You know how sometimes you completely miss something the first time around and later regret it? Such is the case with me and Mezco’s Popeye toy line. These toys came out in 2001, or perhaps an era that should be known as the “Golden Age of Toys”… Back when Marvel Legends was hitting it’s peak and just about every movie, TV show or nostalgic property was getting a toy line. A lot of them were busts, but some were truly great. Sadly with all bubbles, it eventually had to burst. After reading today’s review I think you’ll realize that I lament the loss of the Mezco Popeye line.

5 Inch Scale
By: Mezco
$10.99 (Then) – $25 & Above (Now)

2001 may have been a great time for toys, but it wasn’t a great time for my relationship with them. I had “grown up” by that point and didn’t buy any little plastic crack back then. As such, I pretty much missed out on all the good stuff. I really didn’t get back into toys until the relaunch of the TMNT cartoon and subsequent toy line. I do remember seeing a Popeye figure or two on the shelf at Toys R Us and thinking about it, but it’s not like I have some huge love for Popeye or anything… Plus the figures were expensive and I passed.

And days have went by and I’ve thought about that. Should I have gotten some Popeye figures? I’ve researched them, looked at them on Ebay, ALMOST, come close a few times but never could commit. Partially because again, these guys are expensive. Finally, last week, I caved. I bought some Popeye figures. I paid premium prices for the spinach eating sailor and without giving any spoilers… IT WAS SO WORTH IT!

Let’s start at the beginning, with the package. I remember even back in 2001 that the big head of Popeye and the bright colors of the card back caught my eye. Again, remember, I had completely quit toys at this point. No interest. I was an adult. I was done with that junk… But this card drew me over to check it out. I think that says volumes about how eye appealing this package is.

Now obviously this is an older card so there is some minor damage to it, but you get the idea. Popeye’s face is big and prominently on display. The entire edge of the card is designed to look like rope and Popeye is nicely packaged in the middle of the card. All of his accessories are visible and his name plate is a sticker that’s made to look like a treasure map. The back of the card stock even has a sunken ship on it.

The back of the package is just as bright and shows off the other figures in the series. Nice bright pictures of them with their accessories. Another thing that I like is that this also has a big Popeye head on it, only in reverse. The back is designed as if everything is under water. There’s just so many subtle details here. It’s a masterpiece of card design, literally.

There are toys and then there is art. Popeye and the figures in this series are the latter. I mean that whole heartedly. These figures are ART! I had more fun taking pictures of Popeye than I have for my last 50 reviews, if not more. There’s just something so photogenic about this toy.

This isn’t just a Popeye toy. This is Popeye. I mean, everything is here. This doesn’t look like an approximation of Popeye. It’s the frickin’ genuine article. I defy you not to get this figure in your hand and not feel compelled to start humming or whistling the Popeye theme.

They’ve been making Popeye cartoons and comics since the late 1920’s, so by now we’ve seen every angle of Popeye there is. We’ve seen him in pretty much every imaginable situation. This figure does an impressive feat where, this doesn’t just look like Popeye from certain perspectives, it looks like Popeye from every angle.

The true test of a sculpt is if it completely captures the character’s essence and this does that in spades. This is unmistakably Popeye. I know that it sounds like I’m gushing over a simple thing here, but honestly once you have this guy in your hand, you can just feel how awesome this little sailor dude is.

And if he just fit those qualities, he’d be excellent… But he doesn’t, he goes above and beyond the basics. This isn’t just a good replication of Popeye, it’s a damn fine toy as well.

Popeye’s corn cob pipe (which is basic in paint but still nicely sculpted with detail) is removable. Certainly something that didn’t have to be done, but helps raise the bar. Mezco didn’t stop there though, they continued to up the ante.

Popeye’s hat is removable as well. Underneath he has perfectly painted Popeye hair. The hat fits in through a little peg and sits just right on his head, slightly cocked, every time. The hat is snug too, so no worries about it coming off during play. The paint? It’s flawless. It’s bright and cartoony, but not overly glossy. It’s some of Mezco’s finest work.

The only area I could see anyone having a grievance with is the hinge on the knuckles which allows Popeye to grasp stuff. It does detract a teensy, tiny bit from the sculpt. That said, it ups the toy value about 50% and allows Popeye to do a lot more.

There’s just nothing wrong with this guy. I often say that a toy looks like it just walked off the screen, but this is one of those cases where it’s honestly true. This is classic Popeye at his finest.

With that gushing out of the way, I’m not going to pull any punches here, the articulation isn’t going to bowl you over. That’s not to say the articulation isn’t good, because I personally think it’s superb. However make no mistake this isn’t a super articulated figure. He does what he does, but he does it very well.

The ball jointed neck works really well, with the ball being on a long neck and allows him for some great poses. The only thing that could have made him better is if his head was also on a ball in addition to the neck. He doesn’t have hinged elbows and those MIGHT have added to his play value, but Mezco sculpted him into the perfect position where you can really do a lot with these ball jointed shoulders. It takes some careful manipulation, but because of the sculpting he never looks awkward and “unPopeye”.

The legs don’t give you a ton of options, but simple cuts work the best here. Not every figure needs swivel thigh and ball jointed hips. Popeye is one of those that doesn’t. His sculpt is simple, his articulation is simple. Perfection in simplicity.

Popeye also has the old He-Man style “twist and punch” action feature. This is normally something I would frown upon, but as toy action features go, this one has always been a classic. In fact it would be a crime not to have a feature where Popeye can SOCK someone in the face. That’s what Popeye freakin’ does. He smokes, he drinks and he punches people’s lights out.

Mezco has always been pretty good about accessories, but their Popeye line is the pinnacle of this. Popeye can be stripped down of his pipe and hat, so those are definitely accessories. But he also includes a clip on muscle. I, for the life of me, thought this wouldn’t work, but it’s almost amazing how well it does.

It just pops right over his arm on either side and gives him the “Bulging Bicep” look. Mezco didn’t stop there, they pulled out some classic World War II style Popeye and painted a raging Navy warship on one side of the muscle. Just as it likely would have appeared after he’s eaten some spinach in a cartoon.

And because of the way it clips on, it completely engulfs his sleeve. Giving the appearance of a big huge muscle. You can only see it’s a clip on from underneath.

But that’s really just the tip of the proverbial accessory iceberg. He also includes a can of spinach. The detail here is really good and it’s squished, so it fits right into his gripping hands. The paint work is really good. The spinach leaves have several shades on them.

And wouldn’t you know it, Mezco stepped it up even more offering a different looking back side of the can. This basically means you can use this as two different cans. Especially awesome if you’re taking pictures and making photo comics and like little details like that.

But it doesn’t stop there. Popeye comes with an anchor, that’s very nicely detailed. Perfect for whacking Bluto over the head with. He also has a shark’s mouth with teeth. It’s got a nice cartoon realistic bone wash on it as well and the jaw is articulated.

Now this is where things get tricky. There is no set price on Popeye anymore. Back in the day he was around $10-$11 which was pretty pricey. The line probably only marginally appealed to kids, because the snot nosed punks of today are too interested in Grand Theft Auto to care about patriotism, fighting over a scrawny hussy and spinach… But that’s besides the point. It was worth every bit of $15 back in 2001 and it’s worth at least twice that now. Yeah, I said it. MOTUC can stuff it, it has nothing on the value and quality of this Popeye figure.

“So ya wanna be a champ with musckles, eh? Den’ stick wit’ me and eats ya’r spinach!”

Score Recap:
Packaging – 10
Sculpting – 10
Articulation – 8
Accessories – Pipe, Hat, Muscle, Anchor, Spinach, Shark’s Teeth
Value – 10
Overall – 10 out of 10

Sometimes a figure is just perfect. I don’t give 10’s out unless I mean it. With Popeye’s high price tag, he is a very unlikely candidate, yet he still makes it. This isn’t a case of him being “greater than the sum of his parts” either… ALL of his parts are awesome. Paint, sculpt, package, action feature, it’s all perfect.

I’ve had this figure just a little over 24 hours and I can tell you now that Popeye is among my favorite figures of all time. ALL TIME! He’s right up there. Oh and look who’s coming to visit tomorrow here at Infinite Hollywood…

Oh yeah, it’s on. Bluto’s review is tomorrow. Be sure to check it out.

10 Responses to Popeye The Sailorman Figure Review

  • Gmamon says:

    Popeye reminds me of Micky, from the Rocky movies…good review.

  • Yeah he definitely has some of those qualities about him. Thanks!

  • Bill says:

    I have this figure too. I agree with you, Newton, he is a "10". Sadly, this is the only figure from this line that I have. Back in the day, ten bucks was a lot of money for a toy like this. That seems silly now, with DCUC figures with NO accessories are going for a minimum of $15!

    I wish I had bought the whole line.

  • Yeah it's crazy how much perspective can change.

  • BubbaShelby says:

    I also have the large roto-cast version of this one (with the cloth clothes.) I think it was a Toys R Us exclusive. Another large roto-cast was made of him in his sailor outfit, but I never got that one.

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    Man, I thought nobody else noticed or cared about this line outside of Popeye collectors. The sad thing is, I was going on a collecting hiatus when these came out so I only got this version of Popeye and Wimpy, one of my favorite characters ever.

    This line had it all: They covered all the major characters and offered variations based on the different studios that produced the Popeye shorts. They even had a series of mini-figures which are pretty sweet. I still have those boxed up somewhere. I'm very happy to see you covering these guys, Newton!

  • anthonywayne says:

    May I ask where you got them? I'm kinda in the same boat as you, and your review convinced me that I should at least try to get these…

  • Yeah, sadly Ebay is pretty much your only choice. Popeye usually comes in a lot and that's probably where you can get the best price on him. I have seen the singles go for cheap every now and then, but it's pretty much only Ebay where you'll see this guy regularly and even that can be pretty scarce.

  • Hugo says:

    Hey guys!
    I have 2 different (2001) Mezco Popeyes and one Olive Oyl, all with accessories and sealed in original packaging, and one Wimpee with accessories and original packaging, tho it has been opened. I would like to sell these if anyone is interested. All in very good condition. For details hit me up at hugo w@ (remove spaces,)

  • JARED says:


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