Nightmare Before Christmas Series 3
Santa Jack, Sally, Werewolf and Cyclops

I've had three lines this year that I look forward to with glee. Okay, 'glee' sounds a bit too pathetic - let's just say 'anticipation'. One is the Family Guy series from Mezco, another is Invader Zim from Palisades, and the third is Nightmare Before Christmas from NECA.

All three of these lines are now into multiple series, and all seem to get better with every release. The third series of NMBC (including Santa Jack version 2, Sally version 2, the Cyclops and the Wolfman) were actually released just a couple weeks after the second series, back in late September. I didn't review them right away though, wanting to put a little time in between, but now a little time has turned into a lot of time, so I figured I'd better get my butt moving.

NECA's choice of including two figures that had already been produced in earlier series so soon in the history of the overall line has caused debate, and I'll be weighing in with my opinion of course. You can find these for around $11 - $13 each, depending on where you pick them up, and OMGToys was kind enough to send this set my way for a review.

Packaging -  ***
Sometimes, the packaging grows on you the more you see it. Sometimes it doesn't. In this case, I'm already finding the insert art to be less thrilling as time moves on. However, on the big plus side, each unique sticker on the front of the package details the included accessories.

Sculpt - Wolfman ****; Cyclops ***1/2; Jack, Sally ***
The Wolfman is my favorite sculpt of the bunch. He's got a nice heft to him without being too large, and the sculpted style works nicely with the included articulation. There's plenty of detail in his fur and face, and he can even stand on his own, although you'll want to use the stand to avoid knocking him down when you bump the shelf.

The Cyclops is also extremely nice, with lots of detail in his fur, and a great looking single eye. He does lack the ability to hold much, but that's an issue for the Wolfman as well. Still, you can get him to grapple with a few of the accessories if you get creative. He won't be standing on his own, but the included stand works well enough, and with such tiny feet, it's not a fault of the sculpt but of the character design.

Sally is almost identical to her series 1 twin, but has a slightly different, sadder facial expression. Again, her tiny feet necessitate the use of the enclosed display stand. There's nice detail work in the stitching on her body and clothes, and they've done a good job with scale between her, Jack, and Finklestein from series 2.

Jack is, well, Jack. We already got a Sandy Claws version of Jack, and it was just in series 2, so releasing this one so close to the original seems a bit odd. He does have his Santa hat on, with a winking expression, but otherwise is the same.

Paint - ***1/2
NECA tends to have some issues with paint applications and operations, but it seems that when it comes to this line, they always get their act together.

There's still the occasional stay line and over spray area, but for the most part, the figures are consistently above average. There are fewer paint ops on a couple of these, especially Cyclops, but there's a ton of detail paint work on Sally, and it is extremely clean and consistent.

Santa Jack does have something over his series 2 counterpart in this category. The series 2 version (at least the one I have) appears to have had his face painted with the same color white as the beard and coat trim. This is a darker, off white. However, the new version clearly has a much whiter, brighter face than the rest of the white, and this contrast looks much better.

Articulation - Jack, Sally ***1/2; Wolfman, Cyclops ***;
NECA has done their best to include as much articulation as possible, without damaging the appearance or quality of the figures.

Jack and Sally have the most, due to their character designs being the most amenable to articulation. They have ball jointed necks, along with ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, pin elbows and pin wrists (actually, Sally has cut wrists), ball jointed hips, and pin knees. Jack additionally has a chest joint (at the break in the coat), and cut thighs.

Most of these joints are surprisingly sturdy, considering how spindly and thin the extremities are. Still, you'll want to take some care, especially if any of the joints are painted tight.

The Wolfman has a ball jointed neck as well, although the range of movement is a bit restricted. His lower jaw is jointed, along with ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows, cut forearms, cut hips, and a cut tail. He's surprisingly well articulated considering his chunky nature.

Finally, the Cyclops has a cut neck, ball jointed shoulders, pin elbows, lower jaw, cut forearms and cut thighs. I had the most trouble with his two shoulder joints, which were firmly stuck. The arms are so thin, and the plastic is relatively soft, so it took a lot of care and patience to free them up without damaging the figure. Once I did however, he had quite a bit more ability to pose than I had expected.

NOTE:  I completely forgot to mention this first time around, but Cyclops has an articulated eye as well!   It moves to look in any direction - how cool is that!

Accessories - Sally ****; Wolfman, Cyclops, Jack ***1/2;
NECA is smart when it comes to exploiting the accessory potential with this line, and they've managed to put together another set of compelling and interesting goodies.

Sally has the huge sewing machine, along with a drawing of the proposed Sandy Claws suit. The sewing machine is extremely cool, and moving the pedal below the machine actually turns the hypnotic wheel above. That's a very nice touch, making the accessory a great addition to the display. Oh, and let's not forget the small black display stand included to keep her upright.

The other three have a variety of items. The Wolfman and Jack both have the small black disk stands to assist them, but the Cyclops has a clear rod that attaches from his back to the back of the small crate.

These three also come with one of Santa's Elves each. The Cyclops has the big fat one, while the Wolfman and Jack both come with an identical smaller elf. All three elves stand on their own, and come with articulated shoulders and necks.

If that's not enough, these three come with a piece of sheet music as well, just right for holiday caroling. Both the Wolfman and Cyclops include a small present as well.

Jack doesn't have the present, but makes up for it in grand style with a penguin, candy cane, and wreath (with bendy 'legs'!). The sculpting and paint work on all these accessories follow the same high quality and style as the rest of the line.

Fun Factor - Wolfman, Cyclops ***1/2; Jack, Sally ***
The spindly nature of some of the limbs with the delicate joints make make these a little frustrating for kids, but there's no doubt that they are toys first, collectibles second. Truly great lines manage to be both at once, pleasing kids and collectors alike, and that's a feat that NECA has pulled off with this line.

Value - ***
I'm grading these around $11 each, which is the price at OMGToys. Get up over $12 or so, and you can pull another half star off.

Things to watch out for - 
Obviously, you'll want to pick out the best paint possible, but I suspect things are going to be pretty consistently well done across the run. Also, take care when freeing up any stuck joints to avoid breaking or damaging them.

Overall -  Wolfman, Cyclops ***1/2; Sally ***; Jack **1/2
I was a bit unsure, so I pulled out my handy Thesaurus and looked up "Santa Jack version 2". Yep, sure enough, it's a synonym for "unnecessary".

If you don't have the Sandy Claws version of Jack from series 2, then you won't find this version quite as unnecessary, but for those that picked up that version, there's not much reason to grab the sequel.

He does have a couple cool accessories, but it's tough to justify spending $12 just for a couple accessories. It seems like a bad idea to go with such a similar version so close to the first, but what do I know.

OTOH, Sally will be useful for folks that missed out on series 1, and there were a lot of them. That's what happens when you don't listen to my reviews, and skip a line this cool - you end up trying to hunt down those earlier figures when you finally realize I was right. NECA helps you out here though with a nice version of Sally (although I prefer the smiling head sculpt of version 1) with a terrific accessory in the sewing machine.

But clearly the must have winners of this set are the Wolfman and Cyclops. These will fit in great with the rest of the series to this point, with some excellent accessories and solid articulation.

Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Wolfman ****; Cyclops ***1/2; Jack, Sally ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - Jack, Sally ***1/2; Wolfman, Cyclops ***;
Accessories - Sally ****; Wolfman, Cyclops, Jack ***1/2;
Fun Factor - Wolfman, Cyclops ***1/2; Jack, Sally ***
Value - ***
Overall - Wolfman, Cyclops ***1/2; Sally ***; Jack **1/2

Where to Buy -
You can find these at some brick and mortar specialty stores, but my buddies over at OMGToys were kind enough to send this set along for the review, and they have a great price at just $10.95 each, or the full set of four for just $43.80.

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

- most recent was the Jack/Oogie Boogie boxed set, and the 14" Jack with multiple heads.

- the second series of figures, with Santa Jack, the Witches, Harlequinn Demon and Dr. Finklestein was just recently released as well.

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

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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