Recently there has been a boom in Nintendo merchandise and now for the first time ever, American toy company Jakks Pacific have made Super Mario playsets for tiny inch tall figures. These sets are based on the Wii U launch game New Super Mario Bros. U and feature playsets from game worlds 1 and 2 (Acorn Plains and Layer Cake Desert). Coming in three varieties each basic playset contains a figure or two and three level tiles. Also on offer are deluxe playsets which contain one figure and five level tiles as well as additional figurine packs for a variety of characters.
For the first time, consumers are now able to buy replica playsets based on level set pieces from Super Mario Bros. U. So far there are four three piece playsets and two deluxe five piece playsets. All of these sets have clips on the bottom that slot and connect together, similarly to a jigsaw. This means that arranging the pieces to create your own ‘levels’ is extremely simple with the level pieces being interchangeable with ease. Unfortunately these plastic pieces are not quite sturdy enough to hold securely in place after interlocking though, so they do wobble around when in use. Each set is painted and modelled really well and captures the essence of a 2D Mario platfroming game which is charming and of a good quality. Whist the bulk of the set is stury and well made, a small downside with the deluxe sets are the ‘item tiles’ meant to represent an item appearing from include question mark block. However rather than being modelled plastic, the items items are just images of the items on laminated cardboard which are small, easy to lose and very easy to damage over a short period of time.
There are a good selection of characters of both good and bad guys to collect and play with. Overall there are six character sets to collect (only one pack contains a double of which you can get two bob-ombs if you collect all the packs) with a wide variety of characters including obvious favourites such as Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi and Bowser. But they’ve also includes more niche characters such as Bowser Jr. and recent fan favourite Nabbit, something which came as a welcome surprise and a nice touch to add to the solid collection of characters. Unfortunately, due to their tiny size the quality of the paint job suffers on the more detailed characters meaning that more often than not, when searching through the racks of toys you will be undoubtedly searching for the set that ‘has the best paint job’. Something that was ultimately disappointing for me. Along with bad paint work there is also a copywrite stamp on one figure in each character pack which is extremely obnoxious and really degrades the quality of a nice figure. And a more prominent issue is that most of the characters – especially characters like the bob-omb – have trouble standing up. They need to be balanced perfectly or else they will fall over and even a small wobble can send a group of figures crashing down. Despite this having a large group of figures occupying your playset is very rewarding and you soon build an impressively colourful army populated with all of your favourite Mario characters.
The packages present themselves fairly well. They stand up without assistance, even the small figure packs stand up without toppling over and the sets inside the package present themselves through a large viewing window if you decide not to open them. Although the likelyhood is there is no way you will keep it in the box for long. Unboxing the items is fairly simple process, where the playsets are held in with a couple of transparent twisty ties and they are very easy to remove allowing the level tiles to pop out with ease. The characters however are much harder to remove to the point where I was worried I would break them when trying to removing them from the packaging, so be sure to take care and maybe try cutting the characters out of the package rather than trying to pop them out of the plastic.
£15 Deluxe set (Containing five interchangeable tiles and one figure and 4 powerup tiles)
£8-10 Playset (Containing three interchangeable tiles and between 1-2 figures)
£5 Per figure 3 pack (with a total of 6 additional figure packs)
To some, the prices of these figures might be enough to put some consumers off. The sets whist not such a bad price the characters especially are a lot of money for what seems to be tiny plastic pieces, but I assure you that they complement the main playsets perfectly and work really well as part of a gift or as a toy to buy with pocket money.
- Sets are study well constructed for immediate play
- A solid selection of characters to collect
- Bright colours make the sets pop
- Great fun with a good variety of gimmicks and interactivity for kids
- Fantastic set piece for display – especially when populated with extra figures
- Figures don’t stand very well
- Figures are often badly painted so you have to examine the package for the ‘best painted’ ones
- Obnoxious copywrite printing ruins some of the larger figures
- Item tiles are flimsy and boring accessories
- A tad expensive for size
Overall despite the shortcoming of the tiny figures (low paint quality and high price tag), they make for a fantastic toy, allowing for creative arrangements facilitating storytelling within a childs imagination, and it’s great that they easily swapped around. For older fans they make an almost equally fitting display piece, and it’s great to simply view a 3D Mario level on your shelf. Overall these new playsets are not to be missed and are hopefully a range that Jakks Pacific continue expand upon moving forward.