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Victor & Emily 2-pack

Corpse Bride
by yo go re

Ah, 2005, the year when Tim Burton stopped beating around the bush and told the story of a man who wanted to *@&% a dead body.

Corpse Bride carries on the dark romantic tradition of Tim Burton's classic films. Set in a 19th century European village, this stop-motion animated film follows the story of Victor, a young man who is whisked away to the underworld and wed to a mysterious Corpse Bride, while his real bride, Victoria, waits bereft in the land of the living. Though life in the Land of the Dead proves to be a lot more colorful than his strict upbringing, Victor learns that there is nothing in this world - or the next - that can keep him away from his one true love.

The Corpse Bride action figures were made by McFarlane Toys, and this two-pack box set was released in 2006 in honor of the DVD release. And judging by the sticker on the front, it sold slowly enough that I managed to pick it up for 50% off.

Victor van Dort is this movie's Tim Burton author stand-in, and - big surprise - he's played by Johnny Depp. While running away from his own arranged marriage, Tim-Johnny-Victor manages to propose to a deceased woman in a farcical turn of events that even the Three's Company writers' room would find hard to swallow.

Anyway, since Vic is living in the 1800s, his suit is a decidedly old-fashioned style. His trousers are striped, because Tim Burton, and his jacket seems to have a fitted waist - Victor's got an hourglass figure! He's wearing a vest and a puffy ascot. He was, after all, preparing for his wedding - why wouldn't he look good? Despite being the "alive" half of this unconventional couple, his colors are so desaturated that he nearly looks black and white. Were he fully colored, his vest would probably be red and his neck tie blue, but here? It all looks grey, reflecting the drab world he lives in.

Since every Tim Burton movie is about Tim Burton, all his protagonists look pretty much the same. This Victor could easily be a grown-up version of Frankenweenie's Victor or the titular star of 1982's Vincent (if he didn't live an entire century before them).

Surprisingly - nay, shockingly - the figure is very well articulated. You remember when we said McFarlane made this, right? In 2005, McToys was making stuff like this and this and this. Articulation was not their strong point then (or at any point before or since, really), and yet Victor moves like crazy. He has a balljointed head and neck, swivel shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel wrists, T-crotch, swivel thighs, and double-hinged knees. That's a respectable amount of movement for a real action figure, let alone one with the same body proportions as Jack Skellington. Since he's unlikely to be able to stand on his own, he comes with a little paving stone base. And it turns out his legs are different lengths.

He also comes with his dog, Scraps. Well, the remains of his dead dog, Scraps. Victor had Scraps when he was just a boy, so by now the little guy is just bones. He doesn't get any articulation, but he's adorably cute. His head is a different shade than the rest of his body, and he gets a free-floating red collar around his neck. There's a peg hole in his ribcage, but no peg and nowhere else to plug one if it theoretically existed.

This set, as we said, commemorates Corpse Bride's DVD release, so the idea is to duplicate the DVD cover/movie poster, but in the case of the Bride (not this one), that's not possible: see, the movie poster (and therefore the DVD cover [and therefore also the front of this two-pack's packaging]) flipped her art horizontally, so all the wounds ended up on the wrong side. The only way McFarlane could have duplicated that would be if they completely re-molded their toy from the ground up, which would have defeated the purpose of re-releasing her.

While Victor had era-appropriate clothes, Emily really doesn't. The tight corset and long train are right, but the exposed upper body is a total no-no. Her left arm and right leg are fully skeletal, with just a bit of clothing stuck to them. There's a hole in her right side, exposing her ribs, and you can see her teeth through her left cheek.

While the land of the living was very drab and desaturated, the afterlife was bright and vibrant, which is why the Corpse Bride can have light blue skin and beautiful indigo hair. To match the poster (and set these apart from the normal releases), both Victor and Emily are painted glancing at each other out of the corner of their eyes, rather than looking straight ahead.

Emily doesn't get her bouquet, because it's not pictured on the front. But she does get her crown of flowers and draped veil, and the train of her dress is so big that it's a separate piece you have to attach (it's also why she doesn't get a stand, because the dress will hold her up no matter what). Her right leg swivels, way up at the hip, and though there's a cut through her left leg, it seems to be for assembly rather than a swivel joint. Also, she's ready to party under there. She has a swivel waist, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, a swivel right bicep, swivel right shoulder, and swivel/hinge left shoulder. Her head is balljointed, but the stiff veil keeps it from moving around as much as Victor's.

Corpse Bride is a cute enough movie, and these figures are surprisingly well made for a decade-old McFarlane product. This pair doesn't get as many accessories as the solo releases, but getting the movie's power couple at once is a good way to go.

-- 10/22/15

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