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Points of Articulation

yo go re
Anatomy of a Review

Having been at this gig for more than a year now, we OAFEs have given you a lot of reviews. And, with more than five years of reviews behind me, my style has definitely changed since I first started all those years ago. So, taking inspiration from Poe's examination of why he reviews, I've decided to write a piece not on "why," but on "how."

As my profile on the Accessories page states, I used to write a column titled "Beaking the Mold." It was a weekly review of some cool figure, new or old, that I felt was worth talking about. Though I wrote those for years, they never really got any notice. And why was that? Because they weren't any good.

Every review there followed a strict pattern:

  • Snappy one-liner related to the figure or character.
  • Biographical or card-back information
  • Report of the character info, costume design, or some other filler text.
  • Size, articulation, acessories and (sometimes) a list of the other figures in the same series.
Four paragraphs, start to finish, every week. And, okay, I do the same stuff now, but in much more detail and a lot less structured. Fill-in-the-blanks reviews are easy to find, and that's what was undermining me before.

I'd been thinking about writing this PoA for a while now, but it wasn't until I got NECA's Julia figure from the Hellraiser line that I really got inspired. As I wrote, I kept notes on what I did and how I did it, which I now present to you. I hope you enjoy your behind the scenes glimpse at the workings of OAFEnet.

November 1
After checking out at Suncoast with the figures I'd found, I stopped to look at the House of 1000 Corpses figures. Not bad. Have to remember to tell Rheen about them. Behind those I see the tooth-baring grin of Pinhead. Could it be Hellraiser series 2? It is! And they have Julia! Score! The only other evidence I've seen that this series had shipped was a solitary Pinhead 2 in a different store. Looks like Series 2 is going to be as big a success as Series 1.

Except with the McFanboys, who just want to tear the line down. Maybe that could be another PoA down the line: intercompany loyalty/competition.

November 2
I picked Julia to be the subject of this review - "Anatomy of a Review" is just too good a pun to pass up. Time to start taking notes.

November 4
Steal info from NECA re: removing bandages. Go to imdb, look up Hellraiser, Claire Higgins and Deborah Joel.

Prep the html - meta tags, title, all that fun stuff.

Gotta find the angle for this review. I'd do my insane fascination with abused women, but that'd put the focus on the review, not on the figure - the less use of the word "I," the better.

Went and found the bio info from the back of the card; unfortunately, it's pretty vague stuff. Back to NECA's site to get some more specific info: I can't talk about the character if I don't know anything about her. NECA needs a copy editor.

Got an intro! Reference my obsession without actually talking about it, thus keeping my raging mysogyny under wraps. Much like Julia herself. ha!

Okay, so Intro > Bio > Character info... then what? It would make sense to start with the dressed version, since that's the way she's packaged - does she show up that way first in the film? I'll have to go find a spoilery review to find out.

Found one, and no, she doesn't. Does she ever wear the bandages? I know she collects skin. More searching!

Okay, have a better opening than the mysogyny route. We'll move the old opening down to the end and make it more of a comparison. This'll be a grand opportunity to take a "family photo" of the girls like Shocka has of Pinhead with the Movie Maniacs.

How realistic is Julia's sculpt? Gray's Anatomy to the rescue!

Hmm, or not. Finding specific muscles is pretty hard unless you know their proper names. Maybe one of those workout charts or something.

November 5
Well, I was going to open Jules, but I forgot that I wanted to get a picture of her on the card. And one before I take the dress off, in case it doesn't want to go back on. Thus, I have to wait until I can take pics.

Geeze, the cowl's hard to get off. The dress material seems pretty sturdy, no signs of tearing at all. Sweet.

Ahhhh, dammit! Julia's left hip and wrist won't move. And they seem pretty stubborn about it. Damn things are probably going to break. Into the freezer she goes.

I like the piece of the pillar she comes with - it'll make a cool base. I really wish I could build the whole thing, but Julia's the only one I want from this series. Note to NECA: you've got a collectors' club, why not sell the pillar (or the box or whatever other exclusive pack-in you've got from each series) through there?

Score! I was sure the joints would break, but they're fine after only half an hour in the cold. Big bonus points to NECA! Okay, now that she's open, moving and intact, I can really get to work examining her.

Okay, no, dammit. Her hip DID break. Crappity crap-crap! It's my own fault for trying too hard before freezing her. Well, crap. Do I want to glue her leg in place, or hope that I can find another and trade it in? Considering how fast these emeffers are selling, I think glue is the answer.

November 6
All done writing, I think. I need to get some pictures. Still pissed off about the broken leg, but any deviation from that one assigned pose would really screw up the figure's asthetic, anyway.

Made a few minor grammar changes.

For some reason, the leg does not want to go back onto the body properly. I think I'm going to have to trim a little plastic off the peg before I reattach it.

I know where two of the Tortured Chicks are, but I'll need to hunt down Luci. Are these things even going to be the same scale?

Scale's close enough. Glue's taken hold, Julia stands as good as ever. I think I'll try putting the dress back on, to see how easy that is. After that, I'll add more info about the display base.

November 8
Everybody's working for the weekend. Or, in this case, working on the weekend. Time to take photos of our little Julia, so I start by setting up my photo studio:

So much for our veil of coolness

I try a few different angles to see what works best for the "nude" photo, take a few headshots and one pic of the base and the heart. Then it's back to the computer to transfer the images.

Open up Pinhead pics to make sure Julia's the same size.

Color correct the pics so that the red muscles don't look orange - it's more important that pictures look like people expect them to than that they look like they really do. Which only makes sense if you've ever had to do any major color correction.

I don't like the headshot I took, so I'll use NECA's. Also, the packaging pic is gonna have to be a link, rather than an actual picture; otherwise the left-right order will be screwed up. As the pictures get inserted into the html, come up with entertaining alt tags.

Upload everything for a first look. Seeing that it works, I can call her finished. Spellcheck didn't catch any errors, either, so now she'll just wait there until she's unveiled.

November 13
List Julia on index, "What's New" and "Reviews" pages. Create a thumbnail for the front page, and load the whole thing up just in time for our update to the mailing list.
So that's the secret: research, rewriting and time.
Sites consulted in making this review
This is a pretty typical look at the creative process: we just lucked out (huh?) that we got the thrilling excitement of a trip to the freezer and a broken toy despite it. Of course, Julia's review got moved into production a bit faster than average, in order to accomodate this feature, but the process is still the same. I hope you've enjoyed this little daliance, because it's been fun writing it.

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