Category Archives: Nightmare Before Christmas

VAMPIRE

NBC-Vampire fullA NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Tim Burton was once my favorite director. He always had a very distinct style.  I didn’t appreciate until I was in my teens but I was a fan of his films like Batman, Beetlejuice, and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure well before that. My opinion on him has soured over the years but I feel I’ve talked about that before so let’s try and keep things positive today.

In my mind, the film that best sums up Tim Burton is a Nightmare Before Christmas; which he didn’t even direct. It was actually directed by Henry Selick, who I believe was hired based on his stop-motion animation experience, but Burton was clearly the guiding force of the picture. The characters and sets were based on his weird gothic designs which is evident if you’ve ever seen his drawings and various design elements are  evocative of his other films. Sally’s stitched together body is reminiscent of Catwoman’s body suit from Burton’s Batman and Jack Skellington’s long creepy fingers bare a passing resemblance to Edward Scissorhands’ tragic digits.NBC-Vampire face

The Town of Halloween was populated by a wide variety of original monsters like the walking hangman tree, the creature living under your bed, and the clown with the tear-away face. But I also really dug Burton’s take on the classic monsters. Wolfman was really top heavy with a very pointy shrew-like face, the Sea Creature was a female which played against type, and the Mummy was a cycloptic runt.

When it came to Dracula, rather than give us one, Burton gave us four. There’s a fat one, a skinny one, a middle one, and a short one. None of them are outright named Dracula, they’re all credited as generic vampires, but based on their attire and their accents it’s obvious that they’re directly inspired by Bela Legosi’s classic take on Dracula.

NBC-vampire groupWhen Neca first started releasing their NBC figures I had hopes of acquiring all of Halloween Town’s citizens and then perhaps constructing a diorama to display them in. However the line faded out before all the characters were released and my interest faded with it. The toys look great but they’re rather fragile. It doesn’t help that many of the characters are so skinny and oddly shaped. Displaying them isn’t easy as they tend to fall down and knock over all of the random little accessories they come packaged with.

The only Dracula that got released was this middle-sized one. Sadly I never got to complete my vampiric quartet but at least the one I did get was my favorite of the three.  The skinny one is too skinny, the fat one is too fat, and the short one is just stupid looking but this one is just right.NBC-Vampire side

This figure perfectly captures the look of the puppet used on screen.  Neca did a great job on these figures.  He’s got a bat-like face with a pointy chin, fangs, a prominent widow’s peak, and large pupil-less eyes.  He’s articulated at the neck which allows him to look from side to side. His body is a relatively simple hollow black cone sculpted to give him a slight hunch.  The matte black and texture of the body makes it almost look like he’s made out of construction paper. There’s no articulation on the body but his skinny arms have a wire running through them so they can be posed all sorts of ways.  The arms have a very cool batwing design.  The hollow body does house a clear plastic base which actually makes this guy pretty solid.  He doesn’t tend to fall over like other figures in the line.NBC-Vampire cat

For accessories Vampire comes with a stylish umbrella to protect him from the sun as well as a deranged flying bobble-head cat toy.  The cat also has a clear base which allows you to display him “flying”.

All of Burton’s cinematic sins aside this is a great figure based on one of his awesome character designs.  8 out of 10.NBC-Vampire compareNBC-Vampire arms

 

GENERAL WELLINGTON

CB full2CORPSE BRIDE

When the Corpse Bride was set for release in 2005 I was mildly excited about seeing it.  I loved Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas and for years he was my favorite director.  His early work was amazing , original, and inspired: Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, Batman, Batman Returns, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Ed Wood, and of course Nightmare Before Xmas.  I loved them all;  it seemed the man could do no wrong.  But it the years leading up to Corpse Bride’s release his work stopped impressing me.  I still watched, enjoyed, and purchased Big Fish , Planet of the Apes, and Sleepy Hollow but they didn’t feel as fresh as his earlier work.  And I really didn’t care for Mars Attacks.  His work in the years since Corpse Bride have solidified his fall from grace in my eyes.  Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory..blech.  I didn’t even bother watching Frankenweenie and while I liked the visuals of Sweeney Todd the music makes it unwatchable for me.CB- face

I had intended to see Corpse Bride in theaters but missed my chance so my first time seeing it was on a DVD I rented from Blockbuster.  I remember being completely disinterested in it.  Granted, I was having a few drinks at the time but it simply could not hold my attention.  And yet I did end up buying a previously viewed copy of it because I still fancied myself a collector of Burton’s films at the time.  I figured that maybe I’d appreciate it more on a second viewing.  However, in the 7 or 8 years since I have never once felt like giving it that second chance.  I barely remember anything about the film at all…especially this character.

Before the film’s theatrical release I bought the first wave of action figures because I had anticipated being a fan of the film.  That first wave consisted of the bride, the lead character Vincent who was voiced by Johnny Depp, and this dude, General Wellington.  They were produced by McFarlane Toys so the visual quality of them was excellent; as if they had leapt off of the screen. CB- movie still

However, McFarlane’s stuff can be delicate and these figures in particular had thin limbs and small pieces so I opted to keep them sealed in their packages.  I tacked them up on my wall for display.  After seeing the film and being completely unimpressed I took the packages down and stored them in a bin where they sat for years. During a recent purge, the one that sealed Chim Chim‘s fate, I stumbled across my 3 Corpse Bride figures.  Their bulky packaging was taking up a lot of room in my storage bins and I had no love for the characters so I put them in my “sell” pile.  After some reflection though I decided that if I opened them they wouldn’t take up much space at all and I could just throw them in with my NBC figures.  God forbid I actually rewatch the movie someday and like it then curse myself for selling them off.  So I opened them up and back into storage they went.  But before putting them away I had to snap some pictures for the blog.

As I suspected they were extremely delicate.  I broke this figure about 30 seconds after opening it.  He came with a display base made to look like wooden planks.  There were small pegs on the base intended to fit into the holes on the bottoms of his feet.  Well, when I attempted to display him on the pegs they broke right off.  I had to lean him against a box to take these pictures.

CB-faceAs expected on a McFarlane figure, the sculpting on this toy is top-notch.  The skull is expressive with a detailed helmet and a foggy translucent monocle over one of his eye sockets.  The attention to detail is seen throughout the mold, from the exposed ribs in the cannonball wound in his chest to the rips on his tattered pants.  Even the base looks great with “glass bottles” and realistic wood grain.  The paint job is equally impressive.  The paint apps accentuate the details of the sculpt and almost elevate this from a mere action figure to a quality piece of film memorabilia.  On the negative side, as is also expected with McFarlane figures, the articulation is weak.  The head can’t even be turned to face forward.  This toy is stiff and delicate and really not a toy at all.  And given that the base can’t support the weight of the figure it’s not really a display piece either.  Now that I’ve opened it he’s basically just storage bin fodder.  I probably should have kept him sealed or just sold him off.  To my surprise some of the Corpse Bride figures sell for upwards of $150 on ebay.  I guess I shoulda checked that out first. Oops.  3 out of 10.

JACK SKELLINGTON-PUMPKIN KING

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYONE!!  It’s October 31 and thus I wrap up Halloween week here at Mike’s Collection.  I know I should have started it earlier as I only managed to get 5 Halloween themed reviews in but I was busy with Halloween parties and such so what can you do.  This year I went out in two costumes.  My local comic shop Strange Adventures hosted a party at a bar called  the Foggy Goggle on the 20th of October.  I realize that the 20th is pretty early to be having a Halloween party but the following weekend they were going to be busy with the city’s annual Sci-Fi convention, Hal-Con.  The party started at 9 but we didn’t get there until 11 because we had tickets to see Norm Macdonald that night.  He was excellent by the way.  We didn’t think getting there late would be a problem but unfortunately the party was winding down by the time we got there.  We missed out on seeing many of the costumes and on the prize give-aways.  Before long Me, Vanessa, my pal Miguel and his girlfriend Ashley were pretty much the only ones left in the bar in costume.  This would have been awkward on the 31st let alone a full 11 days before Halloween.  I think we looked pretty good though and we did get props from a few other bar patrons.  There were some guys there celebrating a bachelor party who even had us sign their pub-crawl T-shirts in character.  I went out as Be-Bop, the punk rock warthog henchman from the old Ninja Turtles cartoon.  Miguel went as Baxter Stockman, the scientist turned fly from the same cartoon.  Vanessa was Cleopatra and Ashley was Harley Quinn.

This past Saturday Vanessa and I hosted a Halloween party at our apartment.  I could not wear my Be-Bop costume again because I had to shave off my purple Mohawk for the week of work that fell between the two parties.  So I decided to throw on my Cobra Officer costume which I had bought a couple of years ago.   There was one reason in particular that I decided to break out the Cobra costume again but I’ll talk about that in my next post.  Our Halloween party was a success with a decent turn out and my pal Andrew finally got to show off the Bane impression he’s been honing for the past few months.

Now today is officially Halloween but I don’t think I’ll be wearing any costumes.  I considered throwing on my Mexican wrestling mask for work today as a quick costume but I feel that full masks might be frowned upon in a government building.  So tonight all I plan to do is kick back and relax with my girl, an old horror movie and a bowl full of candy.  Not a bad way to spend Halloween if you ask me.

Now let me get to the final figure review of Halloween week.  I feel a little repetitive doing another Jack Skellington review but just look at this figure.  How could I not review him as my Halloween figure; this guy has a frig’n Jack-O-Lantern for a head.  This is Jack in his Pumpkin King guise from the opening scene of The Nightmare Before Christmas.  When we first meet the character he’s dressed as a scarecrow with this creepy pumpkin head dancing about in the Halloween Town parade.  It’s only after he torches this hay stuffed costume, dives into a fountain, then emerges from the water that we see Jack in all his skeletal glory.  Jack doesn’t make too many costume changes during the film but when he does each one is memorable and warrants its own action figure.  The pajama figure I reviewed a couple of days ago was a nice contrast to his usual black suit, and the Santa suit just made for a great visual.  This Pumpkin King getup is only featured briefly but I think it’s the most memorable alternative costume.

I think a JUN version of the Pumpkin King would be stellar but this particular figure falls a little flat.  This was given to me as a gift many years ago and I’m unsure of its origins.  It’s not exactly an action figure and not exactly a doll.  The body is completely wire so you can bend him into all kinds of suggestive positions.  The wire is surrounded by a soft cotton body that almost make him cuddleable.  He has small plastic hands and feet at the ends of his limbs.  His head is a made of soft rubbery plastic and feels like a dog’s chew toy.  The pumpkin head is pretty well sculpted and is a passable representation to what appeared on screen.   Unlike the JUN figure however you would never mistake this for an actual film prop.  This is one of those collectables that I would not have bought for myself but that’s what makes it such a nice surprise to receive from someone else.  5 out of 10.

While we’re talking Halloween I thought I’d share this picture with you of me dressed up for Halloween circa 1986.  My friends all seem to get a kick out of it.  I had asked my mom to make me a ghost costume and I specified that I wanted to be a pointy headed ghost.  I was imagining a ghost like from the Ghost Busters logo or Casper’s evil brothers but this is the costume my mom made for me.  I’m hoping that the families I trick or treated that night understood that I was a ghost seeing as I was walking around with my friend Dana who was dressed as a Ghost Buster but I wouldn’t be surprised if they thought otherwise.  My mom swears that it wasn’t intentional….I dunno.

JACK SKELLINGTON (Pajamas)

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

It is the perfect time of year to be reviewing some Halloween themed action figures and what could be more Halloweeny than the Pumpkin King.  I instantly fell in love with Tim Burton’s “The Nightmare Before Christmas” when it was released back in 1993.  There was just so much to like about it that I don’t know why it didn’t attract a wider audience.  The film wasn’t truly appreciated until years later.  It has now achieved cult status and has gone from under-appreciated to over-exposed.  NBX merchandise can be found everywhere and the characters faces have been slapped on everything you can imagine.  I have no less than 5 variations of NBX mugs that have been given to me as gifts over the years and a co-worker once bought me a set of NBX nesting dolls.  As a fan of the property this deluge of marketing kind of gets on my nerves.  It just feels so watered down now.  But on the other hand, I remember a time when I would have loved some NBX merchandise (namely action figures) but there were none to be found. 

I was still in my early teens when this movie came out and though I had always been a fan of movies I think it was this flick that turned me into a legitimate movie buff.  I knew what movies I liked as a kid (Die Hard, Young Guns, Bill & Ted) but I didn’t have the foggiest idea who the writers or directors were behind them.  I was familiar with Tim Burton  before but having his name above the title really drew my attention and made me aware of his “presence” in the film.  For years afterwards Tim Burton was my favorite director.  All of his films were infused with such personal style.  His other movies from around that time, Batman, Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands to name a few,  are all oozing with Burton’s signature style.  But as great as all those movies were they only seemed to provide a glimpse into Burton’s warped imagination.  The Nightmare Before Christmas immersed us in his mad genius and even though he didn’t actually direct it I feel it is the most “Burton-esque” of all of his films. 

The character designs in the film are just brilliant and the model set pieces are beautiful.  The textures and shapes of the crooked buildings and the spiraling hills really draw you into this magical world.  I loved my inaugural visit to Halloween town and have enjoyed re-visiting it every time since.  I paid a visit again just last night when I put the film on as background entertainment for my halloween party.

So let me set the stage for you a bit as to what my life was like when I got this figure.  It was 1998.  I had graduated high school in ’96 and had went to university the year after.  I realized that accounting wasn’t my calling and opted not to return to university the following year.  I took a year off to work full-time and to save money while I figured out what I wanted to do.  During that year I was working at both Blockbuster Video and Pizza Hut which were directly across the street from one another.  Some days I worked 9 to 5 at one job and then I’d dart across Sackville Drive to work 5 -12 at the other.  I worked a lot that year and managed to save up a decent chunk of money which I put towards animation school the next fall.  While I was putting  most of my money aside, I was still accumulating more disposable income then I had ever had before.  I was still living with my folks rent free and was totally free of debt.  I had always collected comic books all through junior high and high school but I had almost completely walked away from action figures for the better part of a decade at this point.  Not because I had lost interest necessarily but because all the lines I liked (G.I. Joe, Transformers, Battle Beasts) were no longer around.

Well around this time the original Star Wars trilogy had been re-released to theatres and new action figures were being produced by Hasbro to gear up for the upcoming release of the prequels.  Toy Biz was producing a bunch of Marvel toys based on the Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Silver Surfer cartoons that were airing at the time.  This was also around the time that the first Gundam action figures were finding their way to North American shores.  Me with a pocket of disposable income and this influx of cool new toys did not make for a good combination.  This was the birth of me as an action figure “collector”.  Star Wars became my first major modern collection, which quickly eclipsed my childhood Star Wars collection.  I started buying every goofy variation of Spider-Man that I could get my hands on and soon my Toy Biz collection was huge.  I was back on the action figure train, full steam ahead and loving it. 

The internet was still relatively new at the time believe it or not.  We only had one computer in the house and I only ever really got to use it late at night after I’d get home from work.  My early internet use consisted of going to chat rooms based in California to ask people about up and coming punk bands which I’d then go download from Napster.  I got my first email account (which is still the one I use today) and used the Hotmail directory to reconnect with old friends.  I even used it to contact a French actress I was crushing on, Emilie Dequenne, with whom I became pen pals with for a short while.  Funny story about that shared family computer, my dad found some gay porn sites in the internet history on a number of occasions and eventually confronted my little brother about it.  Brian was still in the closet at that time and instead of confessing to looking at it he threw me under the bus telling Dad it must’ve been me looking at them during one of my late night computer sessions.  But of course dad didn’t buy it, I was way too much of a ladies man.   

I also spent my internet time marvelling at the wondrous new auction website known as ebay.  Everything I could ever hope to  buy was available to me, it was mind blowing.  I would type in searches and discover merchandise that I never knew existed.  This was even before the days of Toy focused magazines so unless I saw an item in the Sears catalogue or on the shelf of my local Toys R Us I wouldn’t have ever known about it.   Ebay introduced me to all kinds of new things to spend my money on.

The Nightmare Before Christmas was one of those properties I typed in one day.  I knew a few figures had been released back when the movie was first released and that’s what I was hoping to find but I discovered something far better.  A Japanese toy company called JUN had recently begun releasing amazingly detailed 16” Jack Skelington dolls.  There was one doll being released each month of the year.  Each one had a unique head sculpt and came packaged in a different colored coffin.  Most of the bodies were pretty much the same and featured Jack’s signature black suit but there were a couple of variations such as his Santa outfit.  I remember bidding on a number of those black suited dolls but the auctions always breached the $100 mark which was more than I was willing to spend on a toy at the time.  But oh how I wanted one.  After a few failed attempts I eventually found a version of Jack in his pajamas currently sitting at about $50.  I tossed in my bid and if memory serves I think I won him for about $75.  With the shipping from Japan he ended up costing me about $100 in total.  I remember how unsure I was of the purchase and even asked my dad whether I should do it.  My dad has always been supportive of my hobbies and basically said “go for it ” so I did.  For a long while this Jack Skellington was the signature piece of my toy collection.  In the 15 years since I’ve acquired many more signature pieces including one of those black suited Jacks but this figure holds a special place in my heart.  Today I wouldn’t think twice about blowing $100 on action figures and in fact I do it on a regular basis but this is the one toy that set the precedent for it. 

I’ve rambled on long enough so I’ll try to make my actual review quick.  This figure is stellar.  If you told me that this was one of the puppets used in the actual film I’d believe you.  The quality is outstanding.  The head sculpt is great and is still my favorite of all the various expressions that were available.  There were smiling and angry options but I just love this inquisitive frowning face.  The pajamas look just as they did in the film and I especially love the long night cap.  The figure’s joints are firm and he can hold poses well but he doesn’t stand on his own because of the scrawny legs.  It’s crazy how skinny his limbs are when you roll up his sleeves or pant legs to reveal them.  His hands aren’t articulated but they’re made of a softer plastic so you can move his fingers about without worrying about snapping them off.  His only accessory was a copy of the ”Scientific Method” book he’s seen reading in the film as he struggles to figure out Christmas.  It’s very detailed as well with finely sculpted pages that look as though they can be turned.  The text on the pages is actually a synopsis of the film.  The dark blue coffin he came in makes for a great display piece or storage unit.  An excellent figure that stands (quite literally) head and shoulders above most of the NBX merchandise out there.  If you’re a true fan, go out and buy yourself one of these JUN figures.  10 out of 10.

THE GIRL WITH MANY EYES

TIM BURTON

It’s been a full week since I posted anything so I apologize to all of my regular readers.  I had planned to do a full week of Halloween themed reviews leading up to the big day but I keep getting sidetracked by real life.   I really don’t even have time to write this review now but I felt I had to post something before you all thought I’d died or something.  Today I went to my first ever Convention, Hal-Con and that kept me pretty busy most of the day ( I’ll talk more about that later) and tonight I’m hosting a Halloween party.  Guests are scheduled to arrive in a half hour so this will have to be a quick review.

The figure I’ve picked today isn’t exactly Halloween themed but it’s close enough.  It’s a figurine of The Girl With Many Eyes, a character from Tim Burton’s book “The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories.”  This was a book of poems by the director that was first published in 1997.  Each poem features a bizarre little character that could have only come from the mind of Tim Burton.  Most of the poems are only a few quick verses and some are only a few lines.  I previously reviewed a figurine of Junk Girl from another poem in the book.  Neither of these are favorites of mine so I’m not sure why I tackled them first but whatever, I’ll get to the better ones eventually.  The poem is as follows…

THE GIRL WITH MANY EYES

One day in the park

I had quite a surprise.

I met a girl

who had many eyes.

She was really quite pretty

(and also quite shocking!)

and I noticed she had a mouth

so we ended up talking.

We talked about flowers,

and her poetry classes,

and the problems she’d have

if she ever wore glasses.

It’s great to know a girl

who has so many eyes,

but you really get wet

When she breaks down and cries.

The figure looks very much like the drawing from the book, in that it’s damn ugly.  The stringy hair, the blue skin, the big feet, and oh yeah, the many eyes are all there.  I would not talk to this chick in the park.   2 out of 10.

THE EASTER BUNNY

NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Happy Easter everybody!  It is mid-afternoon  on Easter Sunday and I am trying to quickly get this entry posted before my dad picks me up to deliver me to the Easter family gathering.  Today’s gathering is at my Uncle Ken’s place out in Fall River.  You may remember me mentioning Ken in an earlier entry, Grizzly Gundam, which I posted specifically for him.  Most of my family lives in the surrounding suburbs of the city while I am right downtown.  I have never had my driver’s license and so every time we have one of these get togethers it’s always out in the boonies so my dad is tasked with picking me up and taking me home.  Which sucks for him but it means I always get to drink.  It’s not very Eastery out there today unfortunately.  A mix of snow and rain makes for a crappy Easter egg hunt in Ken’s backyard which is a shame because he has a big one.  So therefore all my brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles are gonna have to crowd into Ken’s living room for a nice and cozy Easter supper.  I’ll probably end up eating it  while standing in a corner or sitting on the arm of a chair if I’m lucky.  I miss Spring-y Easters.  All of the Easter memories from my childhood took place on beautiful spring days.  We always got toys in our easter baskets and they were usually spring themed like skipping ropes, pogo balls, and bottles of bubbles for blowing (remember the big ones that made huge bubbles? the joystick I believe it was called).  My most memorable Easter toys were from the year when I got my first Battle Beasts.  I got the fox, the bat, the rhino and the ram and my lil bro Brian got the bear and the buffalo.  Another year I remember is when Brian and I got Food Fighters figures.  I got the evil hotdog named Mean Weener and Brian got the heroic hamburger Burgerdier General; no joke.  We would run right out into the yard with our toys and spend the afternoon playing with them all hopped up on candy.  

So for my toy review today I suppose I could’ve reviewed one of those ones that I just mentioned but I decided to go with a more obvious choice, The Easter Bunny.  Oddly enough this figure actually comes to us via a Halloween/Christmas movie instead of an Easter one.  You may recall that in The Nightmare Before Christmas all of the holidays operate year round in their own little worlds.  Jack from Halloween Town discovers a portal that brings him to Christmas Town which he is immediately taken with.  He decides that he wants to try his hand at being Santa Clause that year so he sends his trio of hench-children out to kidnap the real Santa.  The kids take the wrong portal to Easter Town and they accidentally kidnap the Easter Bunny instead.  He appears on screen very briefly and quickly hops away once the mistake has been realized.  This cameo appearance  still managed to result in a pretty sweet action figure.  This figure could be displayed by anyone over the holiday, there’s nothing overly Burton-y about it to frighten children.  He’s pink with floppy ears, a yellow sash and bow and he’s carrying a basket full of pastel colored eggs.  And yet he’s just odd enough that he wouldn’t blend in with the usual cheesy Easter decorations that you might pick up at Wal-Mart or Pier 1.  He’s got a strange hunch in his stance and beady little shark eyes which give him just a slight air of Burton creepiness.  Best easter Bunny Ever.  7 out of 10.

The fact that his hands aren't touching the basket makes me wonder if he's pulling the d**k in a box routine.

JUNK GIRL

TIM BURTON

I’ve got this toy categorized under Nightmare Before Christmas but it really isn’t.  It is a Tim burton created character though so I feel comfortable placing her in that category.  Hopefully NBX goth fanboys don’t riot in the streets over it.  Junk Girl appeared in Tim’s book of poems titled The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories.  The first edition hardcover of the book was released in 1997, back when I was still a Burton fanboy myself.  I believe this was gifted to me by then girlfriend Rhonda.  It’s an awesome little book featuring 23 little poems about weird little characters that nobody but Tim Burton could’ve dreamt up.  Each poem is accompanied by Burton illustrations as well.  Burton has a unique and appealing art style but it’s far from complicated. It could very easily be mistaken for the doodles of a disturbed preschooler.  Some of the poems are a few pages long but most of them consist of just a few lines.

JUNK GIRL

There once was a girl who was made up of junk.

She looked really dirty, and she smelled like a skunk.

She was always unhappy, or in one of her slumps

perhaps ’cause she spent so much time down in the dumps.

The only bright moment was from a guy named Stan.

He was the neighborhood garbage man.

He loved her a lot and made a marriage proposal,

but she’d already thrown herself down a garbage disposal.

Yep.  Talented writer that Mr. Burton.  I actually quite the book, it’s dark and cute at the same time.  The figure was released in a 3 pack set along with The Boy with Nails in his Eyes, and the book’s title character Oyster Boy.  Four of these 3 packs were released by Dark Horse a few years back and I picked up 3 of them.  I believe additional characters were released with new editions of the book.  The sculptors did a great job at capturing Burton’s art style sometimes to the figures detriment.  They have suck skinny little arms and legs that the figurines are very delicate making me reluctant to display them.  My drunken friends have a tendency to bump my shelves and knock things over and the Burton toys would not survive the fall.  Even storing them without damaging them is tough. Junk girl is probably one of my least favorite characters from the book but when Vanessa saw her lying on the floor when I was digging out old toys to review she really liked her and requested i review her next so here we are.  Enjoy.  3 out of 10.

JACK SKELLINGTON

NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ve probably seen that I’ve reviewed my fair share of cutesy or SD versions of popular characters.  (SD stands for super deformed which a term used to describe cutesy  Japanese toys.  They are the country that pioneered  making short squat lovable versions of characters that are usually not so cute)  I’ve written favorable reviews of Mighty Muggs, Blammoids and Pop! characters so you might think that I would love Bobble Heads.  After all bobble heads are usually just cute versions of characters that I already love except with big bobbly heads.  Well I don’t.  I don’t mind when the whole character has been cutified but I hate the big un-proportionate heads of bobble heads, they piss me off.  I could maybe understand placing one on the dashboard of your car so it’s head will bob around as you drive but to place one on your desk or shelf simply for the aesthetic, no thanks.  This is where I become hard to shop for I suppose.  People always seem to assume that because I collect Spider-Man toys and comics that I’ll love anything with Spider-Man’s face on it.  Not true.  As a grown man I’ve owned Spider-Man bubble bath, a toothbrush, napkins and even pajamas all purchased for me by others.  Don’t get me wrong, some of this stuff has been cool, my pajamas are comfy and all but toy collecting does not automatically make me some sort of man-child that needs to surround himself with childish things.  I’m not opposed to white napkins or plaid pajamas.  Anyway, when it comes to Nightmare Before Christmas I have received as gifts Snow Globes, wall art, mugs, Russian Nesting Dolls (those things that open up and have a smaller and smaller dolls inside) and this bobble head.  These are not things I would have bought for myself but some of them are really cool.  The wall art is great for example(Thanks Katie) but the nesting dolls I could’ve done without (Thanks for nothing Amanda).  The bobble head is somewhere in between.

I like everything about this thing except for that big bobbly head.  If this had been a statue with a proportionate head it would be awesome.  All the detailing is really nice in the wood floor and podium and the face is great and very expressive.  This really reminds of the scene where Jack leans right into the camera looking all scary when trying to win the residents of Halloween Town over on the whole Christmas thing.  However even as I type this, the impact of my fingers on the keyboard has Jack bobbling around like Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray and it just annoys me.  4 out 10.

SALLY

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

I’ve already talked about how much I enjoyed this movie so I won’t get into that again.  The look of this movie has been aped by other film makers and even Tim Burton himself in the years since it’s release but at the time it was so original and unique looking.  Every character, even the ones I didn’t love like the mad scientist Dr. Finkelstein, were interesting to look at and just screamed to be made into an action figure.  Of all the weird and wonderful characters I think Sally was one of the coolest looking.  The stitched up body was just so morbid for a “cartoon” that I loved it.  The big eyes, long hair and raggedy dress all came together nicely to make a creepy and oddly attractive character.  If anyone reading this thinks that’s a weird statement to make I’ll just let you know that I adore Courtney Love so I guess I kind of have a thing for dirty, walking dead train-wrecks.

This figure is a fantastic representation of the what appeared on screen.  The detailed stitching on her legs and arms is there as well as all over her patchwork dress.  She’s got a ton of accessories including a jack-o-lantern, a cat, a jack-in-the-box, the basket of goodies that she presents to jack, the poison she feeds to her keeper and the holed spoon she used to trick him.  It’s more accessories than I really need honestly as most of them end up in a box but I appreciate the effort.  Sally looks great and I wouldn’t change a thing about the figure itself but I do wish he could stand up on her own.  Her ankles are so small that there is no way they can support her weight even with the help of the included stand.  That aside, NECA has produced a very nice Sally figure.  Now I just have to cross my fingers and hope that someone make a Courtney Love figure. 7 out of 10.

THE MAYOR

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS

I saw The Nightmare Before Christmas when it was released in 1993 at the Penhorn mall movie theatre.  I remember there was hardly anyone else there and I also remember not too many of my friends being interested in seeing it.  I’m not sure who I ended up seeing it with, I’m thinking my friend Jenn and that would explain why I saw it in Dartmouth.  I don’t think Nightmare was a big hit when it was originally released and that it’s fan base has grown over time.  I however loved it from the get go.  I was already a big Tim Burton fan having enjoyed Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and Beetlejuice and I loved Batman and Edward Scissorhands.  The weirdness of it all spoke to me, a Christmas movie starring a skeleton posing as Santa Clause and filmed completely with puppets.  It’s no wonder that it wasn’t a huge mainstream success at the time as I just don’t think most people knew what to make of it.  This is one of the first movies that opened my eyes up to what goes into making a movie.  I understood that a movie like this would probably never have been made had Tim Burton not made a ba-jillion dollars on Batman.  The quirkiness of this movie and Edward Scissorhands before it really made me realize the importance of a director’s vision and that movies like this didn’t just happen without someone really paying their dues and taking chances.  Burton was a huge influence on me creatively and he was my favorite director for many years.

I think it’s great how he can take established stories like Alice in Wonderland and Sleepy Hollow and put his on stamp on them but he truly impresses me when he’s working from his own original concepts.  I think Nightmare Before Christmas is probably the closest we’ll get to peering into his brilliantly twisted mind.  The character designs are so unique and they were brought to life incredibly by the puppeteers.  I think the Mayor is one of the funkiest and funnest designs from the film.  His spinning head, bulbous body and little legs somehow all come together to create a very memorable supporting cast member.  Movies like this and Toy Story lend themselves really well to toy production because the characters are themselves toys.  An action figure is never going to look exactly like a real person or a 2D cartoon character but it can look exactly like a 3 dimensional puppet.  This figure of the Mayor is a prefect miniature representation of the actual puppet used for filming.  His proportions are spot on and the detailing is top notch.  He’s got a slew of wicked accessories and he even retains the spinning head feature shown in the movie.  My only gripe is displaying this guy is tough as his itty bitty legs have a hard time supporting his weight.  9 out of 10.