I can’t believe Earthworm Jim is eighteen years old. That’s not groovy. I haven’t played the game in forever, but I burned many hours playing the first two games back in junior high. Jim has since fallen on some hard times, but Mezco has him back in the spotlight this summer.
Earthworm Jim is the classic toy story, but with a video game twist. In the mid-90s, Playmates Toys was flush with cash from TMNT & Star Trek and wanted to expand with a new franchise. But unlike those fab 80s when franchises were given the cartoons we know and love, Playmates thought it best to kick off with a video game. They approached some top industry talent (namely Doug TenNapel & Dave Perry) and essentially struck gold, at least for a little bit. The first Earthworm Jim game was routinely listed on Top Lists for Genesis & SNES, the 2nd Earthworm Jim game is considered by many to be superior to the first, Jim got a 23-episode cartoon series, and Playmates did finally get around to making action figures, though the toy line was tragically cut short.
For me, the appeal of Earthworm Jim was a mix of the ridiculousness and satire. Jim was your run-of-the-mill earthworm when this futuristic cybernetic suit fell out of the sky, landed on him, and makes him into the hero we know and love. He immediately runs afoul of the psychotic crow bounty hunter, Psy-Crow, who had been paid to steal the suit for Queen Slug-for-a-Butt. The evil queen becomes Jim’s primary nemesis and ideally his future sister-in-law should he win the heart of Princess What’s-Her-Name. If you’re not already sold from that, I can get into Bob the Killer Goldfish, Evil the Cat, and Professor Monkey-For-A-Head. Sometimes, I think those games were made for me…
Anyway, so toy collector, right? Earthworm Jim also represents one of my first real forays into complete and utter toy collecting disappointment. It was the 90s, so the action figure line consisted heavily of Jim variants, but Playmates did manage two supporting cast members and three villains in the first wave. I never enjoyed Playmates habit of not painting accessories, but the toy line was otherwise awesome. At first.
The company that made the Earthworm Jim games would change hands, the original rockin’ developers would move on, and the third Earthworm Jim game, for N64, just wasn’t as cool (and was virtually impossible at times, more so than even the first game). The Game Boy port sucked. The cartoon ran its course. And the toy line never got a second wave. And worse still, we know what the second wave was. Namely, we never got the Queen or the Professor, but there were some fun Jim variants and the Hamsternator on the chopping block as well. Ouch.
And that’s really been it for the last twelve years. Jim burned brightly, but went out fast. There’s usually some rumor of Earthworm Jim 4 going around and I think Xbox released an update of the original game not too long ago, but it’s been quiet otherwise. Until Mezco announced they were bringing Earthworm Jim back to plastic.
I get busy, so I was a little confused when I heard Mezco was making a new Jim figure. I didn’t realize there are actually two versions. The one in this review is the regular release; I got mine from BBTS a few weeks ago, and this version features the standard deco and Jim’s angry face. It basically recaptures the look of the box art from the original game.
There is also a metallic deco that was released as an SDCC exclusive. It’s still listed as available in the Mezco store and I have to admit I’m mighty tempted. I don’t need two Jim’s, but that one features a smiling Jim head. Ugh! Continue to Page 2…