Oh, there he is!
I didn’t know I was in the market for a Where’s Waldo figure. As a person that collects a wide variety of plastic representations of things, it can definitely be said that I am into iconography. I like to get figures of things that don’t often get figures. I like the rarities, the surprises, the niche corners. However, I think I could have made a list of a hundred figures and it never would have occurred to me to put a Waldo on the list. Not because I dislike the concept, but that it’s not something in the forefront of my brain.
Waldo has always been one of those things where I see some page from one of his books, look around for Waldo, find him skulking in some small area, feel satisfied and then proceed forward. I’ve never thought “Oh, I found him. Gee, I’d like to have an action figure of him.”
But after Blitzway/5ProStudios announced him, I felt it was simultaneously a genius move and I knew immediately that I would have to have him. Especially since their previous figure, Inspector gadget, was my favorite figure of 2021.
Where’s Waldo—or Where’s Wally in Britain, where the concept originated—is a very simple concept. You have a man in a striped shirt and hat that is lurking somewhere in a large, intricately drawn piece of art laden with dozens and dozens of other people. Many are dressed in similar fashion to Waldo but with a different color scheme. Somewhere in that morass, you have to pick him out. Sometimes it’s easy. Other times you wonder if your eyes are playing tricks on you.
The series debuted in 1987. I knew it had been around for a while, but I had forgotten that it dated back to the 80s. I would have said early to mid ‘90s best, and would have lost a million dollars. It has inspired cartoons, comic strips and video games. He gets around.
The action figure is an eerily accurate translation of Waldo. It features an overall cartoony aesthetic matching the art, and has a simple but vibrant color scheme. They’ve been nailing this direct translation from source to figure with these past two figures. Between Waldo and Gadget they’ve done one a year, and I’m hoping there’s another one coming for 2022.
The head is the most impressive part. It nails the Waldo look, and the eyes on the outside of the glasses brings it all together.
The articulation is on the simpler side, but he still retains quite a bit of movement. There’s no torso articulation, but there is a swivel at his waist. His neck is ball jointed at the top and bottom, but you get the most motion out of where the neck meets the torso. He has swivel-hinge elbows and ball jointed hands.
The hips get a pretty good range. There are no hip swivels, and the knees seem like they should have a swivel like the elbows but don’t, so he is slightly limited in his leg-twisting ability, but otherwise he gets pretty good forward and backward. His ankles have minimal ball joints but the pants don’t allow them much room. I am one that likes as much articulation as possible but it’s not a bad tradeoff between design and function. The hips are a little looser than I’d like, but otherwise there’s no real floppiness to him. Whether that will change over time I can’t say, but for now he has no issue supporting his own weight.
You could get him in as a stripped-down figure and a pricier accessory-laden set. I waffled back and forth between whether I needed all the extra stuff and finally went with it. I’m glad I did. None of it is truly necessary, but it adds a bit of flair.
You get a bag, backpack, teacup, tea kettle, magic walking stick, shovel, scuba mask, camera, binoculars, hammer, belt and a small Where’s Wally? Book, so he can look for himself.
The last accessory is his dog Woof, who really proves that either pets start to look like their owners, or the other way around. Woof has a moveable tail and swivel head. He’s dressed just like him. He’s kind of terrifying.
Everything is made to fit on him at once. The shovel even sticks to the backpack magnetically, although it’s not the strongest of attractions. All geared up he looks like he’s ready for a big adventure doing…whatever it is he does. Mostly hiding in crowds, I guess.
He comes with several extra hands, including gripping hands, neutral hands and a few specific to their job, like a tea-drinking hand with the pinky out. How British. The hands swap on and off easily but remain secure once they’re on.
He comes with a base shaped like a book that you can plug things into, along with an articulated arm with a magnet at the end. The magnet attaches quite strongly to the backpack. The base also opens up so you can store all of his accessories inside, which is handy.
I love it when a figure is announced that takes me by surprise. Now I can only hope that I don’t lose him…