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Pennywise

It (1990)
by yo go re

Geeze, what was it with movies in the year 1990 and weirdos hanging out in sewers?

Seven friends engage in a struggle with the demon they first encountered 30 years earlier in their Maine hometown.

What a good bio! Yes, even though it's identical to the one on the other Pennywise, and we nitpicked it there, it's perfectly fine for this release. Why? Several reasons. First, because this figure is based on the ABC miniseries, which not only showed the Losers Club as kids and as adults (by virtue of being a two-night event, not a single movie with a sequel coming two years after); and secondly, because it also gave them a full 30-year gap, rather than the book's 27. So those 19 words, unchanged, suit this figure in a way they didn't suit the other one, removing our complaints by this time simply not being incorrect. Funny the way that works, innit?

The '90s version of Pennywise looks like any modern clown, not particularly unsettling unless you suffer from coulrophobia - a word which, it must be said, is not real. It's made up. Made up on the internet. It's not a recognized technical term, and honestly seems a bit nonsense: phobias are named with Greek terms, and the ancient Greek for "clown" was sklêro-paiktês ("constant-player"); they also had two different words for a jester (geloiastes from "laughter," and khleuastes from "insolent"), and the modern Greek word for "clown" is klooun, which comes from English; the handwave for this pseudo-term is that it comes from kolon, "limb," with some purported connection to being a stilt-walker, but that... is just stupid. So while the fear of clowns may be real, coulrophobia isn't.

Stephen King based It's appearance as "Pennywise the Dancing Clown" on several famous clowns, including Bozo and Ronald McDonald. He's got Bozo's haircut, more or less, and the face is totally Ron - if he tried submitting this to Britain's Clown Egg Register as an original design, they'd politely but firmly tell him to try something original, instead.

Here's what Pennywise looks like: an all white face with a big red smile, red nose, highly arching black eyebrows, and small black spikes pointing down beneath his eyes. Wait, sorry, that was a description of Ronald McDonald. Here's what Pennywise looks like: an all white face with a big red smile, red nose, highly arching black eyebrows, small black spikes pointing down beneath his eyes and blue triangles on the upper lids. Yeah, totally different.

TV Pennywise's design was based on Lon Chaney's Phantom of the Opera makeup. The original plan called for heavy prosthetics, but Tim Curry had just come off Legend and was tired of that, so they kept paring the pieces back and back until it was just him in thick white makeup. The sculpt here is by Jason Frailey, and it's so good you can even pick out the edge of the bald cap Curry was wearing!

This set includes four different heads, all showing a distinct expression. Right out of the box, he's got a big sour frown, then there's also a gigantic joyful laugh, a look of shocked surprise, and a torn-up "battery acid" face. The laughing head should really have normal teeth, not fangs - those only came out when Pennywise was being threatening, not passing incognito.

The articulation on this figure is slightly less than the other Pennywise, in part because of his costume: putting double-swivel/hinge knees in these giant poofy yellow pants would be a huge endeavor, and putting plain swivels in the biceps would break up the stripes on his sleeves. The joints he does have are a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, double-swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed torso, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees, and balljointed ankles. So basically, NECA's standard. You'll want to be careful with the heads, though, because the bright red of his hair can transfer to the white ruffled collar around his neck. Of course, with the head in place, you'd never notice it anyway.

In addition to the four heads, Pennywise includes your choice of seven hands: a pair with the fingers spread, two right hands of various grip-sizes, a pointing left hand, and a pair of demonic, three-fingered hands as seen on the miniseries' promotional images (normally we'd say "on the movie poster," but it's not a poster, is it?).

Additionally, he comes with his noisemaker, a paper boat, and seven balloons. Dang, the 2017 Penny only had one! NECA's certainly getting their money's worth out of that mold, aren't they? How many future toys could possibly come with balloons? The fact that the "strings" are done as bendy wires is smart: if they were plastic, they'd either have to be too thick to look right in order to be sturdy, or they'd constantly be bending and breaking if they were the right scale. Clearly they're meant to go in the "closed grip" hand, but if you can fit more than five strings through that hand, you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din. The looser hand does a fine job holding them, as you can see. The S.S. George is in a bag taped to the balloons' tray, although there's a notch for it in the upper tray - since it's made from actual paper, not plastic, it probably would have gotten all wrinkled there.

Back when the Spawn.com message boards were the #1 gathering place for toy fans on the internet, Pennywise was easily one of the most-requested characters for the Movie Maniacs line, but we were always told it couldn't happen. (If I recall correctly, the reason we were given was that Stephen King wouldn't license any of his properties.) Clearly things have changed, because NECA isn't even the first company to put out It toys. Randy Falk has said this Pennywise is one of the figures they'll lose money on, doing more out of love for the product than anything else. But you've gotta admit, while 2017 Pennywise may be scarier, this is the iconic look.

-- 09/13/18


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