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Nightmare Before Christmas
by yo go re

Several years ago, NECA had a wonderful line of Nightmare Before Christmas toys. The line was a big success, and ran about as long as it could - in just two years, they released five series of figures, covering just about every major character seen in the film, and quite a few minor ones, as well. The line had its time, ran its course and ended.

Then, in late 2010, something unexpected happened: a huge dump of figures, mostly from Series 4 and 5, appeared at Northeastern closeout retailer Five Below. If you don't know what a Five Below is, it's like a dollar store - times five. They don't sell anything for more than $5, and yes, that included the NBX toys. Things that had been going for nearly $50 online could suddenly be picked up for a tenth of the price. That's how I ended up with the Behemoth.

The Behemoth is one of the citizens of Halloween Town, a generic serial killer type guy. He's got a body like a potato, and is wearing big blue overalls and thick yellow gloves. As Rustin pointed out in his review of JUN Planning's Behemoth, NECA's version doesn't quite have the right shape when compared to the film: he's too tall, too upright. Still, the idea is the same.

Behemoth was based on 1950s monster movie mainstay Tor Johnson - who you may remember as being played by George The Animal Steele in Tim Burton's Ed Wood. The back of the packaging even lists Behemoth's "known aliases" as Tor, so there you go. There's an axe embedded in the back of his head. Permanently embedded - so whatever you do, don't try to remove it or you'll be sorry.

The figure has a swivel neck, ball-hinged shoulders, swivel gloves and swivel hips. His skin is a bluish-gray, and he's got a tuft of chest hair poking out of his overalls. The pants have a subtle texture, and one corner of the (sculpted) pocket is peeling away. He has one accessory, a detailed little nutcracker. The JUN version had the same thing, but as a semi-functioning item - this is a solid piece. He can't really hold it, per se, but you can hook the handle over his hand and the nutcracker will stay there.

And yes, that's nice and all, but if that was all there was to this set, I wouldn't have bought it. And I certainly wouldn't be reviewing it outside of Horror Month - let alone the day before Easter. No, the star of this set is the Easter Bunny.

When Jack sent Lock, Shock and Barrel to kidnap mister Sandy Claws, they initially came back with the wrong holiday icon. Whoops! He burst forth from the bag they had him in, sniffed around for a few seconds, and hopped right over to the Behemoth (who gleefully bellowed "bunny!"). The experience scarred him so badly, he promptly dove right back into his bag. Poor little guy.

The Easter Bunny comes from northern European mythology, where the spring/dawn/fertility goddess Ostra had a pet bird. One day, to amuse some children, she turned her bird into a hare; it missed being a bird, however, so she put it in the sky as the constellation Lepus, and once a year, in the spring (when the constellation is near the horizon), it was allowed to lay eggs. And just in case the connection wasn't clear enough, the Anglo-Saxon name for Ostra was Eostre, and the Germanic was Eastre - and yes, her name comes from the same root as the direction "east." She was a goddess of the dawn, after all.

The NBX Easter Bunny is 5" tall, and moves at the hips, shoulders and neck. The hips are just swivels, but the shoulders and the head are all balljoints. The balljoint neck allows for a lot of expressiveness, and though his ears are 2½" long, they don't weigh the head down, so he'll hold whatever pose you decide on.

The bunny is wearing a pale yellow sash reading "Happy Easter," and he's carrying a basket of easter eggs. There's no way his formless little hand-nubs would be able to hold an accessory like that, so NECA came up with a clever solution: the basket actually attaches to the rabbit's stomach, and is fully supported thereby. You just pose his arms so it looks like he's holding the basket, and the illusion is complete. Brilliant! Traditionally, eggs were forbidden during Lent, which is why there was an abundance of them on Easter - and if they were boiled with flowers (to at once cook the egg and distill the petals), the color would transfer to the eggshell. The ones in this bunny's basket all get unique paint apps - that had to be expensive!

I'd wanted the Behemoth/Easter Bunny set since it came out, but I never saw it in stores. Behemoth is sort of an after-thought for me, but luckily, the bunny is definitely worth the $5 I paid. Heck, I would have paid $10 to get him by himself! I've seriously had more fun playing with the rabbit than any other toy I bought last year. Yeah, he's a nice seasonal decoration, but it's also fun to pose him with pretty much any 6" or 7" toy. The only reason you haven't seen him in multiple Figuretoons, or as a joke photo at the end of every large-size figure's review, is that we wanted to maintain the surprise. Behemoth's okay, but the Easter Bunny is great!

-- 04/23/11

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