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Father Christmas

Figura Obscura
by yo go re

The Four Horsemen have said that their Figura Obscura line is not just about making holiday figures, but so far we're three for three.

He is known by many names. Kris Kringle, Saint Nicholas, Papa Noel, Weihnachtsmann, Babbo Natale, Grandfather Frost, Sinterklaas, Santa, Father Christmas. Whatever moniker you know him by, and whatever legends you have heard, one similarity across them all is that of a benevolent soul who brings joy to the children of the world.

In some of these stories he is a plump and jolly old elf, while in others he is a kind and generous man of the cloth. In other, much older tales he is a spirt of nature, friend to goodly creatures large and small. There is great magic in these tales. It is fantastical magic, like the wonder of reindeer who can fly and toy factories hidden in the northernmost part of the world. Beyond these wonderous tales, however, there is also a very real magic in the holiday season. Father Christmas is the spirit of generosity, and those who honor the lessons he teaches and bring happiness to the world help spread his magic. One need only look into the eyes of a child on Christmas morning to recognize that magic is not only found in Realms and Universes beyond our own. Magic exists in our world thanks to Father Christmas and all those who do good in his name.

Like the other Figura Obscura releases, this one is built from Mythic Legions parts, though in his case you'd never know it. Befitting a member of the Secret Society of Santa Clauses, he's wearing a velvety red robe with white trim. And under that? He's wearing a second, purple robe! There aren't a lot of MyLe pieces that would lend themselves to "Santa," so the Horsemen needed to cover him up! Both softgoods pieces are removable, of course, so if you're curious you can see what he's made of. It's the first thing I did, naturally! This is the 2.0 elf body, done in solid, unpainted brown, with the shins and feet in matte black. And now that I've taken a picture of it for you, the clothes will be going back on and not coming off again.

Actually, let's talk about those robes. The softgoods were designed by CJESIM, a Canadian company that specializes in action figure clothing. Remember the Batman vs. TMNT figures and their awesome capes? That was CJESIM. They also do a lot for Super7 and actual Mythic Legions, so they clearly know what they're doing. The inner purple robe is sleeveless and closes up the back with velcro. The outer red robe has a real metal hook-and-eye closure at the top, and is held shut with a plastic belt around the waist. There's a black and gold brocade along the white trim, and there are posing wires in all the fur as well - not just the lower edge, but up the center, around the neck, and even in the sleeve cuffs, as well! Plus there are two functional pockets on the front. And the set includes a separate hooded shawl that shares all the same features. Beautiful stuff!

For now, the figure's two heads are unique molds - with these big beards, we could easily see them becoming Mythic Legions dwarves in the future. The heads are pretty much identical, with slicked-back white hair, a wide handlebar mustache, and a full, bushy beard. The difference between them comes in the length of the beard: one had had whiskers that reach all the way down to his belt, the other's "only" go to the middle of his chest. But then if you look closely, you can see the nose hangs down farther and the wrinkles around the eyes are deeper on the "long beard" head, meaning these are sculpted to show Nick at two different ages! The heads are molded from light gray plastic, with lighter paint applied to allow the beards to have a natural feeling of depth and thickness to them, and the sculpt of the eyes suggests he's smiling (even though we can't see any hint of a face below the nose).

The big appeal of this figure is the accessories. Well duh! Santa can't come around empty-handed, can he? For himself, he's got two crowns of holly (one for each head - they're the same sculpt, so we really only needed one, but maybe you'd like to lend one to another figure so they and Santa can be twinsies), a large wooden staff, a satchel, and his big bag of toys. There's also a small fir tree that plugs into a mound of snow, which feels like it could have come from any craft store's seasonal department. The staff is really giving Odin, and it curls over at the end so you can hang the included lantern from it. The brass lantern is some definite Victorian flair. It looks like it would be right at home on the streets of late-19th century London. Too bad we don't have a similar piece you could look at to compare it. Oh wait we totally do! Considering Santa sees everything, someone should have asked for the identity of the Whitechapel killer for Giftstmas!

For the kiddies, he's got a drum, an elf doll, and a trumpet. That doesn't seem like very much, does it? Well, those are just the separate ones - the bag that slings across his chest is sculpted with more toys crammed into it, including a nutcracker, a ball, a teddy bear, a yoyo, a candy cane, a horn, a book, a small stuffed lion, blocks, and a pair of drumsticks. Now we're talking!

But that's still not it. Remember, he's got his usual toy sack, and it's more softgoods, which means it can be filled with presents! You can feel them in there; what could they be?! It feels like human heads! That can't be right, can it? Let's untie the rope holding it shut and... it is human heads! Well, sort of: two Mythic Legions knight helmets, which you could put on the figure's neck if you felt like it, though I think they're more just there to take up room. The new things are a yellow ducky and a puppy. Presumably toys, but possibly live, who knows? The only things he might be missing are a plate of cookies and a reindeer.

Father Christmas is sold in a window box with really cool art by Nate Baertsch. The wraparound art shows a dark and snowy village in the mountains with a sleigh flying above it, while the removable insert behind the figure shows a warm, fire-lit interior of a home, with greenery on the mantle and a decorated tree off to the side. The entire box is enclosed within a "book cover"-style piece of stiff, hinged cardboard, held in place around the box by three magnets embedded within. The exterior has Pere Noel walking as the sun rises, his face, and all the appropriate logos, while the interior shows a snowy village path, and a few inviting lights. Great backdrops!

As is the Figura Obscura way, this release was announced one day before the sale began, and the product was already in-stock. Surprisingly, as we post this review, the figure is still in stock, so either people don't respect Santa or having two Figura Obscura releases within two months of one another is pushing things. Or maybe the big success of the last two releases convinced the Horsemen to produce more this time. Whatever the case, you can get this awesome fellow for yourself right now. And for my display, I may not have any reindeer, but you know what I do have? A bigass møøse! This incarnation of Santa is "part Holly King, part Victorian Christmas, part Clement Clark Moore and Haddon Sundblom, part Rankin Bass, and of course part Four Horsemen Studios," so maybe he has a different large ungulate in his stable.

-- 12/11/22

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