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Headless Horseman

Figura Obscura
by yo go re

Every year around this time, I have a tradition: I listen to Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, narrated by Tom Mison (who played Ichabod Crane in Fox's Sleepy Hollow television series). Other than a couple of instances of 1820s racism that are really jarring when they come up, the story's great seasonal fare. It's a short story - only about 30 pages - and the Horseman only appears for like a page and a half, but is still clearly the breakout character. That's why he's the one who gets the toys.

There are places where the walls between this world and the next grow thin, allowing spirts from beyond to roam unbidden between the two worlds. One such place is a small village on the East bank of the Hudson River in New York. Originally named North Tarrytown, this haunted glen is more commonly known as Sleepy Hollow.

Rumored to have been bewitched long ago, stories of strange happenings and distant voices on the air have long been told in Sleepy Hollow. The most dominant spirt that haunts this enchanted region is that of a headless, cloaked rider atop a great black steed - the Headless Horseman. Said to be the restless ghost of a Hessian Trooper who lost his head to a cannonball during some long-forgotten battle of the Revolutionary War, the Headless Horseman rides forth on the blackest of nights, desperately searching for his lost head. Any who are unfortunate enough to meet the Galloping Hessian on his ride are never to be seen again, the only proof of their encounter with the dread apparition being the shattered remains of the jack-o-lantern he often uses in place of his lost head.

Last year, the Four Horsemen did Krampus. This year, Figura Obscura went deluxe, giving us both the horse and rider. (Trivia fun fact: this figure was the first one planned, but the timeline was too tight to guarantee he'd be out in time for last Halloween, so he got bumped and the Krampus came out first.) He may not dress like the Hessian trooper he's purported to be, but the use of new pieces introduced for the Mythic Legions Illythia series makes him look appropriately old-fashioned and gothic. He wears a studded leather jerkin over a thick cloth shirt, and wears smooth metal greaves above his boots. He has a cape with a chain clasp across the neck, and a new neck piece that creates shirt collar, cape collar, and neck tie all at once. Several belts are fastened around his waist, with small pouches on the left side.

The figure does include a normal neck (black, so it's hard to see), though if you remove that, you can drop in a new piece showing the abruptly truncated stump of his flesh, with trachea, vertebrae, and all. It's not as clean a solution as McFarlane's Horseman, but it works in the context of the toy. The peg on the bottom of it is enough to hold it in place, but loose enough that you won't have trouble getting it back out again.

The set does not include a human head for him, nor even a skull, but it does have two pumpkins. Carved with a wickedly grinning jack o'lantern face, both versions have a socket underneath so they might be used as heads. One is plain, while the other has gouts of flame bursting from the eyes and trailing up from the rear. The flames are translucent, fading from yellow to red as they leave the interior of the pumpkin. If you want a skull, or any other head, really, Mythic Legions has plenty to spare.

Though the clothes are mostly black, there's enough color on the toy to keep it from looking overly dark: all the silver studs on his top, the purple for his pouches and tie, and the white collar. Plus, the lining of his cape is red, and both pumpkins are a dark orange if you choose to have those in place.

Mythic Legions pieces mean Mythic Legions articulation: balljointed head (if you choose to use a head, that is) and waist; swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles; and swivel thighs and forearms. The cape has a posing wire arong the sides, so you can have that moving dynamically around him as well. For once, we get a Mythic Legions cape that just makes sense, rather than needing to be interpreted like signs from the Oracle: take the big collar off, hold the cape in place, put the collar back on. Done.

The Horseman only has one weapon, a simple, plain sword. That's all he needs, really. There's also a decent assortment of hands, including one that's brand new: it's a right hand, molded with the fingers fully open and a large balljoint in the palm; you can plug a pumpkin head on there and have him hold it out before him! How clever! The weight of a head will make the wrist want to spin upside down if you don't have it balanced carefully or braced against something.

The horse is the same mold as Aethon, of course, done in black just as the story describes. Its mane and tail are brown, and to make it look unearthly and mystical, its eyes and hooves are an impressive red.

Movement is typical for the horse mold: head, neck, tail, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. You get your choice of either calm or billowing manes - yes, the hair is just as modular as every other part of the toys.

Nate Baersch handled the artwork for the packaging, naturally, giving us a big cool wraparound with a portrait of the Horseman on the front and a creepy view from the woods on the back. The insert behind the figures in the box is the bridge Ichabod believed would save him from this grim specter, so you get your choice of two perfect backdrops for displaying your toy. Love it! Only drawback is the pair of them are so tall when he's riding that he'll stick up above the top of the scene if you don't plan ahead. So it goes.

I got the Krampus because "yay, neat figure, let's support the Four Horsemen"; I got the Headless Horseman because he matters to me. This set is expensive, but it includes several new and unique pieces and a gigantic horse, so it was never going to be cheap. It would have been enough if they'd done a base similar to the World of Warcraft Headless Horseman, but getting this iconic horror character in such a good form is absolutely welcome. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a book to listen to.

-- 10/16/22

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