Sunday, 25 September 2016

POP! Movies -- Freddy Krueger

Series: POP! Movies
Company: Funko
Year: 2011

Freddy Krueger – in a world of mute murderers like Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface, he stands out as one of the most distinctive villains from the slasher era. I mean, Pinhead has a bit to say for himself, but he's distinctly the process. 

More than 30 years after his cinematic debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street, he’s still incredibly popular. He may not have had a film in the cinemas for a while, but the plethora of Freddy merch littering the shelves suggests that there’s still a substantial fanbase out there. Will we see Robert Englund play him again? Probably not, but the character lives on nonetheless.   

Though this figure was released under the Nightmare on Elm Street banner, this is not Freddy from the first film. His appearance has remained pretty consistent over the years, but has undergone a few subtle adjustments over the years. I would guess that this is based on the third or fourth film, based on reference images online. Maybe Freddy Vs Jason? Others more familiar with the character will have to make that call.

Considering how early this figure came in Funko’s run of POPs, it’s surprising how excellent it looks. The fedora also appears to be a solid piece, which gives the whole thing a nice weight. The paint could definitely be better, but the main area you’ll notice an issue is the left hand, which is a totally different colour to his scarred face. Perhaps it’s a more realistic take on burns damage, but it looks weird and incongruous in this format.

As a side note, the box depicts Freddy with painted eyebrows, but while the sculpt includes them, they’ve been left unpainted. I think was a better decision, as the “real” Freddy doesn’t have any. Also, pick your figure carefully in-store – the claws on his right hand are frequently a bit warped. It’s probably fixable with the hot water and ice trick, but I haven’t tried it myself.   

Freddy isn't the only horror villain with large claws.
There is a variant available too – a glow-in-dark one. Though I was fortunate enough to stumble on the Jason Voorhees variant in the wild, I suspect you’ll have a tougher time tracking down the Freddy one, unless of course you’re willing to pay crazy eBay prices. There's also been a syringe-fingers version of the character to -- this is apparently from a scene the third film. It's an interesting take, but not really as iconic as some of his other looks. 

Of all of the big horror villains, I’m probably the least familiar with Freddy Krueger. I’ve seen the first and second Nightmare on Elm Street films, Freddy Vs Jason and the 2010 remake – but with the possible exception of Freddy vs Jason, none of them are really representative of the popular image of the character as the sinister wise-cracking sadist. Nonetheless, the first film is a slasher classic, and indeed much better than some of its peers and predecessors. I’m sure I’ll get to the other films eventually, but in the interim still Freddy deserves his spot on my horror shelf. 

Sunday, 18 September 2016

POP! Movies – Leatherface

Series: POP! Movies
Company: Funko

Year: 2011/2012?

More than forty years after its release, there’s not a lot left to be said about The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, so here’s the basic recap: it was wildly controversial on release, marketed as being based on a true story and served as a granddaddy to the whole slasher film genre. Since then, there’s been several more movies in the series, spanning sequels, prequels and remakes. Their quality has varied wildly, as might be expected – but the fact that you’re reading this article suggests that you’re probably familiar with a lot of this stuff anyway.

Today we’re looking at the POP of the series’ most iconic villain, Leatherface. Leatherface and his freakish Sawyer family were inspired by the macabre real-life antics of Ed Gein, a man from Wisconsin whose crimes horrified America when they were discovered in the mid-1950s. Known as a bit of an odd fellow and loner, it turned out he was far more sinister than anyone would have expected – his hobbies included grave robbing, murder and making various items out of body parts, including masks*.

Leatherface wears three different masks in the film, but the POP depicts his “Killing Mask”, which is probably the most iconic. It seems he didn’t do a great job tanning it, though – there’s big gaps around the eyes and mouth, and the whole thing has a shrivelled, yellow look. It’s a stark contrast to the other two masks he wears, which were more naturalistic and as a result somewhat more disconcerting when they appear onscreen.

His outfit is basically a butcher’s one – yellow apron, collared shirt and a black tie – though instead of some knives, he’s carrying a yellow chainsaw. Gunnar Hansen, who portrayed Leatherface in the film, was a big guy, and the chainsaw looks almost comically small in some scenes – Funko has replicated this effect quite nicely here, without it looking weird, as can sometimes happen when they try and merge their stylised look with real-world proportions.

Now there is a variant available too – a bloody version, rather than a glow-in-dark one. It does look cool, but it’ll set you back a pretty penny. My suggestion would be to simply buy a regular one and add your own “blood” with paint if you find it necessary.

And on that note, paint is a bit of a mixed bag. His face and hair are well executed, but you’ll want to check carefully to make sure there’s not a ton of slop around the actual chainsaw. A minor nit is that the tie should have a white stripe on it to be screen-accurate, but its absence isn’t the end of the world. Additionally, it’s not unusual for the chainsaw to be warped in the box; you can probably straighten it with the hot water and ice trick though.

So overall? Well, I’m not the world’s biggest Texas Chain Saw Massacre fan. The years and thousands of movies that have followed in its wake have defanged it somewhat – modern audiences watching it are just as likely to be bored as they are to be frightened or disgusted. However, it still has its share of disconcerting moments, and I can appreciate its importance to horror history. Leatherface is a bona fide horror icon, and thus he’s a worthy addition to my rapidly expanding horror POP shelf. He’s well-executed (ha!) and should please fans of the character.  

*Ed Gein also served as a loose inspiration for Buffalo Bill from Silent of the Lambs, Norman Bates from Psycho and numerous others. Slayer wrote a song about him on their Seasons in the Abyss album too, called – appropriately enough – "Dead Skin Mask".  

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Lego Minifigures Series 16 (Part 1 of 4)

Well, rather tragically I never actually finished reviewing Series 15 -- I will have to get to that at some point, because it was an excellent series -- and I skipped the Disney minifigs entirely.

But here we are now, already in September and series 16 now hitting shelves in Sydney. I have mixed feelings about this series; everything from 12-15 was excellent, and while this certainly isn't a bad series, I'm a little less enthused about it. I felt similarly about series 10 though, and in hindsight that was a really good release. But let's kick things off!

Cute Little Devil

Following on from the Monsters theme of Series 14, the Cute Little Devil could easily be the younger brother of Skeleton Guy from that series. He's carrying a trick or treat basket in the shape of a jack o' lantern, and carrying a devil-appropriate pitchfork. It's a good nod to the movie Problem Child, which I remember enjoying as a kid but has probably not aged all that well. Still, maybe we can hope for a pseudo-Bow Tie Killer in the next series too.

Spooky Boy

Here's the Emo boy companion to the Spooky Girl released back in series 12 in 2014. His design matches her well but he looks like a total sad case in contrast to her cool and reserved demeanour. Also, I've long loathed the stylings of bands like My Chemical Romance and The Used, so that's a big strike against him from my perspective. Still, the print on his pants could be repurposed for some kind of metal or punk custom figure.


Though I'm not super-enamoured with the other two figures I've mentioned, this is probably my least favourite figure in the series. Not the concept; I like the idea of a spy figure, and the print on the body is good -- but the execution of the goggles is off; they attach directly to his hairpiece, but in a weird way that doesn't actually lock in properly. Still, he's quite distinctive in that he's carrying a somewhat-realistic gun.


Strumming up a storm, the Mariachi is easily the most fun minifigure in this review. He's a great concept, and lends himself to buying multiples -- that way you can have a whole serenade thing going on for one of your minfigure couples. Maybe even the Spooky Boy and Spooky Girl, though I don't think they'd really go for that sort of style.

Well, that's part 1 done -- look out for parts 2 through 4 coming soon!