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Frank the Bunny

Cult Classics
by Monkey Boy

Many people may not have known what the crap was going on in the movie Donnie Darko, but everyone pretty much agreed on one thing: that bunny suit was freakin' creepy!

Frank the Bunny appears to lead Donnie Darko on a journey to the end of the world. Whether it's waking Donnie from his sleep to exact chaos on his hometown, or teaching him the possibilities of time travel, the mystery of Frank shakes the walls of the reality Donnie lives in.

Being a fan of both the movie and the bunny suit, I was excited when there were rumblings and rumors of a Frank the Bunny figure floating around the toy world. First it was hinted that McFarlane would have a go at it, but after that deal apparently fell through, the figure showed up in NECA's Cult Classics line, in the second series.

Many of the early prototypes showed a Frank that looked too thin, especially in the most important area: his creepy mask. NECA fixed this problem by the time they showed their next batch of protos, and thankfully the final figure reflects the change. His body is sculpted very well, looking very much like a dumpy, oversized bunny suit... which is precisely what it is. The lighter fur on the chest of the figure is more than a spot of white paint, but is instead a different texture, which is nice. They really executed this nicely, as well as anybody could.

His pose is just like it was for most of the movie: standing upright, arms at his sides, ready to say something cryptic and eerie. His head sculpt is very good, from skeletal teeth to wrinkly ears. As a nice touch, the head is not flush with the body, so when his head is turned you can see a bit of neck skin showing through the space between.

Paint is apparently an issue with this figure, although mine was fairly well off. Many have complained of an overuse of dry-brushing on the figure's costume, causing the figure to look dusty. I've also seen some examples where paint was an issue on both the figure's faces (bunny and human). However, check around and you'll probably be able to find one that's decent in most respects. One area that seems to be universally poor though is the shoes...what's going on with them? I don't know...they're a mess of a muddy gray paint wash. It really doesn't look nice and obscures all the sculpting on Frank's sneakers.

Another crappy paint app has to do with one of Frank's accessories - his interchangeable human head. It's clearly a different color than the neck skin, which is much paler. James Duval, the actor who played Frank (and also one of the kids in Independence Day) has pretty tan skin, whereas the neck skin on the Frank figure looks paler than Courtney Love.

Articulation is slight, but there's not much to ask for on Frank. He has a balljointed neck, peg shoulders and completely useless peg ankles. The ankles are definitely joints, but they're so restricted by the folds of his suit that they can't be turned far at all. Still, the balljointed neck is the most important, and it has a fairly decent range of motion.

To accessorize your Frank, you get the aforementioned interchangeable head with the likeness of James Duval, partially obscured by a bloody eye socket. It's something of a spoiler that you get to see this in the figure, but this movie came out in 2001, so if you haven't seen it by now and this spoiler bothers you, I have no sympathy. The head fits on nice and tight but, like I said, the skin paint apps don't match up at all. Both heads are very difficult to get on and off the neck peg, but keep at it, and eventually you'll get them.

Frank also gets a base with a mailbox that plugs into it. The mailbox belongs to Roberta Sparrow, and features a working hinged door. Frank's final doodad is an envelope from Donnie Darko addressed to R. Sparrow that fits in the mailbox, or in Frank's hand if you wish. Strangely, the tiny type on the envelope that came with my figure reads "DARKO - extremely importwt" on the return address. Obviously, this should say "important", but when the type is only about half a millimeter tall, I'm willing to give them some room for mistakes. Maybe they had to pay by the letter? The W does a decent job of simulating "AN" at the size.

All in all, this figure was a great choice for inclusion in the Cult Classics series, and not just because Donnie Darko made Entertainment Weekly's list of the all-time best cult classic films. Frank is a very iconic character, and this figure is an admirable attempt to recreate him in a size that fits nicely on your toy shelf. It's not perfect: there's the paint problem on the shoes and the neck, and it would have been nice if NECA gave us a second, uninjured human Frank head, but as it is, the figure comes with enough accessories, and the paint issues are fairly localized (as long as you don't end up with a dusty Frank). Ultimately, this will probably be one of those figures that will forever elicit a piercing cry of "I wish McFarlane had made it!!!!" but in the end, I'm not sure Todd's boys could have given us a better figure. For me, it's not who makes the figure, but how good they make it, and NECA made this one just fine.

-- 12/04/05

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