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Nightmare Before Christmas
by Rustin Parr

Jun Planning was, for all intents and purposes, the licensee for all things Nightmare Before Christmas and made pretty remarkable product in just about every category except action figures. Then in 2004, NECA came along and produced a figure line that would ultimately yield six series and almost 40 figures; a pretty prolific feat in these times. Though fans were sad to see that line end, Jun Planning has stepped back up to the plate and is now offering up their own action figure toyline for The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Behemoth. 7 articulations fully movable. Change the hand with Nutcracker figuread. With Figure Stand.

...or so the cardback reads. Behemoth is one of many background characters in the film that is little more than an interesting look inspired by semi-horror icons. While Halloween Town is home to witches, zombies, sea creatures, vampires, and their, ilk Behemoth steps in a fills a bit less timeless niche by being a spin on a slasher flick killer, probably the wretched offspring of the horrible, damp, lonely night Uncle Fester spent underneath Leatherface. Played, of course, by Swedish brute Tor Johnson (he was the physical inspiration for the puppet).

Despite have an uncharacteristically high-pitched solo cut out from the song "Making Christmas" Behemoth sports one of the most readily identifiable personalities among the background artists, that of blundering moron best known for his astute exclamation of "Bunny!" upon meeting the Easter Herald. As such, it's no wonder that, despite his rather bland design, this hulk proves to be one of the more memorable characters who resides in the very exclusive club of having a figure produced in each of the three NBX figure lines from the different licensees: Hasbro, NECA and now Jun Planning.

This figure looks great! He's 5" tall and has a pretty dead-on sculpt (oh yes, pun intended) to the puppet used during shooting. He is missing his tuft of chest hair which peaks out above the overalls to varying degrees throughout the film, but really, who's going to complain about a lack of body hair? The back of his overalls are sculpted with the "suspenders" being connected to the outside, though the reference photos I'm looking at show the puppet having the suspenders connect underneath the overalls. The figure is also pretty heavy and is most likely nearly entirely solid. This gives him a solidity and a heft that are appropriate for him, but it can lead to some stability issues as the sculpt is a bit front-heavy. Fortunately that can be tweaked via articulation.

As the cardback states, the figure has seven points of articulation: swivel feet, swivels at the gloves, swivel shoulders, and a swivel neck. Pretty underwhelming, but still not withdrawn from the realm of plausibility for the character. Paint is very good, and the whole figure has a light wash of gray paint helping augment the texture and allude to his general unkempt appearance. The pupils are just barely uneven, and while this looks like a factory error, reference photos show identical unevenness - a very subtle but impressive nod to continuity!

Behemeoth comes with three accessories: a nutcracker, an interchangeable right glove/hand and a base. The hatchet on his head is not removable, nor should it be, but one will note that the handle has sadly snapped of during transport. [that's my fault. --yo] The two hand options are "holding" or "pointing," the latter seems a bit of an odd choice as I don't recall any time in the film where Behemoth is pointing with both hands, but perhaps I'm just crazy. The holding hand is designed to hold the nutcracker, though it doesn't do so exceedingly well regardless of which part of the nutcracker he is grasping.

The nutcracker, though, is one of those truly amazing gems of an accessory. Not only does it look spot-on, the handle/jaw is functional and can be worked or posed and both arms are articulated at the shoulders! This is inspired by the same kind that come with 12" figures (dolls!) and is composed of three parts.

A flat, coffin-shaped base with the NBX logo printed on it, a plastic rectangle that plugs into a hole in the base, and a metal claw that slides in and out of the rectangle. Basically just slide the metal claw out, get it around the figure, then slide it back into the rectangle which will compress its base "locking" in around the figure and supporting them. While Behemoth can stand of his own free will, he is very front heavy, so the base is quite welcome, if not unsubtle and subtractive from the look of the figure on display.

But above all else, the real question on our minds is: "how do these stack up against the NECA figures?" Jun really pulled a Claudius with the license (from Hamlet? His brother's bed was not cold he himself warmed it [if you catch my drift]?). With NECA just releasing their final wave of figures last November and, again, providing fans with over 30 different characters, what demand could there be for fans to start their collection all over so soon? These would have to be very special figures! And Behemoth... is not.

The plusses: Jun's Behemoth has a squatter, rounder more film-accurate proportionality. He also has more accurately colored clothing. He's heavier, uses a higher quality of plastic and lacks the inaccurate sheen found on the NECA version.

The negatives: Jun's figure lacks the chest hair, a subtle detail but something conspicuously missing on such a stark palette. He also has the seemingly inaccurate back. More importantly, the NECA version sports balljoints at the shoulders, allowing for much more poseability in their figure. He's also bigger, an inch taller, and still right in scale with his line. Its also better balanced, thus not requiring a stand that isn't especially themed or subtle in appearance. But the biggest factor is cost.

The Jun Planning figures are effectively imports from Japan which means you'll be paying a premium for them, in most cases close to $20. This figure was provided to us by Jun for the review, so while I'm quite happy with it, I didn't have to pay for it, and I frankly have a hard time imagining anyone but the most hardcore of Nightmare, Behemoth, or Tor Johnson fans willing to pay that price for something they already have a good version of in an established and large collection already in hand. If you passed on the NECA product or are just getting into Nightmare Before Christmas, this is a prefect time to jump onboard. Otherwise, I think you can comfortably sit this one out.


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