Corpse Bride Series 1

Lately I've been talking about the wonders of that old animation technique, stop motion. With all my recent reviews of the Nightmare Before Christmas stuff from NECA, and the Wallace and Gromit stuff from Mcfarlane, it's been a regular topic of discussion.

This year had another great claymation (and yes, I know the figures aren't actually made out of CLAY, so technically it isn't 'claymation', but the technique is pretty much identical no matter what the material, and it's a lot easier to say than 'stop motion animation' every time) movie, once again from the director Tim Burton. Corpse Bride bears a striking resemblance to his earlier cult favorite film, at least in terms of character design, if not in plot or pacing. And any time you have claymation, it's just natural to have some action figures. Hey, they're just big action figures to begin with!

Mcfarlane picked up the license to do the usual 6" scale action figure line, but also 3" PVC's, fashion dolls, regular plush, and even some huge 27" plush. But we all know what everyone wants the most - those 6" action figures! In this first series we get Victor, Victoria, the Bride, General Wellington, General Bonesapart, and a two pack of the Skeleton Boy and Girl.

These should be popping up at retail any minute, and you can expect them at the usual $10 - $12 each, depending on the retailer. I have some sponsor suggestions at the end of the review as well.

Packaging -  ***1/2
It's the usual clamshells, so you best have your knife handy. There's surprisingly more twisties than I expected, but nothing that you won't be able to handle, as long as you were skilled enough with the knife in the first place to get the clamshell open without a trip to the emergency room.

The colors of the insert are a nice change of pace, and the use of the movie graphics works well. They could always use more descriptive and character specific text, but the packaging does a good job at what it's supposed to do - keep things minty fresh on the peg, and catch your eye doing it.

Sculpting - Victor, Bonesapart, Bride ****; Skeleton Kids, Wellington, Victoria ***1/2
Some of the sculpts are amazing - others just mighty fine. Either way, you won't be disappointed in this department.

Victor is easily my favorite sculpt. The head sculpt looks like it came right from the film, and the slightly wild lock of hair looks great. The body sculpt works pretty well with the articulation, and the hands are sculpted to look good in a variety of poses, although they can't hold anything.

My next favorite is Bonesapart, who is almost the number one figure in terms of small detail work as well. From the cracks in his hat to the exposed bones of his chest, they've brought realism to the unrealistic world of claymation. Various textures were used to simulate different materials, and the attention to detail along with the bright color palette really makes this guy pop off the shelf.

Neither of these guys can stand on their own, so you'll need to employ the enclosed display stands. That's not a fault of the sculpts though, but rather is inherent in the character design, where the feet are so tiny.

The Corpse Bride can stand on her own, due to the wedding dress and long train. Again, the attention paid in areas like the hair and fine embroidery along the top edge of the dress really makes her stand out, and there's a nice stark contrast between the bony limbs and those still covered in flesh.

Wellington has the most small detail work of the bunch, particularly around his gapping cannonball wound. His helmet is covered in intricate carvings, and the uniform looks terrific. I don't like him quite as much as Bonesapart, but that's likely to be a bit of a personal preference, rather than purely technical.

The bony pair of kids look great together, and their scale to the adults is quite good. That tends to be something that always falls short, especially with cartoon lines, but here the kids were done in a proper size, and simply packed together to make it worth your while. Of the pair, the girl has slightly more detail and visual appeal - I never was much of a fan of Little Boy Blue. But the pair look terrific together and in a group with the rest of the figures. Obviously, these two require the display stand as well, but again, that's not a flaw but a requirement due to the character designs.

The only one that does not need the display stand other than the Bride is her competition, Victoria. Unfortunately for Victoria, her design doesn't have quite the 'personality' of the others. Nonetheless, most of us prefer our women breathing and with no exposed bone, so she's got that going for her. She and the Bride are also the only ones with hands sculpted to specifically hold accessories (since the mugs for Bonesapart and Wellington are glued in, I'm not counting them as accessories).

Scale might be a bit of an issue for some folks.  They are said to be in a 6" scale, and Victor stands 7.5 inches tall.  That makes them slightly smaller than the NMBC stuff currently out.

Paint - Bonesapart, Skeleton Kids, Victoria ****; Wellington, Bride ***1/2; Victor **1/2
If there's a single aspect that makes this line, it's the paint.  It matches the film extremely well, and there's a ton of detail work.  It's said that most Mcfarlane figures have 100 - 150 paint operations, and these are definitely on the high end of the scale.

Unfortunately, all that detail work didn't turn out perfectly on every figure.  But for Bonesapart, Victoria and the kids, they're damn close.

Bonesapart adds terrific paint to a terrific sculpt.  The wrinkle lines in his forehead are sculpted, with black paint deep in the crevasse, but no slop anywhere to be seen.  The black around the eyes, the detailing on the teeth, even the white dry brush highlights on the feather, all look perfect.

Victoria's design might not be the most exciting, but they did everything they could to make the paint perfect.  The stripes of the dress run just right through even the folds of her dress, and the hairline and face paint is as perfect as I've seen.  She could give high end statues a run for the money in this category.

Both skeleton youngsters look good as well, with the right amount of dirt and damage added to their clothing.  I like the little girl slightly better, just because the colors stand out a little bet more, but both look terrific

Wellington and the Corpse Bride are near perfect, but have a few minor issues that hold them back ever so slightly.  Both have a few stray marks on various parts of their body, such as the blue skin of the bride, and some of the dry brushing on her dress went a tad overboard. Still, you'll be hard pressed to find work much better than this in most action figure lines.

Ah, but there was one disappointment for me.  Victor.  Everything is terrific from the waist up, especially the work on his face.  He's extremely photogenic because of the excellent work on the eyes and hair.  But then there's his legs.

On both thighs, he's missing stripes entirely.  They start out at the top, and reappear at the bottom, but have a large gap in between.  This is only on the inside of the thighs, not the outside, so it's not immediately noticeable.  But once you see it, you just can't unsee it, and it detracts from an otherwise excellent figure.

He also has some weirdness with the stripes on his right knee, where they bend around the knee cap instead of flowing straight down.  Considering the quality across the rest of the line, I'm hoping I just got one with a bum leg job.

Articulation - Victor ***1/2; Bonesapart, Victoria, Bride ***; Wellington, Kids **1/2
The whole series has decent articulation in line with the character design.

First, all but Bonesapart have the most critical joint - the ball jointed neck.  It works wonders with Bride, Victor, Victoria and the kids.  Unfortunately, it was extremely loose on Wellington, and drooped pretty easily.  I may have just gotten a bad joint (and you know what a buzz kill that can be), but it also appears that it's design, a cut joint at the top and a pin joint at the bottom of the neck, will have inherent issues.

Wellington does have ball jointed shoulders (at the bottom of the epaulets) cuts at the top of the gloves, cut wrists, a T hip joint, pin knees, and one cut thigh on the left leg.  The arm articulation in particular works quite well and adds to his posability.

Bonesapart lacks the ball jointed neck, and you can barely move his head at all due to the high collar.  He also has cut shoulders, biceps and wrists with pin elbows, giving him lots of arm posing possibilities, and a waist joint with very little range of movement.

Victor has the most articulation of the pack, due to his design.  He has that ball jointed neck, cut shoulders, cut biceps, cut wrists, double jointed elbows and knees, cut thighs, and a T joint for the hips.

The bride has the ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, pin elbows, a cut right wrist and a cut right bicep.  She also has one T jointed hip, the bone side, but it has a very limited range of movement due to the skirt.  There's a cut joint on the left fleshy leg as well, and she can turn at the waist.

Victoria has that ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders (with limited movement), cut biceps and wrists, and pin elbows.  Her waist also turns.

The kids have the least articulation, with just the ball jointed necks, and cut shoulders.

Accessories - Victor ***1/2; Bonesapart, Skeleton kids, ***; Victoria, Bride **1/2; Wellington **
After being overwhelmed with the recent plethora of goodies from likes like The Goon and NMBC, this assortment is a tad under whelming.

Victor has the best assortment of goodies, including his base of course. There's a set of books and a candlestick that attach to the base, along with the stand for the globe. The globe mounts in the center, but can't actually spin.

He also has a very thin wire attached to the base that will allow you to hook the small butterfly on top. The wire is sturdy but quite thin, allowing for lots of poses. I managed to pretty much mangle mine though in handling the set when I was shooting the photos, so you'll want to take some care.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is Wellington. He comes with his base, with a two pegs for his feet (one of which is on the side of the attached bottle). the base is fairly plain, with only the bottle added, and also fairly large. He does attach well though, and while the mug in his right hand isn't removable, it still looks pretty sharp.

In the middle is the rest of the clan. Victoria has her stone base, with no additional decoration. She's really the only character that comes with a base but does not actually require it to stand, since her bottom is flat across the skirt. She also has a vase and flower, and the flower is removable.

The newlywed herself comes with her bouquet. I supposed the cool train extension to her gown is also an accessory, and certainly works to keep her standing. It takes a little effort to connect it to the dress, but once there, it looks great and is very sturdy.

Bonesapart comes with another unadorned base, quite large, and designed to look like wooden planks. He's off to one side too, which seems a bit odd to me, leaving a large blank area on the base. He also has the cutlass, which fits through a cut in his chest and sticks out the back. His stein is not removable either.

Finally, there's the Skeleton boy and girl. There's a football and a ???, along with a small rolling boat that can be attached to the base. The kids have metal rods that run from their back to the base to keep them standing, since even with the stiffer plastic used for their legs, they might wilt over time. That's a nice touch, and even the pegs that fit into their backs as part of this support matches the color of their bodies.

Be careful attaching the boat however, since I almost snapped off the wheels when doing it on mine.

Fun Factor - **
These aren't going to rank up too high on the fun factor list, mostly because of the weak joints and thin limbs. If you're looking to pick up something for the 6 year old to play with, go with the plush. That is much better suited for play purposes than these, which are more 'collectible' toys.

Value - ***
I have sponsors below selling these as cheap as $10, and at that price, they are definitely a *** value. If you end up paying closer to $12, you can pull a half star.

Things to watch out for - 
Be careful with those tiny joints on characters like Victor, Bride and Wellington. Just like with the NMBC stuff, those small joints can work great and look perfect, but can also break easily if they are frozen in place by paint. Also, you'll want to look for the best paint application you can find, because it seems to vary a bit on this series.

When you're popping some of the items into the base, particularly the boat and globe stand, be careful of the small pegs breaking.  I ended up needing a little glue before I was done.

Overall -  Bonesapart, Corpse Bride, Skeleton Boy and Girl ***1/2; Wellington, Victoria, Victor ***
Of this set, Victor was the closest to a four star figure, but the weird paint work on the stripes for the legs really did hurt him. If it wasn't so damn obvious, he would have edged up another half star, and if it had been clean and neat, well, then I'm betting he would have gained the coveted four stars.

Victoria suffers from being a bland character. While that might not seem fair, it also means that she has little in the way of small detail in sculpt or paint that would allow Mcfarlane to shine. Expect her to be the peg warmer. Additional accessories would have really helped, but this whole line suffers a bit from accessory anorexia.

Wellington would have been up there with his partner Bonesapart if not for his weak neck joint. If you get lucky and aren't stuck with one that reminds you more of a bobble head than an action figure, your assessment of the figure will be higher than mine.

Bonesapart, the Bride and the kids were my favorite half of this line. The beautiful blue skin of the bride contrasts so well with the darker blue hair and light wedding dress, and they really did a bang up job on the sculpt.

The kids just make such a cute pair, and neither had any major issues. Getting both together plus several accessories also helped them in the value department.

Finally, I think Bonesapart might be my overall favorite of the line. It's a toss up between him and the bride herself, but both have knock out sculpts and great color palettes. They captured the look of these two characters the best, and they had the fewest nits to pick.

If you like the NMBC stuff, you're going to like these. They are very much on par with the style, quality and design, and will look good on adjacent shelves.  It's a tough call on the scale between those two lines, since who's to say how large Jack is compared to a person?

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Victor, Bonesapart, Bride ****; Skeleton Kids, Wellington, Victoria ***1/2
Paint - Bonesapart, Skeleton Kids, Victoria ***1/2; Wellington, Bride ***; Victor **1/2
Articulation - Victor ***1/2; Bonesapart, Victoria, Bride ***; Wellington, Kids **1/2
Accessories - Victor ***1/2; Bonesapart, Skeleton kids, ***; Victoria, Bride **1/2; Wellington **
Fun Factor - **
Value - ***
Overall -  Bonesapart, Corpse Bride, Skeleton Boy and Girl ***1/2; Wellington, Victoria, Victor ***

Where to Buy -
These should hit regular retailers in the next week or so. Online options include:

- Clark Toys has the full set of six for the excellent price of $60, or the individuals for $11 each. They have most of the other Corpse Bride stuff, at least from Mcfarlane.

- CornerStoreComics has the individuals for $11.50 each, or the full set of six for $63. They also carry just about all the other Corpse Bride merchandise.

- has the single figures for $11.50 each.

- Amazing Toyz has the single figures for $11.50 each, or the set for $63. They also carry many of the other products.

- Yikes Comics has the set of six for $72. They also carry the Jun Planning dolls.

- If you're looking for the Gentle Giant statues, you can find them at Dark Shadow Collectibles, Alter Ego Comics, Fireside Collectibles, or CornerStoreComics.

Related Links -
I have yet to review any other Corpse Bride goodies, but you should check Mcfarlane Toys website for details of the other products they'll be producing and the cool Corpse Bride feature, or the Gentle Giant website to see the statues they have planned.  You can find all those goodies at my various sponsors.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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