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Bringing Back the Playset, BEN 10 Delivers a Fun Transforming RV Toy (Figures and Speech)

Bringing Back the Playset, BEN 10 Delivers a Fun Transforming RV Toy (Figures and Speech)

Welcome to Figures & Speech, Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys but might want to know more before they buy.

It used to be that no matter how obscure your toy line was, there’d be a big-ticket “base” playset to go with it. Back in the day, it could be crucial to have a headquarters to defend–if you couldn’t afford the actual toy, you might make one out of cardboard. These days, the latter option is more likely, as playsets aren’t considered especially viable by toy companies; they take up too much space and cost too much. So props to Playmates for a really creative solution, which goes by the name of…Rustbucket.

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Rustbucket increases its value both by being a vehicle as well as a headquarters, and by making good use of negative space to seem bigger than it is, and pack away nicely when playtime is done. Another factor in the demise of playsets is that overseas kids don’t always have the same kind of floorspace American kids do, so a base that can maximize less real estate is valuable.

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Ben 10 is not a property I’m super-familiar with, beyond having once gone on a Ben 10-themed roller coaster that went backwards and forwards. But as I gather, it’s about a kid who can transform into 10 different aliens. According to the Rustbucket box, the latest animated series has him on a road trip with “Gwen and Max.” That said, as far as I can tell, there are no Gwen and Max figures…

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So that leaves either an underage boy or an alien alter-ego at the wheel. Unless, that is, you want to bring in some other 6-inch figures.

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Like the Playmobil Ecto-1, this vehicle has a play-friendly functionality that lets you put the drivers in through the roof rather than providing doors that open. Fair enough.

It’s more or less intact right out of the box, or so you think at first.

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Here’s the catch: it requires A LOT of stickers. Now, kids love stickers. I don’t, because I get freaked out about not putting them on quite right. And not all of them here are a perfect fit.

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Almost all the color designs like the red stripes are, in fact, stickers. Which keeps the price (a reasonable $49.99) down by reducing paint ops.

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The transformation aspect is fairly easy, requiring just some basic unfolding and pulling out of support struts. Note how a lot of empty space still gives you three different levels to play with.

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Most of the key features are highlighted on the box, like the missile-launcher and the capture claw, though I’ll note that the “alien-vator” is really more like a crate attached to a winch, and it really doesn’t take figures anywhere they need to actually go.

The missile launcher has a rotating chair beneath–the old Masters of the Universe “Eternia” playset had a similar feature.

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There’s also a rotating transformation chamber for Ben, though some of the alien figures are maybe a bit big to fit perfectly in it.

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Speaking of said figures, they’re $8.99 and look a bit cheap in the package, but they’re actually quite solidly made and feature multiple ball joints, including elbows and knees. For what they are, they’re a good value.

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Other features include a video screen that swivels around to become a medical bay bed.

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And yeah, that capture claw.

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I’d love to see what a customizer with the right paints could do to make this into a Walking Dead RV. In the meantime, though, it’s a colorful and fun toy for kids that hides its limits well. I’m sure the Ninja Turtles could have a blast with it even if Ben 10 isn’t your thing.

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Images: Luke Y. Thompson

Want to keep talking toys? Hit Luke up on Twitter at @LYTrules.

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