Mega Scale Pumpkinhead

You don't get very many 'new' monsters. It's tough to come up with something unique and interesting, and build a solid story around it for support. But once in awhile you get a Creeper, or a Candyman...or a Pumpkinhead.

Pumpkinhead was a film released in 1989, and was the directorial debut of Stan Winston, much better known for his award winning special effects and creatures. He designed the monster Pumpkinhead as well, a gruesome creature that rose from the pumpkin patch to devour anyone needing a little payback. No, this is definitely not the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.

SOTA has released a Mega Scale version, the second in their Mega Scale series. The first was the Lord of Darkness, another big bad from the eighties. Pumpkinhead has just started shipping, and you can expect to pay around $65 - $70 for him.

Packaging - **1/2
The packaging works much better this time around then it did for the poor Lord of Darkness. Pumpkinhead is a MUCH lighter figure, even at 20" tall, and therefore doesn't need as much stabilization in the box. They put him in a double sided tray - you now the kind, the top half and bottom half both come together to form fit over the figure - and there's a few twisties too that seem a tad redundant, but you won't see the breakage here you did with the earlier figure.

I do wish the box showed off the figure a little better though. The exceptional prototype, with all it's excellent paint detail, is right there front and center, and unfortunately what you can see of the figure doesn't match up well.

Sculpting - ***
This is a tough category to score for this figure, largely because the paint might be making the sculpt less impressive than it actually is. As I've said literally hundreds of times, a mediocre sculpt can be made fantastic with excellent paint work, and an fantastic sculpt can be made mediocre with weak paint. This could very well be a case of the latter.

There is some solid detail work here, with a nice texturing of the skin, and sculpted (not just painted) veins across the body. The sinewy muscles and ribs across his torso look good, and the poses selected for the sharply pointed claw are great. He also stands perfectly on his own, a huge plus for a character this large.

He's been made of a slightly softer plastic than the Lord of Darkness. I've heard people call it 'rubber', but that implies it's much softer than it is. He's rotocast, and although the material is slightly softer, I doubt there's any chance of leg wilt because he's so much lighter overall. I'm betting they went this direction to avoid the serious breakage issues they had with Darkness, and I think it was a smart move.

There's also something else rather, uh, unique about this sculpt. Pumpkinhead is packin'. I don't think I own any other action figures that are actually anatomically complete, and certainly not any large monsters. Thankfully, he's not happy to see you. I'd much rather have Pumpkinhead chasing me looking for a snack than a life partner.

The tail is a separate piece, and snaps on the back with a pretty standard peg. The sculpt is again much nicer than is obvious with this paint job.

Paint - **
What happened here? Now, the paint job isn't nearly as bad as some initial reports and photos would have you believe, but it's miles away from the prototype version. The head and neck actually sport most of the work from the original photos, and look fairly good. The mouth is a little sloppy, particularly inside where the consistent dark color looks a little cheap, and a talented customizer could even improve on the head paint job. But it's a much higher quality - and has many more actual operations - than the body.

It looks like the costs of this figure became an issue late in the game, and the solution was to cut back on the operations on the body. The body is much lighter than the head and neck, almost a dusty tan, and if you use any strong light source, it will most certainly look washed out. There's some wash here to bring out the texture and details, but not much, and the overall appearance of the body paint work is much cheaper and low quality than the head.

The other highlight to the paint work is the claws on the feet and hands. These look terrific, and have a nice gloss finish.

Articulation - **
The articulation is fairly basic. There's a ball jointed neck, but the range of movement is rather restricted by the sculpt. He really only looks good with the head turned to his right, at least a little. You can move it a half inch or so to the left or right, but if you try to bring it over to the left side, it tends to turn at an odd angle.

There are also ball jointed shoulders, only jointed at the torso. They have a decent range of movement, but nothing outstanding.

Finally, there's a cut waist and cut wrists. The veins only line up at one point on the wrists of course, but I don't think they look too bad misaligned, and the cool hand sculpts work well in a lot of poses. The cut waist will let you find the right center of gravity depending on the position of the arms. I am a little disappointed there is zero leg articulation, especially since there are two visible cuts where the legs were assembled below the knee that are glued tight. Cut elbows would have been mighty nice as well.

The tail is intended to be bendy, but I had a major issue with it. It seems to only start its bendy nature about 4 or 5 inches out, forcing the tail to always stick out from the body. Even the section that does bend does so only with real effort, and is fairly limited in its poseability. It does turn however at the body, giving you some options.

Accessories -  *1/2
There's a small, rectangular black base, designed for one foot to attach to, to aid in keeping him standing. I didn't find any need for it though, as he stands great with the sculpted leg pose and flat bottomed feet.

I supposed you could call his tail an accessory, but since he'd look pretty silly without it, I'm considering it a part of the overall figure and not an extra.

Fun Factor - ***
You know, kids could actually have a great time with this guy, using him as an evil doer against smaller figures in about any scale. The slightly softer plastic means joint breakage is extremely unlikely, and this is a figure that could certainly take a beating and keep on keeping on. Of course, waking up in the middle of the night and seeing this guy staring back from your bedroom floor would probably give grown men nightmares, so it might not turn out the best with a 5 year old.

Value - *1/2
Let's think about other figures we've seen in this scale and in this price range. There's the Lord of Darkness (around $70 from SOTA themselves, or the recent Balrog from NECA (around $85). Slightly smaller is the 15" King Kong ($38) or the 18" Hellboy ($40), both from Mezco. Also in that $35 - $40 range have been the other 18" Epic Scale LOTR figures from NECA like Aragorn, Gandalf and Legolas.

Pumpkinhead stands about 20", and runs around $65 most places. He's not a $65 figure. He's completely rotocast, made from a slightly softer plastic than the other mentioned figures, and quite light weight. The paint ops (especially on the body) are minimal, as is the articulation. He's not an expensive license (relatively speaking), and he has no accessories or light up features or voice chip, like several of the other aforementioned figures (including SOTA's own Darkness).

This is a $30 - $35 figure tops. There's no light up or sound features unlike most of the other figures in this price range, and I suspect it's going to be a very tough sell at this price point.

Things to Watch Out For - 
If you're buying it off the shelf, you can look for the best paint job, but the lack of ops on the body is going to be a consistent issue you can't avoid. Other than that, there's not a thing!

Overall - **
This figure is hurt by two major factors - the reduced quality paint application on the body, and a price point that's almost double what it should be compared to other figures on the current market. Pick this guy up for under $40, and the overall score rises a half star for me. Fix those paint ops too, and you could have had a ***1/2 star figure easily.

I can see this figure turning into something fantastic in the hands of a great custom painter. In the few brick and mortar stores these end up in, I suspect they'll sell poorly at the initial price point. Clearance is in this guy's future, and some customizers will get their hands on them in the $30 - $40 range, repaint them, and turn them into something amazing. Unfortunately, for those of us without the skills, we'll be left with the expensive and mediocre version.

Is this a bad sign for SOTA? We all know that Jerry Malcuso, founder and heart of SOTA Toys, sold the business and stepped out recently. Jerry always struck me as the kind of guy that I shared a philosophy with - if you start doing something for fun, and it stops being fun, you should stop doing it. Considering the pressures and concerns of the specialty market toy business, I can't imagine that it's a lot of fun right now, and his movie venture is certainly proving more fruitful and inspiring.

SOTA will be under some tremendous strain at this point, and if their Lovecraft and Now Playing lines don't do well this fall, I will be worried for them. The market is only so big any more - largely because the retail presence for any of these toys has so drastically shrunk - and Mcfarlane, NECA and Mezco seem to have a pretty tight stranglehold on what's left. To survive, SOTA will have to decide on a specific strategy for their future, and execute flawlessly.

Score Recap:
Packaging - **1/2
Sculpt - ***
Paint - **
Articulation - **
Accessories - **
Fun Factor - ***
Value -  *1/2
Overall - **

Where to Buy - 
Online is going to be your likely option:

- CornerStoreComics has him in stock for $64.

- Amazing Toyz also has him listed at $64.

Related Links:
Check out my review of the Lord of Darkness Blockbuster figure from SOTA, or if you're the ultimate Pumpkinhead fan, pick up the quarter scale statue from Sideshow Toys! ()

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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