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Earl Sinclair

by yo go re

First ALF, now Dinosaurs... what's next, Eureeka's Castle? DC Follies? Green Jellö's "Three Little Pigs"?

Earl Sinclair is the patriarch of the original reptilian prehistoric nuclear family and all-around good guy.

Disney's Dinosaurs (not to be confused with Disney's Dinosaur, the movie nobody cared about, or with Pixar's The Good Dinosaur, the movie nobody liked) ran for four seasons from 1990-1994 on ABC, which is about three and a half seasons more than you'd expect "every stock-standard sitcom idea, but with puppets" to last, but hey, it was THE '90S!!!!!!!, what else was society going to do back then? Smoke indoors?

Honestly, calling them "puppets" does them a disservice - it makes them sound like Team America garbage, when they're much more than that. These were full animatronic suits, designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop, making them cousins at least with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And also revealing that these figures are, loosely, in a 5" scale; obviously, dinosaurs would be huge, but when you know there's supposed to be a human standing inside there, it really underscores what size the real suits would have been, and what size this toy is. Earl just breaks the 6" mark.

Earl was basically every sitcom dad Homer Simpson was created to make fun of: selfish, shortsighted, obsequious to authority, dimwitted, lazy... you know the deal. It was once parody, but is now the standard. He's got a dopey, distant look on his face, like he's daydreaming about fishing or bowling or whatever hobby he loves more than his children. Every promotional image of this figure from NECA has the eyes looking down and to the side, but on the final figure, they're straight ahead.

Conversely, the set includes a second, alternate head, with the mouth open (on the show, Earl would often give a big melodramatic sigh and droop his head before he walked anywhere; while that eventually informed his character as a man being crushed by life, it originated because his suit performer, Bill Barretta, needed to look out the mouth to see where he was going), and while that head is pictured with the eyes forward (presumably to look at your nudity), on the toy they're off to the side. So either NECA decided to change the apps, or the factory got them wrong.

Being a '90s TV dad, Earl is decidedly overweight. Well, by "human-shaped characters" standards; I mean, he is (ostensibly) a mighty megalosaurus, maybe he's super trim the way they measure things. But to us, he's shaped like a pear, with a very large, round, lower body, and a very small chest. His big thick legs are covered in wrinkles, and small claws tip each of his four fingers and three toes. A line of wider, thicker scales starts immediately behind his eyebrows and runs all the way to the tip of his tail. There are three ridges on the sides os his head that stand in for hair - like Homer, he's clearly meant to be balding. And he certainly dresses like it's the '90s: a plaid shirt over a white tee.

The paint is impressive. Even just the detailing on the plaid shirt is a sight to behold! They had to deal with a garment shaped to fit a rather odd body, so getting those lines applied straight is quite the accomplishment. They don't meet up on the sides, but the seam is hidden by the figure's arms when they're at rest. There's darker paint in his wrinkles, and the green of the body fades into the yellow sections smoothly.

Earl's pretty decently articulated for his size. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, a balljointed chest, balljoint hips, swivel/hinge knees and ankles, and four balljoints in the tail. The tail is packaged separately and will need to be plugged in. Technically the toy is more mobile than the actual suit was - Earl's stomach is narrower here than the real suit was, and having the legs be separate from the body, rather than only splitting away below the knee, is more than was ever seen on TV.

The figure comes with four pairs of hands: some relaxed, some pointing, and some meant to hold accessories. He's got a captain's hat, a "Cap'n Willy" mug from the Fernhill Mint (worth selling your soul for), a TV remote, and a six-pack of Lava Lager, Earl's beer of choice. He was also going to come with a cigar (it made it as far as the promo photos, and the piece that covers the accessories in the tray still has a notch where it would have gone), but it was dropped before release. All six beer cans can be removed from the ring holding them, which is surprising fun. The box credits both the sculpt and fabrication to Eric Barnett and Kushwara Studios, so we can't say for sure who did what. The box also has logos for the WESAYSO corporation, Earl's employer, making it feel like an in-universe product, direct from 60,000,003 BC.

This figure was a shocking reveal when it was unveiled at SDCC 2022; not even ALF being shown off the year before prepared fans for this. It's understandable NECA had to drop the scale down on this one, considering Earl's bulk and the fact that an 8" tall version of such a niche release would probably price itself right out most fans' "want list." This is definitely an oddball artifact, and it will be interesting to see if there's enough interest to expand beyond the also-announced Baby Sinclair.

-- 02/18/24

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