House of 1000 Corpses

Sean Teeter is a writin' fool this week, and he's back with another guest review!  This time it's the very creepy House of a 1000 Corpses figures - were they better than the film?  Let's find out from Sean!

Sean the College Bum here. Long-winded intro ahead:
I am a huge horror movie fan. I like splatter, schlock, serious, gory, cheesy, dark, and twisted flicks –everything from Nightmare on Elmstreet, Halloween, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre, to the Evil Dead trilogy, anything by Argento & Fulci, and the Ring (both the American and original Japanese versions). 

I am also a huge Rob Zombie fan. I not only love his music, but I also love the visual style he brings to his shows and videos. Alice Cooper himself declared that Rob was one of the last monsters of rock out there, and in these days filled with Britney wannabes and soulless rap, I agree with him completely. 

Needless to say I was really hyped when I first heard Rob was doing a horror flick, especially when he said it would be a throwback to the early days of Tobe Hooper and John Carpenter. I knew Rob would come up with something that looked interesting, was loaded with dark humor, and filled with blood. Welcome to the House of 1000 Corpses.

Of course it was ripped apart by the critics, as I knew it would be. Screw ‘em, I thought. I saw it anyway.
I came away with mixed feelings. It felt like there was more than one type of movie crammed into a short period of time. Some of it was confusing, and the lack of any real sympathetic character or humor kind of made the movie a little draining for me by the end. I own a copy, and there are parts of it I really like, but it’s definitely not among the best or worst horror movies out there.
With the announcement of a sequel coming out in 2004 –the Firefly house gets raided by SWAT, and all hell breaks loose—I ordered my four-figure set of House of 1000 Corpses. After all, I still had some space next to my Hellraiser figures that needed to be filled.

These figures were made by Steveson Entertainment Group, which is a company that has done some mini-figures for different rock groups such has Offspring, the Osbournes, and some Metallica bobble head figures. I thought about how NECA was once known more for their bobble-heads than anything else, and now dominate the horror figure market with their excellent Hellraiser line. Could SEG do the same with Baby, Otis, Captain Spaulding, and The Professor? Let’s take a look . . .

Packaging - ***
The clamshell packaging works really nicely here and displays the figures rather well. The plastic is a little flimsier than the stuff McFarlane uses, so the occasional package will show some damage. The graphics are okay and show four shots of the characters from the movie. I would have preferred that each card just had one larger shot of the figure’s character, or maybe a few small shots, but the generic backer is still serviceable. The back shows all four figures and their accessories.

Sculpting - The Professor: ***; Captain Spaulding: ** ½; Baby: **; Otis: * ½
Talk about the full spectrum here . . .
SEG went by the inverse screen time rule: the characters that have the least amount of screen time look the best. These figures are generally statues, so they tend to be pre-posed.

Naturally, the Professor is by far the best-looking figure in this series, even though he was far more mundane in comparison to the Dr. Satan character. The basic outfit consists of boots, straps, and a bunch of bandage wraps. Not too hard to muck up. The oxygen tank and mask look pretty good, as do the bones tied to his arm. He also has the best pose of the four, and looks very good on display.

Captain Spaulding’s head sculpt looks awfully close to Sid Haig –at the very least, it’s almost a cartoony version of the actor. His hat is sculpted directly on his head complete with the string that holds it on. I would have preferred a separate hat, but it looks okay. The wrinkles on his clothes look all right, but don’t make for a very exciting figure. His hands are pretty soft –both in sculpt and in material.

Baby seems to have undergone the most changes from conception to finished product –probably because she’s based on the very hot Sherri Moon (Mrs. Zombie to you, mate) and many fans of the movie would tend to buy her more than the other three figures. The original pictures published showed various screaming poses close to the one she ended up with, as well as blander paint jobs. At least she looks female. Baby’s face sculpt is a little lacking in overall detail. Instead of screaming with murderous rage, she looks like a waitress or truck driver sassing off to some Yankee-out-of-towner. Her right hand is too tight –the knife can only fit in halfway—and her left hand’s fingers look a little bent. Her jeans are supposed to be sculpted with the rear torn out; displaying her ass, but the effect is more like they were blown out after one too many chili cook-offs. Her feet are sloppy and confusing as well. I’m sure they’re supposed to be completely covered by shredded bell bottoms or something, but it looks like there’re two different shredded pant cuffs on each leg and that her feet are covered with blue muck. What?

Otis shows how a truly rotten head sculpt can completely sink a figure. Then again, the rest of him ain’t that great either. His outfit and body detail are okay –it’s a serviceable job but nothing to write the farm about. The head is an absolutely fugly creation. The entire staff at Jakks could have had an Everclear kegger and still sculpted a better head for Otis than this. The caveman brow, the Nixon nose, the janitor-mop hair, the Austin Powers’ teeth –this is truly an ugly-looking toy. When the best part of a figure’s sculpt is his pants, that should be a warning sign.

Paint - The Professor: ***; Baby: ** ½; Captain Spaulding: **; Otis: * ½
Most of the Professor is a mix of different dark brown washes. The oxygen tank has some slop on it, but for the most part he looks okay. Then again he doesn’t have the most exciting color scheme.

Baby is definitely the most colorful of the bunch, but she also has a ton of bleeding. The designs and patches on her pants are amazingly clean in comparison to the slop around her butt and sleeve lines. Her face is a bit of a mess too. Her lower lip bleeds onto her tongue and her eyes are barely even there. Baby looks like she’s missing irises from a distance. At closer view, you can barely see them, but there’s enough of a paint job there to make you realize that she’s been painted cross-eyed.
Spaulding looks like a living candy cane except for his right leg –which was borrowed form Baby’s paint scheme. There’s bleeding with the red stripes in various spots. The face is actually pretty decent except for the heavy black in the beard. The hat bleeds onto the head however, and the sculpted string holding the little lid on his head is left unpainted, so that it looks like there’s a heavy seam running completely around his face.

Otis looks even worse with his paint job. The pants have nice wash, as does his jacket, but there’s bleed galore. The skin showing on his torso was painted with the same dirt wash as his shirt, which makes the skin an unrealistic gray color. In fact, it looks more like he’s wearing another shirt under his “Burn This” tank top. The skin on his face is a ruddy pinkish red in comparison and looks extremely different. It doesn’t help that he has goofy red eyes and white teeth. I bet if we soaked him in a little grease paint and monkey brains, he might look a little worse for wear, but I doubt it.

Articulation - *1/2
Like many specialty figures, these are designed more as articulated statues than true action figures. However companies such as McFarlane and NECA turn out similarly themed figures, and still manage to allow for pose variation.

Each figure has a grand total of three points of articulation: neck and shoulders. Of course, only one of them can actually use his damn neck joint! Boo! Hiss! 
The Professor’s arm joints are slightly different, and are cut at the elbows. Of course, this doesn’t really do much since you can’t really change his pose anyway.
The designs on some of these are pretty bad as well. Spaulding’s shoulder cuts, and Baby’s left shoulder cut look awkward when moved out of their natural pose. The Professor can’t move his head because of his breathing tube, and Baby & Otis have the same problem with their hair sculpts. For some reason, Otis has a limited ball-joint neck that allows for slightly better movement, but why you’d want to touch him to begin with is beyond me. 

Accessories - Otis, Baby, The Professor: **; Captain Spaulding: *
There are two basic strikes against this category. First, there are very few accessories, especially for this price range. Second, for the most part what is here is rather poorly made.

The best accessory is the generic base each figure comes with. There’s some nice detail in the sculpt, and it’s a great way to display each one. The pegs are different for each figure, and in some cases seem slightly off.

Otis comes with his handgun. While the sculpt of the gun is pretty decent, the plastic it’s made of is so damn soft that the barrel curves to one side. The gun is also really thin, and this doesn’t help very much. You can see the silver paint through the black-painted grip as well.
Baby comes with the most accessories: a bottle and a bloody butcher knife. The bottle is a green hunk of plastic. The neck is too big for Baby’s grip. The knife is just as flimsy as the gun and seems to be off on the sculpt, both size and design-wise. When you can’t sculpt something as simple as a knife, then you know you’re in trouble. The basic paint ops are okay, but the blood application is awful. One side of the blade has a curved dollop of dark red near the tip while the other side is smeared all over –it looks like someone took an abused red marker that was almost dry and rubbed it against the thing.

The Professor probably has the best-looking accessory of the bunch: his axe. However, the axe’s handle is just as flimsy as Otis’s gun and Baby’s knife, and takes some effort to slide into his grip. The blade also has the same horrible “red-marker” blood application as Baby’s knife. 
Captain Spaulding has the worst accessory of the lot: a bucket of chicken. You heard me, a frigg’n bucket o’ chicken! Spaulding does in fact interact with fried chicken in the movie, and it’s a little bit of a teaser that goes nowhere for those of you who remember what the barbecue in Texas Chainsaw Massacre was made from. C’mon, we could have had something else than this with the amount of crap in Spaulding’s shop and serial killer ride. Hell, even a removable hat would have worked out better.

There were many other things that each of these figures could have come with, especially Otis and Baby, but it seems SEG has took the cheap way out. 

Durability/Quality - **
Hmmm. Some of the head joints are ridiculously loose, the paint jobs are substandard or botched on most of these figures, the accessories are flimsy pieces of crap, and Otis the pig-man was a part of this group. I amazed I gave this category two stars! 

Value - *1/2
These figures have been going on average for about $15 or more, mainly for two reasons: they’re not that easy to find, and they’re targeting a specific fan base as opposed to a movie with mass appeal. The one and a half star reflects the price of $15. I wouldn’t buy any of them at that price to begin with, so paying more is ridiculous. I got mine as a set for $44.95 apiece. After $5 shipping & handling more, I paid around $12.50 for them apiece. They’re still not worth it at this price, but I’m a Zombie fan who had high hopes, so I went for it. In the end, these things don’t hold a candle to the detailed figures done by McFarlane and NECA at cheaper prices. If you really want these guys, you might have to bite the bullet and pay high prices for Baby and Otis now, since they seem to be harder to find. Wait a while and the Professor and Spaulding should come down. Get them for $10 or under if you must add them to your collection.
For fun, there’s also a specially packaged set of four that’s supposed to be turning up at Suncoast and other such stores that includes a hand-signed certificate from Rob himself. It should be going for around fifty-five or so.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Killer Toys has them in, but I couldn't find them on their website - you'll need to give them a call.

Toynk is the place I got mine. They have the set of four for $44.95 ($11.24 apiece), and Spaulding & the Professor at $12.99 apiece.

Toy Fever has the set for $39.95 ($13.35 apiece).

Entertainment Earth is asking for $69.99 for the set of four (about $17.50 apiece at that price).

Sci-Fi Warehouse has them at 11.99 pounds (UK site) apiece.

They aren’t as common as other figures, so most sites that do list them are asking $15 or more each.

Overall - The Professor: Barely ***; Baby: ** ½; Captain Spaulding: **; Otis: * ½
This appears to be the first series of non-bobble head or mini-figures that SEG has done. Let’s just say that I’m not overly thrilled with the results. I can find a whole lot of things I don’t like about these figures: terrible paint applications, nonexistent articulation, the lack of accessories, the cheapness of present accessories, the sculpting on Otis, the stupid pre-sculpted poses on Otis and Spaulding –the list goes on. 

It took me a long time and a lot of debating to give the Professor a three-star rating. I originally had him at just a fourth star above Baby. In the end I reasoned that he displays well enough to fit into any horror collection decently, so I gave him a small nudge in the final rating. Baby gets a bump up over Spaulding because she’s the most vibrantly colored of the lot and at least has a decent pose. That and I couldn’t drop a figure based on Sherri Moon past second place. : )

Spaulding’s just kind of there. He looks like a drunken clown. If you want a customization project, turn him into a John Wayne Gacy action figure.

Otis is a waste of plastic in my opinion. While he was the character I could do without the most in the movie (which doesn’t really help since he’s a main character), that doesn’t even enter into the fact that he’s one of the worst looking six inch figures I’ve ever seen. He looks more like the offspring of a slow redneck caveman and an even slower farm hog. There ain’t anything menacing about this guy.

The one figure I really wanted to see here was Dr. Satan. The design was pure Rob Zombie and looked awesome. Alas, the closest thing to a true Zombie design here is the Professor, who barely gets by on his charm and good looks.

If they do another batch of figures after the sequel hit the theatres, I hope that either a different company gets the license or SEG pays attention to what’s been going on in the action figure world for the past five years. 
It didn’t help that I opened these up after reviewing the highly superior Final Fantasy X-2 figures that I had spent less money on, total!

Figures from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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