Todd McFarlane is a man that loves his monkeys. He may be a stubborn, petulant businessman who puts too much emphasis on what he wants instead of what fans would buy, but he recognizes one simple fact: monkeys make everything better. So of course, when he annnounced plans to make a line of figures inspired by L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz, you just knew that there would be a flying monkey coming our way.
There was no monkey in the first official wave of photos unveiled, though sharp-eyed fans caught a glimpse of what was to come. The line released to stores still had no simian goodness, but Todd did come through for us: an exclusive three-pack, available through the McFarlane Toys Collectors Club, with two (!) flying monkeys and a munchkin.
Monkey #1 seems the most like a victim of experimentation - his tiny simian body shows signs of surgery (or autopsy), with incisions stapled shut and flaps of skin folded back to expose what lies beneath. The top of his poor monkey head has been cut off, and diodes have been inserted into his monkey brain. His right leg has been replaced with a mechanical apendage, he's got a wicked claw instead of a left hand and the big feathery wings on his back look like they've been partially plucked - either that or it's monkey molting season. Showing why he's the king of sculptural detail, Todd has included a truly simian trait: this monkey's got a handfull of poo ready to fling at the next person he sees.
Monkey #2 (heh - "#2") is much different.
Not only does he seem to be wearing military garb - a collar and helmet that seem to suggest he's a palace guard - but he also looks less like a real monkey. His body is scaly and dessicated, with the skin stretching oddly over the bones beneath. His right hand has been severed and replaced with a hooked claw or talon. His wings are large and leathery; one is unfurled widely, while the other is folded closer to his body. Monkey #1 looks at least somewhat cute and friendly: Monkey #2 looks evil.
The set's Munchkin is just as twisted as the rest of the land of Oz: 2 1/2" tall, this guy is no representative of the Lollipop Guild. He's fat and hairy and his pants are falling off - Munchkin plumber's crack. The left side of his itsy head is deformed, with the eye bulging out of its socket and the necrotic flesh bubbling and pulling back. Tufts of orange hair sprout forth all over, and his right hand has turned into a pair of claws. While the design and sculpt are nice, the Munchkin brings McToys to an all-time new low for articulation: he moves only at the shoulders. Well, okay, the sports figures have less, but those suck to begin with, so they don't count.
The Munchkin and the monkeys look great crowded around the Wizard, which is really all they need to do - think of them as more of an accessory pack than new figures in their own right.
The monkeys proved to be so popular with the members of the Spawn Message Board that the tiny trio sold out before the mass-market figures even reached store shelves. Because of this, the Club made a one-time offer: a pre-order for a second run of monkeys. Yes, there were [stupid] complaints from folks who had already bought the monkeys ("I thought these were supposed to be exclusive! Now mine aren't worth anything!") and even from those who had missed out ("I just bought them for four times that on eBay!"), but you know what? The exclusive's still an exclusive, the numbers are still limited, and McFarlane Toys, a company not always known for taking its fans into account any more, really took pains to make sure that people who wanted a set of monkeys had a chance to get them.
Dion Bozman, the Club director, has said that between the people who couldn't comprehend that their pre-order would take several weeks to ship and the constant barrage of "where's my monkey?" emails, the pre-order became a massive headache and that they won't be doing anything like it again. Still, we have to hand it to Dion for at least trying his best. You're the man, D!
What's your story for Oz? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.