Nightmare Before Christmas
Jack Skellington vs Oogie Boogie

With Tim Burton's new stop motion film Corpse Bride just opening last weekend, and Halloween just around the corner, his film The Nightmare Before Christmas is very popular right now. Lots of licensees, including Disney, are cranking out the product just in time for the holiday season.

NECA put the second series of their action figure line out last month, and have the third series - which will include a second version of Santa Jack and Sally, along with the new Werewolf and Cyclops - by the end of this month. In between those two releases, like the crunchy bug-meat of an insect sandwich, they've put out the Oogie Boogie versus Jack Skellington deluxe boxed set.

The set includes a new figure in the form of Oogie Boogie, the big bad of Halloweentown (which is saying quite a bit, considering who lives in Halloweentown), and another variant of our hero, Jack. The set retails for around $25, although you can find it a couple bucks cheaper online.

Packaging -  ***
Hey, it's a box! Big surprise there - it follows the standard NMBC color and graphics scheme, which we've all gotten pretty accustomed to. The figures are held in with twisties, but it's not too insane, and boxes like this tend to hold up better to shelf wear, and are easier for the MIBBers to store.

One aspect I like is that it's not too huge, especially considering the size of the set and Oogie. The downside is that you can't see the display base in all its glory in the package, but I can live without that for the smaller size. Don't get me wrong - it's not itsy bitsy by any stretch of the imagination. But it's smaller than it could have been, with less wasted space, and for that the MIBBers will be appreciative.

Sculpting - ****
NECA has been doing a great job with the sculpts, style and scale of the Nightmare line. Actually, the Four Horsemen, sculptors of many fine and spiffy action figures, did the sculpt work on this line, and they've done their usual bang up job.

Jack is a reuse of the body from the series 1 Jack, but he does have a new, angry, fightin' face for his head sculpt. Considering he's up against Mr. Boogie, that makes complete sense. It's a good looking expression, and offsets some of the friendlier head sculpts we have on Jack so far.

Oogie is the real prize here however. The majority of his sculpting detail is in the texturing of the burlap body, and it turned out quite nice. Since the character design isn't going to allow for much articulation, they wisely picked a fairly dynamic and fluid pose for the sculpt, that can work either as Oogie is preparing to throw the dice, or as a general attack/movement pose.

Scale is one thing that always seems to go out the window with the large characters in any license. Here, that doesn't seem to be a problem. Oogie is huge, maybe even too big if that's even possible. But I'm not complaining, oh no sir, not one bit. Oogie stands 10 inches tall, while Jack is at about 8.25. 

Paint - Oogie ****; Jack ***
When I first found these, there was only one on the shelf. My local Media Play likes to do annoying things like that. The one they had out showed serious scratches on the body of Oogie, and they didn't look like they'd rub out. I asked if they had another, and they went to check. Of course, they had about a half dozen, but only bothered to bring one out. Oogie looked great on this one, but Jack has some facial issues. I took that one though, unsure of what might come out of the backroom next.

Oogie is a nice, consistent green. Now, some folks might not be happy with this color, since technically he's off white. Burlap is definitely not normally green. It's only when he's black lit that he comes out green, but that's just so much more disgusting and colorful, that almost every product based on his character has been in some shade of green.

That's the second question of course. Just what shade of green should he be? Now, I'm color blind, so my ability to tell the difference between slight shades of green is at about the same level as my ability to get pregnant. Still, this version looks right to me, and I'm a happy camper.

He's also very clean, with sharp black seams along either side, and dark eyes and mouth. There's not a lot of detail to Oogie - he's just not that kind of guy. But a big plus here is that while NECA did use a wash on the body to pull out some of the cool burlap texturing, they showed restraint and didn't go insane with the technique. He also has his snake tongue, a black and yellow bugger that looks an awful lot like a coral snake.

The paint ops on Jack aren't quite as good, particularly on the face. The detail work on the body isn't too bad, but the suit lines are sloppier here than I've seen in the past. Poor Jack has a lot of over spray on his face though, where it appears that the masking didn't work well at all for the mouth. It's hard to see in the photos, since that's also where you get shadowing in normal light, but in person it's quite obvious.

Articulation - Jack ****; Oogie **1/2
If you've picked up either the series 1 or series 2 Jack Skellington figures, then the articulation here won't be any surprised. He has a ball jointed neck, so critical to an expressive character like him, ball jointed shoulders and hips, cut biceps and thighs, pin elbows, wrists and knees, and both a waist and chest joint. Considering the scale, that's pretty amazing, but with all those joints in such tiny limbs there can be issues with breakage.

Oogie is much less articulated, and considering the style of the character - he's a big burlap sack full of nasty bugs and other things - it shouldn't be a shock to anyone that he doesn't sport 30 points of articulation. He has a jointed jaw, cut shoulders, and that's about it. The snake in his mouth also turns on mine, to get him in just that right position. You can also tuck the snake back to completely shut the mouth.

Oogie can stand on his own, although there are pegs in the base that make it less likely that he'll take a tumble. Jack is never going to stand under his own power with those itty bitty feet, but the enclosed display stand will fix that right up, and that's not the fault of the sculpt but of the character design itself.

Accessories - ***1/2
There are two accessories here, separate from the figures. There is the display base, a chunk of the main floor of Oogie's evil lair, and his 'bones', the dice he rolls to determine the fate of Sandy Claws.

The dice fit nicely in his right hand thanks to a couple pegs on the die, and holes in his hand. I had a little trouble getting them to line up correctly at first, and they are definitely designed to work one way, but once you figure it out, he'll hold on to them well.

The base comes right out of Oogie's crib, with two sections that snap together to form part of the roulette wheel style floor, and two King of Spades cards that act as sections of wall. Everything snaps together tightly, and the sculpting and paint application is excellent.

The two Kings also have a nice feature - the sword arms are actually articulated, and swing outward, ready to slice up any foe. When they are against the card, this articulation is not too obvious or unsightly.

There are pegs in the bottom of the base to help Oogie stand, as well as Jack. Jack also comes with his own little display stand if you'd prefer, which is the same style of small black stand that the single figures usually contain.

Fun Factor - ***
If you have kids that can be careful, then these could be a lot of fun. The problem with Jack is that all that cool articulation in such a small scale comes with a price - fragility. Small children are sure to tear those joints up fast, so it's unlikely that he'll last long enough to be much fun. On the other hand, Oogie is sturdy and won't have those kinds of issues.

Value - ***
This is a very nice set for under $25, considering that there are two figures (and one of them is HUGE), along with a large display with moving parts. $20 and this would be a fantastic value - at $25 you're falling into *** star slightly above average territory. Anything over $25 and you've lost another half star in this category, falling to a fairly average value on the current market.

Things to watch out for - 
It's all about the paint, baby. Pay extra attention to both figures, but especially Oogie, since you probably already have more than one Jack.

Overall -  ****
I'm going to admit to being slightly generous on this one. I waffled around ***1/2 stars for awhile, but Oogie himself is just too cool, and looks too good on the shelf with the rest of the line, to let this one slip below four stars. I'm also very happy that he's not bleeding bugs in any way in this version, since I'd rather have this basic, standard appearance for the first release, and then if they'd like to produce a variant later, they can throw in some insects.

This is one of my favorite lines right now, with all the aspects that make me a happy customer - a great license, done with smart articulation, great sculpts, clean paint and thoughtful accessories. There are still the occasional issue here or there, and I'm a little disappointed that we're seeing a second version of Santa Jack and Sally so early, but overall I'm very pleased with the work NECA is doing with the license.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ****
Paint - Oogie ****; Jack ***
Articulation - Jack ****; Oogie **1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***
Overall -  ****

Where to Buy -
You can find these at specialty stores like Media Play or Sam Goody (where it's $25), or online:

- has this set for $25.

- CornerStoreComics has the set for just $24, and they also have the Corpse Bride figures up for pre-order.

- Amazing Toyz has the set for just $23, along with preorders for the Corpse Bride stuff.

- Killer Toys has the set for $28.

Related Links -
I've reviewed the rest of the Nightmare product produced by NECA so far...

- the second series of figures, with Santa Jack, the Witches, Harlequinn Demon and Dr. Finklestein last month when they hit.

- I also reviewed the first series of figures, with Jack, Sally, the Mayor and the Vampire

I'll have a review of the new 14" tall Jack with multiple heads coming soon!

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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