When I became a dad for the first time it made me get reacquainted with children’s television. I’m guessing all new parents go through this where they watch shows with their little one and find a great many of them intolerable. Perhaps that’s too strong a word, but it did cause me to reflect on what I was watching at a young age. And some of that was the same, namely Sesame Street which is like a rite of passage in the US. I watched a lot of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood which basically has a sequel series in the form of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood which my kids watched a little of. There was also a lot of new stuff which didn’t click with me, because why would it? I’m not the intended audience, but it did have the affect of making me want to share the stuff I liked with my own children.
That temptation is essentially a form of nostalgia and it’s also big business. Go to any kid’s clothing retailer and you’ll find clothing with 80s and 90s properties that children today are not exposed to unless it’s through their parents. That stuff is for the parents to clad their children in. And it’s fine, having kids is pretty fun and that’s part of it. You also only get so many years to dress your kids as you want before they develop their own tastes. For me, I wanted to show my kids the old cartoons I grew up with. This may come as a shock, but I wasn’t in a rush to show them Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Why? Because that cartoon sucks. I may have loved it as a kid, but it’s very much a relic of it’s time and not meant to cross the generational divide. Cartoon shorts from animation’s golden age? That stuff had already stood the test of time and it was those cartoons that I made sure to seek out. I already had a pretty large collection of Disney shorts via the Walt Disney Treasures line, but a gap in my collection was definitely the stuff from Warner Bros. Part of that was they just didn’t release their shorts in a manner that appealed to me. I love what Disney did by releasing character specific collections arranged in chronological order. Instead, Warner did the Golden Collection as well as a handful of spotlight releases that were either character specific or themed in some way. There were a lot of repeat cartoons across releases and it was all quite cumbersome. I wanted those shorts though, so I went out and got all 6 volumes of the Golden Collection and introduced them to my kids when they had the capacity to follow along with them.
Looney Tunes, the show that aired on Nickelodeon, was an early favorite of mine. It was usually the last kid’s programming of the night on Nickelodeon and it was often the show I watched after getting ready for bed. I loved those cartoons and I’m happy to say my kids share that affection. My daughter, in particular, became a pretty big fan of Bugs Bunny and she even carried around a stuffed Bugs for a solid year and a half or so with her when we went most places. When we went to Disney World in 2021, it wasn’t a Mickey or a Minnie head poking out of her carry-on but good ‘ole Bugs. Showing these cartoons to my kids was a way for me to get reacquainted with them too as most of these I had not watched in over twenty years and it was great. I always intended to review the Golden Collection for this blog, but found it just too cumbersome to do. There’s just so much content, some of it great, and some of it not so great. It also suffers in that these shorts were meant to preempt a movie and be consumed in small doses, but when you arrange an entire disc of Road Runner cartoons it gets really repetitive. The characters are still great though, and it’s a shame that Warner Bros has allowed their profile to slip (and more recently, have removed the post 1950 shorts from HBO Max). The Looney Tunes, as they’re commonly referred to now, were still pretty huge in the 90s which is why we got a film like Space Jam.
Warner seemed interested in reviving these characters, or maybe it was more that Lebron James wanted to match Michael Jordon in yet another way. Regardless, it lead to Space Jam: A New Legacy in 2021 that just paired James with the same characters Jordan starred with back in 1994 only now it was less interesting. I saw the movie and was so entertained that I fell asleep. The original Space Jam is hardly what I would consider high art. Jordan is as wooden as a basketball court and the plot is pretty stupid, but the character animation holds up pretty well and it has its moments. It’s entertaining, and my kids love it. I don’t think they ever asked to watch the new one again. It tries too hard to find more of a heart at its center and falls on its face as a result. It’s also too long and the characters in 3D CG just lack the same charm that they possess in 2D. The only good thing I can say about it is it lead to new toys. The Looney Tunes are severely underrepresented in the world of toys and collectibles. The best ones might be the McDonald’s super hero toys featuring Bugs, Daffy, Petunia, and Taz with snap-on DC super hero costumes. DC Direct also had a line of more diorama styled toys a few years ago that were pretty neat for what they were. The toys that showed up at big box retailers for the new film though weren’t of any interest to me, but I was hoping we might get something flashier in the collector realm.
Enter Beast Kingdom, holders of many licenses and makers of interesting toys. I’ve looked at one Beast Kingdom figure in the past, a Donald Duck figure from their Dynamic Action Hero line, and found it to be…okay? It presents pretty well, but the quality did not really justify the cost. Beast Kingdom is very good at the presentation of collectibles, but at the expense of the actual figure inside the fancy box. I question if they price their figures at a certain level to add prestige because it doesn’t look like the construction of the figure inside justifies it. At any rate, the experience was positive enough that I was willing to give them another look when they unveiled a Bugs Bunny from Space Jam: A New Legacy. Now, I personally just want a Bugs Bunny figure as seen in the classic shorts. I’d love a line of the character with various artists’ interpretations, but I was willing to settle for this one because the basketball uniform was done with soft goods that could be removed. The sculpt is still Space Jam, but I think the model is also pretty stock for Bugs. I just wasn’t in love with the price which was $80, so I waited. Once I could get it for almost half off did I finally roll the dice and now I can tell you all about the experience.
Bugs Bunny arrived in his fancy box, as expected. It’s very glossy and a pain to photograph, but it’s very much themed to match the film the character is taken from. On the front, we get a shot of the figure that’s probably a digital render and on the side is some artwork. It’s a fairly thick cardstock that lifts off of the box like a board game box. Inside is another image of Bugs on a slip cover that just lifts off to reveal a tray underneath that contains the figure and all of its accessories. Behind the tray is where they hid the figure stand. The tray is black with a clear cover that’s taped down. Once you get that off you can finally get at the figure. Immediately upon lifting Bugs out of his plastic coffin his left leg fell off so we weren’t off to a great start. His tail and feet are wrapped in plastic and it’s kind of a pain to get off. I assumed they were worried about plastic transfer or something, but once I got the plastic off I realized they were bagged because those parts are flocked – interesting.
Once out and de-plasticked, Bugs stands at approximately 6.25″ to the top of his head and nearly 8.75″ to the top of his tallest ears. He’s in his own scale, and even though it’s not the same license, I thought he would scale a bit with the Donald Duck I have, but it’s not even close. No matter, since I envision him being displayed solo, but that might bother some folks. Bugs is mostly colored plastic. The gray on his head, the pink of his nose, and the black for his pupils and inner mouth make up the bulk of the paint on the figure. Even though it’s not much, it’s not especially clean. The gray around the eyes doesn’t quite reach the edge of the white portions and it’s off enough that it’s visible from afar. It’s also noticeably darker than the gray paint on the back of his head which is awfully distracting. The pink inside the ears has the same issue and one can see why Beast Kingdom avoids painting its figures since it kind of sucks at doing it. I’m also not a fan of just painting the inner mouth black. There should at least be a tongue, and most images of Bugs would paint the inner mouth a dark red. The white portions are also begging for some paint too since the buck teeth get lost in the white fur. At least a black outline, or a black line down the center, would solve that. He has dimples for his whiskers, but since they’re not outlined you’d never know they’re there. Oh and speaking of, he’s also missing his whiskers! Maybe they weren’t in the movie? They’re on the artwork so that’s a bit bizarre. The flocked feet strike me as an attempt to make the figure better resemble the 3D model in the film. It works, but it’s really odd that they only did it on the feet. It’s just as odd with the tail, but since it’s on the back of the figure I don’t care as much, but the feet look silly.
For a largely unpainted figure, I will say that the plastic doesn’t have an overtly shiny appearance. The hands feel like a soft vinyl so they don’t reflect the light as much as the white on the face. The eyes and the mouth are the only real shiny areas which will vary from face to face and we’ll talk about in the accessory section. Where Beast Kingdom seems to spend the most money is on the soft goods. The basketball jersey is textured like an actual jersey and the printing is very clean. It’s not a decal and the stitching is really well done. I mentioned I have no plans to display the figure with the jersey on, but it’s done so well that it did make me reconsider. If it was the Space Jam jersey of my youth, I may have given in, but I just have no affection for this one. It’s not as loose-fitting as the jersey appears to be in the film and I’m actually surprised it’s not very stretchy. Getting it off will require removing the figure’s arms, which shouldn’t be hard since the right arm fell off shortly after the left leg when I initially picked the figure up, and I’ll likely have to remove the head. Getting the trunks over the tail will likely be the hardest part of the process. His belly is painted white underneath, about as well as the face and ears, and there’s no other sculpting. He can definitely be displayed naked, and I’m surprised that Beast Kingdom didn’t make it easier to get the jersey off without cutting it.
The look of the figure is certainly a mixed bag. The paint is poor and the flocked feet bizarre, and then there’s also the face. It’s definitely based on the film, but it’s like a low detail version. I can’t fault a figure based on the new Space Jam movie for looking like its source, but it could be better at actually looking like the source. Mostly though, the figure just feels cheap. Really cheap. The shoulders are very loose and floppy and it seems part of the problem is the torso isn’t held together very well. It keeps splitting at the neck, which makes the head extremely floppy. I have to keep pinching it to get the head to stay in place, but manipulating the figure causes the joints to get loose once more. The only fix would be to try to glue the piece together, but I’d be afraid of the glue seeping out or getting into a joint and screwing it up there. This is absolutely not a premium collectible despite its price.
We may as well go right into the articulation since it plays into the looseness. The head is on a single ball peg and he can rotate, look up, look down, and gets some nice nuance posing. Manipulating it will loosen the neck and create a bobble head, but pinching the neck back together solves that to a point, but the gap never stays closed so it’s going to get loose again real quick. The shoulders are on a hinged ball peg so they can raise out to the side a touch past horizontal and get a little forward and back movement at the ball. The bicep pegs into another ball hinge at the elbow which in turn pegs into the forearm. This gives the figure a swivel point above and below the ball-joint plus a bend at the elbow that goes past 90 degrees. It functions well, and it’s at least nice and tight, but ball elbows are the type of joint that look a bit unsightly to me when the arm is out straight. When the elbow is bent it looks fine. The wrists are on another ball-hinge so they rotate and move up and down on that hinge and they work fine. There’s no articulation in the torso at all or at the waist. Our next point is at the hips which uses another ball and socket joint like the shoulder. Bugs can kick forward almost to horizontal and he kicks back a little. Bugs can’t do splits, but his legs go out to the side past 45 degrees. The knees are just like the elbows, so we get rotation above and below and a bend that goes past 90. The ankles are the same setup as the wrists but with a forward-facing pin for an ankle rocker. The hinge goes forward pretty far, but they cut the shin at an angle so the range back isn’t as far as it should be. The rocker works fine. The tail is the last spot and it just swivels.
Bugs moves well enough for the source material. He’s easy to stand since his feet are so large and most of the joints are plenty tight. It’s the shoulders and head that are loose and a pain to pose as a result. I’m a little surprised at the lack of posing for the ears, but since Beast Kingdom loves the ball-hinge joint I’m glad we don’t have ears on ball-hinges. Bugs works best going for basketball poses like running, jumping, and shooting. He struggles with more traditional Bugs Bunny poses as he can’t really get his hands onto his hips, and trying to do so means fighting with the loose shoulders. I would have loved to get him to lay down as he appears on top of the Warner logo in many a cartoon, but he really can’t do that either. He can basically stand and his big feet mean you can pose him on one foot with the other more relaxed, but he could be better. The lack of any articulation in the torso is a killer there. It’s surprising to me that they didn’t try something there since he’s intended to wear clothes, but at least the solid torso means he has a cleaner appearance when not in the costume.
For accessories, Bugs has a spread of hands and faceplates to go with a couple of props. For faces, Bugs gets three portraits: smile, worried, and carrot chomping. Interestingly, it looks like the eyes were going to be removable as they just slide over some pegs, but they’re totally fused. My guess is it wasn’t working in the testing phase so they just cut that feature. There’s zero looseness so I don’t think they could be removed now, but it would have been nice as he has wide open eyes, upward looking eyes, and partially closed eyes. The gray on the faces are all painted poorly, but at least the eyelids look fine. Every face has the same issue with the gray on the face being slightly darker than the gray painted onto the head of the figure which is distracting when viewing the figure from the side or when his head is positioned at an angle. Both are white pieces painted gray so I don’t know how they messed that up. The worried face has a little extra pink paint for the gumline and that is surprisingly sharply painted. The bare teeth though really draw attention to the lack of detail paint there. He needs some shading or something because the teeth are practically lost in the white fur. For hands, Bugs comes with a set of fists, open hands, and a set of hands that are open and slightly curved for palming a basketball. There’s also an additional left, gripping, hand with the pinky finger raised for holding a carrot. For ears, we get two relatively straight-up ears that have a gentle curve to them as well as a right ear bent past 90s degrees and a left ear with a less severe bend to it. The hands slide off and on the wrist pegs fairly easily and the ears key-in to the head in designated spots making it virtually impossible to mix-up the right and left ears. The faceplates are also easy enough to swap and they stay on just fine as well.
As for props, Bugs comes with his signature carrot. The tip has been bitten off and it has a long, green, leaf coming out of the back of it. It slides into the gripping hand easily and is the accessory likely to get the most use from me. I just wish the side-mouth carrot chomping head featured a puffed out cheek to simulate a mouthful of carrot. His signature accessory from the film is the silver basketball. It has a very shiny, silver, paint job and the lines on the ball are sculpted in and painted black. It’s done surprisingly well and it also has a magnet in one spot. The magnet goes with his palming hands which also feature magnets in them so he can effortlessly hold the ball. The last item included is a display stand. It is quite interesting. The base is translucent, blue, plastic with “Tune Squad” printed on the top and “Bugs Bunny” on the front. The actual arm that pegs in is black and it’s articulated like a wire. It’s coated in black plastic so it feels like an old payphone cord (how’s that for a dated reference?) only it holds its shape. It’s about 7.25″ tall and it holds whatever shape you want to put it into. It’s very different, but also quite useful. The hinged claw at the end can grasp the figure just fine and you can even try to get the clothing over it to better hide it. It’s plenty strong enough to support the figure, though the base is light so if you try to go too far forward it will tip. It’s primary function is probably to pose Bugs as if he’s going for a dunk and it works just fine for that. Too bad he lacks a hoop to really convey that action.
The accessory loadout is plenty good for a Bugs Bunny from Space Jam. He’s got a ball and a carrot plus some different expressions. As a more evergreen Bugs Bunny, it still works okay, though I think that version of Bugs would maybe have some gag effects and probably different expressions. A basketball hoop, even if it was just the backboard that could be stuck to a surface, is about the only thing missing. And if they insists on doing the flocked feet, I think they should have included a set of unflocked feet for those that didn’t care for the look. The feet don’t even look flocked in the promo images and it wasn’t a listed feature so I’m right to be surprised by the inclusion.
Let’s cut to the chase: as an 80 dollar collectible figure this release from Beast Kingdom stinks. There’s no way the quality is there to support that price. Even at nearly half off, I still think the quality is suspect. This feels more like a $30 figure with issues that can be overlooked because it was only 30 bucks. At the $45 I paid, those problems can’t be dismissed as minor. And if I’m reviewing it at the $80 it was released at it’s junk. The looseness is aggravating and even ignoring that the figure just feels cheap. Even so, when you get him posed and on a shelf, the figure looks okay. For its source material, it looks good enough. I still think the flocked feet are dumb and just distract more than anything, but the soft goods are really well done and he’s plenty expressive. Especially if you want him in a basketball pose as the stand works well and the ball turned out great. As a more traditional Bugs, it’s fine, but represents a compromise. To most people who look at it, they’ll just recognize the character for what he is. For people who are bigger fans of Bugs Bunny and the classic shorts, they’ll probably be able to tell that this is a Space Jam release trying to get by as a Golden Age Bugs. If you’re okay with that and think the figure looks good enough for your display then I can tepidly recommend this figure for purchase provided it’s found at a deep discount. I’d say $40 is the absolute most one should consider, but even less is preferable especially if you’re like me and have no interest in the Space Jam branding. Otherwise, it’s just not worth it.
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