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Ozzy Osbourne: Bark at the Moon

McFarlane Toys
by yo go re

The '80s saw a resurgance in fundamental Christianity, including the rise of James Dobson's "Focus on the Family" organization. Focus on the Family used its daily radio show to promote its agenda, though like many fundamentalists, they seemingly forgot that "thou shalt not lie" was one of the commandments, as they chose to misrepresent research and data in order to support their own biases (a practice that continues today). Knowing that Christianity thrives only when facing opposition, and also knowing that Christianity had no opposition in the '80s, they made some up. Like Joseph McCarthy hunting communists in the '50s, these groups saw Satanism hiding in every cupboard. The Smurfs, the Care Bears, ouija boards, He-Man... it was all grist for the mill. And god help you (no pun intended) if you were in a heavy metal band.

Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, AC/DC and many other bands were all accused of hiding Satanic messages, but the posterchild for this sort of idiocy was Ozzy Osbourne. So if you grew up listening to Focus on the Family, believing the things they said, this guy was the most evil man in the world, personally dedicated to advancing the cause of Satan in America. And then you grow up and start watching The Osbournes, and it turns out he's just some dopey dad; a few years later, you find out the guy wrote an entire song about a tv character your grandmother enjoyed. So the question becomes: why did the Christians feel the need to tell lies about him?

McFarlane Toys had been making figures of Kiss for years when they decided to branch out to other musical acts, beginning with Ozzy (which is where Ash's human hand came from). That was in 1999, and they went back to the Ozzy well five years later with a figure based on Bark at the Moon. Loosely based.

See, as you know if you followed that link we just gave you, the cover of the album doesn't actually look anything like this set. McToys even admitted as much when they announced the figure, coming right out and telling everyone that the original album cover didn't show his entire body, so they just made things up. And that's fine, but then why pretend it's based on the album cover at all?

The lyrics to the song are about a beast that was thought dead but came back to life; the video is similar, but throws a dash of Dr. Jekyll in with the werewolf. Todd's sculptors have clearly taken inspiration from the costume Ozzy wore as the wolfman, but they've also pushed things further, to make him more monstrous.

The fur on his chest and arms is thicker than in the video, but there are also more spots where his skin shows through - he's not as "all over" shaggy as he should be. It's a shame, too, because the hair that is sculpted here is really nicely done. Check out his chest, for instance. The claws coming out of the fingers are much, much longer on the toy than on the costume, but that just helps sell how monstrous he is. And since we never see the creature's feet in the video, it's hard to say whether they've been exaggerated or not; we're guessing yes.

There's a little bit of articulation in the figure, but it's all so pointless that we're not even going to bother telling you what it is. It doesn't matter.

Bark at the Moon Ozzy comes with a very large, ornate display base that, again, was basically made up by the sculptors. Still, it's cool enough that it could find a place in pretty much any Halloween display. The base is a thick stone slab with a smooth, slanted plane in the front, painted with a few fake cracks and Ozzy's logo. That's a bit lame, especially since the other three sides all look like a cracked rock face.

There are several bare, gnarled trees growing from the top of this... cliff? Outcropping? Rough-hewn Satanic altar? Whatever it is, there are trees on it. They all curve toward the center as you near their upper branches, thus forming a natural archway to frame the figure. There's a rubber skeleton sprawled on one corner, and a single large footpeg to allow Ozzy to stand.

This is not a great figure, by any measure. The sculpt is nice, but even in 2004, that wasn't enough. I got this partially for the werewolf collection, and partially for the big cool base, but this certainly isn't one for the average fan. Action figure collectors won't care because it's so pre-posed, and Ozzy fans might not care since it deviates so much from the source material.

Fundamentalists in the '80s used Satanism the way fundamentalists today use atheism: as a boogeyman to rile up the donors. And just like there's no such thing as a war on Christmas, there were never any hidden messages in heavy metal (nor will playing D&D make you kill your family). These people should really stop to think about the damage that will be done to the reputations of their religion when everyone finds out they're lying.

-- 10/27/12

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