Toy Review: Rudolph Flying Sleigh Display

This wasn’t what I planned on tonight, but what I planned is taking too long. Instead, I grabbed an article from my alternate website, The Clutter Reports. On that site I review stuff I own, usually deciding whether or not to get rid of it, or how I organize the clutter I’m keeping. This has actually been a high-traffic article this year and as much as I hope I’m not taking traffic away from it, I think it’s a good introduction to what I review when I’m not reviewing storytelling.

Also, I need something quick so I can go to bed. I’m not usually this incompetent.
This used to be my Santa and reindeer display.

The set is composed of a Snoopy bank (that used to contain candy), some reindeer Christmas tree decorations I found at a dollar store (a big tree, not mine), and a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer action figure, which will be part of today’s final Christmas review. For years this was the only Santa sleigh display I could find. Nowhere I looked had Santa on a sleigh being pulled by “eight tiny reindeer” with or without “Rudy in the lead” (if you know your Christmas stories and carols). That was until last year when this showed up in a Toys R Us.

Released by a company called “Forever Fun“, who put out a whole mess of Rudolph memorabilia this year, “Santa’s Musical Sleigh” boasts a flying rig that is supposed to make the sleigh and reindeer appear to fly, that connects to a base that plays the famous song, using the instrumental from the famous Rankin/Bass Christmas special (which also happens to be my favorite Christmas special, apologies to A Charlie Brown Christmas). The set features Santa, the sleigh, the presents, and all nine of the reindeer. So how good is this set?

"No, we're not there yet so stop asking!"

I don’t usually care about the packaging, but I have to give credit to Forever Fun for the work here. The backdrop is one you could use in your display, and even the fake hill they’re climbing up is a nice touch. Had the reindeer all been in front of the sleigh you almost could keep it in the packaging, but you’d lose some of the intended playability of the set. These are toys first and Christmas decorations second. Which actually leads to a couple of disappointments on both ends.

Waving hello to his fans.

As you can see the bag is separate from Santa’s sleigh although it doesn’t stay in very well. You might be better off keeping the packaging rubber bands in place or risk losing it. Santa himself is not removable from the sleigh, although his reindeer can be removed from their harness.

"Where the snow did you lead us to?"

I wouldn’t recommend that, either. Supposedly it’s so you can play with the reindeer individually, perhaps if you want to play with the special. (Sadly the reindeer are not posable, unlike the figure I’ll be reviewing at the end of the article.) However I’m worried that the soft plastic balls (that double as both the bells and keeping the harness on) would break off while doing so and their not easy to put on, as you’ll see when you try to put the set together. For some reason Rudolph’s left harness strap that connects to…I think Dasher, it’s hard to tell since all of the non-Rudolph reindeer look alike, but it’s upside down where it connects to Dasher’s strap. And since the pegs you need to connect the team and sleigh to the flying rig were missing on the one I bought, I had to get it replaced, so I can tell you it’s true for all the sets. Also they can’t stand up on their own. They need the flying rig even if you’re not using it to fake fly.

Outside of not being able to tell them apart, all of the reindeer, as well as Rudolph, Santa, and the sleigh and bag are spot-on for the puppets and props used in the Rankin/Bass special.

Not the worst picture I've taken with my old camera.

The set comes with this flying rig and the base to attach it to, which resembles a snow bank. The end result should make it look like Santa and his team are flying. The base itself has a button which plays the aforementioned instrumental. It’s louder out of the package than it is inside. It might even wake everybody in a small house or apartment (and the neighbors if the apartment wall is thin enough). The button is hidden well enough that you might accidentally press it when you pick up the base but not enough that you can’t find it if you really do want to play the music. It’s a decent speaker for a toy but that’s not saying much is it? :)

The rig appears ingenious in design. The reindeer connect to the pegs with hole in their bellies. If you try to move it they’ll pop off too easily but otherwise stay in place. Using a set of external pegs to hold them in place (the reason I had to get a replacement set, because they were missing in the first set), the ends of the harness and the sleigh connect to the rig. So how well does the rig work?

"Come on, boys. Only a few countries left to go."

In a word, terrible. In a bunch of words, the biggest problem is the rig itself. The joints allow you to pose the reindeer in different flight angles but they’re so weak, and again this is true of both sets I had, that they can’t hold the weight of the figures. The placement of the connection point doesn’t help. A bit more in the center would have fixed the balance issue, but that’s if pieces surrounding the joints don’t break off as this second set has had happened in numerous spots. It’s a nice idea, but the execution is terrible. You’re better off using the rig just to keep the team together (and so the reindeer will stand up) and putting the base off to the side. Maybe use the snowy hill from the packaging and the backdrop to make it complete. This is the biggest disappointment of the set, as the ability to pose the reindeer in flight was a bonus I was looking forward to.

So is the set worth buying? It depends. I just wanted Santa, the sleigh, and the reindeer, and it’s an improvement on the display I’ve been using. If the useless flying rig is a deal breaker for you, then don’t bother. If you want a Rudolph figure, there are better ones Forever Fun produces. I got what I wanted and for $30 it’s satisfactory so I got what I wanted.

Quick bonus review

"She said I'm cuuuuuuuuute!"

This is the Rudolph I’ve been using. It’s not produced by Forever Fun (at least I don’t think it is, what I kept from the packaging is in the decorations box) but is also done in the style of the Rankin/Bass special. Here (the only decent picture I could get of it) you see all the features. The figure has hip and side-to-side neck articulation. The flying rig here (a clear post that connects to his belly) works better than the system in the other set. It comes with the snow base, a Christmas tree and a cover for his nose, right out of the special when Rudolph’s father tries to cover up his special nose.

Before I built a homemade photo studio "lightbox".

And this figure does have that nose. Powered by a watch battery, the nose glows when you push down on his tail. There’s no way to lock it in place, but it’s a good feature to have.

"Guide your sleigh? I'll have to check my schedule."

If you can find this figure (I was lucky to find one on a peg at a pharmacy), get it. It’s a great toy and a nice Christmas decoration.

Next week I’ll have the video review that should have been up THIS week. Long story, but it takes me a lot longer to do a video than most of the people here. It’s why I was brought on as an article writer. :)

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