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Movie Maniacs 3
by yo go re

He's here to kick butt and chew gum, and gum hasn't been invented yet.

Spending a weekend at a cabin in the woods, Ash and his friends accidentally unleashed an ancient evil. First, it took the others; then it came for him. The evil got into his hand, so he cut it off. The only way to defeat the evil was to open a rift in space and time. Ash was sucked in, and now finds himself trapped in the Dark Ages, still fighting the evil.

Evil Dead is a classic horror movie for one reason - it's really horrible. The acting is lackluster, the effects aren't very special, and the plot is fairly generic. Of course, the producers realized this, and in Evil Dead 2 they fully embraced the notion and went the more comedic route. This served them well, and led us to Army of Darkness, a terrifically over-the-top send-up of the typical mores of a horror/adventure film (actually, it was originally going to be called "Medieval Dead," but they were afraid no one would get the joke). Nobody likes the Evil Dead trilogy because it's horrifying - we like it because it's fun.

Well, that and the drinking game.

As Poe detailed, the fact that Ash is a Movie Maniac at all is a testament to the tenacity of toy fans. McToys stated repeatedly that they had no intention of making him, because they didn't think there would be any demand. The fans kept at it, kept getting more and more support, until finally they were rewarded. Ash debuted in MM3, and was instantly the absolute hardest piece to find; some less-reputable online stores still try to sell him for upwards of $30. Never one to miss an opportunity, McFarlane continues to release Army of Darkness sets two years later.

Like most of the Movie Maniacs, Ash really only has one pose. Taken from the scene near the beginning of AoD, he's ready to swing his chainsaw at the attacking Pit Witch. Ash comes with his chainsaw, of course, as well as the metal gauntlet that was built for him in medieval times. He's got his boomstick strapped to his back, and can hold it in the metal hand. This, coupled with the pose, really spotlights the shortcomings of the McFarlane style of action figure: Ash may look cool the way we're "intended" to see him, brandishing his chainsaw and staring down his enemy, but he looks stupid any other way.

Give him the shotgun, and he's waving it behind himself. Turn his head to the front and he's got a weird tilt, like a dog hearing a strange noise. Why doesn't Ash have elbows? Why doesn't he have hips and knees? Why can't he hold his shotgun proudly above his head and tell those primitive screwheads to listen up? McToys are so concerned with "hiding" their articulation that they've forgotten what it means to be a toymaker.

McFarlane can usually be counted on to deliver a stunning likeness with their Movie Maniacs, but it seems someone fell asleep at the wheel when Ash came by. I suppose he bears a passing resemblance to Bruce Campbell, but no one is going to mistake him for Brisco County Jr., if you catch my drift. The 18" version had a different pose and a different head, which looked quite a sight better than this original 7" version.

Ash's accessories are finished off by a mini-Ash (with a fork) and the Necronomicon. The book is molded from soft, rubbery pvc, making it feel more like the human flesh in which it is supposedly bound. Ash's shirt is also rubbery, and sculpted around his bare torso, making all the nicks and cuts in the cloth seem that much more realistic, since we can see his body beneath. He's got blood and dirt smeared on his body, and tiny little hands painted on the face of his watch.

Overall this is a mediocre figure; it barely moves, it looks ridiculous in all but one prescribed pose, and the likeness is off. However, it's just so much fun to have a figure of our hero, Ash, that a lot of that can be forgiven. McFarlane listened to the fans, even when it's not what he thought would work. That's a bold move. Hail to the king, baby.

-- 10/01/02

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