Sunday, 4 October 2015

POP! Peanuts – Snoopy

Year: 2015
Company: Funko
Series: POP! Peanuts

I had a lot of obsessions as a kid, but Snoopy is probably the first that I really remember. I was probably about 5 or 6 when Weet-Bix had a promotion that gave away Snoopy trading cards inside their boxes. I had a bunch, and somehow as a result of a connected promotion ended up with a plush Snoopy shortly afterwards -- maybe there was some kind of mail-in promo? From then on, I was hooked, reading the comics whenever I could. The TV specials I could take or leave; they were their own universe, a little too far removed from what I wanted out of an animated Snoopy. 

I also accumulated no small pile of Snoopy merchandise, largely through the now-defunct novelty chain store Granny May’s, as well as the generosity of a family friend who visited Knott’s Berry Farm in the early 1990s. But like most of my childhood obsessions, the interest eventually drifted away as I got older. Charles Schulz’s passing in 2000 was a sad day for me. It may sound silly or even petty, but I think his death almost soured me on returning to the series later in life. Post-Schulz, there would be no new Snoopy comics – not that I was willing to recognise as authentic, anyway.   

I read Peanuts quite differently as an adult. It’s still funny and entertaining, but in a different way. Now I can recognise the sadness that lurks behind a lot of the humour – absent parents, unrequited love, bullying and depression, just to name a few. All of us have experienced at least one of those things; perhaps not as children, but certainly by the time we reach adulthood. In hindsight, Snoopy and Woodstock are pretty much the only characters who have a good time!

But I have digressed wildly, as I often do; now to the task at hand. At last count, there were more than 4090732502840 different Snoopy collectables on the market, and that’s only counting the ones still in production. So what distinguishes Funko's take from all the others that are out there?

Well, for one, this series has more than just Snoopy and Woodstock. Though it was probably out there, merchandise that featured other characters besides these too was virtually non-existent when I was a child. It’s improved a bit in recent years, but it’s still a rarity to see other members of the Peanuts gang. Charlie Brown suits the format, given that he has virtually always been known for having an enormous and round head; the others have translated to varying degrees of quality, with Lucy looking the worst. One can only imagine her violently reacting to the designer and belting him with her fist for doing such a “blockheaded” job.
Snoopy and Woodstock were always going to look a little different to their comic counterparts, rendered in Funko style or not. Though Snoopy has a distinct profile, he spends a lot of time drawn in something thatwould be ¾ profile if it was real life; however, it just doesn’t physically translate from 2D to 3D. This figure is a good compromise; Funko's stylised nature turns him into something akin to how he looked in the 1960s, when he hadn't quite developed into his best-known form, but is still quite recognisable.

He's smaller than a regular POP -- it's scale-appropriate, but irritating considering that he was released around the same time as POPs hit $18AUD. But presumably because of this reduced size, we get Woodstock as a miniature pack-in!

Woodstock’s hair is similarly difficult to translate into 3D; it’s rendered as a bit of a fuzzy mess in cartoon form, so most of the attempts that I’ve seen are…not great. This is something you can't really help; what looks good on paper doesn't always look good in physical form, which is why comic characters tend to get a bit of an overhaul when they move into live action.

Woodstock’s feet are a little warped; he just doesn’t quite stand up properly. After discovering this I had a look at some other examples in the same store a few days later; the ones I looked at seemed to have the same issue. A bit of blu-tack or something is probably advisable if you’re planning to keep him on display. But on the upside, his head moves! Yes, contrary to my suspicions that he would be totally unarticulated, you actually can make him look around in a few different directions. It’s not a lot, but it’s a nice little touch.  

The Peanuts world has quite a rich supporting cast, and there are almost infinite variations of Snoopy that could be created in POP form. As of writing I’ve already seen Olaf, Snoopy’s rotund brother, as a Target exclusive in America – here’s hoping there’s more on the way. Snoopy and Woodstock are not perfect, but for a former Peanuts tragic like myself, they're worth owning.

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