Fans complained about the unfair way ToyFare handled the offer. Playmates responded by having ToyFare make later offers available online and eventually ending World of Simpsons offers from ToyFare entirely. Conversely, fan enthusiasm helped revive products that had been cancelled at one point, including the deluxe Main Street playset and the Moe’s Tavern playset. The line end The line ended in mid-2004 due to a number of factors, most importantly slow sales. There were a number of factors that contributed to the declining sales, including “collectors fatigue”, the release pattern of the figures, the sheer size of the line being difficult for newcomers, the slowing economy, the changing toy retail situation, and Playmates Toys’ relationship with 20th Century Fox. List of figures and playsets Wave one Release date: January 2000 Homer Simpson – With donut, Duff Beer can, remote control and packet of “Salty Snax” Bart Simpson – With Santa’s Little Helper, skateboard, slingshot, and spray paint can Lisa Simpson – With saxophone, stack of school books and Snowball Grampa Abraham Simpson – With removable glasses, newspaper and magnifying glass Charles Montgomery Burns – With money stacks and Blinky Krusty the Clown – With video camera, Krusty-O’s, Krusty Burger, Krusty Fries and Krusty Shake Wave one playsets Release date: February 2000 Simpsons Living Room with Marge and Maggie Simpson – With TV, tray of cookies and bag of groceries Nuclear Power Plant with Radioactive Homer With hood, barrel of nuclear waste, plate of donuts and tongs with radioactive rod Wave two Release date: August 2000 Pin Pal Homer – With bowling ball and bowling bag Barney Gumble – With sub sandwich and beer mug Ned Flanders – With Bible, removable glasses, chef’s hat and spatula Waylon Smithers – With clipboard, removable glasses and Mr Burns’ picture Chief Clancy Wiggum – With coffee, nightstick and donut Sunday Best Bart With slingshot, Bible and Radioactive Man comic Wave two playsets Release date: August 2000 Kwik-E-Mart with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon – With hot dog and Squishy Springfield Elementary with Principal Seymour Skinner – With American flag and clipboard Wave three Release date: January 2001 Sunday Best Homer With Bible, radio and foam hand Nelson Muntz – With baseball bat, spray can, water balloon and paper airplane Moe Szyslak – With rag, beer mug and phone Kamp Krusty Bart – With bow and arrow, slingshot, quiver with arrows and can of “Imitation Gruel” Milhouse Van Houten – With ice cream cone, Squishy and walkie talkie Otto Mann – With guitar and headphones Wave three playsets Release date: January 2001 Town Hall with Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby – With Mayor sash, briefcase of money and “Vote Quimby” sign Krustylu Studios with Sideshow Bob Terwilliger – With knife, axe, bomb, light and “Die Bart” license plate Wave four Release date: April 2001 Lenny Leonard – With plate of donuts, beer mug and bowling bag Ralph Wiggum – With stack of books, toy rocket, keys on a chain and Radioactive Man comic Patty Bouvier – With video, clipboard and picture of Principal Skinner Groundskeeper Willie – With shovel and rake Casual Homer With remote control, Duff beer, sunglasses and “Salty Snax” Itchy & Scratchy – With mallet and axe Wave four playsets Release date: April 2001 Androids Dungeon Comic Book Shop with Comic Book Guy – With a half-eaten cheeseburger and a shake Barney’s Bowl-A-Rama with Pin Pal Apu – With bowling ball and bag Wave five Release date: July 2001 Kent Brockman – With half-eaten donut, clipboard and microphone Sea Captain McCalister With harpoon and a can of tuna Bartman With three comics, slingshot and toy rocket Martin Prince – With apple, clipboard, magnifying glass, stack of books and cookie tray Sideshow Mel With cannon and slide whistle Bumblebee Man With clipboard, bowl, spoon and video camera Wave six Release date: September 2001 Doctor Julius Hibbert With stethoscope, medical bag, clipboard, reflex hammer and ‘shot gun’ Snake Jailbird With gun, bag of money and handcuffs “Bleeding Gums” Murphy With saxophone and “Sax on the Beach” album Carl Carlson – With container of donuts, beer mug, donut, bowling bag and drum of radioactive waste Isotopes Mascot Homer – With hat, number 1 hand and radio Professor John Frink – With clipboard, flask, rack of 3 test tubes and braniac cap Wave six playsets Release date: September 2001 First Church of Springfield with Reverend Timothy Lovejoy – With Bible, toy train and conductor’s hat Noiseland Arcade with Jimbo Jones With melting ice cream sandwich, video cassette and video camera Wave seven Release date: December 2001 Dolph With water balloon, yo-yo, comic book and Squishy Cletus – With boots, moonshine, picture of Brandine Spuckler and roadkill Mrs. Edna Krabappel – With clipboard, photo frame, pen, and can of food Officer Lou With night stick, gun, donuts in tray and handcuffs Hans Moleman – With magnifying glass, cane, clipboard and football Officer Marge – With night stick, gun, counterfeit jeans, clipboard and handcuffs Wave seven playsets Release date: December 2001 The Simpsons Kitchen with Muumuu Homer – With hat, can of “Much Ado about Stuffing” and weigh scale Krusty Burger with Squeeky Voiced Teen With tray, burger box, French fries and cup Wave eight Release date: March 2002 Kearney Zzyzwicz With spray can, Newton, Squishy and bat Sherri and Terri With jump rope Ragin’ Willie – With tub of grease, shotgun and flask ter With bag of chips, two pieces of candy and stack of books Superintendent Chalmers With coffee cup, clipboard and phone Daredevil Bart – With skateboard, helmet and autographed picture of Lance Murdock Wave eight playsets Release date: March 2002 Springfield DMV with Selma Bouvier – With rope barrier and Jub-Jub Springfield Elementary Cafeteria with Lunchlady Doris With spoon, rat and sneeze guard Wave nine Release date: June 2002 Rod and Todd Flanders With picture of Maude and board game Busted Krusty – With gun, bag of money, handcuffs and Number 4 sign Prison Sideshow Bob – With rake, small knife, bomb and detonator Sunday Best Grandpa With bottle of aspirin, fez hat, Bible, jar of pomade and stick of beef jerky Disco Stu With album, sales chart and disco ball Sunday Best Lisa With chocolate Easter bunny, removable hat and donation plate Wave nine playsets Release date: June 2002 Police Station with Officer Eddie With handcuffs, desk, nightstick and gun Springfield Retirement Castle with Jasper Beardly With potted plant, TV and cane Wave ten Release date: October 2002 Stonecutter Homer – With Stonecutter book, framed certificate, hat and beer stein Wendell Borton With banana, apple, orange, stack of books and barf bag Sunday Best Marge and Maggie With purse, hats and Bible Scout Leader Flanders With scout knife, book on knife safety, removable scout’s hat, removable glasses, half a pine cone and flare gun Dr. Marvin Monroe With foam bat, cash, clipboard and diploma Resort Smithers With phone, bag of pineapples and suitcase Wave ten playsets Release date: October 2002 Burns Manor with Pajama Burns With snow globe, red chair, grate and Bobo Hospital with Doctor Nick With Buzz Cola can, open pizza box, table, rack of 4 test tubes, jar of cotton and 3 medical tools Wave eleven Release date: December 2002 Larry Burns – With picture of young Mr Burns, Springfield sign, “Gone Drinkin'” sign and briefcase Plow King Barney – With cell phone, crown, baby bottle, hampagne bottle in ice and baseball bat Blue Haired Lawyer With evidence tape, briefcase, legal pad, pencil and bottle of Colonel Kwik-E-Mart’s Kentucky Bourbon Kirk Van Houten With folder of divorce notes, tissue box, notepad and demo tape Gil With Dolceo computer, poker chips, foot ruler, tongs with stinky socks and bottle of seltzer Rainier Wolfcastle – With dumbbell, trophy, Radioactive Man script and Powersauce Bar Wave eleven playset Release date: December 2002 Court Room with Judge Snyder – With American flag, gavel, law book and guilty verdict Note: From 2003 forward, only one playset was released in conjunction with each wave Wave twelve Release date: April 2003 Number One – With beer stein, Stonecutter book and paddle Database With lunch tray, stack of books and a small horn Mister Dewey Largo With metronome, music stand, baton, chalk holder and sheet music Don Vittorio With clown bicycle, seltzer bottle, folded wad of money and gun Luann Van Houten With moving boxes, tape dispenser and can of lighter fluid Mister Plow Homer – With key to the city, “Stock for V.P.” T-shirt, stack of Mr. Plow flyers Wave twelve playset Release date: April 2003 Bart’s Treehouse with Military Bart – With helmet, sunglasses, pile of water balloons, binoculars, baton and desk Wave thirteen Release date: July 2003 Helen Lovejoy With shopping bag, “Holy Rollers” bowling bag, bowling trophy and wrestling poster for El Bombastico Freddy Quimby – With golf bag, golf club, surfboard and bowl of chowder Tuxedo Krusty – With microphone, microphone stand, coffee cup, Gabbo newspaper headline and jewel encrusted clown nose Legs With switchblade, rifle, picture of the missing Skinner and a bill counter Princess Kashmir With framed picture of her and Homer, camera and boombox Doctor Stephen Hawking – With a beer mug. Hawking’s wheelchair had removable rockets, a removable propeller and a removable boxing glove Wave thirteen playset Release date: July 2003 Military Antique Store with Herman With a dirigible, warhead, two swords, rope barrier, riding crop and rifle Wave fourteen Release date October 2003 Louie With rifle, martini glass, carton of rat milk and briefcase of money Kilted Willie With Loch Ness Monster doll, bagpipes, hat and tripod Ms. Botz – With suitcase, “Happy Little Elves” video, rope and tape Luigi With open pizza box, bottle of wine and restaurant sign Sarcastic Man With “World’s Greatest Jacket”, nightvision goggles and the “ultimate” belt Miss Hoover With coffee mug, “Teacher’s Edition” book, bag of standardized tests and “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!” sign Wave fourteen playset Release date: October 2003 Aztec Theater with McBain With two guns and a hand grenade Wave fifteen Release date: January 2004 Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon With Buzz Cola bottle (with nipple for the babies), a laundry basket of clothes and a heavy stack of Wuv’s diapers Sandeep, Sashi, Poonam, Uma, Gheet, Nabendu, Anoop, and Pria Nahasapeemapetilon (The Octuplets) – With stroller Handsome Moe – With eye patch, coaster, Duff calendar (with damage from the stickers) and plot book Deep Space Homer – With intelligent monkey, carbon rod and packet of “Salty Snax” Brandine With boots, “Classy Lady” shirt and scarf “Worst Episode Ever” Comic Book Guy – With 4 comics Wave fifteen playset Release date: January 2004 Nuclear Power Plant Lunchroom with Frank Grimes – With small table, flask of acid, Grimes’ lunch bag, sandwich, tray of donuts and a plate of mushrooms Wave sixteen Release date: June 2004 Squishee Bender Bart With Squishy, funnel and comic book Agnes Skinner With picture of Skinner, keys, head pillow and locket Devil Homer With pitchfork Artie Ziff With prom king crown, trophy and picture of him and Marge Doug With “Petting Zoo hat” and computer Benjamin & Gary With 2 “Petting Zoo” hats Wave sixteen playset Release date: September 2004 Town Square with Jedbediah Springfield With removable head of Jebediah’s statue and backpack Toyfare exclusives Release date: October 2000 Radioactive Glow-In-The-Dark Homer With glow in the dark plate of donuts and tongs Release date: July 2001 Pin Pal Burns With bowling ball and bag Release date: October 2001 Boxing Homer With two boxing gloves Release date: December 2001 Convention Comic Book Guy With a comic Release date: December 2001 Pin Pal Moe With bowling ball and bag Toys-R-Us exclusives Release date: September 2000 Treehouse of Horror 1 Springfield Cemetery with Devil Flanders, Bart as the Fly, Vampire Burns, and Ape Homer – With pitchfork and evil Krusty doll Release date: September 2001 Treehouse of Horror 2 Alien Spaceship with Spaceship Homer, Kang and Kodos – With book on How to cook for humans and Space probe Release date: August 2002 Treehouse of Horror 3 Ironic Punishment with Dream Invader Willie, Witch Marge, Hugo, and Donut Head Homer – With donut, broom, rake and human parts in a tub Release date: September 2003 Treehouse of Horror 4 Underground Lair with Stretch Dude Bart, Lucy Lawless, Clobber Girl Lisa, and The Collector With the Collecter’s ray gun Release date: August 2002 Barney’s Bowl-A-Rama with Bowling Marge and Jauques – With two balling balls and a bowling bag Release date: October 2003 Simpson’s Rumpus Room with Tracy Ullman Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie – With boxing gloves, ball, mallet and punching bag Release date: November 2001 Simpson’s Christmas w/ [[Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire
Holiday Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie on Santa’s Little Helper – With piano Release date: September 2002 Main Street with Crazy Old Man and Squeaky Voiced Teen With hat and cane Release date: April 2002 Lurleen Lumpkin’s Trailer with Colonel Homer and Lurleen Lumpkin – With Colonel Homer hat and guitar Release date: November 2002 New Years Town Square with New Years Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie With large noise maker, small noise maker, martini glass, party hooter, Flagpole, 2003 flag, horn and star Release date: September 2003 Be Sharps Centennial with Doolittle Wiggum With microphone EB Games exclusives Release date: September 2001 Lunar Base with Rainer Wolfcastle as Radioactive Man and Milhouse as Fallout Boy – With barrel of acid, script and flag Release date: October 2002 KBBL Radio Station with Bill and Marty With two headphones and two microphones Release date: October 2003 Future with Future Burns, Future Smithers, and Smithers as Bobo With ragged Bobo Release date: April 2002 High School Prom with High School Homer and High School Marge With corsage Release date: January 2003 Moe’s Tavern with Duffman With beer glass Mail away Release date: Late 2002 Be Sharp Homer – With cane and straw hat Release date: Early 2003 Be Sharp Apu – With cane and straw hat Release date: May 2003 Be Sharp Skinner – With cane and straw hat Release date: Late 2003 Be Sharp Barney – With cane and straw hat Release date: Late 2003 Stonecutter Moe – With beer stein, paddle and damaged certificate Release date: Early 2004 Stonecutter Lenny – With paddle, book and beer stein Release date: October 2002 Llewellyn Sinclair (Voiced by Jon Lovitz) – With pen, newspaper review, “Ayn Rand School for Tots” and script Release date: October 2002 Cooder (Voiced by Jim Varney) – With tackle box, money bundles, rings for the ring toss and oversized comb Celebrity Voices wave one Release date: February 2002 Troy McClure (Voiced by Phil Hartman) – With 2 videos, phone, clipboard and microphone Herb Powell (Voiced by Danny DeVito) – With cell phone, clipboard, briefcase and drawing board with plans for the baby translator Fat Tony (Voiced by Joe Mantegna) – With gun, bat, cigar and bundle of money Celebrity Voices wave two Release date: June 2002 Lionel Hutz (Voiced by Phil Hartman) – With diploma, briefcase, monkey statue and business card Brad Goodman (Voiced by Albert Brooks) – With cup, book, can, seminar sign and video tape Celebrity Voices wave three Release date: October 2002 Hank Scorpio (Voiced by Albert Brooks) – With a grenade, walkie-talkie and flame-thrower This item was available as part of Wave Ten Dioramas Release date: July 2003 Outside Simpsons House with Homer, Marge, and Maggie Outside Kwik-E-Mart with Grandpa & Apu Outside Krustylu Studios with Krusty & Milhouse Re-release Release date: April 2003 Moe Mr. Burns Vehicles Technically not part of World of Springfield, these vehicles were made by Playmates Toys in June 2001 and in August 2002, and are considered part of the line by some fans. The vehicles did not interact with the other World of Springfield items, and weren’t actually able to hold any figures from the line, but by moving the characters that came with the vehicle to the right or the left or by pressing the car’s hood a conversation could be created between the characters. Family Car with Homer, Marge, Bart, Santa’s Little Helper, Lisa, and Maggie. Release date: June 2001 School Bus with Martin, Milhouse, Ralph, Bart, Lisa and Otto. Release date: August 2002 KayBee Toys exclusive In August 2002 Playmates Toys released a series of figures through the retail store KB Toys based on the “When Bongos Collide” storyline from Bongo Comics. It featured Simpsons characters transformed into superheroes. The initial three-pack of figures included Homer Simpson as the Indigestible Bulk, Apu as Captain Kwik, and Ms. Krabappel as Vampiredna. Two more three-packs were planned (featuring Marge as the Entangler, Lisa as the Jazzler, Maggie as Brainbaby, Grampa as Oldblood member Coda, and Skinner as The Stickler, and Willie as the Plaid Piper), but the line was cancelled as soon as it hit retail. Cancelled items As in most toy lines, items are planned for release that for a number of reasons (cost issues, low retailer interest) never end up being produced and/or released. Many items were cancelled from the World of Springfield line; a complete list is available in the Simpsons Collector Sector’s Release Guide. Cancelled figures Rabbi Krustofsky – Was to be include in the Series 2 line of Celebrity Figures, but was cancelled, supposedly because Jackie Mason withdrew his approval. Lyle Lanley – Originally part of the Series 3 line of Celebrity Figures, but was replaced by Cooder. Malloy – Originally part of Series 12, but was replaced by Number One. Stonecutter Wiggum – Was cancelled when the World of Springfield line ended. Was going to be part of the Mail Away figures. Cancelled playsets Flander’s Rumpus Room with Maude Flanders – Was originally going to be the playset for the Wave 18 line, but was cancelled when the World of Springfield line ended Springfield Elementary Playground with Janey – Was going to be a part of the Wave 17 line, but was cancelled for unknown reasons Stonecutter Hall withStonecutter Carl – Was going to be a Toys-R-Us exclusive, but was cancelled due to slow sales of the Be Sharps playset and the end of World of Springfield line 300th Episode Special: Bart’s Loft with Skateboarding Homer, Pajama Bart, “Indian Burn” Lisa, and Casual Skinner – Was cancelled for unknown reasons Oval Office with President Lisa, Old Homer, Old Marge, Grownup Bart, and Maggie Jr. – Was planned as a Toys-R-Us exclusive, but cancelled due to slow sales in previous exclusives Cancelled waves Wave 17: Ninja Bart, Richard & Lewis, Arnie Pie, Bigfoot Homer, Flying Hellfish Grampa, and Cecil Terwilliger (Voiced by David Hyde Pierce) Wave 18: Lindsay Naegle, Tuxedo Kang, Tuxedo Kodos, Uncle Moe, Sanjay, and Akira (Voiced by George Takei) External links World of Springfield The Simpsons The official website of The Simpsons television show A list of the characters with pictures, phrases, accessory lists, compatible playsets, etc. For a detailed history of the World of Simpsons line, see Michael Crawford’s ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World of Springfield!’ vde The Simpsons franchise Characters Homer Marge Bart Lisa Maggie Other characters Production History Cast members Guest stars Non-English versions Writers Directors Awards Media releases Episodes Tracey Ullman shorts The Simpsons Movie Discography Seasons 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Hallmarks Opening sequence Theme song Treehouse of Horror episodes Couch gags Themes Media Politics Religion Locations Springfield Shelbyville 742 Evergreen Terrace Springfield Elementary School Kwik-E-Mart Other locations Merchandise DVDs Video games Books Comics Simpsons Illustrated World of Springfield Miscellaneous “D’oh!” Products Duff Beer The Simpsons Ride 20th Anniversary Special Portal Category Categories: The Simpsons merchandise se
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