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Reindeer Rudy

Twisted Christmas
by yo go re

Though McFarlane's Monsters Series 5 - Twisted Christmas - has done a great job of playing around with our expectations for this holiday season's beloved commercial icons, there was one character they couldn't really do much for. I mean, when your story is already based on exclusion, ridicule and abuse, where do you go from there?

After years under the whip, he's turned the tables. Reindeer games become blood sport. Don't get caught outside on Christmas Eve.

Reindeer Rudy (and if you think we'll be calling him by that full name throughout the review, you're on crack) is quite obviously a new version of R-- oh, I'm sorry, our lawyers at the fine and respectable firm of Duwiech, Itam & Haugh have informed us we can't actually say the name of the character who inspired this figure, due to copyright laws. Since he was created by Robert L. May for Montgomery Ward in 1939, he's not in the public domain yet. So shhhh! Nobody mention                or else we'll have to pay royalties.

Though the Twisted Christmas figures are tame by McFarlane standards, that doesn't mean they're straightforward. From a distance, Rudy looks quite normal - for an anthropomorphic reindeer, of course. He isn't clutching his own entrails in his hand, like the Cowardly Lion was, and he's certainly not caught in a blender, like the crap werewolf. This is just a nice, normal monster reindeer.

However, when you really look at Rudy, you'll see the flaw in his design - his mouth. Like the Snowman, he has a huge, gaping maw with a huge number of irregular teeth: 94 on the top, 119 on the bottom. His lower jaw is pressed flat against his chest and reaches all the way to his waist. Really, it looks like a reject from Beetlejuice, and that's not praise. A plain snout would have worked better. Rudy has an impressive rack. [On a dude? --ed.] His antlers, you twit! Two tiny ones sprout between his ears, while a larger set - packaged separately in the tray - has to be plugged in place after you open him. And look at his nose - he has some deep scars on there.

Other than the jaw, Rudy's sculpt and design are excellent. He really looks like a bipedal caribou. Did you know reindeer were caribou? You do now. The fine detail in the fur is very good, with a clear distinction between the fur that's short and long. He's still wearing his harness, which seems to be red leather with golden jingle bells. There are a few more armored bits, and he has Christmas lights wrapped like barbed wire around his arms and legs. That's five kinds of awesome! He also has six long braids or dreadlocks or something in his backhair, which is almost as useless as the mouth. Still, two poor design choices don't bring this figure down all that much.

The paint is good, with white, tan and brown fur blending into one another naturally. All the tiny details in the armor are painted crisply, and his antlers look like bone. The gold on the bells ends a little too soon, but it's not noticeable. The inside of his mouth is pink, with a glossy coat to make it look wet - and in an unexpected bonus, a small pool of the clear gloss has settled in the back of the mouth, where trapped bubbles make it look like he really has spit in his throat. Gross!

Rudy is articulated at the hips, wrists and shoulders, though it really isn't intended for poseability. In fact, if you put his legs in the position the sculpt demands, they don't rest on the ground. Fortunately, when he's posed so that he is standing, the break in the pose isn't blatant. To aid in keeping Rudy upright, he includes a small snow base, with a peg for his left foot and a smashed skull in the back. And to aid him in his quest for vengeance, he's weilding a big honkin' axe... with festive cartoon Christmas trees around the bottom. Ha! Wish he was articulated enough to hold the axe in both hands, but this is McToys: they never met a joint they weren't afraid of.

Reindeer Rudy is a great example of what McFarlane's Monsters can be - monstrous and horrific without resorting to being gross. The design makes great use of the holiday theme, and even a few weird mis-steps can't keep this one from going down in history.

-- 12/03/07

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