REVIEW: HOT WHEELS ANGRY BIRDS GREEN PIG MINION CAR
One of the most popular video game concepts to come along in quite some time is known as "Angry Birds". Now, I will confess to a lack of familiarity with the concept, mostly because I don't play video games all that often, and that's mostly because I'm pretty awful at them. You can only watch your playable character meet an untimely demise so many times before it gets downright demoralizing.
Moreover, Angry Birds actually started out as an "app", to be used on smartphones and such. I don't have a smartphone. I don't have any sort of cell phone, tablet, or anything else of the kind. So, that really sort of lets me out of this one, although it has since been offered for personal computers and video game systems.
However, there is certainly no question that this "Angry Birds" concept is a popular one. It honestly amazes me that any video game concept can rise above the dozens and dozens of video game titles that are presently on the market, to achieve some sort of pop culture superstar status. You'd really think that anything "new" just wouldn't be able to cut through the noise. And yet, some of them do.
If one bases the popularity of a video game concept on the basis of ancillary merchandise that features the characters of that concept, but is not specifically a video game in and of itself, then Angry Birds is certainly a highly popular success. I've seen posters, books, beach towels, stuffed animals, plastic figurines, and much more. There's even a crossover with Star Wars, fully supported by a Hasbro toy line!
Now, I haven't picked up any of this stuff, because, well, I'm not that into the concept, for one thing, given my lack of proficiency with video games, and although there are figures of a sort of these characters, one would be hard-pressed to call these avian blobs "action figures", given that for the most part, we're talking about characters that seem as much as anything to be all head and no body. As to what the character designers for this concept were thinking when they came up with that bit, I have no idea.
However, while I may not be that into Angry Birds, I do like Hot Wheels cars. I'm not as dedicated collector of these as I am of action figures, but I pick up the occasional car here and there. And the more unusual a Hot Wheels car is, the more likely it is to garner my attention.
But somehow, the last thing I expected to see -- was an Angry Birds Hot Wheels car. And yet, there's not just one -- but two! I found the Angry Birds Hot Wheels car based on the "Red Bird" a while back. Now, I've found one based on the basic bad guys, one of the Green Pig "Minions".
As I would be rather thoroughly unable to explain "Angry Birds" on my own, I'll have to turn to a certain amount of online research for the backstory.
Angry Birds is a puzzle video game developed by Finnish computer game developer Rovio Entertainment. Inspired primarily by a sketch of stylized wingless birds, the game was first released for Apple's iOS in December 2009. Since that time, over 12 million copies of the game have been purchased from Apple's App Store, which has prompted the company to design versions for other touchscreen-based smartphones, such as those using the Android operating system, among others.
In the game, players use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs stationed on or within various structures, with the intent of destroying all the pigs on the playing field. As players advance through the game, new types of birds become available, some with special abilities that can be activated by the player. Rovio Mobile has supported Angry Birds with numerous free updates that add additional game content, and the company has also released stand-alone holiday and promotional versions of the game.
Angry Birds has been praised for its successful combination of addictive gameplay, comical style, and low price. Its popularity led to versions of Angry Birds being created for personal computers and gaming consoles, a market for merchandise featuring its characters and even long-term plans for a feature film or television series. With a combined 1 billion downloads across all platforms and including both regular and special editions, the game has been called "one of the most mainstream games out right now", "one of the great runaway hits of 2010", and "the largest mobile app success the world has seen so far".
In Angry Birds, the player controls a flock of multi-colored birds that are attempting to retrieve their eggs, which have been stolen by a group of green pigs.
Flightless birds, green pigs -- I'd say you couldn't make this stuff up, but somebody did. I can certainly see why the birds are angry, however...
On each level, the pigs are sheltered by structures made of various materials such as wood, ice and stone, and the objective of the game is to eliminate all the pigs on the level. Using a slingshot, players launch the birds with the intent of either hitting the pigs directly or damaging the structures, causing them to collapse and eliminate the pigs. In various stages of the game, additional objects such as explosive crates and rocks are found in the structures, and may be used in conjunction with the birds to destroy hard-to-reach pigs.
There are several different types of birds used in the game. In the earliest levels, the basic red bird is the only one available. As the player advances through the game, additional types of birds become available. Some birds are effective against particular materials, and some have special abilities that may be activated by the player while the bird is airborne. For example, a blue bird can separate into three small birds, a black bird explodes, and a white bird can drop explosive eggs.
Has this been properly catalogued by the Audubon Society!?
The pigs themselves also appear in different sizes. While small pigs are relatively weak and are easily destroyed either by direct hits or by debris from the damaged structures, larger pigs are able to sustain more damage. In addition, some pigs wear helmets as armor, making them even more resistant to damage; pigs with crowns or mustaches can take the most damage.
Each level starts with the number, types, and order of birds pre-determined. If all of the pigs are defeated by the time the last bird is used, the level is completed and the next level is unlocked. Points are scored for each pig defeated as well as for damage to, or destruction of, structures, and bonus points are awarded for any unused birds. Upon completing each level, players receive one, two, or three stars, depending on the score received. Players may re-attempt unlocked levels as many times as they wish in order to complete them successfully or to earn additional points or stars.
So, how's the car? Well, I wouldn't expect to see anything like this driving down the freeway anytime soon, and would be deeply concerned if I did, but it does manage to look very much like its game character counterpart.
Much as the birds in the game "Angry Birds" are little more than a spherical bird head with a face, but not much in the way of wings or legs, so the green pigs in the game are little more than a spherical head with pig-like facial features.
As to what makes them green, I really don't know, but I can't say as I'd be terribly inclined to buy ham, bacon, or pork chops in their universe...
Needless to say, the Hot Wheels incarnation of this character is hardly a conventional Hot Wheels car. The "average" Hot Wheels car, if there is such a thing, is generally around 2-3/4" in length, give or take a fraction, and less than an inch in height. The Green Pig Minion Car is almost precisely 1-7/8" in length, and is very slightly over an inch in height, if you allow for the pig ears on top.
The Hot Wheels car does a superb job of imitating the basic shape of the character. In other words, it's very round. Most of the vehicle is green. The very circular eyes and thin eyebrows are right up front. The front and underside of the vehicle are a somewhat lighter shade of green than the main body, and this also includes a pig-like snout and some small evidence of a sculpted mouth directly under the nose.
Somewhat to my surprise, there isn't a curly tail in the back, but the lighter green color does carry over the length of the underside of the vehicle, with a small tab that rises up in the back behind the engine.
Of course, what sets the car apart from the character is the presence of an engine and wheels. The engine is chrome silver with four huge exhaust pipes on either side, and is mounted directly behind the head. This is in noticeable contrast to the Red Bird car, which does not have a visible engine.
The front wheels emerge from either side of the head, more or less where the cheeks would be, and the rear wheels are in the rear on either side of the engine. The fenders over all four wheels are black, and curved in shape. The rear wheels are noticeably larger than the front wheels, giving the Minion Car a sort of dune buggy look -- at least insofar as the wheels and fenders are concerned.
Obviously, this isn't intended to be a "practical car" take on the Angry Birds character. There are no windows, no doors, nothing like that. The Green Pig Minion has had wheels and an engine mounted to him and has been turned into a Hot Wheels car. Period.
Although certainly unusual, the Angry Birds Green Pig Minion Hot Wheels car is nevertheless very well made, neatly painted, and accurately detailed. I'm not sure how well it would fare on a Hot Wheels racetrack set or anything like that, but if you know of any Angry Birds and Hot Wheels fans, then this would be a must have for them.
The back of the package card has one of those images that you can scan with your smartphone -- so stop playing Angry Birds for a second -- which will add this Hot Wheels car to your "online collection".
So, what's my final word? I may have never played Angry Birds, nor am I likely to, and the popularity of the concept is just a little elusive to me. But I can certainly acknowledge its popularity, and Mattel has turned out a very cool car of the game's most iconic character.
I don't know how easy this car will be to find. Doubtless it will appeal to both Hot Wheels and Angry Birds fans, and my experience with both this and the Red Bird car is that they have been somewhat elusive -- and their colors and shapes, as well as prominent illustrations on their package cards -- have made them extremely obvious in any Hot Wheels store display.
I can readily see this car appealing to both camps, especially since Hot Wheels cars are inexpensive and don't take up a lot of space. Some Angry Birds fan who might not otherwise even think about buying a Hot Wheels car will quickly figure out that this car is far less than the cost of his last cafe mocha espresso or whatever, and he can carry it in the same pocket as the smartphone he plays the game on. And to date, I've seen this car ONCE in the stores, and that was when I bought it.
But, if you're an Angry Birds fan, or you like the more unusual entries in the world of Hot Wheels, you should definitely make an effort to track it down.
The HOT WHEELS "ANGRY BIRDS" GREEN PIG "MINION" CAR definitely has my most enthusiastic recommendation!