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The Princess Bride
by yo go re

Making us wait until Series 2 to get this figure? That's... that's... that's... unthinkable!

"Haha, you fool! You fall victim to one of the classic blunders! The most famous is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia,' but only slightly less well-known is this: never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line!"

In the movie, Vizzini comes across as a braggart who talks a big game but can't really back it up. In the novel, however, he really is as smart as he claims (and he claims a lot): "There are no words to contain all my wisdom. I am so cunning, crafty and clever, so filled with deceit, guile and chicanery, such a knave, so shrewd, cagey as well as calculating, as diabolical as I am vulpine, as tricky as I am untrustworthy... well, I told you there were not words invented yet to explain how great my brain is, but let me put it this way: the world is several million years old and several billion people have at one time or another trod upon it, but I, Vizzini the Sicilian, am, speaking with pure candor and modesty, the slickest, sleekest, sliest and wiliest fellow who has yet come down the pike." Way deeper than just calling Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates morons. Implausible!

Vizzini was played by Wallace Shawn, who was nervous throughout the filming because he'd somehow gotten it into his head that he was the second choice to play the character (after Danny DeVito) and was convinced he was going to be fired. The face provides a fairly good likeness, but like Fezzik, it's not nearly as good as you'd expect from a company that made its name on the strength of its sculpts. This level of work is... unimaginable!

The famous quote above intimates that Vizzini is Sicilian, which makes sense: Vizzini is a town in Sicily, and it's not unusual for place names to become family names over time, or even just nicknames. It's possible calling him "Vizzini" is just the equivalent of calling him "Brooklyn" or "Toronto" or something. The Princess Bride is set in a time period that's just as fictional as its warring countries, some sort of Medieval/Renaissance blend, so costume designer Phyllis Dalton was really free to do whatever she wanted. Vizzini wears a dark green quilted doublet with humongously puffy sleeves, a simple linen shirt, and dark pants. The sleeves are so big they prevent the toy from putting its arms straight down. Incomprehensible!

We get the same not-pink-enough skin all the figures have, but by virtue of being next to such dark green that it stands out with a decent contrast. There's ruddy brown for the belt and stripes on his shoulders, with the pants being dark and matte. His face is painted with way, way more stubble than he should have. Mind-boggling! Without that mess, the likeness would be better than it is.

At least the articulation is good. Not, perhaps, the best complement of joints ever, but certainly ages better than McFarlane's darkest days. Vizzini moves with hinged toes, swivel/hinge/swivel ankles, double-hinged knees, slight swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a balljointed chest, swivel/hinge/swivel wrists, swivel/hinged elbows, swivel biceps, shoulders that have a hinge on the arm and a balljoint in the torso, and a barbell-jointed head. The difference between the McFarlane Toys of the 2000s and the McFarlane Toys of the 2020s is... incredible! Having swivels in the elbows and in the biceps is superfluous, but it does allow you to move the big wrinkles of the sleeves around for the best posing. Vizzini in the novel was a hunchback with a lame leg, not something that was carried over to the movie, but you could pose him that way if you wanted.

Vizzini comes with exactly the accessories you'd expect: a pair of goblets. Considering how small Vizzini is, it's almost... impossible that McToys couldn't have given him the full stone table with the picnic spread of apples, bread, cheese, and wine laid out on it, but while every other character at least has some opportunity to reuse the molds, our little Italian friend doesn't hang around long enough for an appreciable change of clothes. The goblets are dark and appropriately ornate, and can be hald in his hands nicely. They are empty, but who would ever notice if they were full? If we weren't going to get anything other than those, it would have been neat if they'd at least included an alternate head with a laughing expression.

The first series of McFarlane's Princess Bride toys covered most of the main characters, but Vizzini was conspicuously absent. It's not even like they needed him to pad out Series 2, because every character from S1 is getting a variation in this series, so it really feels like they just held him back to help guarantee there'd be a Series 2. There are other characters who could be made (Prince Humperdink, Count Rugen, Miracle Max, a Rodent of Unusual Size) but with the release of Vizzini, we have everybody who we really needed for this line. Still, the weakest parts of this release are the paint and the minimal accessories, things that should have been easy for McToys to get right. It's... almost like it's something I can't conceive of, but then I see it happening, and I exclaim in surprise and alarm that the thing that shouldn't be able to happen is actually happening, even if I didn't believe it could?

(There has to be a better way to say that...)

-- 08/21/22

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