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Nancy Thompson

Cinema of Fear
by Artemis

I have a somewhat eclectic collection of action figures, attested to by the fact that - without having to include any of those anime-style "erotic" PVC statues - this is the second girl-in-a-bath figure I've bought.

Nancy is a teenage girl who has begun experiencing nightmares about a mysterious, disfigured man in a red and green sweater. The man has "knives for fingers," which he scrapes along objects in the dream. She learns that her friend Tina is having similar nightmares; Tina is murdered in her sleep later that night. Nancy Thompson Tina's boyfriend Rod tells Nancy that he saw four invisible razors cutting her at the same time, a revelation which convinces her that the man from her dreams is connected to the murder. Nancy begins relying on caffeine to stay awake, and eventually discovers that she can pull things out of her dream after she takes the killer's hat, labelled "Fred Krueger." Her mother explains that Krueger was a child killer who was burned to death by vengeful parents after being freed from prison on a technicality. Nancy becomes convinced that he is exacting his revenge on the children of his killers from beyond the grave.

Thanks to Wikipedia for that - it's been ages since I saw any of the Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and there was no bio on the figure's packaging to jog my memory of which imperilled teenager this one was. Nancy appeared in two of the series - the first and third - and kinda sorta in Wes Craven's New Nightmare, which operated under the conceit that Freddy is real, and was trying to kill Nancy portrayer Heather Langenkamp. Sorry Wes, but "conceit" really was the right word for it in more ways than the literal.

Unlike the other three members of this second "Cinema of Fear" line, who are regular action figures, Nancy is a mini-diorama aiming at replicating in solid form a specific scene during the first movie: Freddy's glove has just risen up out of the water between her legs, giving adolescent male viewers their jollies by suggesting something violent with an undercurrent of sexuality is about to take place. Of course, nothing does, since Nancy is woken up a moment later, and when she falls asleep again she just gets dragged underwater. That was about all you could get away with in 1984 - there's gore aplenty in the rest of the movie, just not in the scene with the nakedness. Nowadays, of course, we're a lot more liberal, and slasher films (which have inevitably devolved into torture-porn, not that there was a lot of devolution necessary) are free to employ practically any kind of sexuality they want. So long as someone gets horribly killed, though - you can't have people just having sex on screen, without any component of brutal murder, because that'd be disgusting.

Okay, so I'm rambling off-topic, but this "figure" has a total of one joint, so it's not like the discussion of articulation is going to help get the review up to length.

As I said, the last time I saw Nightmare, Bros were at the top of the charts, so I had to resort to yet another staple of the internet - YouTube - to see whether this figure was accurate to the scene it's depicting. *cue Jaws theme* Accounting for size and level of sculpted detail, it's on pretty solid footing, accuracy-wise - there are only two real differences. The first, if you want to call it a difference, is that in the movie Nancy's bath had a sliding shower screen door, and on the figure there's no trace of it. Of course, there's also no trace of most of the walls, so you can probably write off the missing door as a concession to the figure's viewability - still, that there's nothing to even suggest its presence makes the replica scene seem visually different to its origin. The second difference is that Nancy's hand, holding a washcloth, was draped over her stomach and visible above the water when Freddy's glove was poised over her - there's no trace of her hand here.

The construction of the figure is actually a fairly clever idea. Nancy's head is a solid sculpted piece, glued in place on the "water," which is a thick piece of transparent soft plastic. To achieve the blurriness of looking through water, the soft plastic is textured with ripples all over, No Diving and Nancy's "body" - actually part of the bottom of the tub - is rendered in simplistic curves, with virtually no fine detail visible through the transparent plastic. Further, the bottom of the tub is higher up than it physically should be, to mimic the refractive effect of looking through water. Besides obscuring the form beneath, the soft plastic also has the benefit of being able to cling tightly to Nancy's knees, and Freddy's forearm, where a rigid plastic water surface would inevitably have left a gap. A different texture and a frosting of white paint provides the bubbles, which are concentrated mainly around Nancy's head, obscuring her upper body - Langenkamp evidently refused to do a nude scene, hence the bubbles, and some scaling back of the planned underwater sequence following.

It's a credible effort, but for various reasons it doesn't really work the way it's meant to. One is that she has no arms or shoulders, and the frosting isn't heavy enough to conceal this. It's such an omission that I wouldn't rule out arms having been planned as a separate piece to be glued onto the tub base, like the legs, and having been skipped as a cost-cutting measure.

Then there's her body (what there is of it), which lies almost totally flat on the bottom of the tub, with only a slight upward incline to her neck - it's nowhere near enough to join up properly with her head, bobbing around on top of the water, and again the frosting isn't heavy enough to hide this fact. she has a sculpted belly button, but no nipples? From some angles - especially looking from the head of the tub down towards her feet - it's not so obvious, but more often than not you'll notice something's not right with her anatomy. The frosting on the bubble bath, especially around her head, really needed to be stronger, for the above reasons and for its own look - there's too much clear plastic visible in the hollows of the sculpt, where it should be pure white where the bubbles have built up. And from a construction point of view, I question the decision to have all three walls present - it means that unless you're looking at her dead level from the centre (which isn't her most flattering angle) you can see the undetailed back of one or other of the walls, and omitting any of them leaves unsightly recesses in the tub visible.

In pure sculpt and paint terms, the work is decent, but could have been better. You have to make allowances for the style that's been chosen for the Cinema of Fear line - guh! it's not strict realism, though it's not very far off. There's a clear (if not especially flattering) resemblance to Heather Langenkamp, especially in the bath scene - the sculptor obviously used photo reference - but her unusual expression, eyes closed, mouth open in exhaustion, plus the slight stylisation makes her appear a bit odd. The cartoony influence isn't quite strong enough to be really apparent, so what you end up with is a face that looks like it wants to be realistic, but can't quite manage it. The paint on the face and head is, again, decent but not perfect - the facial features are all clean and sharp enough, but the edge of the hair isn't quite spot-on, and on the body of the hair itself the volume of paint, and lack of strong highlights or shading, make it look somewhat lumpy.

The oh-so-80s inflatable bath pillow is scrupulously accurate - it could perhaps have used a touch of black wash to soften the recessed areas, but for the most part it looks cheap and tacky, just like the real thing. typical bathroom junk The walls are fairly good, with clean definition between the tiles and the white grout, and a light drybrush of paler gray across the tiles to give them some realism. The gold edging on the tub is consistent and clean all the way round, as is the gold on the soap holder and tap, though the two shades of gold don't quite match up on close inspection. The weird little tacky fish thingy is weird and tacky, the shampoo bottle is simple but decent, and the sponge is actually quite good when you look at it closely, with an effective semi-gloss wash that brings out the pitted texture of it and makes it look moist into the bargain. Incidentally, most of the bathroom paraphenalia is listed on the packaging as accessories, which is stretching it a bit - nothing's removable.

Freddy's glove is mounted on a balljoint demonic jazzhands concealed within the loose end of the sleeve, and has a fairish range of movement - if you want a dramatic tilt to his hand, for whatever reason, the sleeve is soft plastic, so the glove can be pushed beyond the point of contact. The glove is really nice work, and would fit just fine on a complete Freddy figure - the leather has a wet shine to it, the blades gleam dully, and if you turn the glove over you can see the bare, burned skin of his palm and fingers, all well sculpted and painted.

As I alluded to at the beginning of this review (and have probably mentioned before in other reviews anyway), Calgon, take me away! I like unusual figures - like most anyone who collects action figures, I've got plenty of them who're just standing around looking heroic, so adding something different to the collection is always a treat. But I can't really bring myself to like this "figure" that much - for all that it's an interesting attempt, the construction technique used to make her appear to be underwater doesn't quite pull off the effect, and nothing else about her really excels. If you're a big fan of A Nightmare on Elm Street, or have a particular interest in slasher movies and their key moments, this might be a worthwhile purchase just for the sake of the scene it represents. Otherwise, though, you'll probably end up sticking it somewhere on your shelf where it's not especially visible and forgetting about it. Or, as I did, disassembling it to see how it works, then mucking about and casually customising it, just to make it mildly amusing.

Psylocke uses her ninja art to slip into the tub unnoticed


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