When McFarlane's line of figures from the latest Tim Burton film, The Corpse Bride, hit stores, it was unfortunately after much of the buzz for the movie died down. Scoffing at the old industry standard that 40% of a movie's tie-in merchandise sells before the movie's release, McFarlane finally delivered this line to the retail world when the only people left who care about the movie were goth chicks and certain types of nerds. Luckily (for McFarlane) I'd been experiencing something of a collector's dry spell for a couple of weeks before these hit, so I caved and picked up the mildly interesting Dwarf General figure.
Known as General Bonesapart in some circles, Dwarfie here is rumored to be the short (HAW!) pack of the line, and as far as I can tell that's the truth, since my local Hot Topic had plenty of the other figs and only one of this guy... and yes, I am known to venture into the land of poser geekdom known as Hot Topic, since it's the closest thing my local mall has to a toy store since the KB Express closed down years ago. Anyway, in the movie, Bonesapart is voiced by Deep Roy, best known for his role as every single Oompa Loompa in Tim Burton's big rehash of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, and probably least known for his role as the owner of the racing snail in the classic children's film The Neverending Story. The Corpse Bride is the first film where I've actually heard him speak, since I'm pretty sure he was dubbed in both of the previous movies I mentioned.
Anyway, that's irrelevant, as this figure does not speak. So onto the figure itself. Obviously, Bonesapart is meant to resemble the diminutive French general Napeleon Dynamite... er, I mean ubergeek Napoleon Bonaparte... or perhaps a combination of the two. Anyway, the sculpt is phenomenal, as is expected from McFarlane, but it's surprisingly a bit off. Surprisingly, because the stop-motion puppets used for the making of the film are pretty much giant toys themselves, so there's no excuse for these not being absolutely perfect, especially when McFarlane is handling them.
It's almost perfect, save for the feather coming out of the General's cap: a cursory glance of the source material on the package insert shows that said feather is clearly in much worse shape than the almost elegant feather on the figure's cap. Still, it's a small problem at best, and the rest of the sculpt is amazing. It really does look like the General just jumped off the silver screen and into your heart... er, onto your toy shelf. His uniform in particular has some exsquisite detail: just check out those tassels on his shoulder. It's really excellent work.
Paint is also pretty good, though not quite on the level of the sculpt. There's some poor definition between some colors, and a bit of slop in certain places like where the tassels meet the rest of the uniform, and the blue wash gets a bit goopy in some places. That sounds like a lot of problems, but they don't really take away from the overall look of the figure. Still, it could be better.
The superb sculpt and decent-but-not-great paint job are no surprise coming from McFarlane, but what did catch me a little off-guard was the articulation packed into the Dwarf General. Or, at least, the theoretical articulation. Based on the areas where I can tell there are meant to be joints, Bonesapart has a peg neck, peg shoulders, peg biceps, hinged elbows, peg wrists, and a peg waist. However, if your figure is anything like mine (and I'm betting a lot of them will be), three or four of those joints will be stuck right out of the package. Freezer time helped, but his left shoulder is still a no-go, and since this is McFarlane after all, I'm hesitant to push my luck lest I hear that all too familiar ker-SNAP! that tells me I just flushed fifteen dollars down the Hot Topic toilet. Good effort, McFarlane, but unless you start using some better plastic, the breakages will continue.
For such a small figure, Dwarfy is a little light on accessories. His stein (which is curiously empty... I guess it should be noted that these guys are theoretically destined for the shelves of Wal*Mart and Toys R Us) is a separate piece from the sculpt, but it is nonetheless permanently and needlessly attached to his left hand. That means it can't be counted as a true "accessory" and it also means that he cannot properly hold one of his actual accessories, his sword. At least, not in the traditional sense.
As in the movie, the sword fits snugly through Bonesapart's torso. The holes are big enough so that the sword can go in either way, with the blade protruding from his chest or his back. It's up to you! He's also got a very over-sized wood plank base with some brass nails painted on it. I'm not sure why it's so big, but my guess is that it's either to make up for such a small figure being so sparse in the accessories department, or that it connects to his military partner in the land of the deceased, General Wellington. To find out the truth, I'd have to purchase the Wellington figure, and I don't see that happening.
In the end, this is an interesting little figure. Whether or not you liked the movie, there's no arguing that this little guy is neat. Fifteen dollars is a little much to spend on a short figure with a sword and a base, but since it only took about a week for these to hit clearance and they're still hanging around, you'll get a much better value. It'd be nice if he came with some more accessories to make up for his small stature, such as the head of the waiter from the land of the dead as a pack-in figure, but as he is he's still a nice toy. I'd probably be more excited about him if I had been able to pop over to the mall and pick him up after leaving the movie theater, or even if they had been out in time for Halloween. As it is, McFarlane might have missed the boat on this one. At least they were out before the DVD. Barely.
Will the Oscar nod and the DVD release help boost sales? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.