The Space Thing

Once in awhile, I get things that are slightly odd, unusual, or just plain bizarre. Tonight's review doesn't quite get to bizarre, but it's definitely different.

I've discussed before how I don't consider a movie a 'remake' of a previous movie, if the movies themselves were actually based on a book. Movies like Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or Planet of the Apes aren't remakes of the original movies, but retellings of the original story. This is sometimes obvious, as in the case of Dracula - you wouldn't call Coppola's version a remake of Tod Browning's film - but other times it's less obvious, because people have forgotten that there even was an original book.

The Thing tends to fall in that second category. With one film made in 1951, it's common for people to call Carpenter's film in 1982 a remake, when in reality it was a retelling of the original novella, and one that was much closer to the original work as well.

These movies were based on the novella "Who Goes There?", written in 1938 by John W. Campbell. Considered to be one of the best science fiction novellas of all time, it told the story of a 'thing' from outer space, frozen with his ship in the Antarctic wilderness, who can absorb and take on the visage of others. Once set loose amongst a group of explorers, they must find a way to destroy it before it can destroy all of mankind.

Dark Horse has released a small 'model' (and I'm using the term very loosely here) based on the original story. Called "The Space Thing" instead of the more common shortened version, he's available for around $18.

Packaging -  ***1/2
The box is done in the style of the old Aurora model kits, even going so far as to have a similar logo that says "Horrora".  It's a nice touch of nostalgia for those of us that loved those kits as a kid.  The graphics are nice, and I like the artwork over photos.

There's also instructions, since this is technically called a model (although it's pre-painted and requires no glue).  It shows how to pop on the four arms and one hand, which is about the extent of the effort.  The instructions are also quite amusing in their own right, written with tongue firmly in cheek.

Sculpting - ***
This guy is a lot tinier than he looks in the photos.  He's only 4 1/2" tall, well below the size of most action figures on the market today, so he's not going to fit in on the shelf with your Movie Maniacs or Cult Classics.

The sculpt is nicely detailed, and really goes along with the novel a little more than either film.  He actually has various faces and hands sculpted into his body, as he has assimilated these humans, but he also has a bit of a resemblance to the plant monsters in Day of the Triffids.  He has a nice 50's retro look, conjuring up a B movie memory or two.

Paint - ***
The paint ops are fairly basic - dark blue for the body, with a black wash, red eyes, and white teeth. The eyes are the most striking feature, adding some much needed color a pizzazz to the design.

I suppose he's blue because, well, he's been frozen in the ice for hundreds of years.  I'd be fairly blue too.

Value - **
As the edition sizes on these slide up, the price really shouldn't. What was once a $40 price point is now getting closer to $50, and with the larger number produced, your odds of getting one of the regular releases like this (not a show exclusive) on ebay for a deal go up.

As a matter of fact, ebay dealers right now are trying to get $45 - $50 for this, and are failing. I suspect you can snag one there cheaper if you have patience, a sure sign it's overpriced.

Articulation - Bupkis
Well, this is a model and not an action figure. He's a small statue, not something intended to be posed in any way. And no, while he does pop together at those joints, the connections are designed so the limbs can not turn.

Accessories - *1/2
Hey, didn't I just explain the whole statue thing? Well, it is true that sometimes models like this do come with things that could be considered accessories, and that's how I'm counting the base.  He snaps on to two foot pegs, and his feet actually fit down into the base.  That's a nice touch, since it's supposed to represent the frosty snow covered Antarctic ground.  It's a little small, and not super detailed, but it works well with the figure.

Things to watch out for - 
Not much. You won't be able to see him without opening the box, so there's not much point in worrying about paint quality before you buy. Also, you'll want to be sure you're connecting the right arm in the right socket, since you could accidently force one into the wrong place and cause yourself some grief. There's no need to force them, and they go together smoothly if you get them lined up just right.

Overall - **1/2
If this figure stood at 6 or 7", he'd fit in nicely with other recent monster additions to the collection.  However, at this small size, your next best bet is as the Wampa's shorter cousin.

His biggest problem is the price tag.  At $18 suggested retail, he packs quite the punch to wallet.  Again, had he been a 7" scale model, the price would have been much more appropriate.

Still, he's a nifty version of a classic monster, and fans of the original work will find him interesting.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - Bupkis
Accessories - *1/2
Value - *1/2
Overall -  **1/2

Where to Buy -
Online is your best bet right now, although none of my sponsors are carrying it. You can also check your local comic shop, if they carry other Dark Horse merchandise.

Related Links:
The designer of this figure is Pete Von Sholly (and his wife, Andrea, did the sculpt and paint), who has a number of very cool Horrora designs.  You can see more of his art at his website.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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