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Lock, Shock & Barrel

Nightmare Before Christmas
by yo go re

Lock, Shock & Barrel are the world's greatest trick-or-treaters, as fond of a trick as they are of a treat. Although not wholly trusted by the residents of Halloweentown, they were nevertheless employed by Jack Skellington to deliver Santa Claus, which they managed to accomplish on the second try. (The Easter Bunny was not amused.) Told to make Santa comfortable while Jack handled Christmas, the trio instead brought Santa to Oogie Boogie, a Halloween hard-liner who takes scariness to extremes.

Lock, Shock and Barrel. Lock, Shock and Barrel. Lock, Shock and Barrel. It's always Lock, Shock and Barrel, in that order. So we're going to mix things up today, and start this review with Barrel. He's the youngest... wait, are they siblings, or just friends? Well, whatever, he's the youngest of the trio, shorter and more innocent than the other two, and constantly seems to be the butt of their jokes and the target of their pranks.

Barrel is tiny, not even reaching the 3½" mark. His Halloween costume is a skeleton - the sort a child would wear, not something realistic. It comprises a baggy shirt and pants, with a few cartoony bones on the chest, sleeves and legs. The size and shape of the bones aren't 100% film-accurate - they should be larger and closer together, especially on the chest - but they convey the right feeling. The set also includes his orange-and-black spiraled lollipop, but he has no way to hold it.

His skeleton mask is as inaccurate as the rest of his outfit - even leaving aside the fact that it should be glossy white, not flat gray, and the presence of an overly pronounced nose bump (a necessity for toy manufacturing, probably), the huge, toothy grin should curve upward more, with the rear molars coming up right below the level of his eyes.

For whatever reason, Barrel has green flippers instead of feet. Or maybe those are shoes, since, in spite of the fact that he has four green fingers on each green hand, his face is a pale white. It's possible he's wearing gloves and slippers, right? His green hair is combed straight back, but his eyes should have more paint around the edges, and the pupils should be larger.

Continuing on alphabetically, we get Lock, the little devil boy. It took a long time for our modern representation of the devil (as a guy with horns and red skin) to solidify. Most of the process is easy to track - the hooves and horns come from Pan, big bat wings are a reversal of angels' feathers, the pitchfork is an update of Hades' weapon of choice, etc. But it's the red that took the longest to become commonplace: a 6th century mosaic of the Last Judgement in Ravena's Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo depicts him as blue, and Chaucer put him in green; it's entirely possible the foundation of a red devil is no older than the 19th century, when Goethe dressed Mephistopheles in a red silk doublet and tights to meet Faust.

Lock, of course, is just wearing a simple, featureless smock with matching pants and curly-toed shoes. In addition to the articulation the other two have - a balljointed head, then swivels at the shoulders, wrists, waist, hips, and ankles - Lock also gets a swivel for his pointy tail. A lot of the joints on mine are stuck, including the head, so I'm going to have to give him some work to get things going.

His mask is slightly more accurate than Barrel's was, but maybe I'm judging these things wrong - after all, the original maquettes the film used are still in existance, aren't they? Making 100% screen-accurate pieces would probably be a snap, yes? Just borrow one of those and copy it. Maybe the goal was to create toys that had a certain stylization to them, to look "right" but not "real"? In any case, Lock's smile should have more of an angle to it, and the teeth should stop farther in from the corners of his mouth.

While Barrel's mask was held on solely by friction against his face, Lock's has two tabs that fit under his hair. In theory. In reality, it's tough to get them under there, and then the mask doesn't sit as flush as it should. It stays on perfectly well, and the eyes line up okay, it's just that the chin hangs away from the face a bit more than it should.

Theoretically, the mask would fit Lock as tightly as it does Barrel, because the inside is molded with the mirror image of his facial sculpt - he has the pointy nose, arched eyebrows, the bags under his eyes, and the big fangy grin. The mask even has indentations where his hair-horns fit! The eyes should perhaps be recessed a bit: in the movie, he has enough of a brow to cast a shadow, while here on the toy the forehead is smooth and domed.

Finally, Shock, the witch. She's the oldest of the three, and is the same height as Lock (under her hat, at least - wearingthat massive thing bumps her all the way up above 6¾"! The chosen color seems off, slightly: her purple has a very bluish tint, while in the film it leaned more toward red than this one does - and that was under Halloweentown's already-quite-blue lighting! The Minimate gets better colors than this figure does.

The hat and dress are both sculpted with a fine texture, however, giving Shock a hint more visual interest than either of the boys. Her big shapeless dress has a scalloped collar and hem, and her pointy grey shoes offer no transition to her grey legs. Her hair is much thicker here than it was in the movvie, but the only way sculptor Dave Cortes could have accurately copied the film would have been with wire.

Like Lock, Shock's mask has tabs to help hold it on, and like Lock, it's not clear that they're needed - it might have been able to grip on by itself. Not a ton of details here, just a pointy nose and a big angry frown, but that's all it had in the movie, too. Having her hands be green makes more sense than it did for Barrel, because that means they match her mask (furthering the idea that those are gloves and thus part of her costume).

However, even more than the boys, her mask and her head are the wrong shape. Drastically wrong. Okay, maybe "drastically" is the wrong word - she's still shaped mostly like an ice cream cone - but the head is about twice as thick and slightly shorter than it should be, and the nose should be larger and narrower. Basically, she looks too "normal," which is a weird thing to say about someone who already looks this inhuman.

If you buy this set at Toys Я Us, that's all you get. Like the other Select figures, there are stripped-down mass market versions, and deluxe specialty market versions. A lot of the NBX figures come with pieces to build sections of the town square (for instance, this series' Santa and Pumpkin King split the town fountain), but order this one from from your local comicshop, and you'll also get the kids' walking bathtub.

Apparently the movie had a rule that there was no magic in Halloweentown - which is why the bathtub has a big crank on the back, to suggest it's somehow mechanical (technically that's just a piece of pipe that broke off when the tub broke away from the wall, but hey, you gotta take the loopholes you gotta take). Although the legs look like they'd have knees and ankles, the only real joints are swivels where they meet the body.

The interior of the bathtub has the appropriate plumbing: two taps, a faucet, and even a drain in the bottom. There are pale paint apps on the sides of the tub (inside and out) to make it look old and stained, though the necessities of toy production mean that they look more like stripes than stains. Although it doesn't look like it would be big enough to hold all three of the kids, it honestly is - even if you put them on the included disc bases for extra stability there's still room to spare.

NECA made a Lock, Shock & Barrel set back when they had the NBX license, but that was years ago and the set goes for high prices on the secondary market. So even with the slightly inaccurate heads, we're really glad that DST has made a modern version. Yes, improvements could be made, but you're not overpaying for what you get. Just make sure you get the specialty market version if you want their ride.

-- 10/28/17


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