Where the Wild Things Are Now
August 6, 2010

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!

 

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Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann
Action figure anthropologist, Professor Cantina Dan Neumann has been a scholastic contributor to the online community studying the complex world of parumplasticus populus {little plastic people} since the turn of this millenium. His primary focus is the visual cataloging of species exhibits through photo-journalism.
Read other articles by Danny "CantinaDan" Neumann.

 

 

 

14 Comments »

  • Sector1014 says:

    Great blog. Those portrait pics are full of so much awesome and fun. I haven’t collected Kubricks at all, but that pic kinda tempts me. Those look pretty darn cool.

  • Stcardinal says:

    I’m really kicking myself for not picking up the MCF set when it first came out. Not really a fan of the new design, however.

  • naibbian says:

    Bravo! Great article. Aaaahh – To be a kid again… Sucks to have your life pulled apart by lawyers and the rest. I know the feeling. Sometimes I wish I could ride off in a rowboat to a land of make believe. But when I was a kid I wanted nothing more than to grow up and do grown up things… c’est la vie. I guess I’ll be 12 forever.

  • emptypegger says:

    Dan, always enjoy your posts.

    Mel Birnkrant (The Outer Space Men) wrote about some Wild Thing dolls he worked on at his site. They’re not action figures, but they look really nice. The article also touches upon the lack of Wild Things merchandise.

    Here’s the link – http://www.melbirnkrant.com/toys/a_wild.htm

    • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

      Hey thanks for that link! Very interesting read. I can’t believe that the Wild Things dolls you can still find in Barnes and Noble, etc are based on the one’s Mel designed back then!!! Now I gotta buy them.

    • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

      Also – really curious now about how McFarlane went about securing the license and how involved Maurice Sendak was in that approval process…

  • Jeremy SpyMagician says:

    Dan!

    Sorry to hear about your McF set… -___-

    I too love the Wild Things, and the movie was as you say the best look at the thought processes of a child through adult eyes that I’ve seen in film.

    And I LOVE those Medicom Vinyls! I only have Douglas and Bull (my 2 favorites as I have a pet Cockatoo and was born in the Year of the Ox) but will likely get the rest eventually…. Normally I need some articulation but the sculpts on those are just sooooo goood…

    J

    • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

      Jeremy, I love the rational you invoked for choosing those two characters! I’ve been thinking that it may have been cool is they made Douglas’s arm removable and included a stick accessory you could replace it with!

  • Lt. Clutch says:

    I understand about the companionship bit in regards to figures. Just having them around can help when you’ve got a lot in your plate. I remember the Maurice Sendak book from those old Scholastic book catalogs they gave out in school. I found the monster creepy since I was more into Richard Scarry and Little Golden Books such as Scuffy the Tugboat. (I wonder why nobody’s ever made any Scuffy toys?) Whenever there was a book fair in school I would pick up the newest Scooby-Doo item but WTWTA seemed to have a bigger audience. I was always creeped out by the cover but it was a very popular seller with kids.

    • Danny Cantina-Dan says:

      No doubt it was scary, Clutch. I wonder if that had something to do with its popularity. There must just be something gripping / intriguing or something that attracts kids to the book, despite them being somewhat scared of it. Granted, Max does “tame” the Wild Things, but even as he triumphs as their “king” they still have this evil look in their eyes that is rather unsettling! And at the end when they are proclaiming their love for Max they can’t help but include the phrase: “we’ll eat you up!” Maybe the books popularity has something to do with the relief we all felt getting to last page and seeing Max safely back at home with his dinner waiting!

  • demoncat says:

    nice article. this proves that where the wild things are is one of those things that never dies seems to touch new generations. as a classic thing should. and sorry about you losing your mcfarlane wild things set. the bad part of having something cool that it winds up a casulty when ones real life goes bad

  • Roobiie says:

    Hey I Just Wanted To know That if u have the original were the wild things are sstyll in there boxes and in perfect condiion ..how muc money do u think i could get for them ???

  • certainly like your website but you need to test the spelling on several of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I to find it very bothersome to tell the truth on the other hand I will certainly come again again.

  • [...] nuts. Eventually I started dating an awesome gal named Meg. Apparently, at some point, Meg read a blog I had written which included this sad story. One evening when she came over for a visit she warned [...]

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