Nightmare Before Christmas
Bat Boy and Mummy Kid, Pumpkin King, Devil and Igor

The Nightmare Before Chrismas remains a cult classic, a favorite holiday film for the slightly bent. It's certainly one of my favorites, and is perhaps my only favorite holiday movie or show since Rudolph.

The combination of a unique story, wonderful songs, and amazing character designs set the film apart. NECA has done a fantastic job of capturing those character designs in their action figure line, and have just released another wave. Just in time for the Halloween season, you can pick up the Devil, Mummy Boy and Bat Kid, Igor and the Jack Skellington variant as the Pumpkin King.

Don't think that's it for this season though, because series 5 should hit any day. That one will include Jack in his pj's, the clown on a unicycle, the Behemoth, and the Undersea Gal. Of course, I'll be reviewing those as soon as they hit as well. Expect to pay around $12 a pop for these, unless you shop at the over priced Hot Topic.

Packaging - ***
No real surprises here if you've picked up the first three series of figures. Clamshells? Check. Basic paper inserts? Check. Individualized sticker on the front listing accessories? Check.

These are the same size as previous clamshells too, but that's a problem for characters like Igor, who lack accessories and are kind of small. You end up feeling like you're not getting a whole lot, since the large clamshell isn't filled up with goodies.

Sculpting - Devil, Pumpkin King ****; Bat Boy, Mummy Kid ***1/2; Igor ***
Top notch work all around once again, and this NMBC line continues to impress.

The Devil is my favorite, but I have no doubt that lots of folks will love the Pumpkin King as well. Both have just the right amount of detail, aggressive, sharp lines, and an excellent blending of their sculpt with the articulation.  The Devil can also hold his pitchfork or skull, and the Pumpkin King can hold the pumpkins with both hands.

The head sculpts on both of these are what really sell them for me.  The lines are deeply cut, with highly defined features.  Proportions are great, and both fit in nicely scale-wise with the rest of the line.

Bat Boy and Mummy Kid also have well defined sculpts, particularly the little mummy.  The look just like the source material, and are a nice additionto the display, even though they are smaller characters.

Finally, there's Igor.  His sculpt is good, but can't quite stand up to comparison with characters like Pumpkin King.  They did capture the design well, and managed to get the sculpt and articulation to work well together.

Scale is good, with Jack running about 9" tall, the Devil about 5, and the rest all about 3.5. They'll look about right with the earlier waves.

Paint - Pumpkin King ****; Devil, Mummy Kid, Igor ***1/2; Bat Boy ***
Paint ops are generally strong, with bright solid colors, good cuts between them, and only appropriate use of washes and dry brush techniques.

The Mummy Kid shows the heaviest wash, and it works well to highlight the texturing of the bandages.  There's some wash on Igor as well, but it dirties up the lab coat a bit without going over board.

Bat Boy doesn't have a lot of operations, but there's his eyes, teeth and tongue, all done well if not spectacular.  The Devil has one oddity, and I can't quite decide if it was on purpose or not...and whether it looks good or not, regardless of whether the did it on purpose or not.  He has some red bleeding up into the whites of his eyes.

As I said, this might have been on purpose.  He is the devil after all, and a little Hellfire in the old eyes is to be expected. Then again, with the red head, it's possible that it's either bleed or the underlying red of the plastic showing through.  I'm not deducting too much off though, simply because I liked the final appearance, on purpose or not.

Articulation - Devil ***1/2; Igor, Bat Boy, Pumpkin King ***; Mummy Kid **1/2
There's quite a bit of articulation here, especially considering the character designs.  It was tough to add useful joints in this style, but NECA has done a terrific job of finding various ways.

The Devil takes top honors. He had an excellent ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, pin elbows, cut wrists, cut hips and even a fully bendy tail!  The arm and neck articulation are particularly useful for posing, and the bendy tail helps him stay standing in various stances.

The Pumpkin King would have also ranked ***1/2 in this category, no problem...had there not been one problem.  He has a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, pin elbows, pin wrists, ball waist/chest, ball hips (with restricted movement to the outside), cut thighs, pin knees, and cut ankles.  That's a ton of well hidden articulation that works quite well with the sculpt...except for my right shoulder.

It looks like either the sculpted jacket rides out too far on that side, or the shoulder has been forced in too far.  Either way, the result is that there is zero mobility or possible movement in the left shoulder on this figure.  I may have just gotten a bad example, and if this shoulder had been working like the other, he would have gotten another half star...maybe even a full one in this category.

While the rest aren't quite as articulated as these two, they are still pretty good.  Igor has a ball jointed neck that is so restricted as to work pretty much like a cut neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, pin elbows, cut wrists, cut hips, and a cut waist.  That's about as much articulation as his oddly shaped design could really allow.

Bat Boy has a surprising number of joints, particularly for his size.  There's a ball jointed neck that works quite well, a joint where the wings attach to the back, so they can move all the way out and all the way together, and he even has cut joints at his tiny shoulders.

Mummy Boy is the least articulated, with a ball jointed neck, cut shoulders and hips, and a cut waist.  Still, the articulation is entirely hidden from the eye.

Accessories - Jack, Mummy Kid and Bat Boy, Devil ***; Igor **1/2
The two kids, Mummy Kid and Bat Boy, have my favorite assortment of accessories.  Since these two figures are quite small - just 3.5 inches each - it's no real surprise that they come with some nifty accessories to make up for their diminutive size.

There are small display stands for each, since there's no way either would be able to stand on his own.  The one for the Mummy kid is pretty standard, but the one for Bat Boy is clear plastic.  Both work fine, although the one for Bat Boy is a little short.  The wings tend to get in the way if you try to bring them all the way forward, since they are longer than the base in that position.

There's also the Halloween Town version of a Christmas toy train, slightly more spooky than usual.  And then there's my two favorite accessories in ages - the birthday rat and a little piece of cheese all tied up for him.

The cheese is a separate piece, but he can hold it between his paws.  He's also got a ball jointed neck, which is quite cool for something so tiny. And he's not a happy rat.  The paint looks a little weak in close up photos, but bear in mind that this guy is only about 2 inches tall, all the way to the top of the hat.

The Devil has a nice assortment of goodies as well, including his pitchfork, large two man saw, and skull adorned with holly/mistletoe. How festive!

The Devil really could use a display base, although you can get him to stand on his own when you play around enough.  With no holes in his feet, you can't even swap in one from another character.

The Pumpkin King comes with plenty of varied jack-o-lanterns - four altogether with different expressions and in different sizes.  Three of these are re-used from series 1, but the fourth appears to be an all new sculpt.  He also has a small base, and a cool Halloween Town sign. I do wish there was some sort of stand for the sign though, since he can't hold it and there's no where else for it to go. A smart reader did point out that it can slide down the back of his jacket, like we saw at SDCC.

Finally, there's Igor. He comes up on the short end of this category, with just the thin paper reindeer plans, a small doggie treat, and the open doggie treat box.  Oh, and let's not forget the small black display base.  While he has as many goodies as the Devil, they just aren't as cool or as useful in the display.

Fun Factor - ***
Although these aren't really designed to be 'toys', since the character designs require thin arms and small joints, they still are a ton of fun. Kids will just have to take care as to not break them, but they have plenty of good times potential if they love the movie.

Value - **1/2
I'll assume you pay around $12 for these, although if you shop at Hot Topic (I haven't seen them there yet, but assume they'll get them) you may pay more. Online shops are sticking around $12 though, and that's a reasonably average value on the current market.

Things to Watch Out For - 
It's always a good idea to keep an eye on the paint, and take care when inserting the clear base into the back of Bat kid. Also, these spindley necks can break easily when using the ball joints, so be sure to loosen them up at first slowly - don't go forcing a painted stuck neck joint.

Overall - Jack, Devil, Bat boy and Mummy kid ***1/2; Igor ***
I've been extremely happy with this line since the very first series.  With series 5 hitting shelves any day, along with the all important Lock, Shock and Barrel set, I can't wait to add more characters to the already packed shelf.

While every character isn't perfect, the overall appearance of the line is damn close to it.  I'm a little disappointed that this series seems to have fewer accessories than in the past, but this might be an attempt to keep them at about the same price during a period of inflation in the overall market.  Still, I miss all those nifty goodies.

Personally, if I could only have one I'd snag the Devil, since he's a unique character that they really did an excellent job with.  I suspect though that most folks will be drawn immediately to the Pumpkin King, with his excellent sculpt, paint and articulation, not to mention those cool pumpkins.  There's really none in this set to skip though, since they all fit so well into the overall display.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - Devil, Pumpkin King ****; Bat Boy, Mummy Kid ***1/2; Igor ***
Paint - Pumpkin King ****; Devil, Mummy Kid, Igor ***1/2; Bat Boy ***
Articulation - Devil ***1/2; Igor, Bat Boy, Pumpkin King ***; Mummy Kid **1/2
Accessories - Jack, Mummy Kid and Bat Boy, Devil ***; Igor **1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - Jack, Devil, Bat boy and Mummy kid ***1/2; Igor ***

Where to Buy - 
Plenty of online options:

- CornerStoreComics has the singles for $12 each, or the set for $44, and yes, they are in stock.

- Amazing Toyz has the singles for $12, and the full set of four at $44. In stock.

- Killer Toys has the set up for $43, or the singles for $13.

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

- most recent was the series 3, 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 one of my favorites.

- 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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