Stranger Things was pretty much my favourite TV show last year. It was a great mix of 80s nostalgia, Stephen King and Steven Spielberg-esque influences and kid’s adventure stories, and for me it definitely rose above its influences to be its own thing.
Despite being the kid that pretty much kicks off the events of Stranger Things, Will is actually more of a MacGuffin than a full-fledged character for most of Season One. Being trapped in the Upside Down for most of the series meant that he didn’t get a great deal of screentime, and there’s an awful lot we don’t know about him yet. Why was he able to survive in the Upside Down when everyone else seemed to get killed off? And what was with the things he was coughing up?
Presumably these questions will be answered this October when Series 2 is released. But in the meantime, some of the first merchandise for the series has hit Australian stores, in the form of Funko POPs. And given that Will’s disappearance kicks things off, I thought he’d be the best figure to look at first.
One of the things that Stranger Things did quite well was that it didn’t really parody the decade it was set in. Typically any show or movie set in the 80s is full of more neon and big hair than you can poke a Sony Walkman at. But Stranger Things painted a picture that’s probably more reflective of the truth of the era – the characters wear clothes that look dated to modern viewers, but not the garish outfits that have captivated popular imagination. This figure captures that vibe effectively, and special mention must go to its accurate rendition of the bowlcut – a haircut which has afflicted so many unfortunate kids over the decades, and continues to even to this day.
I can’t pretend that Will is the most visually interesting POP in my collection, but he works in the wider context of the series. There’s another version of available too – Upside Down Will, which is the same mold but painted in the gloomy, muted blue-grey shades of the mysterious dimension. It doesn’t seem to be out in Australia yet, but it’s been showing up in the US. I’ll probably pass on it myself, but it’s a good alternate version for diehards.
I assume that there will be plenty more Stranger Things POPs in the works – with all the hype around the first series, and the second due on Halloween, Netflix is unlikely to let any potential merchandise sales slide. Will’s a solid figure, if not the most interesting design; it’ll be interesting to see what he looks like in Season 2.