Toys. Action Figures. Collectibles. If there’s a movie or TV series with even a modicum of popularity, chances are there’s some form of plastic totem, ranging from the cute and kitschy Funko figures to the insanely articulated and intricate work from Hot Toys.
But while superhero franchises and sci-fi blockbusters take up a sizable chunk of real estate at your local toy or comic shop, horror seems to get short shrift. Oh sure, there’s multiple variations on the holy slasher trinity — Leatherface, Freddy and Michael — but the lack of variety is glaringly obvious. So, it is with only partial bias that I present a list of franchises waiting for their chance to decorate your shelves. In no particular order…
A”no-brainer” and long overdue. Clive Barker’s 1990 cult classic has been screaming for a toy line for decades. With a newfound appreciation among horror fans, and a restored Director’s Cut that features even MORE monsters, it’s high time someone stepped up on this property. Barker’s flagship property, HELLRAISER, had a phenomenal and extensive line of figures through NECA, covering the first four films in the series which means a few variations of Pinhead in the mix. Hell, McFarlane Toys also had Candyman as part of their Movie Maniacs line. But NIGHTBREED, with its monster-heavy cast of characters? Not a one.
So to get things started, which characters would make up a hypothetical “First Wave?” Protagonists Boone and Lori, obviously. Sharp-dressed serial killer, Dr. Decker, would be a neccesity. Breed members, Peloquin & Kinski (pictured above) and mother-daughter two pack, Rachel and Babette. Round out the set with ex-preacher/ Big Bad In Waiting, Ashberry, and Wave One is a done deal. Future waves could put other characters in the spotlight — the brutish Berserkers, Midian’s lawgiver Lylesburg, and ebony-skinned devil Lude, for example. The potential is there. I’ve wanted a Peloquin figure since 1990…. but I digress.
Mike Dougherty has a knack for the iconic. His directorial debut, 1997’s TRICK R TREAT, gave us Sam, the sack-headed onesie-wearing Spirit of Halloween that has (and still is) generated multiple types and sizes of figures. So it’s a little more than surprising that we never got the same from his 2015 follow-up, KRAMPUS, because Holy Moley… this clutch of Christmas-themed creeps is custom-made for your shelf.
While WETA Workshop put out a line of high-end sculptures for the film, let’s talk about a KRAMPUS toy line that’s affordable and accessible. A three-pack of Psychotic Gingerbread Men? The banshee-like Treetop Angel? The child-eating Jack-In-The-Box? Let’s have ’em all.And we can’t forget the big, bad Anti-Claus himself, can we? The film’s only a couple of years old and, while it doesn’t have the cult cache of TRICK R TREAT (yet), there’s enough monster madness to warrant a sizable line of figures and collectibles. Perhaps just in time for Christmas?
Now, it bares mentioning that while DC/Vertigo did have a line of figures depicting the characters as they appeared in Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s acclaimed comic series, we’re looking at the versions of the characters as seen on AMC’s new small-screen adpatation. NECA has started the ball rolling with figures of the titular lead, Jesse Custer, and his ne’er-do-well Irish vampire buddy, Cassidy. But we need to start looking at an expansion.
Jesse’s troublesome ex, Tulip, the supernatural Saint Of Killers and (eventually) the series big bad, Herr Starr. Throw in Arseface and tag-team angelic “problem solvers” Fiore and DeBlanc, and you’ve got yourself a good starting line-up… and with NINE volumes of the comics to adapt for future seasons, there are a lot more characters waiting in the wings.
It’s not often an Academy Award nominated foreign language film warrants a toy line. PAN’S LABYRINTH is the exception to the rule. The iconic designs of The Faun and The Pale Man lend themselves to collectible status, and while there have been deluxe high-end (and high-priced) sculptures of these characters by Gentle Giant, this time we’re talking poseable action figures.
Because brevity is wit, the line-up is simple: The Faun, The Pale Man and the movie’s heroine, Ofelia. If we want to get a little more completist here, we can throw in “evil stepfather” Captain Vidal. But focusing on the main three mentioned above would be more than sufficient. Give this license to a high-end producer like Sideshow Collectibles or Hot Toys — prestige sculptors for a prestige property — and you’ve got yourself a line of collectibles that will class up any toy shelf. (I also wouldn’t say no to a “Fig Tree” playset complete with gigantic toad… but I’m not greedy. I’ll take what I can get.)
Sure, THE WALKING DEAD has had Sundays on lockdown for seven years and counting and has the plethora of toy & figure merchandising to go with it, but what about that other apocalyptic “mankind vs the undead” series (now filming its fourth season)? I’m talking about THE STRAIN, and with good reason. Much like TWD, THE STRAIN could get plenty of mileage out of the numerous “Strigoi” that populate the series.
From primary antagonists like The Master, Eichorst and The Ancients, to the interchangeable swarm-like drones or insect-like child “Feelers” and the half-Strigoi anti-hero Quinlan, there would be plenty to satisfy the needs of monster-loving collectors everywhere… and let’s not forget the good guys, either. Fan favorites Abraham Setrakian and (seen above) Vasily Fet would fit the bill quite nicely for your first wave of figures. Considering THE STRAIN is also a Del Toro property, NECA would be the obvious go-to for this line, as their work on HELLBOY II and PACIFIC RIM’s action figures was phenomenal.
I’m just spitballing here — I have no idea what demand is really like, nor which ones will hit it big with the collectors crowd. Which is why I do this kind of thing here and not work in the toy business. There are plenty of other horror properties waiting to be immortalized in plastic aside from the ones above and, chances are, you’ve got a wish-list of your own “needful things.” So fire it up, kids — what horror icons do you want to see on toy shelves?