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Pennywise

It (2017)
by yo go re

Some people are huge fans of horror movies. They collect crappy old VHSes, they'll watch any subtitled foreign schlock Netflix recommends them, they know the name of Larry Fessenden and the entire repertory company of low-budget Upstate New York actors, etc. But that's not me. I just get the cool toys. Then HBO was airing It as their Saturday night premiere, and everybody had been raving about it, so I gave it a chance.

Seven friends engage in a struggle with the demon they first encountered 30 years earlier in their Maine hometown.

Two things: first, it's 27 years, not 30 years, but that can easily be chalked up to just rounding off for convenience's sake; more importantly, why does the text reference the adults, and not the kids? The story of It takes place in two time periods, and the movie logically splits it in two - the first movie is about the Losers Club as kids, the second will be about them as adults. This toy's based on the first movie, because only the first movie is out yet, so the text should be talking about the initial encounter, not reminiscing and flashing back to it. Save that for the figure based on the second movie. (Surely there will be one.)

Rather than the colorful costume from the 1990 miniseries, the movie version of Pennywise sticks closer to what the book described: a silver suit with red pom-poms. This is definitely a very old-fashioned style of clown, with fashion influences from various points in history - Medieval, Renaissance, Elizabethan, Victorian - with the combined effect being something out of time. The ruff around his neck, for instance, is not a vintage Elizabethan couture, but uses a more modern style that's floppier and organic; meanwhile the baggy poofs on the shoulder and biceps work together with the frilly cuffs to make his arms look thinner than they are - an effect repeated on the legs thanks to those gigantic bloomers. Basically, the idea is to stop him looking human and start making him look like an insect. And it works. Boy does it work.

The figure's sculpt is credited to Adrienne Smith, Kyle Windrix, and Trevor Grove. That last name isn't one we remember seeing before, but considering that Pennywise is up to NECA's usual high standards, welcome aboard Trev! Looking him up, it appears he's a portraitist, so we can probably assume the heads are his work. Which would explain why they look so good!

"The face of the clown in the storm drain was white, there were funny tufts of red hair on either side of his bald head, and there was a big clown-smile painted over his mouth." That's how It is described in the book, and that's what this figure delivers. The set includes three heads: a plain, calm one, one with that creepy-ass smile, and one monstrous.

Pennywise is played by Bill "Son of Stellan" Skarsgård, and he's recognizable in all three molds. Yes, even the one with the gigantic mouthful of fangs. The massive, bulbous forehead is caked in makeup so thick that it's cracking, and the hair is nearly triangular. All three heads are painted with the golden-orange eyes.

When NECA released an image of all the pieces needed to assemble Pennywise, it was apparent that this was going to be a very complex figure. He has a swivel head, balljoints at the top and bottom of the neck (the bottom one is actually a barbell-style thing, with two balljoints), swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-swivel/hinge knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. That's an interesting change, since NECA usually goes with balljointed ankles, but maybe they were worried about those supporting the weight of the figure? The double-elbows work here in a way they didn't on others, because the arm-poofs help conceal the weird angle formed between the upper and lower arms when they bend.

In addition to the three heads, Pennywise has four hands: a pair with the fingers spread, a right hand with the fingers in a naturally relaxed curl, and a left hand with the thumb and forefinger pinched together. There's also a small ring of plastic in there. Why's that? So Pennywise can hold the string for his balloon.

The symbol for It in this movie is a red balloon, because immortal extra-dimensional spidermonsters love the work of Albert Lamorisse. Anyway, the figure includes a balloon, cast in a partially translucent red plastic with a white bendy wire as its string. The wire fits into the fingers very tightly, but the effect is great! It absolutely looks like the character is delicately clutching a real balloon by a real string, which is a terrific achievement. The set also includes Georgie's paper boat, but you know what it could really use? One of NECA's display stands, so Pennywise can do his little dance.

There's also an exclusive version of Pennywise available at GameStop. "I Love Derry" Pennywise is mostly the same as the normal release, just with less stuff. We lose the plain head, leaving just the smiling and biting ones, lose the SS Georgie, trade the relaxed hand for a different one, and add white printing on the balloon saying, of course, "I ♥ Derry." The previously mentioned new hand is designed to hold the new accessory: Georgie's severed arm. Yeah. Fittingly, Pennywise also gets new, bloody paint apps, but overall this isn't really an exclusive it's worth double-dipping on: decide whether you want more accessories or more paint apps, and just get one or the other. Then wait to see what toys the sequel brings.

-- 08/30/18


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