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Now Playing
by yo go re

It's a tough time for the toy industry. Prices are rising, stores are cutting back on their toy selection and companies are feeling the pinch. Some companies try to cope by picking up new and varied licenses; some try to just push, push, push, flooding the market with product; and some slow things down, releasing less toys but making sure they're things people actually want. For those of us who buy tons of things from various companies, that last plan is a good one. It's also the survival strategy adopted by SOTA.

Besides Street Fighter, SOTA's biggest line is Now Playing, their version of Movie Maniacs. Though the first series reached pretty deep clearance prices in some areas, Series 2 still found support and is looking good.

The Mummy In 1933, Egyptian High Priest Imhotep has returned from the grave once more to be reunited with his love, Anck Su Namun. Now he plans on gaining control of the mythical man-beast known as the Scorpion King and, with his undead army, take the world for his own. But until he has gained certain body parts back, he must remain a desiccated mummy corpse.

In 1999, Universal Studios hit on a brilliant idea: though their catalog of old black-and-white monster movies is well known, the properties weren't doing much other than sitting still and collecting even more dust in the vaults. So why not bring them out and update them, milking old cash cows once again? The first effort was The Mummy, and it was really quite good - good enough, in fact, to warrant an almost-immediate sequel.

Though Imhotep was never as high on the want-lists as, say, Robocop, Hannibal Lector or Ash, fans had been asking for him to be a Movie Maniac for quite some time. When SOTA announced they'd picked up the license, president Jerry Macaluso made sure to point out that they'd actually bought The Mummy Returns, because it offered a wider variety of characters. Though eventually that might mean a Scorpion King box set or some Anubis Warriors, their first release is, of course, the man himself.

The sculpt is supremely good. That should come as no surprise, since SOTA has been hanging with the big boys from their very first releases, but Imhotep will be right at home with your other 7" movie figures. He's not wearing much in the way of clothes, just a few ratty banadages, a bit of jewelry and a scarab on his boy-parts. The rest of him is just rotting, exposed flesh.

And what flesh it is! do you have dry, itchy skin? Imhotep's skin is dried, cracked and flaky, revealing the muscles beneath. His spine is exposed, as well as several ribs. His abdomen is open and empty, since all his organs were removed and placed in canopic jars. Just like McFarlane's Mummy, the figure's chest is hollow, allowing us to see right through him. His forearms are just bone and tendon, but his legs are more fleshed out (ha!). Each material has a different texture: bandage is different from bone is different from muscle is different from tendon is different from skin; no shortcuts here, and the paint, which has absolutely no errors worth talking about, highlights it all wonderfully. The muscles are dark brick red, the bandages look like dusty cotton and what skin remains is a sun-baked brown.

wasssssssssup! Imhotep's head is hollow, and gaping holes in his skull allow light to come through. Though it looks like the top of his head should be removable, it's not - that seam is just a relic of the production process. His mouth is open in anger, and you can see all of his tiny teeth. His eyes seem to be set deeper on the prototype pictures than on the actual figure, but that might just be a trick of the light.

Articulation is light, but well-designed. SOTA's plan for movie figures is to minimize articulation below the waist for a stable base, the mummy sings! then add as much as they can up top without taking away from the sculpt. So that you can call down a sand storm or tidal wave of your own, Imhotep's neck and shoulders are balljointed, giving him a great deal of poseability right off the bat. He's got peg joints in the bandages on his forearms, since his wrists would be too thin what with them just being bone, and all. He rotates at the ribcage rather than the waist, and has a peg joint in each shin to help you find a good balance for him.

Rather than some crap-ass poster marquee, ewww! SOTA gives its Now Playing figures a detailed display base. The Mummy, appropriately enough, has a bit of desert beneath his feet. A pile of blocks, carved with hieroglyphics, lies in the sand behind him, and a swarm of scarabs is erupting between his feet. The bugs are painted with a great metallic blue sheen, and don't look at all like they're a sculpted part of the base.

Imhotep comes with a little bonus: a second figure. Pygmy Packed along with him is one of the pygmy mummies that showed up in The Mummy Returns - like Jerry said, bigger variety of characters. The little guy is about 3 1/2" tall, and just as detailed as the star of this show. The pygmy has peg joints at the neck, shoulders and waist, and comes with a spear that's an inch bigger than he is. There are two little foot pegs to support the guy on the base, and he's a nice addition to the figure's diorama.

SOTA has redesigned the Now Playing packaging. Instead of the large, curved clamshells they had before, they've now gone with a smaller, flatter style. There's a spot on the back promoting the guys over at MovieManiacs.net, so we've now got a product with the Movie Maniacs logo from a company other than McFarlane. Weird. Is that even legal? But no matter what's on the packaging, Imhotep is a really nice figure, worthy of standing next to the best from McFarlane and NECA.

Should Universal update more of their old flicks? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.


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