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"Don't Toy With Me" : Super Mario Bros Stage Figures

"Don't Toy With Me" : Super Mario Bros Stage Figures

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Mario is one of the first video game icons, and certainly one of the best known. Despite humble beginnings as the barrel jumping, hammer wielding hero of "Donkey Kong", Mario has gone on to star in a variety of games spanning various genres. But the real standout, which cemented Mario's place in video game history and put the Nintendo Entertainment System at the top of the home console heap for years, was "Super Mario Bros.". When most people think of Mario, they probably have this game or one of its sequels in mind. Given Mario's continuing popularity, t's no surprise that Mario's likeness graces a wide variety of merchandise, even today. Even so, there's a new product from Japan which is quite unique.

Called "Super Mario Stage Figures", these toys are actually small dioramas. At 3 1/2 x 4 inches, these little scenes replicate screenshots from the original "Super Mario Bros.". Each set comes with a background piece, a "floor" which the background slides into, set pieces stick out from the background - pipes, bricks, and the like, and a little Mario with an enemy in some sets. The pieces come in separate plastic bags and snap together easily, which is god since there aren't any instructions. The one slightly confusing step in the assembly process is Mario himself. Mario comes with what looks like a coin and both pieces have a little magnet on the back. Put Mario on the front of the scene and the coin on the back. Line them up and move the coin around to make Mario run around and jump. The enemies have the same gimmick.

What really sells these little sets is how far they go in replicating the look of the game. The stages cover a variety of familiar Mario environments, from the hidden warp zone room of 2-1 to an underwater level. Every set has the usual text display at the top, with the score, current level, time remaining, and coins collected. Even better, every object seems to be made of tiny pixels rather than smooth curves, giving the feel of the old eight-bit game. It's this sort of faithfulness to the original that really makes the Super Mario Stage Figures so much fun.

Still not enough Mario for you? Have no fear. You can up the Koopa count or give Mario a hand with single-packed extra characters and items, known as Super Mario Magnet Figures. Mario fans are sure to love the packaging, which looks exactly like the famous Mario question box.

Various extra baddies make the levels more dangerous for the little plumber, while mushrooms, Fire Mario, and Mario's brother Luigi make clearing the stage a breeze. Each Magnet figure comes with their own little coin magnet so you can move them around.

I guess the main problem with these little playsets is the same problem I have with a lot of Japanese collectable toys. They're randomly packed in boxes which give no hint of which set is inside. That's OK for toys that are readily available and relatively cheap. But when they only show up in import stores, it can be frustrating when you end up with three sets of Mario battling a Hammer Brother. The magnets, while strong enough to hold and move the figures, don't always work quite like they're supposed to. Mario frequently flips sideways as you're trying to move him around. Maybe a pair of magnets on each piece would have stabilized the figures. Still, these minor flaws don't outweigh the fun these toys provide.

Japan is know for producing some very unique toys and the Super Mario Stage Figures are no exception. While we've seen homages to the first "Super Mario Bros." before, the idea of making a "movable relief" of screenshots from the game is genius. These playsets bring Mario into 3D while staying faithful to his 2D origins as well. The creative design, combined with the appeal of Mario, make the Super Mario Stage Figures a great buy for video game and toy fans.

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  • nbvbdx

  • Japan has ALL the coolest stuff.  Need one of these!

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