When it comes to Disney's Haunted Mansion, the Caretaker is a very distinguished character - he is the only living human to appear in the entire Haunted Mansion ride (at least, in animatronic form, that is). Like Madame Leota or the Bride, the Caretaker is also a special character in that he makes his own little scene. Typically the ghosts in the ride are performing little vignettes (the band, the ballroom dancers, the tea party, the hitchhikers, and so on), but sporadically there are little singular gags like this terrified, knee-knocking man and his trembling dog.
The sculpt on this figure is particularly simple, and he is easily my least favorite in the series. The proportions are off, the right arm won't hang straight down because it is designed to be holding the lantern, detail is basically non-existent and even the paint wash can't save this figure. The likeness is probably the best of the line, though its still a far cry form dead-on. The coat (on the torso) and scarf are separate soft PVC pieces, but neither are removable - same with the horribly out of scale cap.
The paint on the face includes some pinkish airbrushing which looks more like sun-burn than anything else, and the pants are cast in the same dark blue as the torso, as opposed to gray, as the actual character's pants are colored. Aesthetically, I'd have to say the pant-color is my biggest problem, because it just makes the figure look cheap, quickly made, and awkward overall. However, articulation is out in force with a total of 14 points - neck, balljointed shoulders, elbows (the right one is side-to-side), wrists, waist, balljointed hips, knees, and ankles (side-to-side).
Accessories are quite appropriate, as the Caretaker comes with his shovel, lantern and beloved dog. The shovel is a decent sculpt, though I would have preferred the head to be a bit bigger, and the lantern is another impressive piece for what it is. It looks to be cast in translucent red plastic, with yellow paint on the handle, blue on the "metal" parts of the lantern, and then white on the crosshatches with a light brown wash over the blue and yellow. Like the Bride's books the paint detail here is surprisingly thorough for something seemingly so simple.
The dog really steals the show though. He's the most detailed figure in the entire series with all his fur sculpted in, complete with visible rib cage, but what's really surprising is the amount of articulation he has. This little "accessory" has 8 points of articulation! Ears, neck, shoulders, hips and tail! For a pack-in/sidekick, that is really impressive, and the added play/pose value in the dog comes very close to making up for the Caretaker's own shortcomings.
The base is fairly decent; not dead-on to the ride, it's still close enough. It has a brick and stone pillar, an iron fence, a dead tree, a couple rocks and a vine. Despite the good three-dimensionality of the base, it still seems a little bland, and is probably because of the drab ground color. The ground is painted tan but is well-detailed dead grass and has slots for three different headstones. What's nice is that the headstones' bases all have the same dimensions so you can arrange and rearrange them as you see fit. My home Mansion is at Disneyland and we sadly lost our queue headstones several years ago, so I'm not entirely sure if these are actual epitaphs from the ride.
beneath the ground
without a sound
The fastest draw
The one in his back
he never saw
Done in by storm
here lies Dale
Blown through the
sky by an ill-fated hail
Basically this is the set that you might feel you need to get to "complete the set." The Caretaker figure is certainly nothing to gush over, and the base is, well ... it needs more color. It's a good, solid set, but overall I'd have to say this one is my least favorite in the series.
What's your favorite comedic epitaph? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.