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Silence of the Lambs

by yo go re

One of the first series of Minimates Art Asylum ever made was based on Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. That was in 2002; six years later, Minimates finally went back to the movies.

To enter the mind of a killer she must challenge the mind of a madman! Join future agent Clarice Starling as she investigates a series of grisly murders with the help of one of the most dangerous and feared criminals in the world!

Most of the movie Minimates Art Asylum has opted to make have been really weird choices - they made Desperately Seeking Susan figures, for crying out loud! Compared to that, Silence of the Lambs is Transformers. It may not seem like a toyetic property (NECA's two offerings notwithstanding), but SotL is at least a popular classic with iconic characters. The promise of owning your own pocket-sized Anthony Hopkins is much better than spending money on Madonna.

We begin with Agent Scully Clarice Starling. A student at the FBI academy, Clarice wants to work hunting down serial killers, and so is sent to interview Lecter in regard to a current case. Appropriately, this figure is based on that first visit, when she's led down the stone corridor to Lecter's cell. She's wearing a dark skirt and jacket, brown shoes and a cream-colored top with a gold necklace. Yes, the necklace is really painted on the figure - what good attention to detail!

The skirt, a separate piece, is one we've seen before, and the jacket is shaped to make this plain block torso look more feminine. The hair is a new piece, and does a sharp job of duplicating the style seen in the film. Starling's face is undetailed, since (artwise) every line you put on a woman's face adds 10 years. It's true in comicbooks, and it's true on Minimates. Still, you have to give them credit: in context, this really does look like Jodie Foster.

The figure includes one accessory - one which has confused some people. Admittedly, seen by itself, the thing isn't exactly clear. It's a white rectangle with a blue stripe down the side and two dark lines at the top; does that sound like anything you'd recognize? No, not really. But when you see the figure interacting with it, the truth becomes apparent: it's a small spiral notebook, so Clarice can take notes during her interview.

Of course, since we have interviewer Clarice, it only makes sense that we also have interviewee Dr. Hannibal Lecter. This is him in his blue uniform, as seen staring out from behind the plexiglass wall of his cell - a wall chosen, incidentally, because having bars between the actors defeated any sense of connection they were building. Lecter's shirt is open slightly, revealing a hint of the white undershirt. His uniform has his serial number on the breast: B 1329-0, which isn't the same number seen on NECA's version.

Dr. Lecter gets a new head - and we're not just talking about the hyper-detailed paint apps that create his face. Yes, it's a great likeness, but this goes beyond paint. The head is a new mold, with three-dimensional hair sculpted on, rather than just painted or done as a separate piece. After all, Lecter had a receeding hairline, and that's tough to do in multiple pieces. By making a new mold, everything looks more natural. The paint apps are kind of a mess up there, though.

Next we have Jame Gumb - aka "Buffalo Bill," the living MacGuffin serial killer who the FBI is trying to identify. The nickname came from Kansas City homicide detectives who noted that this "this one likes to skin his humps." Obviously Kansas City homicide detectives aren't very good joke-tellers. It's not that the joke is in poor taste, just that it's badly constructed and not very witty.

Buffalo Bill is wearing nothing but jeans and jewelry, and he's detailed very nicely. His bracelet and rings are painted on, and they even remembered to get his necklace, nipple ring (the first shown in a mainstream movie) and the stigmata tattoo on his right side. Notably (but unsurprisingly) absent? The "LOVE" and "HATE" tattoos on his hands. Of course, Minimates only have three fingers, so they'd have to do it Sideshow Bob style: LUV and HĀT.

Jame gets another new head, again because of the ever-expanding forehead. His hair is much wilder than Lecter's, shaggier and longer and nearly the same color as his skin. This is another good likeness, with thick lines under the cheeks and mouth and slight wrinkles on his forehead. Buffalo Bill was played by Ted Levine - which means that, yes, friendly Captain Stottlemeyer who your parents love to watch on Monk is the same guy who did the "tuck" dance. Mull that over next time USA runs an all-day marathon.

This figure has quite a few accessories, including a hand molded holding a moth - certainly not something that will see a lot of re-use in the future. If you tire of the little bugger, there's an extra hand included in the package, although it doesn't have the painted rings. Jame also gets a revolver and his night-vision goggles, for that final showdown.

The set already gave us Dr. Hannibal Lecter, but it also includes Hannibal the Cannibal. Yes, it really identifies the two figures that way. And honestly, that makes a kind of sense: when he's in his cell, interacting with Clarice, yes, he's Dr. Lecter; when he's moved to Memphis and living in a big cage, he's Hannibal the Cannibal.

H the C is seen here in his orange jumpsuit, an outfit worn only briefly in the film. As you'll recall, he wore white while in captivity - a choice made because of Anthony Hopkins' fear of dentists. He convinced the director and costume designer it would make Hannibal look more clinical and unsettling. This uniform uses the same paint masks as the blue version - the lapels, wrinkles and serial number are all the same between the two.

Similarly, he uses the same head mold as the other Hannibal. To set the two apart, however, the paint apps creating the face are completely different. Dr. Lecter was calm and contemplative: Hannibal the Cannibal is raging. The face also sits higher on the head (with a reason) and, on my sample, it's also been slightly mis-applied - twisted minorly to the side. Not a huge fault, and only really apparent upon close inspection.

Mr. the Cannibal's accessories are easily the most iconic to come from the film: the straitjacket, mask and hand truck. Yes, the only time he wore orange in the film was when he was being wheeled around like luggage. The mask fits over the Minimate head, explaining why the paint apps are slightly higher - he needs to be able to see over the mask. The straitjacket actually fits over its own standard Minimate chest block. Well, semi-standard, since it's literally just a normal chest with the arm pegs clipped off. The hand truck has two pegs on the footrest so the Minimate feet can plug on securely, and the figure itself is painted with straps around his shins. It's good work.

The Silence of the Lambs Minimates are sold on a blister card, like most of the non-Marvel four-packs have been. The back has a really clever design, with a Minimate-ized movie poster (that's it at the top of the review) that even goes so far as to turn the moth into block-style! The figures' heads are showcased down one side on dinner plates, and the backdrop seems to be - what else? - fava beans. Ha! This is a cool, unusual set, and will add quite a few unique pieces to your Minimates collection.

-- 01/14/10

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