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Kessler Wolf

An American Werewolf in London
by yo go re

Our regularly scheduled NECA slot falls on the day of a full moon, and you thought I wasn't going to do the werewolf?

David and Jack, two American college students, are backpacking through Britain when a large wolf attacks them. David survives with a bite, but Jack is brutally killed. As David heals in the hospital, he's plagued by violent nightmares of his mutilated friend, who warns David that he is becoming a werewolf. When David discovers the horrible truth, he contemplates committing suicide before the next full moon causes him to transform from man to murderous beast.

Not content to rest on their Ultimate Nightmare Demon, NECA has rushed right ahead to making the actual wolf. Originally it was going to be mostly unseen in the movie (like Jaws), but Rick Baker did such an amazing job on the animatronic that John Landis made it front and center (like Jaws 4).

This wasn't just some yak hair glued to a human's hands, it was a full-on feral beast. That does make sense for the setting: the United Kingdom has a long tradition of sinister, mythical, giant dogs - pretty much every culture that's ever lived on the British Isles has had its own take on the hellhound, for instance - so making this lycanthrope more closely resemble those tales makes it feel appropriately localized. The American Werewolf in London werewolf (in London) runs around on all fours and has inhuman proportions.

For me personally, it was that canid stance that's always been a turnoff - I likes my werewolves a little more "were" and a little less "wolf," yeah? But something about Kyle Windrix's sculpt for this figure has really won me over. How? Why? I don't know; it's just as true to the movie as every other toy they make, so what is it about having this in three dimensions in front of me that makes the design more appealing than seeing it moving around in two dimensions on a screen? NECA'd again!

Rather than do a movable jaw, the figure includes two heads, and that was absolutely the right choice. Part of the "Kessler Wolf" design is the way the giant fangs protrude from the mouth, snd there's no real way to make them look correct in both closed and open poses without resculpting the mouth. So we've got one head that's growling and one that's ready to bite, and the mouth on that second one is open wide enough you could almost get a human character's entire head inside it! This would never have worked as a simple hinge joint.

The head is mounted on a barbell joint, so switching it out is easy. There's then another ruff of fur hanging around the neck, and a second barbell where the neck goes into the body. There are swivel/hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, hinged fingers (there's a swivel there, too, but the shape of the paws keeps it from turning) a barbell torso, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, and swivel/hinges in the knees, ankles, and toes. The elbows could stand to be a little stiffer on my figure: with the wolf crouched like this, the arms have to support a lot of the weight, and the one I got (ordered online to take advantage of a sale, rather than waiting a couple months for it to show up in stores) wants to slip down a little too easily. You can get him into that one pose everyone uses, but also other fun things!

The AAWiL WW is not colorful, but its dark brownish-grey fur gets different apps to make it look layered, and the claws are lighter so they look nice and scary on the end of the paws. Both heads have those scary yellow eyes, and the pink inside the attacking head's mouth is super vibrant!

I wasn't really looking forward to this werewolf much, because I never cared for the design. But somehow, the toy makes it work.

-- 04/17/22

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