Twisted Fairy Tales 

It seems like only yesterday that Mcfarlane Toys introduced their Monster series, but in reality it was over 3 years ago. As the title implies, the first series consisted of Monsters we all know and fear, done in grand Todd style - a Werewolf, Dracula, the Mummy, etc. But that was the end of any sort of traditional monster appearing in the series. 

Series 2 brought us the characters of the Wizard of Oz, twisted in a new and rather gruesome way. The third series was called the Six Faces of Madness, and included historical monsters like Jack the Ripper or Vlad the Impaler.

Now series 3 is hitting the pegs, and is called Twisted Fairy Tales. It's actually a combination of characters from both nursery rhymes and children's fables, including Hansel and Gretal, Little Miss Muffet, Humpty Dumpty, Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater, and Litte Red Riding Hood. These are hitting stores any day, and will retail for the usual $10 - $13 each that is currently standard for Mcfarlane product.

Mcfarlane did a feature on this line, as they usually do, which you can find here, and which contains a smidge more back story I suppose.

Packaging - ***
I love dem clamshells. Here we get some reasonable color combinations too, that just seem to work well with the paint scheme of the figures themselves. The packages look good, and will hold up great. Of course, you'll need a serious weapon to open them, but as long as you're capable of cutting a bagel without losing a digit, you can handle. Trust me.

One thing that I would have liked to have seen would have been more background info on each character included on the insert. There's more story - but not much - included with the feature, and having that on the inserts would have been nice.

Sculpting - Muffet, Humpty ****; Pete, Gretal, Hansel, Red ***1/2
When it comes to sculpting, no one manages to pull of the truly disgusting and disturbing quite like Mcfarlane.  I'm only talking the technical aspects of the sculpt here, and have broken out the design and aesthetic aspects into a separate category.

I suspect that Humpty Dumpty is going to be a big peg warmer for this series.  He's certainly disgusting, but so is fake dog vomit.  The sculpt is quite detailed of course, since this is a Mcfarlane toy after all.  The bugs and worms are a little less detailed than I had expected, but Dumpty himself has tons of interesting work in the various fat folds and open wounds.  Some folks will argue with the high sculpt score, but it's not so much the sculpt as the design that I think will cause him to get passed over by most collectors.  More on that in the next section.

My other favorite sculpt of the bunch is Miss Muffet.  Both her and the nasty spider are very nicely done, and I love the work on the spider's face and eyes.  Muffet has small silver spikes on her gloves, and sculpted laces all the way up the boots, and as you might expect, a great butt.  She is completely clothed in this sculpt, but since all of this 'clothing' is skin tight, it could be easily confused for oddly colored skin.  To avoid this, wrinkles are added at all the right spots, making it obvious she's not just wearing body paint.

Hansel is the required midget in the series.  Some of the sculpting, particularly on the skulls and bones in the base and the cage itself, is less detailed than the rest of the line.  Visually, he's simply the least appealing from a sculpt perspective.

Little Red Riding Hood has all the sculpt features of most Mcfarlane toys.  However, her legs look odd when viewed from the front.  She has much larger thighs, and much skinnier ankles, making her legs look strange.  The large spikes sticking out from the boots only enhance the size of the thighs, making the issue even more pronounced.

I'm also less thrilled with the arm sculpts with Red.  Since there is little articulation in the arms of any of these figures, it's no surprise that they really only look good in one pose.  It's a bigger issue though for me with Red, because I would have liked to have been able to drop her arms into a lowered position that would work as well.  Unfortunately, due to the sculpt not working very well with the articulation, that's not really possible.

Gretal has lots of nice texture due to the sculpted stockings.  She also has a ton of cool small details that could have just been painted on, but were sculpted instead, like the nose and eyebrow piercing, and the strings across her chest.

Her hands are sculpted to hold the broom, and in that way they were perfectly.  I didn't mention it for Red, but her hands are sculpted to work exactly with the wolf and knife as well.

Finally, there's Peter.    His nekkid flesh has a ton of texture, open wounds, exposed muscle, and general nastiness.  I'm not sure if there simply too much, or if there's an issue with dull paint ops, but it simply doesn't pop the way the other figures do.  It could also be that he's so similar to many past figures (I couldn't help thinking about the Freak when I saw him).  Perhaps his coolest sculpt feature is the small carved pumpkins on his shorts.  They could have just been printed on, but they went the extra mile.  His hands are also sculpted to hold both the axe and the pumpkin top easily.

The scale on this line is 6", with most of them running around 6 - 6.25" tall.  They'll fit in well with other 6" scale stuff, and past Monsters lines.

Design - Muffet ***1/2; Red, Gretal ***; Pete, Humpty **; Hansel *1/2
I normally don't separate design from sculpt for toy reviews. That's more of a statue review situation, but since these are pseudo statues, and since I didn't want to hurt the sculpting score simply due to some weak design choices, I decided to break it out.

Humpty has a fairly dull design, but I was surprised to find that he wasn't my least favorite.  I do think that most folks will be turned off not just by his basic disgusting nature, but by his smaller size.  I was surprised how small he actually was compared to the other figures, and I had expected something with a little more heft.

So while most folks will pass him over, I think Hansel is the real snoozer here.  As I mentioned, he's our required midget in the line, and there's not much here we haven't seen before.  The cage, and his position in it, is far too similar to Golem from the Infernal Parade line.  Just about every aspect of this design, including the hanging chain, curved pole, and pulley system reminds you of previous figures, and the combination means he's too much like a sequel to a mediocre movie.

His sister is slightly better, although we've seen an awful lot of half nekkid woman as well.  The pose is good, although I'm not sure why the bucket is upside down if she's mopping the floor.  While the outfit is very Victoria's Secret, it's not too S&M, which is definitely a plus.  I've seen some photos where the puddle of blood is not flat, but it's made of a soft enough plastic that you can get it to flatten out pretty easily.

Peter's biggest issue is not his similarity to past figures, although that is a problem, but the requirement to attach the pumpkin to his leg to keep him standing.  Without it, there's no way he's staying on his own two feet.  Don't go looking for peg holes in his tootsies, because they aren't there.

That would only be mildly annoying though if the pumpkin and peg worked well.  Unfortunately, the peg isn't long enough or strong enough, and tends to bend and come apart over time.  Peter is going to be leaning, then sagging, then on his face in no time.

Red's pose is solid, but I simply can't get over how small the wolf is - or how much we are expected to believe came from within.  The wolf is an interesting paradox. On the one hand, he makes for a cool accessory due to the gory nature and design. On the other hand, he makes for a goofy accessory, due to the size. He's really not much of a wolf, and if all the stuff pouring out of him had actually been inside him, his feet would have never touched the ground. Perhaps had she been dragging a much larger wolf along with his guts, or perhaps if a much larger wolf were suspended, shark style, from a beam...of course, a larger wolf would have meant a larger price tag.

I'm also a bit perplexed by the almost identical design for Red and Gretal.  I swear she could have the exact same torso, and the rest of the body parts are done in a style almost identical to one another.

Muffet is my definite favorite design of the group, although I still have a couple issues.  This is a surprise to me, since when I first saw the photos of her, I thought she was silly, if not crude.  But there's no arachnid sex going on here, despite your initial thoughts.  Really, you're sick.

The spider has his mandibles wide open, ready to bite her face off.  She's trying to push him off of her, in just the way you would.  She's thrusting up with her pelvis to flip him off of her, and that's exactly what you'd expect.  The way the bowl and stool are included was genius, and she makes the best looking display piece.

I'm still not completely thrilled though, because I don't get the mask.  The rest of the outfit is too S&M for my tastes as well, but the mask just doesn't make sense, since she can't see.  What was the point?  Is this an attempt to say something about society, something deep and meaningful that I'm just too dense to get?  Or is it just because we've never gotten this particular kind of mask on a Mctoys chick before?

Paint - Muffet, Red ****; Gretal, Hansel, Humpty ***1/2; Peter ***;
There's little sop here, and it's less a quality issue between figures as a color and style choice.

There is a few basic problems here and there though.  Gretal has some slightly wonky lips, and Humpty has some bleed around the worms, and some of the maggots look like white paint was sprayed in the general direction, rather than carefully applied.

But for the most part, the paint work is what you expect from Mcfarlane.  Gretal has some extremely good detail work in the stockings, small flowers on her corset, and even the goofy tattoo.  I could have done without the tat here, particularly since it's almost identical to Red, and they're already so damn close in appearance.

I'm not thrilled with the added dirt on the knees and hands, because it looks like paint and not dirt to me, but it's a decent attempt.

Speaking of Red, she has some of the best paint ops of the bunch.  I like th goth white skin, since it sets off the deep crimson and black of her outfit extremely well.  The smaller details, especially the silver trim on her cape, are very clean, and she's a great example of the proper use of different finishes.  Her boots have a nice gloss, while her white skin is a nice matte.

Little Miss Muffet is also kickin' in the paint category, with tremendously clean lines, and a nice choice of colors for the spider and costume.  She's one of the few McToys ladies to be completely covered up, except for a little skin on the arms and face.  Of course, as tight as the outfit it, it leaves little to the imagination.

She also has a nice use of various finishes, especially on the spider, where the gloss paint brings out the deadly fangs and mouth.

Humpty uses the widest color pallet of the bunch I think, going for lots of disgusting browns, greens and whites to go along with the usual reds.  He's not a healthy man, and it's generally a good idea to call the doctor when the maggots start crawling out of your open wounds.

Hansel and Peter have the least exciting paint ops, even if they are still very technically well done.  The palette used on both seems less extensive, and the paint work actually hurts the sculpt on both.  There's a very heavy use of a wash over the body of Peter, and it's so excessive that it seems to reduce the detail rather than bring it out.  On the flip side, the plain appearance of the white bones on Hansel's base makes them less interesting.

The pumpkin helps save Peter a bit though, since it has some nicely painted blood effects.  He also has great eyes, easily his coolest feature. Hansel's high point is his cage, which looks like tarnished metal because of the paint application.

Articulation - Red, Gretal, Muffet, Peter **1/2; Hansel **; Humpty *1/2
These figures are not highly articulated.  Hell, they're barely articulated.  The purpose for the articulation is not to give you a bunch of posing options, but to get them in that one pose and keep them there.

Muffet has quite a bit for this line, with neck, cut forearms and cut knees.  Her spider also has a ball joint on all eight legs, which gives you some options, but be careful - they tend to fall apart, and I had one that was painted shut and would have broken had I pushed it.

Peter has neck (although it's almost completely useless due to the hair), cut shoulders, a cut left bicep, cut wrists, waist, and cut knees.  The arms are the most useful of course, since the legs can only go in one position and still stand, as long as the pumpkin is attached.

Gretal has neck, cut biceps, cut wrists, waist and one cut thigh.  The wrist articulation is critical for getting her to hold the broom, but most of the rest of the joints are there just to find the sweet spot and get her to stand.

Red has neck (restricted by the hood), a cut left shoulder, a cut right bicep, and cut thighs on both legs.  Again, you can get the center of gravity just right and position her hand on the wolf, and you're done.

Hansel, although he's in his cage, has neck, cut forearms, and cut thighs.  That allows you to get him in and out of the cage, and move him around to fit just right.

Humpty is articulated, surprisingly enough.  You can turn his two little stubby arms.  Okay, it's not much, and a turning propeller seems and obvious miss, but you got to give him a point or so for trying.

Accessories - Red, Muffet ***1/2; Pete; Hansel ***; Gretal **1/2; Humpty *1/2
Little Red Riding Hood gets to be a big winner in this category, in large part due to the detail of the wolf. She comes with her long, deadly knife, which fits nicely in her right hand, the eviscerated wolf, and a small pool of blood for a slightly larger base for the wolf.

The wolf is not a permanent attachment to Red in any way. He sits there, suspended in the air by the flowing entrails, with the scruff of his neck sticking up, ready for Red's left hand to fit over perfectly. This gives the impression she's holding the wolf up, when in reality her hand is simply resting on his neck.

Mctoys also calls the cloak and hood an accessory, but I couldn't get mine off, and it felt glued on somewhere high on her back.

Little Miss Muffet comes with her own beastie. I'm counting the large spider as an accessory, which boosts her score up there with Red. Of course, without the spider her pose doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I suspect lots of folks won't think it makes much sense even with the spider.

The sculpt and paint work on the spider is excellent, and I already mentioned the articulation in the section above. There are two holes in the spider's legs, designed for two pegs on Muffet's body to attach in place. Muffet also has two holes of her own - NOW STOP THAT! - so that her other accessories, the bowl of curds and whey and the stool, can attach. Pop it all together, and you've got a complete display.

Peter wouldn't be Peter without his pumpkin, and without his wife. The pumpkin attaches to his left knee, and keeps him standing. His wife, or at least what's left of his wife, is piled high inside, and there's some pretty funny inscriptions on the outside. He can hold the lid of the pumpkin in his left hand, and his axe in the right. The sculpting and paint ops on these accessories is solid, but it would have been nice if Sally, or parts of her, could have been removed from the pumpkin.

Hansel is pretty dependent on his display base accessory, but he also comes with a small bone for his right hand. The cage and candy cane pole work well together, and the real chain sits on the upper pulley's just right. The cage opens easily enough, and you can take Hansel out if you feel sorry for the little guy. You'll have to take the bone apart though, which is possible due to a pin in the center. The base is decorated with a variety of skulls and candy, quite the unusual combination. Unless you're Willy Wonka, I suppose. As a matter of fact, this character might be a perfect addition to your Willy Wonka display when those toys hit later this year.

Gretal doesn't fair quite as well, with her broom and bucket. The bucket attaches to the base of one foot well enough, and has a nice sturdy feel, but I never did get the two pieces of the broom to fit together tightly. No matter how I turned or prodded, it always had a hell of a gap. I've seen some photos where the puddle of blood she's cleaning up was also rather curled, but mine was fairly flat.

And that leaves us with the big boned Humpty. I almost gave him a bupkis here, since the brick wall he's leaning against is his only accessory, and it's not really an accessory in the traditional sense. But it comes apart, so I broke down and gave him a little extra love for at least that feature. You'd think a guy this fat would avoid climbing up on walls.

Fun Factor - *1/2
These aren't toys for kids - their plastic statues for the twisted mind. You know who you are. Since playing with these isn't the intent, this category won't carry much weight with the final score.

Value - ***
I'm going to assume you end up paying around $11 - $12 each, which is a nice, average value in the current market. You won't feel like you got something for nothing, but you won't feel ripped either. Of course, this line could have been down around $8 since it's a set of completely unlicensed characters...

Things to watch out for - 
Some of the joints were painted tight, especially on the spider, and you want to be careful that you don't break the pegs.  Other than that, I didn't have a single problem.

Overall - Muffet ***1/2; Red, Gretal, Peter ***; Humpty **1/2; Hansel **
This series is a real mixed bag, but I have to admit I liked a couple of these a lot more than I had expected once I had them in my hands.

Muffet looked goofy to me at first, but she's really grown on me.  I love the big spider, and the battle scene actually works. I'm still torn on the outfit though.

Red and Gretal are both hot, no doubt about that, but making their own poses a little different would have helped.  It's odd to have them in the same series and looking so similar.  Gretal also had broom issues, and those funky skinny ankles on Red continue to bug me.

Peter suffers from being a little too much like previous characters, although he might look good displayed with some of his cousins from past lines.  Humpty is, well, Humpty.  You're either going to love his grossness or be put off by it.  I'm actually neither, and found him a tad boring.  And boring was the key word for Hansel, who really didn't do much for me.  Perhaps if we had a gruesome witch to go with him, he'd make a nice addition to her display, but on his own he doesn't pack much punch.

Mcfarlane fans should be happy though, particularly since their getting three females in this group, and they're the best of the wave.  I'm also happy that these leave most of the S&M attributes of other recent 'twisted' waves behind for more gruesome and gross.

BTW, if you'd like a shot at getting this whole set for free, just head over to this month's giveaway, linked off the main page, for a shot at them!

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Muffet, Humpty ****; Pete, Gretal, Hansel, Red ***1/2
Design - Muffet ***1/2; Red, Gretal ***; Pete, Humpty **; Hansel *1/2
Paint - Muffet, Red ****; Gretal, Hansel, Humpty ***1/2; Peter ***;
Articulation - Red, Gretal, Muffet, Peter **1/2; Hansel **; Humpty *1/2
Accessories - Red, Muffet ***1/2; Pete; Hansel ***; Gretal **1/2; Humpty *1/2
Fun Factor - *1/2
Value - ***
Overall - Muffet ***1/2; Red, Gretal, Peter ***; Humpty **1/2; Hansel **

Where to Buy - 
These should pop up at Kaybee, Gamestop, Hot Topic and other specialty stores very soon. Online options include:

- CornerStoreComics has the set of 6 for $65, or the individual figures for $13 each.

- Killer Toys has the set of six for $70, or the individual figures for $10 - $16, depending on the character.

Related Links:
There's number of other links of interest:

- Here's my review of the Monsters series 1, the cowardly Lion from series 2, and several of the Six Faces of Madness.

- there's also a guest review of the Lion from Twisted Oz

- then there's the feature at the Mcfarlane web site

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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