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The Faun

Pan's Labyrinth
by yo go re

This really gets my goat!

The faun executed the order to open portals throughout the mortal world. Teotihuacan, Mexico. The Pyramid of the Moon. Sterkfontein, Africa. The cradle of humankind. A forest in Spain. The labyrinth as its former self. This final site proved to be the most difficult to reach. But while others fell and were forgotten, this portal stood for thousands of years. There, the faun took root, patiently awaiting Moanna's return.

The titular faun of El Laberinto del Fauno is not the lusty satyr of Greek mythology, but a guide. As Guillermo del Toro said, he's "a creature that is neither good or evil... like nature... a character there to be witness and shepherd [Ofelia] in her rite of passage, but he has no agenda. He doesn't care if she dies or lives." Which seems a bit misleading - in the film, he's kind of a scary jerk, but also definitely seems to care about her success. He's not a cold and impartial observer, he's on her side.

When we first meet him, the Faun is creaking under the weight of age: his eyes are milky, and his hair is thin and white, and one of his horns is even cracked. As Ofelia begins completing the tasks he sets her, however, he's seen regaining his vitality, and that's the version this toy delivers: rejuvenated, with reddish hair and intact horns. His expression is serious - they could have given him an alternate face with a more friendly or cheerful look. They also could have done an alternate "old" head, and really made this an Ultimate Faun.

Like McFarlane Toys' take on the Blair Witch, the Faun's body looks like gnarled wood. In the early scenes, he was covered in moss and small branches, but he got cleaner as the movie went on. He still has skin like bark, however, and a few (surprisingly sharp) branches sticking off him. The spirals carved on his head and chest are meant to mimic the labyrinth itself, and there are hints of anatomy beneath the bark - and no, we're not just talking about his exposed penis. Look at the feet: the left foot looks like a bundle of roots, but the right is more like a hoof. He's got a spine, shoulder blades, abs... the idea is that he's a living creature who just sat down in the woods for centuries, with nature slowly growing over him and giving him some camouflage to hide him from those who weren't ready to believe. The figure was sculpted by Adrienne Smith and Alex Heinke, and they did a wonderful job.

Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp are behind the paint, which is a panoply of earthy browns, yet manages to look distinct and controlled, not muddy - not an easy thing to do! The face is very pale, paler than it should be. Yes, it needs to be lighter than the rest of the body, but not this much lighter. The stock photos made the face and chest closer in color, which looks much less like someone wearing a woody body suit than the final product.

As usual, NECA has given their toy good articulation. El Fauno moves at the feet, ankles, knees, thighs, hips, waist, chest, wrists, elbows, biceps, and head. You really can do pretty much whatever you'd want to with him, and the joints are worked seamlessly into the sculpt. Like most of Guillermo del Toro's special effects, the Faun was done practically, with makeup rather than CGI. Yes, even those mighty goat legs! He was played by Doug Jones (because who else would GDT get?), who wore special greenscreen leggings to hide his shins poking out of the costume.

The Faun comes with four accessories: the knife Ofelia retrieved from the Pale Man, the cage thing he keeps the fairies in, his satchel, and his bone flute. The flap on the satchel opens so the flute can be placed inside. The dagger fits in his right hand, and both the bags can be slung over his shoulder. The fairy trap (or whatever you want to call it) is hollow, and can hinge open. No fairies, though: those come with Ofelia.

Originally, the Faun was going to be a much more normal design: the classic half-man, half-goat. It was concept artist Sergio Sandoval who first tried woody legs, and when del Toro saw that, he decided the entire character should look like that. While we would have loved to get Pan's Labyrinth toys 13 years ago when the film came out, there's no question that NECA did a better job today than they would have been able to do back then.

-- 10/24/19

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