So I kinda lost my McFarlane Where the Wild Things Are figures in a little custody battle. That set of toys represents my favorite McFarlane product to date. The property was a fantastic choice and they hit it out of the park with the sculpts. I can’t think of another collection that brings me as much joy just to sit and stare at. And, unlike many other toy lines that eventually get taken out of the display rotation, the Wild Things stay put. Well, things got kinda shaken up for me this year and not the least grievous thing to happen was hearing this at the end of a particular conversation: “I want the Wild Things.”
A few months ago I was perusing an Urban Outfitters store and stumbled upon Medicom’s vinyl Where the Wild Things Are Bull figure on the clearance table. $4.99. Sucker’s retailed for $40! I scoured this store (and others) for more in the series. None to be found. So I contented myself with this one pretty-darn-awesome figure from the set. Just a note here to say that these Medicom vinyl figures are based on the Wild Things movie, whereas the McFarlane set was based on the original children’s book.
In a bit of a self-pity funk over losing my McFarlane set I decided I would right the wrong by purchasing the remainder of the Medicom set. And I did. Not super cheap, but can you put a price tag on consolation? I’ve now got these monsters proudly standing sentry in my home. A bit about the actual figures: they are not articulated so ‘vinyl statues’ might be a better description. I’m ok with the zero POA, though. These things are so beautifully sculpted and painted that they transcend toys and have become more like friends and companions. Wow, lonely much? The eyes have been painted with a gloss varnish which is super cool since so much was conveyed through the Wild Thing’s eyes in the movie. Here’s my biggest complaint: unlike all the others, the Max figure is on a base. That kind of inconsistent stuff annoys me. But no biggie, I just don’t display Max. I like the Wild Things by themselves more anyway. Plus, I’m their Max!
None of this is to say I won’t eventually re-eBay the McFarlane set. I’ve seen some pretty reasonable prices and, when I’ve financially recovered from Comicon, I’ll bite. Because, really, this is a set I can not live without.
I’m a bit surprised at the general lack of Where the Wild Things Are toys. The book was originally published around 1963 and has been a favorite ever since. I don’t know of any other toys that enter the realm of action figures prior to McFarlane’s set released around 2000. If anyone knows of other notable toys, please comment below.
Last year Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are movie hit the big screen. Rumor has it that McFarlane’s license expired when the movie was delayed. They were going to rerelease the original set and a new set based on the movie, but that’s neither here nor there. Medicom picked up the slack and, besides the vinyl figures I’ve mentioned, released the obligatory series of Kubricks. They also produced a 12" Real Action Hero Max. Funko did a handful of bobbleheads based on both the movie and book. I don’t think there was much more than that besides some key chains and plush Wild Things.
Where the Wild Things Are was definitely a stand-out favorite book for me as a kid. Its not to say it didn’t scare me. It did. Which is why I was puzzled by the reactions of some folks who loudly proclaimed the movie ‘was not for kids!’ Granted, it had a dark tone but so did the book.
The movie did a brilliant job getting in the mind of a child. It is 15 minutes before Max gets in his boat and 20 minutes before you glimpse a Wild Thing. But the opening scenes lay such a vital foundation for the story. In those first minutes you see Max’s emotions range the gamut from pride and ecstatic joy to panic and terror, anger, jealousy, revenge and regret. It was a joy to watch Max playing, absorbed in the lonely yet content imagination zone so common to childhood.
Max’s time with the Wild Things was just an engaging and creative look in the mirror. The personalities and situations he confronted were simply characterizations of his own emotions and struggles. Watching the movie I couldn’t help feeling that the Wild things were always slightly menacing and that Max’s position was always slightly precarious. Pretty common fare for a kid.
For those of us enamored with action figures and related paraphernalia, the scene where Carol shows Max his massive diorama was really cool. Max pops his head up through a hole in the middle of the huge play world, Carol lets in some water to fill the canals, and Max observes all the mini sculptures living in the playset. What kid (or appropriately wired adult) wouldn’t love that?
Utmost gratitude to Maurice Sendak for bringing us to the land of the Wild Things. And thanks to McFarlane and Medicom for producing two lines of wonderful Wild Things toys!