We’re back with another look at a figure from Super7’s latest wave of Ultimates! based on The Simpsons. And for this one, we’re taking things TO THE EXTREME! That’s right, it’s Poochie, everyone’s favorite rockin’ dog. He’s got attitude to spare and he’s not afraid to show it off. Where would cartoon history be without Poochie? That’s actually a serious question. The joke of the episode “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” is that Poochie is the type of character shows introduce when things are getting stale, the audience is getting bored, and some network executive has a master plan to re-engage the audience. It’s happened in the real world, and The Simpsons poked fun at it with Poochie and via Roy, the joke character added to the family in the same episode. It arrived during Season 8 which was show-run by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein. Oakley has explained via the podcast Talking Simpsons that basically everyone on the show around that time thought it was going to end very soon. Animated sitcoms, or animated shows in general, don’t typically go past 100 episodes which The Simpsons had done by then. To basically have fun while the thing flamed out, Oakley and Weinstein set out to “break” the show in some respects by doing these ludicrous episodes. It created some wonderful television via the episode Poochie is from or the frequently memed “22 Short Films About Springfield” episode. It was less successful with “The Principal and the Pauper,” but we don’t need to get into that one.
Because of the episode’s popularity, Poochie is a pretty well known character and the character’s name is basically short-form to explain the concept of a late addition character to a failing show, even though the phenomenon predates Poochie by decades. For casual fans of The Simpsons, maybe it’s a surprise to see Poochie in wave one of a new action figure line, but for a Simpsons diehard like myself it makes perfect sense. Especially considering Super7’s approach to its licensed properties which is often just “We’re going to make our favorite characters because it’s our company and our decision.” That approach can sometimes bite them in the butt, and maybe it will with The Simpsons since they’ve decided not to do standard versions of the family for now, but in this case I’m totally fine with getting a Poochie figure in wave one. He’s as good as a fireworks factory, as far as I’m concerned.
Poochie comes in the standard Super7 Ultimates! styled box and, like Deep Space Homer, we get the episode info on the rear of the inner box. Poochie himself is depicted as he was in the show-within-a-show The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show. This means he has a leather jacket, magenta hat, and blue shorts. This differs from his concept art in the episode and some of the marketing images of the character from the episode (and box art for this figure) where he wore jeans and a flannel. It’s funny how that image of Poochie is the one that first comes to mind for me, even though he was depicted very differently when the family was properly introduced to the character via the cartoon. I think I personally like the flannel look to the character as it’s more 90’s to me. The jacketed look screams “The Fonz” and is slightly out of place, though Poochie’s facial hair and hat tie it together. Despite that, I am good with Super7’s decision to go with this version of Poochie as all of his accessories are going to come from his debut cartoon and would be slightly out place with the other design. It’s just too bad the designs were so different that Super7 couldn’t get both looks into a single figure, but that would basically require an entire second figure.
Out of the box, Poochie stands at around 5.5″ to the top of his head. This makes him the shortest figure in this first wave and it remains to be seen if the upcoming Bartman will be shorter or not. It’s an odd character to figure for scale since he isn’t a living person in Springfield. About the only scale we have is from the Treehouse of Horror IX segment “The Terror of Tiny Toon” where Bart and Lisa enter an episode of the show. At the end, Itchy and Scratchy emerge from the TV and they’re basically the size of an actual mouse and cat compared with the Simpson family. I suppose Poochie could have been sized as a dog, but it’s not like those Treehouse segments are canon so Super7 just made an executive decision and sized him as he is and I’m fine with it. He only needs to scale with Itchy and Scratchy, assuming Super7 ever makes them.
Now, as far as sculpt goes, Poochie looks pretty on-model. He’s a little rounder than he probably should be, but the round dimensions fit the Simpsons overall aesthetic. I do think he should have been slimmer, but it’s not a dealbreaker for me. The portrait is what’s important and his default smile looks nice. Like Homer, his head is sculpted in the appropriate color for his fur, orange, but also painted over to give it a matte appearance. It does contrast a bit with the hands which are bare plastic, but I can understand not wanting to paint hands. The other portions of the head are very clean and I think it’s because we’re dealing with a lot of separate pieces glued together. The paint on the sunglasses is clean as is the nose and goatee. If there’s any paint on the hat, ears, or hair it’s also cleanly applied, though I think we may be dealing with just colored plastic for the black portions. The torso looks to be molded in gray with a clear coat applied to give it a matte appearance. The zippers and white shirt underneath the jacket are painted and done well. The teal fannypack is a separate piece and is a floating belt held on just by pressure, which I do have some concerns about loosening over time. For now, it looks good and stays in place. The lower half is molded in blue and the exposed ankles are painted. It’s really the only part of the figure where the paint gets a bit sloppy, but it’s only noticeable when looking at the figure from below and the orange overrun can be seen on the cuffs of the pants. The sneakers are done rather neatly and overall I’d say he’s a pretty sharp looking figure. If the proportions were just a little more screen-accurate I’d call him damn near perfect. As is, he’s more “very good” as opposed to “excellent.”
With Homer, the main area of disappointment was the articulation. I think that’s going to be a weakness for the line just given the designs, but I’m hoping for a little better with Poochie who, despite being a dog, should be pretty informative for where the line is going. He has the usual double-ball for the head and he actually get to pair that with a ball-joint at the base of the neck. He rotates well, but the ears get in the way. To get him to look up, you basically have to turn his head to the side so the ears can clear the shoulders. He looks down well, but only gets a minimal amount of tilt when turning his head to the side. Super7 could have put the ears on hinges, or made them softer, but I don’t blame them for not wanting to sacrifice some of the look to get a little added range here. At the shoulders, Poochie can raise his arms out to the side just fine. His arms can’t be positioned perfectly straight though and the single-jointed elbow gives only mediocre range, less than 90 degrees when fully bent. They do swivel there, but lack a true biceps swivel and the shape of the cut makes them cumbersome to fuss with. The hands rotate and hinge in a horizontal fashion. He does feature a waist twist, but it’s more like a pivot as he can’t go very far unless you really want to force it. If this were a free sample I might try that, but since I paid $55 for him I’m not going to push it. The tail is on a ball and hinge and works better than most Super7 tails I’ve encountered. At the hips, we have more ball and socket joints, but the roundness of the lower half and the position of the pegs means he can’t come anywhere close to a split. I don’t know if he even quite hits 45 degrees there. The legs don’t kick forward much, or back, and at the knees we get the single hinge and swivel combo. The cut for the hinge is weird and rounded off so the swivel really doesn’t look good unless it’s in a neutral position. It’s basically the same issue at the elbows. The hinge at least gets close to 90 degrees with the bend, though there’s basically no thigh swivel at the ball joint. The ankles are hinged, but the sneakers prevent much in the way of functional articulation. His foot can go back a little, but not forward at all. There is an ankle rocker, but again, the shape of the sneaker prevents much movement.
This is a line I’m not expecting much out of when it comes to articulation, but is it enough with Poochie? In some ways, he’s actually worse than Homer which I didn’t anticipate. They kind of botched the lower half, and where I’m happy about the sacrifices they didn’t make at the head to get more range in, I feel the opposite about the legs. I think they could have done better at the knees and probably should have engineered the feet in a way that produces a better ankle rocker. This guy does come with skateboard and surfboard accessories so having solid range at the ankles is rather important, but they opted not to really try. And it’s weird for as round as he is that his waist twist isn’t better. Which brings me back to the question of “Is it enough?” It’s close, but considering Poochie has some pretty memorable poses from his brief appearances in the show that this figure can’t duplicate, I’m going to have to side with “No.” I don’t think it kills the figure, but it should be better.
The area the figures in this line are relying on to cover up those articulation shortcomings will be the accessory loadout. Poochie has quite a bit. Some of it is a bit ridiculous, but that’s Poochie. What’s he going to do with a surfboard – I don’t know, but he needs it! And he has one – a big, purple, surfboard. Interestingly enough, this is the third surfboard I have from Super7 and it’s the third unique sculpt. The boards that came with Optimus Prime and Michelangelo aren’t that different, so I’m a little surprised they didn’t reuse one, but credit to them. Or maybe they’re dumb for not doing so and saving a few bucks – I don’t know. Like those two boards though, this one doesn’t have a stand so the presence of the fin on the underside means it’s not very functional. And unlike Prime and Mikey’s boards, there are no pegs on this one so it’s the worst performing of the three. Poochie will do better holding it than he will riding it. And I suppose that’s what he does in the show because Poochie is a poseur – he’s probably never surfed in his life! He can be posed standing beside it with the board placed in a vertical position, but his limited articulation means he can’t carry it under an arm like he did in the show.
If the waves aren’t your style, there’s also a skateboard. It’s orange, and kind of stubby looking, but it does feature real wheels if that matters to you. It has a peg on it so he can stand on it relatively easy and even do some one-footed poses, so that’s nice. He also has his flying V guitar which is done in a teal that matches his shoes and is well-painted. He doesn’t hold it all that well, but it can be faked a bit. To interact with these various objects, Poochie has some extra hands. He comes with fists in the box, which admittedly aren’t very useful for a character like this, but they can be swapped out with a set of relaxed hands, gripping hands, and “Peace” sign hands. The relaxed hands have the thumb positioned under the hand and not out to the side, so they can function as a loose gripping hand and works well with the guitar. The standard gripping hands are more appreciated than the fists, but surprisingly not that useful. You don’t need them for the guitar, and they’re a little tight for the surfboard. They’re more useful if you want Poochie to hold something that doesn’t come in his box. Poochie also has two extra heads: a smile in which his teeth are visible, and an open mouth. The paint is clean across all three heads, though the open mouth head doesn’t feature any paint inside the mouth so he just has an orange lump where his tongue should be. It’s a different look too as the snout is very round on that head, but flatter on the other two. It’s okay, but far and away my favorite of the three is the smile baring teeth. It’s also a shame none of the heads do anything with his ears so there’s no windswept look to pair with either board which feels like a real miss. Swapping heads isn’t too bad, but swapping hands on this guy sucks. The hands are recessed quite far into his sleeves so getting those fists out was a pain. I had to heat the forearms to loosen them and it was still a challenge. The other hands are much easier to get out since there’s more to grip, but I don’t think I’ll ever put those fists back in after this review is concluded.
Poochie is a solid release in this inaugural line of figures from The Simpsons and Super7. As an accurate depiction of the source material, I think Poochie isn’t quite as good as Deep Space Homer. His body is a touch off-model and his posing isn’t what it should be. Plus he has some shortcomings with the accessories that shouldn’t be. Does that make Poochie a bad release? No, because the likeness is good enough, the paint is good enough, and it has that fun factor that really only a Poochie figure could have. I can look at this thing standing on my shelf and have my head bombarded with lines from the show. In that, it’s a success. Is it a $55 success? That’s where Super7 is always going to find the sledding tough. We’re talking about a 5.5″ action figure with limited articulation and just an average amount of paint hits. It’s a tough sell no matter how you look at it. I do like the feel of Poochie a bit better than Homer who had a very light feel to him despite being rather chunky. This figure is solid with good heft and the matte applications and color combination of the design help it pop like a figure based on an animated show should. I’m a pretty big fan of the show and the episode Poochie hails from, so for me, I’m content with the purchase. Casual fans may need to approach with more caution.
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