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Vampire Teddy

NBX Chara-Remo
by Rustin Parr

An.

Obscene.

Amount.
Of.
Fun.

I'm quite tempted to end the review right there, because that pretty much sums it all up. This thing is 100 times more fun than I expected.

In all honesty, when this piece was provided free for review by Jun Planning, I half thought it was a joke. This thing looks like such a kitchy child novelty I could see no real value to any self-respecting toy collector such as yours truly. The sculpt is invariably sleek with vitually no detail to it all. It features the so-called "Vampire Teddy" riding the bullet-ridden zombie wheeled-Duck, both toys-gone-wrong created by the denizens of Halloween Town.

The Duck's mouth is a solid piece, with its teeth (and the space between) painted on flat plastic. The same is true for the bleeding bullet holes. The eyes and the white thereof are both demarked by a sculpted line ringing the paint, but the pupil has no such encirculation.

The Teddy fares a bit better. Its eyes, pupils, nose, lips and teeth have a sculpted line along the paint to set them apart from the rest of the figure, helping the aesthetic greatly. The figure's mold is split down its center and, oddly enough, the "hairline" side has a sculpted line tracing it, while the skull-cap half has the cheeks just painted on. The rest of the piece is pretty non descript save for its inaccuracies: most notably, the total lack of white markings all over the black body. In addition, the "cape" is conspiculously short as compared to the source material and, more over, the head is much larger in relation to the body on the filming puppet, but here is more "in scale."

And speaking of scale - the teddy and duck are radically out of scale to one another. And also speaking of accuracy to the film, the movie duck is more or less a simple bathtub ducky attached to a flat board with wheels on it. The board has been ditched here, sadly, and the wheels inset directly to the Duck's body. However, this can all be excused by a stylization of this line favoring a more cartoonish look - a look that I don't particularly care for, and in all honesty adds to the "cheap," virtual "bootleg" quality of the piece.

Included in the set is the remote control, a very, very generic white rectangle, with "forward" and "backward" buttons on the left and "left"/"right" buttons on the right. The only real specialization comes from two generic stickers applied to the face. Its disappointing that Jun went so minimal - at least a pumpkin shape would have been something, if not a full jack o'lantern face for the controls. But, at the least, the remote control is what facilitates the fun of the piece... the remote controlling.

I've never been much a fan of remote controlled anything but I'll be gosh darned if I didn't fall in love with this thing immediately after starting to drive it around!

There's not much speed the beast, it seems to constantly and lazily drift the left without any course correction and makes a farily pronounced whirring sound as it motors about, but man, it's addicting! After 10 straight minutes of touring the apartment with the Teddy-ridden Duck, my roommate snatched the controller and followed suit. We began contructing rudimentary tracks and jumps for it and having an all-around, legitimately fun time. That's what this can offer. It's not going to be the sweetheart of any collection, it's not a movie-accurate prop, but it will definitely be that thing you keep on the coffee table and play with, rectifying bouts of boredom.

I have no idea what the retail cost will be, but they were listed in Previews for $30. However, if you can find a sale or have a coupon that drops them to $20 or less, you'll quickly develop a soft spot for what is akin to a semi-retarded puppy dog. Anything more than that and I would expect, or demand, a lot more in terms of film-accuracy and sculpting.

The piece takes four AAA batteries, two for the control and two for the Duck, which are not included - pretty frustrating, but that will hopefully help keep a low price for the piece. I must also note that this R.C. series is branded with the abysmally odd name "Chara-Remo." I get it; Character Remotes. It just sounds like a suppository, or at best a thinly veiled attempt to sound clever. Also, it seems to work off of infra-red rather than RF so the control will only work when "in sight" of the Duck, whose receiver is proudly located on its tail. That can be a bit frustrating, but really just adds to the lovability of the thing, in that you have to take care of it like a dumb sibling or what have you.

Additionally, this particular set is a bit of an odd pairing. Sure, both the Vampire Teddy and the Evil Duck are frightening versions of standard Christmas toys but they're horribly out of scale to one another, inaccurate to the film versions and both known for self propulsion. They would have worked just fine separately, but being paired as such helps provide a bit more novelty to piece. Some people view these two as twisted versions of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Of course, they can also be considered references to the live-action film Tim Burton had under production at the same time.

While he provided general pre-production help to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Burton left pretty much everything in the capable hands of director Henry Selick and the folks at then-named Skellington Studios while he went on to make Batman Returns. The most obvious connection is Penguin's oversized yellow duck vehicle, hijacked from the abandoned Gotham Zoo he was squatting at for a hideout (how any zoo at any time could get away with an openly flowing conection between sewers and aquatic tanks is beyond me, but is irrefutable proof that Gotham did need the Batman). The more subtle connection is between the Vampire Teddy and the logo for Max Schreck's department store - both share much of the same head design! Guess that answers the long battled argument of whether the teddy was a Bear, Mouse or Cat... sort of.

Basically this little guy has everything going against it, but somehow manages to be my favorite piece of all the toys and product categories Jun Planning supplied us with for reviews. In short, it's the opposite of all the action figures and exactly what I expected from Jun's product - something that greatly exceeds my impressions and expectations for it. I would not have purchased this had I come across it in stores, but now that I have one, my roommate and I fully intend on getting the other two pieces in Series 1, Zero and Jack in Snowmobile, to facilitate races and more general fun.


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