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World of Springfield

Wikisimpsons - The Simpsons Wiki
An assortment of World of Springfield action figures.

The World of Springfield is a series of action figures, which ran between December 1999 to December 2004 and was released by Playmates Toys.

The toy action figure series was called World of Springfield because the goal of the line was to build a miniature Springfield through a series of interactive action figures and playsets. It eventually encompassed over 200 different figures/characters from the series, 40 interactive playsets (toy re-creations of Simpson's interior settings and town location settings within Springfield), and 3 non-interactive diorama town settings.

Background[edit]

The success of all "mass-market" action figure lines based on TV or movie characters are timed to the initial release of the project - as part of its promotional and marketing messages - taking advantage of the promotions, P.R. and advertising awareness and the figures themselves also as advertising and promotional vehicles. Most movie/TV tie-in action figures are successful for the brief period of the theatrical release, the video/DVD release and the possibility of a successful sequel but rarely for any longer period and typically, the release pattern for the action figure is no more than a few dozen figures, and some playsets to serve as background dioramas for the figures - with sales dropping off a few months after the last film is released. The Kenner/Hasbro Star Wars movie line is of course, the gold standard with figures in the same scale and in the marketplace since 1978. The closest TV equivalent might be the Star Trek line, though non-contiguous and not technically from one TV series (coincidentally also from Playmates Toys).

While The Simpsons merchandising and licensing had continued unabated since the first season of the TV series in 1989, the characters represented as action figures only had a brief Mattel run in 1990, with only 7 figures, 3 exclusive figures and 1 Simpsons Living Room representation playset.

Why was the line successful?[edit]

Of course, it starts with the mass market appeal of The Simpsons - encompassing everyone from young kids who loved the slapstick aspects to adults of all ages who appreciated that the jokes and situations that worked on multi-levels of our intellect (from the kid in us to the Mensa in us). Like any classic TV series, fans remember and quote the lines - and Playmates Toys managed to capture that appeal with its interactive playsets. Each figure came with its own "coded" chip on the base of that characters foot (generally foot but not always) that when contacted with the "trigger" tab on each playset would (complete the circuit) so by then pressing the button closest to that figure, you would hear a playback of 1-5 phrases for the character.

What made it unique was that the playback was from the actual show and the actual voice actor - so placing the Homer Simpson figure on an appropriate playset would trigger the playback of a quote performed by Dan Castellaneta as he performed it in the original episode.

Of additional value was that each playset held quotes and voice clip performances for a variety of characters so that placing the Marge Simpson figure or the Bart figure would trigger different quotes and voice clips. One limitation was that not every character worked with every playset - some for story logic reasons (character might not appear at that setting), release logistics (figures released after a playset was available much earlier) or presumably for cost reasons (as each voice clip had to be approved and licensed).

A real-world situation also cannot be over-looked - that these were released during the era of the internet/dot.com boom and general health of the U.S. economy. While the figures were priced at the lower end of action figure retail pricing (from $5.99 USD to eventually $7.99 USD each), the playsets generally ranged from $20 USD to $25 USD at the end of 2004 but there were special releases that ranged into the $60 USD range. Even at minimal retail, 200+ figures and 40 playsets meant a financial commitment. In addition, there were a dozen exclusives and mail-in figures that required extra work to obtain the figures - often via an online auction. It was however, during these early years of the series coinciding with the healthy economy that added extra impetus and momentum that carried the line a few extra years.

Fan interaction[edit]

The World of Springfield line set a new standard of company/fan interaction in its relationship between Playmates Toys and the collectors, specifically based at the Simpsons Collector Sector (SCS) website and forums. Starting in mid-2001, with contacts from board moderator Michael Crawford, Playmates executives (first Jeff Trojan and later Pat Linden) reached out to the collectors in a mutually beneficial relationship—fans got input into the line; the company got free market research. Playmates Toys answered a monthly Q&A from collectors, and regularly gave exclusive details about upcoming products to the SCS website directly. Collectors had opportunities to affect the line's future on a few occasions.

The first incident occurred in summer 2001 after a controversy surrounding the release of a ToyFare mail-away figure, Pin Pal Burns. Fans complained about the unfair way ToyFare handled these offers and Playmates responded, first by having ToyFare make later offers available online and later by ending WoS offers from ToyFare entirely. Conversely, fan enthusiasm helped revive products that had been cancelled at one point, including the deluxe Main Street playset and the Moe's Tavern playset.

Collectors were also asked often to give suggestions on what figures and playsets they wanted to see; polls were generated. The results of these polls had an impact on future lineups, with collectors getting many of the figures they had requested.

This interaction hit a peak in 2003 when the Simpsons Collector Sector hosted a panel discussion at the San Diego Comic Con that July. A representative from Playmates Toys was the featured guest and engaged in Q&A with attendees and handed out free figures to all as well.

Fans continued to have a voice through the end of the line, although larger issues—voice contracts, licensor disagreements—sometimes prevented collectors from getting everything they wanted from the line. This model of interaction has been followed by many other toy companies since.

End and revival[edit]

The line ended in mid-2004 due to a number of factors, most importantly slow sales. There were a number of factors, in turn, that contributed to the declining sales, including: "collectors fatigue"; the release pattern of figures; the sheer size of the line was difficult for newcomers; the slowing economy; the changing toy retail situation; and even Playmates Toys relationship with 20th Century Fox.

However, not long after, McFarlane Toys - known for their sports line of action figures - decided to revive Simpsons collecting and start a new line of figures. The first set to be released was the "Ironic Punishment" set from the episode "Treehouse of Horror IV". It features Homer being "tortured" by one of the Devil's minions, by forcing all the donuts in the world down his throat. It was soon followed by a "Family Couch Gag" set, from the beginning of each episode.

NECA recently released the "25 Greatest Guest Stars" line of figures, these figures fit in scale with the World of Springfield figures and have the same articulation.

List of figures and playsets[edit]

Image Name of set Characters Release date
World of Springfield Series 1.jpg Series 1 Homer Simpson, Bart Simpson, Lisa Simpson, Abraham Simpson, Charles Montgomery Burns, Krusty the Clown January 2000
Simpsons Living Room World.jpgNuclear Power Plant World.jpg Series 1 Playsets Simpsons Living Room with Marge & Maggie, Nuclear Power Plant with Radioactive Homer February 2000
World of Springfield Series 2.jpg Series 2 Pin Pal Homer, Barney Gumble, Ned Flanders, Waylon Smithers, Jr., Chief Clancy Wiggum, Sunday Best Bart August 2000
Kwik-E-Mart World.jpgSpringfield Elementary World.jpg Series 2 Playsets Kwik-E-Mart with Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Springfield Elementary with Principal Seymour Skinner August 2000
Treehouse of Horror 1 Springfield Cemetery World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Treehouse of Horror 1 Springfield Cemetery with Devil Flanders, Bart as the Fly, Vampire Burns and Ape Homer September 2000
Radioactive Glow-In-The-Dark Homer World.jpg Toyfare Radioactive Glow-In-The-Dark Homer October 2000
World of Springfield Series 3.jpg Series 3 Sunday Best Homer, Nelson Muntz, Moe Szyslak, Kamp Krusty Bart, Milhouse Van Houten, Otto Mann January 2001
Town Hall World.jpgKrustylu Studios World.jpg Series 3 Playsets Springfield Town Hall with Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby and Krustylu Studios with Sideshow Bob January 2001
World of Springfield Series 4.jpg Series 4 Lenny Leonard, Ralph Wiggum, Patty Bouvier, Groundskeeper Willie, Casual Homer, Itchy & Scratchy April 2001
Androids Dungeon Comic Book Shop World.jpgBarney's Bowl-A-Rama World.jpg Series 4 Playsets Android's Dungeon Comic Book Shop with Comic Book Guy and Barney's Bowlarama with Pin Pal Apu April 2001
World of Springfield Family Car.jpg Family Car Marge, Homer, Lisa, Maggie and Bart. June 2001
World of Springfield Series 5.jpg Series 5 Kent Brockman, Sea Captain, Bartman, Martin Prince, Jr., Sideshow Mel, Bumblebee Man July 2001
Pin Pal Burns World.jpg Toyfare Pin Pal Burns July 2001
World of Springfield Series 6.jpg Series 6 Julius Hibbert, Snake Jailbird, Bleeding Gums Murphy, Carl Carlson, Isotopes Mascot Homer, Professor John Frink September 2001
First Church of Springfield World.jpgNoiseland Arcade World.jpg Series 6 Playsets First Church of Springfield with Reverend Timothy Lovejoy and Noiseland Arcade with Jimbo Jones September 2001
Treehouse of Horror 2 Alien Spaceship World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Treehouse of Horror 2 Alien Spaceship with Spaceship Homer, Kang and Kodos September 2001
Lunar Base World.jpg EB Games Lunar Base with Rainer Wolfcastle as Radioactive Man and Milhouse as Fallout Boy September 2001
Boxing Homer World.jpg Toyfare Boxing Homer October 2001
Simpson's Christmas World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Simpson's Christmas with Holiday Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie November 2001
World of Springfield Series 7.jpg Series 7 Cletus, Edna Krabappel, Lou, Dolph, Hans Moleman, Officer Marge December 2001
The Simpsons Kitchen World.jpgKrusty Burger World.jpg Series 7 Playsets The Simpsons Kitchen with Muumuu Homer and Krusty Burger with Squeaky-voiced teen December 2001
Convention Comic Book Guy World.jpg Toyfare Convention Comic Book Guy December 2001
Pin Pal Moe Toyfare Pin Pal Moe December 2001
World of Springfield All Star Voices Wave 1.jpg Celebrity Series 1 Troy McClure, Herb Powell and Fat Tony February 2002
World of Springfield Series 8.jpg Series 8 Kearney, Sherri & Terri, Ragin' Willie, Uter, Superintendent Chalmers and Daredevil Bart March 2002
Springfield DMV World.jpgElementary Cafeteria World.jpg Series 8 Playsets Springfield DMV with Selma Bouvier and Springfield Elementary Cafeteria with Lunchlady Dora March 2002
Lurleen Lumpkin's Trailer World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Lurleen Lumpkin's Trailer with Colonel Homer and Lurleen Lumpkin April 2002
High School Prom World.jpg EB Games High School Prom with High School Homer and High School Marge April 2002
World of Springfield Series 9.jpg Series 9 Rod & Todd Flanders, Busted Krusty, Sunday Best Grampa, Prison Bob, Disco Stu, Sunday Best Lisa June 2002
Police Station World.jpgSpringfield Retirement Castle World.jpg Series 9 Playsets Police Station with Eddie and Springfield Retirement Castle with Jasper Beardsley June 2002
World of Springfield Celebrity Series 2.jpg Celebrity Series 2 Lionel Hutz and Brad Goodman June 2002
Treehouse of Horror 3 Ironic Punishment World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Treehouse of Horror 3 Ironic Punishment with Dream Invader Willie, Witch Marge, Hugo and Donut Head Homer August 2002
Barney's Bowl-A-Rama 2 World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Barney's Bowlarama with Bowling Marge and Jauques August 2002
World of Springfield School Bus.png School Bus Martin, Milhouse, Ralph, Bart, Lisa and Otto. August 2002
World of Springfield Celebrity Series 3.jpg Celebrity Series 3 Hank Scorpio, Llewellyn Sinclair and Cooder September 2002
Main Street World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Main Street with Crazy Old Man and Squeaky-voiced teen September 2002
Be Sharp Homer World.jpg Mail away Be Sharp Homer September 2002
World of Springfield Series 10.jpg Series 10 Stonecutter Homer, Wendell, Sunday Best Marge & Maggie, Scout Leader Flanders, Doctor Marvin Monroe and Resort Smithers October 2002
Burns Manor World.jpgHospital World.jpg Series 10 Playsets Burns' manor with Pajama Burns and Hospital with Doctor Nick October 2002
KBBL Radio Station World.jpg EB Games KBBL Radio Station with Marty & Bill October 2002
New Years Town Square World.jpg Toys "Я" Us New Years Town Square with New Years Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie November 2002
World of Springfield Series 11.jpg Series 11 Larry Burns, Plow King Barney, Blue Haired Lawyer, Kirk Van Houten, Gil and Rainer Wolfcastle December 2002
Court Room World.jpg Series 11 Playsets Court Room with Judge Snyder December 2002
Moe's Tavern World.jpg EB Games Moe's Tavern with Duffman January 2003
Be Sharp Apu World.jpg Mail away Be Sharp Apu January 2003
Be Sharp Barney World.jpg Mail away Be Sharp Barney July 2003
World of Springfield Series 12.jpg Series 12 Number One, Database, Mister Dewey Largo, Don Vittorio, Luann Van Houten and Mister Plow Homer April 2003
Bart's Treehouse World.jpg Series 12 Playsets Bart's Treehouse with Military Bart April 2003
Be Sharp Skinner World.jpg Mail away Be Sharp Skinner April 2003
Mr Burns 2 World.jpgMoe 2 World.jpg Re-Release Moe and Mr. Burns April 2003
World of Springfield Series 13.jpg Series 13 Helen Lovejoy, Freddy Quimby, Tuxedo Krusty, Legs, Princess Kashmir and Doctor Stephen Hawking July 2003
Military Antique Store World.jpg Series 13 Playsets Military Antique Store with Herman Hermann July 2003
Outside Simpsons House World.jpgOutside Kwik-E-Mart World.jpgOutside Krustylu Studios World.jpg Dioramas Outside Simpsons House with Homer, Marge, and Maggie, Outside Kwik-E-Mart with Grampa & Apu and Outside Krustylu Studios with Krusty & Milhouse July 2003
KayBee Toys.jpg KayBee Toys The Ingestible Bulk Homer, Vampire Edna Krabappel and Captain Kwik Apu July 2003
Treehouse of Horror 4 Underground Lair World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Treehouse of Horror 4 Underground Lair with Stretch Dude Bart, Lucy Lawless, Clobber Girl Lisa and The Collector September 2003
Be Sharps Centennial World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Be Sharps Centennial with Doolittle Wiggum September 2003
World of Springfield Series 14.jpg Series 14 Luigi, Louie, Sarcastic Man, Kilted Wilie, Miss Hoover and Ms. Botz October 2003
Aztec Theater World.jpg Series 14 Playsets Aztec Theater with McBain October 2003
Simpson's Rumpus Room World.jpg Toys "Я" Us Simpson's Rumpus Room with Tracy Ullman Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie October 2003
Future World.jpg EB Games Future with Future Burns, Future Smithers and Smithers as Bobo October 2003
Stonecutter Moe World.jpg Mail away Stonecutter Moe October 2003
World of Springfield Series 15.jpg Series 15 Manjula Nahasapeemapetilon, Sandeep, Sashi, Poonam, Uma, Gheet, Nabendu, Anoop, and Pria Nahasapeemapetilon (The Octuplets), Handsome Moe, Deep Space Homer, Brandine and "Worst Episode Ever" Comic Book Guy January 2004
Nuclear Power Plant Lunchroom World.jpg Series 15 Playsets Nuclear Power Plant Lunchroom with Frank Grimes January 2004
Stonecutter Lenny World.jpg Mail away Stonecutter Lenny January 2004
World of Springfield Series 16.jpg Series 16 Squishee Bender Bart, Agnes Skinner, Devil Homer, Artie Ziff, Doug, Benjamin & Gary June 2004
Town Square World.jpg Series 16 Playsets Town Square with Jebediah Springfield September 2004

Vehicles[edit]

Technically not part of World of Springfield (though there is a debate among the fans), these vehicles were made by Playmates Toys in June 2001, and later, August 2002, and are sometimes considered part of the line by fans. The vehicles weren't actually able to hold any figures from the line, but they could however speak by moving the small characters to the right or the left or by pressing the car's hood (this would create a conversation between the characters rather than just one character talking). Upon doing so, each character would have special lines taken from episodes from the series, much like the figures.

  • Family Car w/ Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie/Release date: June 2001
  • School Bus w/ Martin, Milhouse, Ralph, Bart, and Otto/Release date: August 2002

KayBee Toys exclusive[edit]

Again, technically not considered part of the World of Springfield line (though there is debate about that among collectors), Playmates Toys released in August 2002 a series of figures exclusive to KayBee Toys based on the When Bongos Collide storyline from Bongo Comics. It featured Simpsons characters transformed into superheroes. The initial three-pack of figures included Homer Simpson as the Indigestible Bulk, Apu as Captain Kwik, and Ms. Krabappel as Vampiredna. Two more three-packs were planned (featuring Marge as the Entangler, Lisa as the Jazzler, Maggie as Brainbaby, Grampa as Oldblood member Coda, and Skinner as The Stickler, and Willie as the Plaid Piper), but the line was cancelled as soon as it hit retail.

Cancelled items[edit]

As in most toy lines, items are planned for release that for a number of reasons (cost issues, low retailer interest) never end up being produced and/or released. Many items were cancelled from the World of Springfield line, a complete list is available in the Simpsons Collector Sector's Release Guide.

Figures[edit]

  • Rabbi Krustofsky - Was to be included in the Series 2 line of Celebrity Figures, but he was cancelled because Playmates could not clear the rights for Jackie Mason’s voice work.
  • Lyle Lanley - Originally part of the Series 3 line of Celebrity Figures, but was replaced by Cooder.
  • Molloy - Originally part of Series 12, but was replaced by Number One.
  • Stonecutter Wiggum - Was cancelled when the World of Springfield line ended. Was going to be part of the Mail Away figures.

Playsets[edit]

  • Flanders' Rumpus Room w/ Maude Flanders - Was originally going to be the playset for the Wave 18 line, but was cancelled when the World of Springfield line ended.
  • Springfield Elementary Playground w/ Janey - Was going to be a part of the Wave 17 line, but was cancelled when the World of Springfield line ended.
  • Stonecutter Hall w/ Stonecutter Carl - Was going to be Toys-R-Us exclusive, but cancelled due to slow sales of the Be Sharps playset and the end of World of Springfield.
  • 300th Episode Special: Bart's Loft w/ Skateboarding Homer, Pajama Bart, "Indian Burn" Lisa, and Casual Skinner - Was cancelled due to overwhelmingly negative response with fans.
    The sketch of the cancelled loft set
  • Oval Office w/ President Lisa, Old Homer, Old Marge, Grownup Bart, and Maggie Jr. - Was planned as a Toys-R-Us exclusive, but cancelled due to slow sales in previous exclusives.

Waves[edit]

External links[edit]