Infernal Parade
Golem Elijah and Dr. Fetter's Family of Freaks

Leave it to Mcfarlane Toys to come up with unique ideas, or at least unique takes on old ones.  The new Infernal Parade line is a group of twisted carnival freaks, done in grand Mcfarlane and Clive Barker tradition.

Barker and Mcfarlane have gotten together twice before, both times for the Tortured Souls lines.  This time they hook up on a weird group of carnies, with the background story supplied by Barker.

Sure, there have been carnival freak figures before, most recently Mezco's Dark Carnival.  But those were caricatures, not realistic portrayals of the twisted entertainers.  This time we get the gruesome side of cotton candy and clown cars.

The line includes six figures, including Dr. Fetter's Family of Freaks and the Golem Elijah, both reviewed tonight, and four others - The Sabbaticus, Bethany Bled, Tom Requiem, and Mary Slaughter.

I picked these up at EBGames for $12 each, and they should be hitting retailers like Gamestop and Sam Goody soon.  I have some on-line suggestions at the end of the review.

Packaging - ***1/2
Clamshell, insert, not much different. Except McToys continues to show just how to use graphics and style to set the mood. The circus/carnival feel is evident in the typeface, photos and colors, and this is a great looking package on the shelf.

The series, just like the two Tortured Souls series that Clive Barker assisted on prior, come with a short back story. Barker wrote this, and while I've read only two sections, it seems to be fairly interesting. Unlike the prior stories, these stand up better on their own, giving more direct background to each character.

However, this time they aren't packaged as a separate little book, but as the inside text on the insert. These oddly shaped inserts don't really make for easy storage once you've opened up the clamshell, and I would have much preferred a nifty little pamphlet.  The stories themselves are pretty darn good though, better than the Tortured Souls works. 

Also, each of these sections of the circus train requires some assembly, and once again, McToys figures you're smart enough to manage it on your own. While that's probably true, it would take less time to be sure that you have things right if they included a few assembly photos on the inside of the insert.

Sculpting - ***
These are Mcfarlane sculpts. That pretty much says they will be technically amazing, and whether you're a fan of the theme or not, you'll be impressed. However, both of these particular figures lack in creativity, something that the general concept of the series would have benefited from.

Each of the six characters is sculpted on a flatbed train car, and they can be hooked together to form a rather perverse appearing circus train. This is the single coolest aspect of the line, and was a terrific idea. The train cars themselves look excellent, and I love the name plates on each one, done in a paint/sculpt style to make them appear like old ceramic signs. There is some basic assembly to the car, and you must slide the metal axles through the base, and attach the wheels. I've heard some folks having problems with this, but with care it works pretty well. Be sure you pay attention to which end the small and large wheels go on - there's a difference in height - and don't try to simply force the wheels on the metal axles. Instead, put them on with a turning motion, and they should go on pretty easily.

The only change I would have made to the cars themselves would have been in the connectors between each one. These are hooks and hitches, so the cars have to sit pretty close to each other. Going with hooks on both ends, with a short chain in between, would have given you a little more latitude on how close together or far apart you could put the cars.

The sculpts on the figures themselves are every bit as detailed, but less creative. First we have Elijah, the Golem. Remember Talisac? This is his first cousin on his mother's side. We've got the now obligatory hooks in the back, hooks in the face, various metal piercings and sections of flayed skin. The only really unique thing here is his desperate need for a pedicure. The obsession with hooked skin is getting a little overdone, wouldn't you say?

He doesn't look much like a Golem either, or at least a classical interpretation.  You might say that means he's innovative and creative, except that the story line provided around him follows the standard story line of a Golem - a creature made from dirt and stone, commanded to rise and serve his maker.   There's nothing about this guy that reminds me of dirt and stone, but he does remind me of a number of previous McToys figures.

There is one pretty cool feature here though, and that's his round cage. It sits on top of several gears attached to the top of the flatbed, and you can turn a handle to rotate the cage! Okay, so it doesn't work with the precision of a Swiss watch, but it's a nifty little action feature nonetheless.

Then we have Dr. Fetter's Family of Freaks, which is actually two, er, four people and their pet goat (sort of). While the sculpts on each of these are solid, my issues get back to creativity. With three possible choices, it's a shame we got two that are almost identical, and a third which is, well, a goat's head (is this supposed to be Dietrick?). With all the possible in-a-jar-oddities, I think a little more variety would have been a good idea. The conjoined twins idea works once (and we already saw it with the Mezco line), but two in different sizes is less exciting.

Be careful when attaching the jars and tables to the train car - the legs are designed to go one way on the table, and they can be broken pretty easily.

A note on scale - obviously, these figures are intended as a 6" scale. However, the bottled figures are much larger than you might expect. That wasn't a bad thing for me though, since I actually picked up this set hoping it would work well with the 12" Mulder and Scully from the X-files. And in that scale, the Family fits in pretty well.

Paint - Elijah ***1/2; Family ***
As expected, the paint ops here are clean and neat. I can't say that's true across the line - I saw four Tom Requiems, and every one of them had over spray issues with the white tattoo paint - but for these two figures, the paint ops were very good.

I'm assuming there's a bloody version of Elijah out there, since he has enough open wounds to warrant it. Even in this version, the flayed skin is nice and nasty looking, with a good use of various finishes (both matte and gloss) to give the impression of skin versus meat.

The paint ops on the Family isn't quite as detailed, although the goat head is well done. The bodies have that off white look you get when you sit around in a jar of formaldehyde too long, but what happened to the colored water? These versions have crystal clear water in each jar. We saw a nice disgusting liquid in the prototypes - are those the 'bloody' versions this time around? You could manage to get the plugs out of the bottoms and do your own thing with the fluid, but these would look so much better on the peg (and in a MOCer's collection) had they gone with something other than Evian in the jars.

Articulation - Freaks *; Elijah **
Hopefully you're not looking for much poseability in figures that are either trapped in a jar, or trapped in a cage, because it's not here.

Of course, considering these confines, that's not in the least bit surprising. Freaks gets a star since the wheels on the car roll, and Elijah gets another star for the cut joint on his one arm, and since his cage can actually be turned. It appears as though you might be able to move him at the cut hips slightly as well, but with the cage in the way, there's not much room for him to boogey anyway.

Accessories - ***1/2
I've already discussed the train cars in detail as part of the sculpting section, but wanted to reiterate here - and give the higher score here - that these are the coolest overall aspect of the line. Having the whole set lined up together on these cars will look wicked cool, and having this type of display base will drive people to buy characters that they might not have otherwise been interested in.

Fun Factor - Bupkis
Don't give these to kids. Really. Unless you want them going Menendez on you.

Value - **1/2
I'll assume you pay around $12 for these, like I did. If you can get them around $10, you're doing better, but still not fantastic. The retail situation is really starting to hurt, and considering that a Mcfarlane fan has to shell out about $160 between this series and the Conan series all at the same time, I feel for them.

Overall - ***
This was a really tough overall score for me to come up with. You might not think there's a lot of difference between **1/2, ***, and ***1/2 stars, but I bet you did when you were in school and your parents saw a C+ on the report card instead of a B+.

I debated back in forth for the last day or so on this, and finally settled on the three stars overall for both. While the sculpting is the usual high quality, I can't help but deduct for a general lack of creativity with these two. The hook routine was old a couple figures ago, and I was really hoping for more variety in my bottled oddities. Price plays a factor for me here to, as there's simply no way I can justify paying $80 for the whole set, although I love the train car displays.

I haven't picked up and opened the other four figures from the line, but from store impressions, I'd say that perhaps Bethany Bled would squeak out the ***1/2 stars. She's certainly one of the most attractive female figures McToys has produced in awhile (I'm referring to both body proportions and facial sculpt/style), and she lacks the seriously grotesque S&M damage. Mary gets some solid creativity points, although she has that same hook problem. Fortunately, the sword swallowing idea has been handled in a unique enough way here as to override the silliness of the shoulder hooks.

Tom Requiem didn't do much for me, especially with the paint op issues on the white face and chest paint. And while Sabbaticus is a cool sculpt, it tends to remind me too much of what I know consider the "Mcfarlane list". I have this vision in which every new sculptor or product developer for Mcfarlane is given a list:

1 - Every line should contain 6 figures.
2 - At least one, but preferably two, of those figures must be female, and wearing as little clothing as possible.
3 - At least one of the figures must be a fat or scaly beast. Extra points if it's fat AND scaly.
4 - Hooks. Lots of hooks. Preferably in the back, face or shoulders.
5 - Symmetry is bad, asymmetric is good. One arm needs to be visually different from the other, same with the legs. If a monster has two fangs, one should be chipped or broken. Matching across any X or Y plane, side to side, top to bottom, is bad.
6 - Peglegs are good. Bloody peglegs are better. See 5 above.
7 - Add midgets where ever possible. Midgets are scary.  Clown midgets are best.

You get my point, and I'm betting you can add a few yourself. And whenever you can see such obvious patterns - think Disney movies - you'll see that creativity and innovation are taking a back seat. I'm betting that is the only time that Todd's figures and Disney movies will ever get compared.

Out of this series, Bethany and Mary will be the hot sellers of course, as the females always are. I'm betting that the Family and Sabbaticus end up hanging around the longest, but the smart sixth scale horror collectors may notice what I did, and realize that these go nicely with other displays. But in general, I don't know how well these will sell. Conan hasn't been doing well, certainly not around here. Even the females are readily available, a couple weeks after they've hit. My local EB got in two cases of IP, all even packed, so there are four of every figure there. That might not sound like much, but with Media Play and two Gamestops all in the same town getting them as well, what are the odds they'll sell quickly? Only time will tell just how much effect the current conditions will have on McToys.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***
Paint - Elijah ***1/2; Family ***
Articulation - Freaks *; Elijah **
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - Bupkis
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy - 
I picked these two up at EBGames, and Gamestop and Media Play/Suncoast stores should get them as well, along with your local comic shops.  Online options include:

- EBGames on-line has them for $12 each, and you can buy them individually.

- Killer Toys has the set for $60, or as cheap as $8 each depending on who you're looking for.

- CornerStoreComics has the set for $75, or each figures for $13 each.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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