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Jareth the Goblin King

Labyrinth
by yo go re

When NECA first started producing action figures, they had a reputation for copying McFarlane Toys. So it's funny that now, 15 years later, McFarlane is just copying what NECA did a decade ago.

A mystical figure possessing powers of transformation, Jareth, is the Goblin King of the Labyrinth. With an ability to create crystal orbs within his hands, Jareth is able to use them to create various illusions to entrance and manipulate others. Despite ruling over the Goblins, Jareth resents this position and often dreams of a different life.

Many people consider Labyrinth a classic, but I've only ever seen it twice in my life: once in high school, for Mythology class, and once last Easter, because apparently Labyrinth is an Easter movie now? Because... babies, I guess? Eh, whatever. It's the story of a girl who wishes the villain from the play she was reading would come to life and steal her bratty baby brother, then falls asleep and has a sex-dream about her dog, the things in her room, and also Muppets. You know, the things every teenage girl has sex-dreams about. [You're sure this is considered a family movie? --ed.] It's a lot like The Wizard of Oz in that regard! Then, like an actor destined to have his bit part cut out of The Predator, Jareth declares his love for this 14-year-old girl. Creep!

The original plan was for Jareth (whose name always makes me think of Jerem, the guy from 30 Rock that Jenna tries desperately to impress) to be a Creature Shop creation, just like all the other goblins, but then Jim Henson decided to cast a musician instead, apparently thinking that a human was better suited for the sexual awakening metaphor that is the movie's underlying theme - nobody's schlicking it to Super Grover, you know? Anyway, that explains why Jareth looks even less like anything resembling a "goblin" than James Franco did in Spider-Man 3.

Actually, if you pay attention to the photos Sarah has in her room, you'll see that he looks like her mom's boyfriend, Jeremy, upon whom she apparently had a confusing, laundry-increasing crush. The Goblin King is just as much a product of Sarah's line-of-sight world-building as everything else she sees in his kingdom. Doesn't quite explain the Bonnie Tyler hair, though - guess that can just be chalked up to coming out in 1986. The molding of it on this toy is pretty impressive - the most complex thing we've seen since Edward Scissorhands back in the day. And yes, it looks better than NECA's attempt did - bigger and puffier.

NECA made two Jareths, and McFarlane at least had the decency not to immediately duplicate one of those. This figure represents the Goblin King as he appeared in Sarah's drug-induced ballroom fantasy: high-heeled boots, black pants, and a regal blue coat with a startlingly complex pattern of beads, sequins and other embellishments on the cuffs, collar and shoulders. Those are all sculpted and painted, by the way, even on the back of the toy. No cutting corners here! His boots are gloss and his pants are matte, and the long, trailing tail of his coat is a light beige to make them stand out. This is a great-looking toy.

The articulation is surprisingly good, too. The hips could be better - they're double balljoints that really don't have much of a range of motion and pop out of the sockets any time you try to do anything other than turn them slightly. The rest, though? Balljointed ankles, swivel/hinge knees, swivel waist, balljointed wrists, swivel/hinge elbows and shoulders, and a balljointed head. Find him some better hips and this would be a quality action figure! Of course, since all he does in this scene is waltz - no karate - what we get is sufficient.

Well, nearly sufficient. One of his accessories is the demonic mask he hides behind at the masqueradem and while his right hand is posed perfectly to clutch the stick that supports the mask, the elbow isn't flexible enough to get the dang thing up to his face. How do you not test for that?! Yes, this is the same company that 100% missed the point of making Titanfall toys, but "bends arm far enough" should be a no-brainer. His only other accessory is one of his balls - a perfectky clear sphere for his contact juggling. Lifehack: no woman will want to sleep with you because of contact juggling (unless you look like David Bowie). It's kind of a shame we only get one, not two or three. The ball doesn't attach to the figure in any way, so be careful when you lay it in his hand. Like all the "Color Tops" figures, Jareth also comes with a black display plinth to help keep him upright and erect. It's got the same cobblestone pattern as The Bobby's.

When you're an adult seeing paying attention to Labyrinth for the first time, it's super creepy. Even if you ignore the subtext that, like fairytales from time immemorial, is designed to present codified information to children about what they'll be facing in the adult world, and take the story at face value, you've got the story of a mystical being who has been kidnapping babies for at least 1,000 years, presumably presenting any caregivers who come looking for them with the same redemptive chance he gave Sarah and transforming them into new goblin subjects if they're not rescued. That is messed! Up! McToys did about as good a job as we could hope for from them on this toy, so maybe now we can get some more of the movie's characters.

-- 09/09/18


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