Intergalactic police force recruits Ben and Grandpa Max...

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When Ben 10 first began, it seemed as though aliens appearing on Earth was a pretty rare occurrence. As time went on, however, the audience learned that not only had extraterrestrials been visiting for years, but there was an intergalactic police force known as the Plumbers that watched out for such things, and that kindly old Grandpa Max was a member! Tasked with protecting sovereign planets, keeping peace between alien species, and of course protecting the sanctity of the timeline, Plumbers are recruited from many worlds and races. They train in space stations (just recently Ben, Gwen, and Kevin spent some memorable time at one of these installations), and patrol the universe in sleek space ships while sporting high tech armor and gear. In fact, it is the symbol of the Plumbers that adorns the Omnitrix itself!

While the Plumbers have been a significant part of the show for a while, they havenít quite made it into toy form until now. The new mid-2011 Ben 10 lineup includes two very specific Plumber toys, and of course they capture two of the organizationís most famous members: Ben and Max Tennyson. In the 4 inch figure collection is the single carded ďBen with Plumber Suit,Ē while the vehicle+figure lineup gets the ďPlumber Space Ship with Grandpa Max!Ē Both products feature the new white and green Ben 10 packaging scheme, featuring an image of the current Ben Tennyson and a silhouette of his original 10 year old incarnation.

Benís angular 4 inch figure card is very similar to the one used on the Haywire figures (see our review HERE) with the clear bubble showing Ben and his Plumber Suit components; thereís even character art from the show of Ben in the suit at the bottom. The back panel shows off current 4 inch figures (Ultimate Kevin, Ultimate Swampfire, Ultimate Humungousaur, Ultimate Wildmutt, Rath, and Armodrillo). Each one comes with a mini-figure for use with the Revolution Ultimatrix, also shown on the back.

Meanwhile, the Plumber Space Ship set comes in a large window box. With more room available it really screams green with the busy background design of floating Omnitrix spheres and static energy. The back of the box really shows what the toy is capable of, with images of its six different modes (Crawler, Light Speed, Water, and more!). Thereís also a small section at the bottom with other Ben 10 Ultimate Alien vehicles: Benís Motorcycle and Benís Mark 10 & Kevinís Cruiser.

This Plumber version is a new figure that re-uses the head of the latest Ben Tennyson. His slightly thinner (and shorter) body is sculpted in the standard Plumber spacesuit bodysuit complete with forearm ďringĒ decorations, a minimalist belt, heavy gloves (with Ultimatrix built in), and what my dad would call ďmoon boots.Ē Like most of the other human figures in the 4 inch toy line Ben is sturdy and looks great with the style straight from the cartoon. Compared to his other figures, this Ben without his outer suit could almost be called ďStealth BenĒ with a color palette of black with dark blue (rings and hips) and light gray (gloves and boots). Naturally, Benís face and neck are flesh-toned, and the usual bright green shows up on the Ultimatrix and the heroís eyes. Ben has good articulation at the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees.

Of course, a dark suit does not a Plumber make, and thatís where his accessories come into play. Packaged with Ben are three parts: chest, back, and helmet. The torso pieces fit over Benís chest and plug into each other with pegs, fitting quite securely. Part armor and part spacesuit, the addition looks really good on Ben with a nice sculpt and matching colors with some bold red circles to boot. Even better, the suit only slightly impairs Benís shoulder articulation. Finally, thereís a translucent bucket-style helmet that fits over his head and plugs into the chest piece. Ben looks great with or without the helmet piece depending on how you want him displayed.

But Ben wasnít the first Tennyson to be a Plumber. Grandpa Max has been on the show since the very first episode, but until now hasnít appeared in the 4 inch toy line in the United States (there was a U.K.-only Max figure that may see a US release Ėcheck out more info on that and much more in our interview with Ben 10 Brand Manager David Schmidt HERE) until now! With a somewhat youthful appearance reminiscent of the many flashbacks into his varied career, Max cuts an imposing figure in his Plumber Suit. He stands nearly a head taller than most of the other human figures, with a nice, beefy build.

Maxís Plumber Suit is similar to Benís, but with even more detail; the torso section has the same circles with midsection lines and belt pockets, while the arms have overlapping shoulder plates and elbow padding, and the legs thigh holsters and boots. The figure also has a very distinctive head sculpt that captures Grandpa Maxís Plumber glory days. The color palette is the same as Benís, with light gray, black, dark blue, and red for accents. Max also has similar articulation, though without the knees that Ben has.

Ready to travel anywhere in the universe in pursuit of justice, Max has the modular Plumber Space Ship, an interesting design with tons of customizability. Broken down into its components, the ship has a central/main body, two trapezoidal connectors, two outriggers/pods (that themselves divide in half), and a projectile-firing gun. Except for the latter, those parts can be attached in all sorts of different configurations, giving Max access to vehicles best suited for land, sea, air, or space.

The parts connect with interlocking posts and holes with satisfying snaps, and once assembled the different modes are sturdy and fun to play with. Check out the included pictorial instruction sheet for directions on building the six basic modes, but with some tinkering there are even more you can come up with on your own!

No matter how you configure your Plumber ship, it can mount the cannon on the hood; simply push on the back of the missile to fire it. Even better, the back half of the main body unfolds to reveal a pilot seat complete with flip up controls. Max fits perfectly into the seat, while other figures will work there too (like Plumber Ben)! But if you really want Max ready for trouble, attach the halves of the pods to his arms and outfit him in battle mode.

The new Plumber figures are excellent additions to the Ben 10 line and to fansí collections. More figures of the human characters are always welcome, and these are perfect representations of the sci-fi space police aspect of the recent seasons. The two price points are convenient as well, with the inexpensive single packed Ben an easy buy and the larger Grandpa Max and Plumber Space Ship set perfect for a special occasion or the chance to splurge.

Review and Photos by Scott Rubin

Review Samples Courtesy of Bandai America