The only new episode of The Simpsons that I still watch every year is the annual Treehouse of Horror. The segments aren't always Halloween-related (like the 3D segment of ToH VI, or the Mr. & Mrs. Smith spoof from ToH XVIII), and even some of the most dedicated Simpsons fans think the newer seasons have gotten stale, but the Halloween special is always worth checking out.
This September and October, Burger King is including Simpsons Halloween toys in their Kids Meals. This is the third year BK has done so (first in 2001 and again in 2002), and this time there are some really random choices. Each toy has a small light built in and comes with a cardboard backdrop. Shine the light on the backdrop, and you'll reveal a hidden image.
from Treehouse of Horror III
I think they wanted to include every immediate family member from the Simpsons, and in previous years they've done Marge as a witch and the Bride of Frankenstein. With the two obvious ones out of the way, they went with Marge in her Cleopatra costume from the third Halloween special. Out of context, you might not realize it's a Halloween toy. It's not the coolest figure, but Marge has to be included. I just would have preferred something spookier.
from Treehouse of Horror XVIII: Heck House
This one's also pretty basic: Milhouse dressed as an astronaut while trick-or-treating in this episode. Again, if you didn't know it was a Halloween toy you might think it's just an astronaut Milhouse. Something Halloween-themed would have been better. Since he's not in the Simpson family he didn't have to be included, but I'm glad he was because I like the character. In the end, Milhouse is basically just filler.
from Treehouse of Horror IX: The Terror of Tiny Toon
This is what I'm talking about. Marge and Milhouse are in costumes, sure, but Scratchy here is in a skeleton costume, which is unmistakably Halloween-themed. Even better, this is the costume Scratchy wears during the Itchy & Scratchy Halloween episode "Candle in the Wound." My only complaint is that we get Scratchy, but no Itchy. I'm worried he'll be lonely. Then again, Itchy would probably cut his head off and turn it into a jack-o'-lantern, so Scratchy probably prefers being alone.
from Treehouse of Horror X: Desperately Xeeking Xena
Even though it's not really a Halloween segment, I've always liked this one. Bart and Lisa get super powers and become Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, two super heroes. They use their new powers to take down a villain and save Lucy Lawless, who in turn uses her super powers to save the duo. This Clobber Girl figure should go perfectly with...
from Treehouse of Horror X: Desperately Xeeking Xena
Comic Book Guy is a fan-favorite secondary (or maybe tertiary, or beyond...) character in the Simpsons universe, and this is one of his moments to shine. He is the Collector, the super villain who battles Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl. He kidnaps Lucy Lawless as a new addition to his "collection." If you get this figure, I suggest keeping it in the original packaging.
from Treehouse of Horror VIII: Fly vs. Fly
Inexplicably, there's no Stretch Dude to go with Clobber Girl and the Collector. I was thinking maybe a stretched-out Bart looked somewhat awkward, but then again the bulked-up Lisa does too. So, it's weird that they didn't make a Stretch Dude, but what they did make is even weirder...
In this episode, Homer gets a teleporter just like in the 1986 version of The Fly. Knowing that two living beings will be combined if they teleport together, Bart goes through with a fly. He ends up a tiny Bart head on a fly's body, while the fly ends up with a giant fly head on Bart's body. You might notice that this figure is neither of those. Instead, this toy is based on what Bart imagines will happen...
Here's how I think this came about. They wanted to do Bart as the fly, but a fly with Bart's head doesn't exactly fit with the other figures. The fly's head on Bart's body would have been awesome, but then we don't get to see Bart's recognizable spiked head at all. Instead, they went with Bart as a super hero with fly powers.
I don't know. I would have liked a fly-headed Bart better than this. Or, if not that, Stretch Dude.
from Treehouse of Horror IX: Starship Poopers
This one's cool. Not only is it based on a specific moment from a Treehouse of Horror episode, but it's Maggie as a monster. Specifically, it's Maggie as the alien love child of Marge and Kang. Even if you don't have any of the other toys, you can tell it's not just Maggie. You can tell it's not even Maggie in an octopus costume. It's Maggie the alien monster.
from Treehouse of Horror XIII: The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms
This figure was the hardest for me to place. With Lisa, Comic Book Guy, and Bart all looking like super heroes, I'm thinking most kids who get this toy are going to think Homer's a super hero too. Actually, he's Homer from the future.
When guns are banned, a bunch of zombie cowboys come to Springfield and shoot up the place. Professor Frink makes a time machine and Homer goes back to prevent the banning of guns. When Lisa is convinced that guns may be necessary after all, a futuristic Homer (ie. this figure) shows up. He tries to warn the people of Springfield that guns will destroy the world. Instead of listening, Moe blasts him with a shotgun. So, future Homer is on screen for approximately fifteen seconds. Does that warrant a BK Kids Meal toy? Apparently, yes.
from Treehouse of Horror XII: Wiz Kids
Burns from a Harry Potter spoof is not as cool as Burns from a Bram Stoker's Dracula spoof would have been. Like Marge and Milhouse, something spookier would have been cooler here. Without the rest of the Halloween figures, Burns looks like a guest speaker at a college graduation.
from Treehouse of Horror XVI
This is simultaneously the best and worst of the bunch. In the episode, Kang and Kodos are watching the World Series and dying of boredom while they wait for the new Simpsons Halloween special. They also complain that, due to steroids, the baseball players look like freaks. On cue, one of them sprouts a second head that exclaims "Freaks! Freaks!" before being eaten (which is what the figure shows going down). It's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it joke, which is the kind of thing Simpsons fans love. Plus, the toy just looks cool.
So how is this also the worst figure? The toy is supposed to be Kang, but I'm pretty sure it's actually Kodos who sprouts the second head in the episode. Minor detail? Yes. Sure, you can't tell the aliens apart by looking at them, but they're voiced by different actors. It's the kind of minor detail that will only bother a few, and I'm willing to let it go since the actual toy is pretty sweet.
All in all, they're pretty cool. Even though some of the figures don't look like Halloween toys on their own, they're obviously Treehouse of Horror figures when you get them all together. Plus, check out those backdrops... Each one, even though they're just a piece of cardboard, is appropriately shaped. Look at Bart: he comes with a teleporter. Marge's backdrop is the Simpsons house, decorated for their Halloween party. I only have two of these so far so I can't say for sure, but I think the hidden image is episode-relevant as well.
Maggie and Kang (Kodos) are my favorites, but none of them are bad really. I would have liked them to be more Halloween-themed, but since each toy is based on a specific Halloween special, they should please Simpsons fans and collectors. After all, those are the people the figures were made for. And if these toys aren't intended for adults, then maybe I'm missing the whole point of the BK Kids Meal.
I believe Burger King has two new toys each week, but I have no idea what the order is. I got Homer and Maggie the first week, and that's all I can tell you so far. Here's hoping I'm able to get my hands on all of them.