Giant worlds are being created with Micro Lands thanks to Jakks Pacific’s latest World of Nintendo releases!
With less than a year’s worth of merchandise under their belt, the team at Jakks has been able to deliver a large and diverse population of the Super Mario Bros cast via their Micro Land execution. While I was originally going to be sticking mostly to the articulated action figure lines for the Nintendo stuff, the ability to have representation from everyone from Mario to Nabbit to Larry Koopa in the tiny scale is too much to ignore, and now I have a pile of miniature figurines that is more diverse than any other SMB line I have ever collected. From the looks of it, this line is showing no signs of slowing down, and since space is currently at a premium in my toy room, if I can build the entire Mario universe one bite-sized piece at a time, I will be a very happy collector.
However, the little figures are but a nice accompaniment to the real focus of the Micro Land line: the actual lands themselves. “Small World, Big Fun” is the tagline for the Micro Land series, and when you get to the heart of it, that is exactly what you are getting. The Super Mario franchise is just as famous for its memorable worlds as it is for its characters, so getting to piece together sections of the standout levels from the New Super Mario Brothers Wii U game is actually something that, at the end of the day, I have wanted to be able to do since I was a kid. Okay, maybe not for the Wii U game in particular, but ever since I had some rather mediocre Mario and Luigi figurines as a kid, I have been building “levels” on the Mushroom Kingdom. Up until now, though, I have been making them out of construction paper in stunningly obvious (and low-grade) 2D.
So why did I think for one instance that this Micro Land would not be for me? Looking back at the past several months, I am not sure why I ever thought this because these sets are scratching an itch that goes all the way back to the mid-’80s for me. Sure, I will continue to get my action figure fix from Jakks Pacific’s (and Bandai’s) other lines, but the Micro Land series offers a method of universe building for both characters and worlds that no other line is doing right now. So, if you are a Mario fan in general, you are probably missing out if you are not collecting this line and the new series, dubbed 1-2, is a great way to build up a lot of ground in one shot.
While the first round of Micro Land sets focused on the Acorn Plains and Layer Cake Desert, Jakks is moving on to the next couple of level in the game, the Frosted Glacier and Sparkling Waters. While the first two worlds can work together just fine, these two worlds combine in very nice fashion to build some diverse and expansive configurations. Let’s take a look at each of the four individually.
PENGUIN MARIO + FROSTED GLACIER
If you have played the game, you know that the Frosted Glacier levels can be some of the most maddening parts of NSMB Wii U. The slick surfaces and fast flying enemies can make navigating this world a challenge, and the Penguin Suit sported by the included Mario figure can be a challenge to find an attempt to level the playing field. The snow-covered ground has been brought to life here and the connectable tiles are offered in this deco for the first time. We now have grass, sand, snow, and water at our disposal, so the colorful Mushroom Kingdom is really taking shape. My favorite part of this environment is the bridge piece that comes out from the side of one of the raised hills. I like this because it gives this set some depth that is sometimes forgotten while playing the game.
PENGUIN LUIGI + FROSTED GLACIER
Of the two Glacier sets, this one is definitely my favorite. It comes with two figures: the Penguin Suit Luigi that we covered previously, and an all new penguin figure. Man, that guy brings back some recent and slightly painful memories, and these guys can send you into a tizzy in no time while getting through an ice-covered level. The sloped piece goes perfectly with the penguin as you can set him at the top of the ramp, poised to slide down and take out poor Luigi. The Piranha Plant pipe is the same one we have seen before, but obviously with a snow base. As far as I am concerned this is fine because these plants are as ubiquitous as little Goombas throughout the games.
The two Glacier sets obviously work well together and offer all kinds to set-ups to create different levels for your figures to inhabit.
RED TOAD + SPARKLING WATERS
Now, while I do like the Glacier sets, the Sparkling Waters level builders are my personal favorites from Series 1-2. I really like the translucent blue plastic used for these sets, and the texturing on them adds depth and the feel of water. Plus, I think there are more interesting pieces included in these sets, and this one features one of the giant clam shells that like to tempt you with a prize, only to slam painfully shut right on you. This clam has a hinge that allows you to have the mouth open at various positions to show off the 1-Up mushroom bait inside. The mushroom is not removable, but poor Toad is trying really hard not to be tempted by it. Speaking of, Toad is my favorite SMB character, so I am glad to get him in this set; he is referred to as “Red Toad,” but I have always thought of him as just “Toad,” and the other colors are more numerous “Mushroom Retainers.” There is only one red mushroom man — and that is Toad! With this one, we are only missing the blue version (as far as playable characters go, I would like to see green and pink, too) and then the “powered-up” iterations for fire, ice, etc.
ICE MARIO + SPARKLING WATERS
Of all of these sets, this one is by far my favorite. While the Ice Mario is someone we have seen a couple of times now, the level pieces in this set are by far and away the most interesting. Plus, you get one of those rock-tossing crab dudes, which is a new figure to the line. The wooden bridge piece represents an iconic part of the water levels that have been synonymous with the water landscape for decades. This makes for a good landing spot for a hero figure, and I just bet you can place a Cheep-Cheep below, waiting to fly up and take a valuable 1-Up. The pipe piece is also very nice as it adds some good variation to the iconic tubes. This features a built-in Star Coin that actually spins, just like they do when you score them in the game.
Now, while all of the Sparkling Water pieces work well on their own for that particular world, I really dig these pieces because they also work wonderfully with all of the previously-released worlds. I have featured them with the Glacier pieces, but rest assured, they also look great with the Acorn and Layer Cake levels. There are water levels in just about every world of the Mushroom Kingdom, so stocking up on these sets will really help add a lot of dimension to your other sets.
Now, these pieces are not in stores quite yet, but they will be soon. If you are interested in getting into the Micro Land sets, now is the time to do it as they are all still available and at a manageable number. Don’t delay, though. These are going to keep coming and before you know it, there will be representation from all of the worlds and the build potential is going to be huge. I still need to pick up a couple of the first sets, but I am going to head to Toys R Us to grab them up because I think these tiny worlds are going to make for a HUGE display in no time at all.
*Thanks for reading and thanks to the guys at Jakks for sending these sets along for a First Look!