Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Making The K'nex-tion

It was sometime last year when my girlfriend and I really got into collecting minifigures. Since then we have put together her collection of Lego minifigures which now has been updated all the way up to series 10. So just as I thought I had seen all the minifigures there were to see, one day I came across a delightful surprise while checking out the toy aisle at Target, while visiting my sister in New York….

KISS minifigures! I took me awhile to realize what I had just found when my eyes stumbled upon another gem that was even better….BEATLES minifigures based off the Yellow Submarine cartoon! Now these were too good to be true!

After I got over my surprise I inspected the two packages more closely, they LOOKED like Lego minifigures…but they definitely were not. Now I had remotely heard of the toy brand K’nex…all I knew was that they made building blocks as well as a Mario Kart based line that were both compatible with Lego but that was about it. There really wasn’t anything more that they did that ever interested me….until now.

Lego, K'nex, Kre-o
As far as comparing them to Lego minifigures which to me are the standard that all other minifigures are compared to…there really isn’t much difference. Size-wise these guys are similar and they also sport the same simple articulation. It’s in the details and accessories where these guys REALLY shine.

Let’s start with the KISS set….you get the four original members of KISS, Gene Simmons as the Demon, Paul Stanley as the Starchild, Ace Frehley as the Space Ace, and finally Peter Criss as the Catman. The most iconic part of their costumes, the facepaint is faithfully recreated on each minifigure head…a nice mix of realistic but simplified for toy form. But that’s not all…almost all the other important details are there…Gene Simons has his high ponytail and demon tongue sticking out. Paul Stanley has his exposed chest complete with chest hair. And they all sport their signature high platform boots.

For accessories, each bandmember comes with their respective instruments including Gene Simmons axe shaped bass and a basic but complete drum set for Peter Criss! Amazing! And they could have easily stopped there, but didn’t. The set even includes a nice display stand complete with a stage backdrop with their famous name “KISS” in lights….just perfect!

Not to be outdone, the Beatles set also comes with all four Beatles, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Georg Harrison & Ringo Starr…all sporting their psychedelic outfits looking like they stepped straight out of the cartoon. Their faces remain faithful to the animation style and you will have no problem figuring out who’s who (shame on you if you don’t know your Beatles though :P)

For accessories, they each come with the brass & woodwind instruments that they used in the film. Ringo has a trumpet, George a tuba, Paul a flute and John leading the way with a trombone and marching band baton. All of these instruments are cool since its not everyday you see them in neat minifigure size. Like the KISS set, these guys also come with a nice display stand also with a backdrop this time featuring the Yellow Submarine.

And just when things couldn’t get any better, a few days later, while checking out Fao Schwarz in my last day in New York, I found this THIRD set!

Still the Beatles but this time sporting their Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club costumes! Now these guys were a little different as they sported additional articulation on their knees and elbows as well as ball jointed shoulders (apparently, KISS also has another similar set articulation wise coming out as well). While this only makes them slightly bigger than the other 2 sets, the added articulation does wonders in allowing them to hold their instruments more realistically. The instruments are the same from the previous Beatles set.

Aside from the added articulation though, I do love the attention the paid to the details of their head dresses with all the colorful bright feathers as well as their flowing beards and stuff. Unfortunately, this set didn’t come with a stand, but that didn’t stop me from cutting out the backdrop from the packaging and creating my very own backdrop for these guys.

These wonderful well thought-out sets have definitely given me a new found respect for the K’nex brand. Apparently these aren’t just one offs and they do have plans on expanding both brand lines. For KISS, they have a tour truck in the works whose trailer opens up and can be converted to a stage. Now I’ll probably skip on that, but what I’m pretty sure I’ll get once it is released is the Yellow Submarine set that they will be releasing for the Beatles line. Not only does it convert into a performance stage as well…but it comes with its own Blue Meanies! Now how could I ever resist that?