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Ultimate Sam

Trick 'r Treat
by yo go re

What ever happened to that sequel we were supposed to be getting?

The doorbell rings. The cry goes out: Trick 'r Treat! But, wait. What's actually going on during this ghostly All Hallows Eve? Something eerie and unexpected. Something splattered and spooky. Something that brings ghouls, vampires and werewolves into the night. Answer the door - a shocking surprise awaits.

Back in 2009, NECA made a figure for the waiting-to-be-released Halloween film Trick 'r Treat. It had been completed in 2007, but the studio kept dragging its feet on a release, missing two years of Halloweens and finally just putting it out direct-to-DVD in 2009. The movie, an anthology of loosely intersecting stories, has become a cult hit in the decade since, though it's still not as widely known as it deserves to be. With a dozen channels all doing spooky movie marathons, why is this not an annual staple? Sure, it's more of a traditional horror movie than, say, Beetlejuice or The Addams Family, (ie, it has blood and boobs) but Trick 'r Treat should be October's A Christmas Story.

While the movie may still be fairly underground, its tiny star is not. Known only as "Sam," this little guy is only directly involved in one of the stories, but is becoming as iconic as Jack Skellington - he appears on T-shirts, decorations, cards, as toys (obviously), costumes, at Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights... even absent any context, a spooky little kid in orange footy pajamas and a round burlap sack hood says "Halloween," so it's no surprise companies would want to utilize him - including NECA releasing a new Sam as part of their "Ultimates" line.

Ultimate Sam is sculpted by Kyle Windrix. The old Sam toy was basically a solid lump, so the wrinkles on his jammies were free to accentuate a single, planned pose. These days NECA gives its figures articulation, so the suit has to accommodate more than that. The wrinkles still match what was seen on the real thing, they're just toned down slightly so they won't look out of place when you pose him differently. It does feel like the body should be a little wider, but maybe I'm thinking of the (small) adult stuntperson who sometimes played Sam, rather than the 8-year-old boy who mainly filled the role. The textures on the figure are terrific, from the rough burlap on his head and hands, to the softer material of his suit, and finally the perfectly smooth plastic forming "shoes" at the bottom of the PJs. He's sculpted with his little butt-flap buttoned up, of course, but one of the patches stitched to his chest appears to be slightly too high: if you watch the film, the patch is below the lower edge of the hood, while here it's up by the armpit.

Sam's articulation is a huge, huge improvement. In 2009, he moved at the wrists, elbows, one shoulder, and neck; in 2020, he has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, double-swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. It feels like there might be a (balljoint?) waist inside the pajamas, but it's hard to tell, and it's not really necessary anyway. The joints all move as well as they should, though the wrists have that usual problem where the paint scrapes off when you move them, leaving patches of orange against the tan.

The paint is good, other than that little error. The onesie is orange, with a full wash to make it look old and dirty. There's also a wash on the burlap, though not as heavy. The various faces have good detailing and clean lines, and there's a little bit of blood on the collar of the hood. The colors are a little more vibrant than on the old toy, but not so much so that the figure looks cheap or out of place in a Halloween scene.

Sam is just a little over 4¾" tall, so there's plenty of room in this set for fun accessories. We'll start, however, by telling you the one thing you don't get: the original had a small display base showing a leaf-strewn patch of ground. It wasn't necessary to keep the figure standing, but it did add some seasonal flair, which is why we're a little sad there's no equivalent here (just the cardboard backdrop behind the figure, showing Mr. Kreeg's house with all the jack o'lanterns out front, though with Mr. Kreeg himself mostly photoshopped out - Chris Raimo is credited for the packaging, so if he did this part, then he mistook part of Kreeg's hand for the doorknob and left it behind). We do get both the same pumpkins as the previous release - not the same sculpts, but new sculpts of the same things. The plume of fire on the flaming pumpkin is twice as tall as before, and this time there's a light-up feature - the fire itself acts as the switch, and the light is just solid, not one that flickers like Michael Myers'.

The old Sam had an alternate head, showing off his unmasked face. This one gets the same thing, though this time the alternate head has an articulated jaw, so he can open it to shout. But, because this figure is all about doing better, that's not the only alternate head there is. There's another wearing his mask, though on this one the mouth has been ripped open so he can eat his candy, giving us a glimpse of what's in there. Finally, there's a "battle damaged" head, which is fully unmasked, but shows blood flowing from a wound on his forehead - or at least, what passes for blood on this little spirit. Since he looks like a creature that's half pumpkin, the stuff coming out of his head looks like pumpkin guts. Makes sense!

That feeling carries over to one of his alternate right hands: it's been severed at the wrist, and more strings of pumpkin innards trail out behind it like blood or muscle tissue. So gross! Yet so sanitized! He also has another extra right hand, bringing the set's full total up to three; this one has the fingers closed more tightly than the regular hand, so he can hold his weaponized lollipop. The normal hand is perfect for holding the chocolate bar Sam got from Mr. Wilkins or for dragging his bloody burlap sack on the ground behind him.

While we'd love for Trick 'r Treat to get a sequel, it may not be necessary. There are four stories and they cover an entire lifetime's perspectives on Halloween: in order, you've got a child being introduced to the holiday traditions, a group of kids being allowed to go out by themselves for the first time, folks in their 20s looking to hook up with a sexy stranger, and an elderly guy who's totally over the whole thing. Add in the prologue, with adults who are too old to party but don't have kids of their own yet, and that's pretty much the full spectrum. It really is a great movie, and while the old Sam toy was good for its time, this one steps things up. It was originally released last year, but is much easier to find this year, thanks to NECA's relationship with Walmart - if you're lucky, your store will have an entire display of Sams (as well as the former GameStop-exclusive "I Heart Derry" Pennywise) in their own little counter dump box somewhere near the electronics department. Look for the very shiny orange box, and celebrate Samhain in style.

-- 10/22/20


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