Twisted Christmas

Thanksgiving is behind us, and Christmas is in front.  That means lots of frustrated shoppers, frustrated travelers, frustrated mall Santas...Ho! Ho! Ho!

A few years ago, Mcfarlane Toys were known for their 'twisted' renditions of various public domain properties.  The Wizard of Oz and beloved fairy tales took a twisted turn, and lines like Tortured Souls and Infernal Parade set a standard of weird.

But about two years ago, the company took a slight turn away from such lines, focusing more on Dragons and Military in their unlicensed products.  But they had an idea on the back burner that finally made it to reality this winter - Twisted Christmas.  They haven't announced any lines for 2008 yet that indicate any move back toward the more twisted style (their Zodiac line up turns the astrological symbols into bad ass warriors, but it's not particularly 'twisted'), but fans of the old style of Mcfarlane Toys will be glad they got these holiday treats.

These are now in stores and online shops, and run around $12 or so each.  There are six in the set - Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, Frosty (uh, just the 'snowman'), Rudolph (uh, yea, he's 'reindeer Rudy'), Santa's Little Helpers, and Jack Frost. 


Packaging - ***1/2
These figures are all in the new smaller clamshells, but the interior backer cards are quite plain.  They are just a simple Christmas green with a few snowflakes... and yet I really, really like these.

There's two key reasons.  First, even though they've had to go with tri-logo packaging, they still managed to fit some personalization on the back of each package.

But the big plus here is the cool artwork by Todd on the small nameplate for each figure.  He's drawn up a cute little version of each character very traditional in style.  The contrast with the actual figures is hilarious, and a really nice touch.

Sculpting - Snowman, Jack Frost ****; Santa, Mrs. Claus, SLH's ***1/2; Rudy ***
There's no bad sculpting here.  I don't think that's a surprise, since sculpt is what Mcfarlane has made their reputation on.  If you're looking for technical flaws, you'll have a tough time finding them. 

That doesn't mean however that the overall appearance of certain sculpts are less appealing than others.  A sculpt can be perfect from a technical perspective, and yet not reach a status of 'art'. The design, style, and your own personal preferences are going to heavily influence how you end up feeling about each of these.

For me, the Snowman is the most appealing.  There was something creepy about Frosty to begin with, and giving him a maniacal, homicidal appearance wasn't a huge stretch.  And while he's definitely twisted, there's something classic about the horrific appearance.

Jack Frost is my next favorite, but I have to ignore the itty bitty buildings on the base.  They were implying that Jack is HUGE, monstrously gigantic, sort of a Christmas Godzilla.  But since that puts him completely out of scale with the rest of the line, I'd rather ignore it and pretend he's just a big ice beast, but still in scale with the other characters. Since he can stand on his own without the base, it's not that tough.

The somewhat translucent plastic used for the icy appearance of both these characters really works well, and these two look terrific on the shelf together.

Mrs. Claus is another beautiful sculpt, but she's a tad too beautiful for the line itself.  The rest of the series is more horror than torture porn (which tended to be the way most of the previous 'twisted' lines went), and yet this Mrs. Claus isn't horrific at all.  She's hot!  Smokin' hot.  Oh, the two little perverted elves help add some gross to the otherwise attractive overall figure, but I think most folks will end up displaying her with the likes of Gretel or Dorothy from previous lines, instead of with these Christmas monsters.

Santa Claus goes a bit overboard on the 'claws', but the underlying rotted skull adds some nice gruesome to his look.  I'm a tad confused about the gas mask - which is a design element that harkens back to the Wizard from the Twisted Oz line - but I suspect fans of the series will put him someplace in the middle of the pack.  You can't really have a Christmas line without a Santa, but I think he could have been a tad more visually interesting.

Santa's Little Helpers are some nice, gross, evil looking little elves, with big blades and bad skin.  Since these guys stand on their own without the base, you can place them strategically around Santa or Mrs. Claus for the full family effect.

The only real disappointment for me is Rudy.  I like the horns, the overall pose, and the addition of the holiday lights around his body.  But the weirdly designed lower jaw just doesn't look right to me.  Rather than looking like a dangerous gaping mouth, it appears as though his lower jaw is actually a permanent part of his chest, so biting you would be pretty much out of the question.  Add to that the fact that he can't stand on his own easily without the display stand (and even has some trouble with it), and you get my least favorite of the bunch.

These guys are in the usual 6" scale, with Santa at about 5 1/2", the elves between 3" and 4", Mrs. Claus at 7" (she's a tall babe!), Rudy about 6" without the antlers, Jack at about 6", and the Snowman at about 6 1/2" with the hat.

Paint - ***1/2
Again, if you're looking for technical issues with the paint work, you're looking in the wrong place.  Mcfarlane still seems a bit hit or miss with the consistency of the paint quality on their cartoon lines, but when it comes to the monsters, the paint is always well above average.

All of them have great small detail work, like the words on Santa's shirt, the bells and lights on Rudy, or the costume on Mrs. Claus.  There's a few slop spots here and there on some of the cut lines,  but for the most part the work is excellent.

Jack Frost has the best looking overall job, with a truly amazing application on the white frost over his ice body.  They managed to make this look extremely realistic, and it's an application that could have easily gone very wrong in the hands of another company.

My least favorite aspect is the muddy look of the snow on the Snowman.  I really wish he was a bit whiter, like the version shown on the back of the package.  What we got was a very, very dirty snow, almost so dirty that you don't recognize it immediately as snow.  I would have been much happier had it been predominately white with a dark wash, instead of predominately dark with a white wash.

Articulation - Snowman, Santa, Rudy **1/2; Mrs Claus, SLH's, Jack Frost *1/2
If you're looking for anything more than a Nerd Hummel, then you're looking in the wrong place.  There's little articulation here, and these figures are generally only designed to be posed in one way.

Santa has cut shoulders, cut wrists (at the sleeves) and cut ankles.  Even with that limited articulation, he's really the most poseable of the bunch, since you can do a few things with the arms.

Mrs. Claus is on the opposite end of the spectrum, with just a cut left calf and a cut neck.  Even a ball joint at the neck would have been so much better, allowing her to look in more than one direction.

Jack Frost has cut legs, one cut bicep, and cut wrists.  These joints allow him to stand without the base, and hold the branch.

The Snowman can turn at each arm, allowing him to pose threateningly in a number of ways.  His hat is NOT removable, in case you were wondering.

Rudy has the most articulation, but none of it is particularly useful.  He has cut shoulders, cut wrists, and cut hips, but you really can't do a lot with any of them due to the design of the figure.

Finally, there's Santa's Little Helpers.  Each one has a cut neck and cut waist, but none have much movement.  Two of them also have a cut left shoulder, and one of them (the guy with two big blades) has cut joints on each arm at the sleeves.  Again, there's not much you can do with these joints other than get them in the one basic pose.

Accessories - SLH's, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus ***; Rudy, Jack **1/2; Snowman **;
The line isn't filled with accessories, but all the characters at least get an item or two.

The Snowman only has his base, which looks like he's dragging himself through the snow.  That's good, because an evil snowman that can't move easily really isn't much of a threat, unless you're a complete moron.  He also stands fine without the base, which is a plus.

Jack and Rudy do him one better.  They have bases, but Jack, like the Snowman, doesn't require his to stand.  However, Rudy absolutely needs his to stand, and even with it, it's a bit of a trick.

Rudy comes with a mean looking blade, that appears to be made from parts of the sled.  The back handle pops off to allow it to fit in and out of his hand.

Jack comes with a big stick that fits in his hand, and although it's sort of an accessory, he really needs it in his hands to look good.

Mrs Claus comes with the most intricate base, which includes not only her candy cane stripper pole, but two elves that appear to be getting quite a good look at her Christmas package.  She obviously needs the base to stand, but the elf in the small box can be left off the base if you'd like, or placed someplace else.

Santa Claus has the smallest base, but he also has a removable mask/beard and hat.  These snap into place well, and don't fall off easily.

Finally, there's Santa's Little Helpers, which have the most accessories.  There's three of them of course, with one base that all three can stand on.  They don't need the base though, and can each stand independently as well.  Each has a huge weapon, but there are also two small knives that fit in the belt loops of two of the elves.

Fun Factor - **
These aren't 'fun' kid's toys.  They are designed for adults with a bit of a twisted sense of humor.  Okay, a lot twisted.  But you knew that going in, so this score shouldn't effect your overall much - it certainly doesn't effect mine.

Value - **1/2
At around $12, these are the usual unlicensed Mcfarlane price.  I'd liked to see these at $10 of course, like the old days of just a few months ago, but with the price of everything rising, and the number of retailers carrying this type of product decreasing, the slightly higher price has become the usual.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much.  The various parts that pop on - Rudy's antlers, Snowman's arms, Jack's branch's - are all designed to fit in specific holes, so don't force them where they don't belong.  But for the most part, things are quite well built, and very sturdy.

Overall - Snowman ****; Jack Frost, Santa, SLH's, Mrs. Claus ***1/2; Rudy *** 
I've reviewed most of the 'twisted' figures from Mcfarlane over the years with favorable results, although I'm generally not a fan of the torture porn style.  Even with my own lack of personal preference for the style, I still can recognize that the quality was there, particularly in the sculpt and paint.

This series is more horror though, and much more up my alley.  I really like Jack Frost and the Snowman, and Santa's Little Helpers look terrific together or individually as well.  While Mrs. Claus doesn't really fit in with the rest of the set, she's certainly attractive, and even poor old Santa has his positive aspects.  Rudolph...uh, I mean 'Rudy'...was the only disappointment for me in the series, due to the design of the gaping mouth.

Fans of the more classic Mcfarlane style should enjoy these, and I'm betting that even horror fans that weren't enamored with the older twisted lines will find a least a couple of these appealing.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Snowman, Jack Frost ****; Santa, Mrs. Claus, SLH's ***1/2; Rudy ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Snowman, Santa, Rudy **1/2; Mrs Claus, SLH's, Jack Frost *1/2
Accessories - SLH's, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus ***; Rudy, Jack **1/2; Snowman **;
Fun Factor - **
Value - **1/2
Overall - Snowman ****; Jack Frost, Santa, SLH's, Mrs. Claus ***1/2; Rudy ***

Where to Buy -
Online sources include these recommended Sponsors:

- Toys and Cool Stuff has them for about $15 each Canadian.

- Amazing Toyz has all the singles for about $12 each, or the set for $68.

- CornerStoreComics has the singles for around $12, with package deal on the figures for $68.

- Time and Space Toys carries many Christmas themed toys...but not these.  They have plenty of much more traditional Christmas toys.

- Related Links -
Other 'twisted' reviews include:

- the full set of Twisted Fairy Tales.

- 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.

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Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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