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Scary Godmother w/ Boozle

Scary Godmother
by yo go re

Given the number of Kickstarters that fail to ever deliver their rewards, it's extra impressive when a first-time toymaker comes through.

Hey there, boos and ghouls! You've loved her in comics, books and on stage & screen! Now you've got your very own Scary Godmother and the Boozle! Hurray!!! Take her with you on your travels! Give her a special place on your shelf! She's your magicky friend for fun forever!

When her first niece was born, comic artist Jill Thompson wanted to get a book as a gift for the girl. She looked for something Halloween-y, but couldn't find anything she liked, so she created Scary Godmother and all her friends. The books were published in the late '90s, and in 2003, Mainframe Entertainment created an hour-long TV special that aired on Cartoon Network, then a second a year later. Getting the rights to make the cartoon also came with the rights to make any merchandise (gee, where have we heard that before?), but when the time was up, Jill got the rights back, and set about Kickstarting this doll.

So yes, right off the bat: this is a doll, not an action figure. It stands about 14" tall and features a real cloth outfit that comes off - we always say the main difference between a doll and an action figure is whether or not changing its clothes is an important part of how you're meant to play with it, and this is definitely more "Barbie" than "GI Joe" (er, the little GI Joes - the big one may have invented the term "action figure," but by our standards it was really still a doll).

The body is a unique new sculpt - it's not just some reworked doll body painted white. Starting in 2011, Thompson sketched out her ideas for the doll, and began working with experienced sculptors and designers to get exactly what she wanted. While a traditional Barbie doll looks like a triangle stacked on top of a thumb, SG has smoother lines - the doll may look like the stylized artwork, but she's still more human(oid) than Barbie is.

Scary Godmother dresses like a gothy Tinkerbell. She wears a black bodysuit with spider-web sleeves, a poofy tutu made of pink and green sparkly fabric, and striped leggings. Her witch hat, permanently designed to be curled to the side, has the same purple and green stripes as her tights, while her pointy black high-heeled shoes feature a large silver buckle and purple cobwebs on top. There's even a cute purple skull/heart emblem on the butt. All the clothes can be removed, of course, because this is a fashion doll: there are no alternate outfits for her yet, but who knows? Give it time. The jumper has slits in the back to allow her purple bat wings to pass through and plug into her shoulders, and a zipper closure. The skirt gets snaps, and the shoes and tights just slip on, while the hat is held on by a clear plastic strap.

This may be a doll, but she's articulated like an action figure, with a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, double swivel-hinge elbows, swivel/hinge/swivel wrists, balljointed torso, balljointed waist, balljointed hips, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge/swivel ankles. Getting the joints right took a lot of work: the chest joint was too shallow, so it kept popping apart, the ankles were loose enough to spin around untouched, and the wrists kept breaking. Fortunately, all that got fixed before the doll went into production. The knees do have trouble holding their pose, both because of the weight of the legs below them and the way the fabric tights push them back to straight, but she's still plenty playable.

Since the clothes are all softgoods, the only paint to speak of is on Scary Godmother's face. Her skin is white - "white" white, not "I want to speak to your manager" white - though it has been given some subtle greenish shadows, and her fingernails are black. But we're meant to be talking about the face. She's got the same green shadows around her eyes, with gold eyeliner above that and black carefully outlined on her sculpted eyelashes. Her eyebrows are the same color as her curly curly hair, and her big smile is done in a darker red.

There's a lot more to the set than just the doll and her clothes. And the wings (which are twist-tied to the insert behind her). To begin with, there's a doll stand to keep her upright - nothing this tall and spindly would want to retain verticalitude on its own. Rather than the typical "C clamp" doll stands you might be familiar with (from the BtAS figures, if nothing else), this is a plastic bar that comes just up to groin level, allowing her to "sit" on it almost like a bicycle seat; a millimeter or two taller or shorter, and it wouldn't work right, but this is perfectly designed. It has bumps near the top to help hold the legs in place, and plugs into a neat black base with a white spider web pattern on the top and Scary Godmother's name printed on the front plate in green.

Beyond that, she comes with a selection of three purses, so you can choose how to accessorize her. Running errands in the afternoon? Give her the orange satin messenger bag, with a black jack o'lantern face on the snap-closure flap and real metal rings supporting the green-and-white strap. Meeting friends for lunch? The white, skull-shaped purse will do nicely, or perhaps you'd like to pull the pink lining up a little so it looks like the skull has an exposed brain. A night on the town? The grey felt bat purse has two translucent red "gemstone" eyes and black wings sticking out its sides. All three are unique, and are constructed as well as the clothes are. They look homemade, but homemade as though Scary Godmother made them herself, not homemade as though someone just made them for the doll.

A witch has to have her familiar, and so Scary Godmother comes with her cat, Boozle. Or is it The Boozle? Either way, it's here. Boozle is a ghost cat, so the toy is molded from a smoky grey translucent plastic and painted with bright yellow eyes. The Boozle is about 4¼" tall, and has zero points of articulation - it's solid plastic. Instead of the normal little squish beans, Boozle's legs end in wisps of smoke, done here as curlicues that twist upward a bit. A loop of plastic on the back of the toy will allow you to hang Boozle on a thread, "hovering" next to Scary Godmother.

The packaging for the doll represents Scary Godmother's haunted house - it's a tall rectangle with a sloped top serving as the roof, and die-cut windows on the front and sides so you can see SG in the tray, backed by cute little bats. Jill Thompson did all the art for this, too, so it fits perfectly with the theme. The roof opens, much like Zim's house, and you're going to have a bunch of twist-ties to undo before you can free the doll from the cardboard.

The Scary Godmother doll was a Kickstarter project, and, like other projects, it met with some delays along the way. Yes, if you go to the page and look, the estimated delivery date was in fact "April" - but it was April of 2014. Many, many delays. But despite all the setbacks and slowdowns, Jill never stopped giving regular updates, and a lot of them are really interesting looks at what goes into (and what can go wrong with) making a toy. Would we have preferred an action figure to a doll? Of course, we're an action figure website. But Scary Godmother was created for a different group, and we're just a periphery demographic; making a doll for them just makes sense. But if you want one of your own, she's available online, and will make a great seasonal decoration.

-- 04/14/18

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