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Oogie Boogie

Nightmare Before Christmas
by yo go re

There was an Oogie Boogie in Hasbro's 1993 NBX line, but other than glowing in the dark, it wasn't very good. NECA made one in 2005, but it had its own share of problems. Now Diamond Select toys gets to try their hand at him.

Believed by many to be the mythical boogeyman, the evil sack of bugs named Oogie Boogie lives on the outskirts of Halloween Town. Unlike the town's mostly kind-hearted citizens, Oogie is a fear-based creature, torturing others for fun and spewing bugs from his mouth. Having befriended three local children, he is given another victim when they deliver Santa Claus to Oogie's lair instead of to Jack Skellington. When Oogie also captures Sally, Jack must enter his lair to save them both.

My family never tried to threaten me with the Boogeyman when I was a kid, so that's a bit of cultural reference that I've only ever gotten secondhand - people may have talked about him, but I never really got what it was all about. It must be the same way non-Christians feel about Santa Claus. Except that Santa is a pretty well entrenched and clearly defined cultural icon, so... the way non-Jews feel about Judah Maccabee? You might recognize the name, and you might have read the story, but you lack that visceral emotional connection unless you grew up with it. So you want to tell me that Oogie Boogie is the Boogeyman? I can get with that. Makes as much sense as anything else.

Oogie began life as a Tim Burton drawing of a living potato sack with something horrible inside. Therefore, the toy is sculpted with a great burlap texture and large stitches holding him together. His hands and feet are simple points, and like the Sorting Hat, his mouth and eyes are formed by wrinkles and rips in the cloth.

All the Oogie Boogies made before now shared one chronic flaw: no articulation. Hasbro, NECA, Jun Planning... they were all big lumps of plastic. And that's where DST leaps into the lead! Okay, so his feet/butt area are solid, but he's bot a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. That may not sound like much, but it's more than the others had, right? Allowing him to wave his arms around already changes the whole game, and while the range on the waist and neck aren't superb, they give you a nice variety in depicting different moods and expressions. He can look around. He can throw his head back. He has more than one pose, which instantly makes him a better toy.

Even the paint is better. It's a personal pet peeve when companies making NBX merchandise make Oogie green. He's not green. He's brown. He looked green because he was standing under a black light, but that doesn't make him green. He spent most of the movie looking - again - like a burlap sack, so that's how his merch should look. Green would be fine for an exclusive repaint, a way to get some more money out of the tooling, but you don't start with green. Diamond Select has given Oogie a nice drybrushing to highlight the surface of the bag, and painted shadows around his seams. It really looks excellent. His eyes are black, and his mouth is open, giving us a glimpse of what's inside.

For more than a glimpse inside, Oogie's face can be removed. This isn't quite the full degloving seen in the film, but that would be un attainable with this kind of toy (unless they articulated the inner body, then put a softgoods shell around it). Beneath his baggy body, Boogie's built from bugs - thousands of bugs. So to show that, this toy's inner face is sculpted to look like a pile of creepy crawlies. They're painted green, blue, red, pink, and yellow over a bluish-grey base. The buggy Boogie puppet had darker areas indicating his eyes and mouth - here they're definitely sculpted as depressions, but there's no paint differentiating them from the rest of the insectoid mass.

Oogie Boogie stands about 7⅝" tall, and he's very heavy - his lower body feels solid, which makes him weigh about twice as much as you'd expect. The first series of figures includes Oogie Boogie, Jack and Sally. Like the DST Universal Monsters or Plants vs. Zombies figures, there are fancy versions in the cool "Select" packaging available through the specialty market, and simpler versions available at Toys Я Us; the Deluxe Jack and Sally figures come with fancy display bases that the TRU versions don't, but Oogie is so huge that he doesn't - whether you get him at TRU or your local comicshop, you're getting the same toy.

The only thing I don't like about Diamond Select Toys' Nightmare Before Christmas Oogie Boogie is that I didn't find him a few weeks earlier, so we could have had a review of him in time for Horror Month. Nobody has made a better Oogie Boogie.

-- 11/14/15

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