Thursday 25 May 2023

Toybox REVIEW: NECA Reel Toys Charred Chucky

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Release Date: August 2022
RRP: $39.99

With the way that the Chucky franchise has evolved into the titular character having multiple variants of himself, NECA are sitting on an untapped gold mine when it comes to toys. But that isn't to say they haven't dabbled in the realm of variants just yet, with them going all the way back to the original 1988 Child's Play for the NECA Reel Toys Charred Chucky figure. Based on his appearance at the very end of the film after Karen and Andy Barclay have managed to trap him in the fireplace, the figure was released exclusively through Shout Factory's website to coincide with their 4K releases of the original Child's Play trilogy. The figure was available both as a standalone release, and together in a special set with the three films.

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Packaging is an important part of any good Child's Play figure and right off the bat NECA have absolutely nailed it with this release. While the idea of releasing a Chucky figure in the onscreen packaging isn't particularly new or original (NECA have done it plenty of times themselves in the past), what really sells it is how the box has been burnt and charred like the figure itself. Rather than the usual bright yellow colouring of the Good Guys box it's now a smokey dull shade, with some areas completely blackened as though they had suffered real fire damage. Even the plastic window has been misshapen in the bottom corner to give it a damaged effect. Outside of that the adherence to screen accuracy is marvellous, with only the NECA logo, Reel Toys logo and a few bits of product information being the only things that set it apart from the real thing (the "Ages 17 & Up" on the front is particularly amusing). Open it up and you'll find Chucky's charred remains comfortably tied down to a moulded plastic tray.

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NECA QC can get a lot of flack from collectors, but when it comes to the sculpting on their horror figures it's hard to find another company that's even remotely a competitor. Charred Chucky is easily the most grotesque figure in my collection - and I mean that in a good way. The look of this figure is INCREDIBLY faithful to Chucky's smouldering remains from the end of Child's Play, right to the charred texturing of the "skin", bulging right eyeball and exposed teeth/gums. The hair has been painted a darker red to illustrate that the doll is pretty worse for wear at this point, but it's still recognisably Chucky. As well as being a little bigger than their Ultimate Series counterparts (Charred Chucky stands at 5.5"), the other thing that sets the Reel Toys range apart is the use of soft goods clothing - which again as been recreated to incredible effect. Like the figure itself Chucky's clothes are darkened, ripped and (if I didn't know any better) genuinely look like they've been pulled out of a fire. The Good Guys logo on the dungaree pocket is barely distinguishable as it's so dishevelled. I get the feeling displaying this out on the shelf is going to get me comments from visitors, but I welcome it. NECA promised a horrific Charred Chucky figure and they really did deliver.

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However the articulation portion of this review is sadly not so glowing, and this is where those aforementioned criticisms of NECA's overall QC come in to play. On paper Charred Chucky is pretty good - not spectacular, but featuring everything you'd expect him to. Without tearing off the clothes to get a proper look at the body inside, here's what it feels like the figure has going on;
- Ball jointed head and waist
- Swivel hinge shoulders, wrists, hips and ankles
- Hinged jaw, elbows and knees
As I said before, nothing special but more than enough to get the job done well. After all, Chucky isn't a character that necessarily needs spectacular articulation because as long as it can move like a doll it works pretty well. Straight off the bat though I have to say I really like the inclusion of the hinged jaw - it's such a small detail but adds so much personality to the head sculpt. But by god, the QC for the joints on my copy is just flat out awful. The hips on this thing are so loose that it was a struggle to the figure to stand up straight without the torso toppling forward. There's also something up with the right ankle - so much so that the foot is almost permanently at an angle. The fact it kind of looks like a broken ankle works with the whole "destroyed" vibe of the toy, but at the end of the day it shouldn't be like that. And while usually you can take a toy apart and perhaps do a bit of maintenance on the joints to help them perform better (not that you should have to, but you can), the soft goods on this make it a lot more difficult since you can't even see the joints without removing it all and risk damaging that as well. It's just very frustrating all around. 

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With most of the budget having gone into the sculpting and soft goods of the figure this Chucky is considerably less accessory-heavy than his Ultimate Edition brethren, but that doesn't mean that he comes completely empty-handed. Charred Chucky's sole accessory is his iconic voodoo knife, faithfully recreated with the red blade cover and symbols along the handle. The knife can comfortably fit into either of the figure's hands, though it may require a bit of twisting just to get it held firmly. There's not much else to say other than that - a Chucky figure would be incomplete without a weapon and this was definitely the best one to give him. It doesn't do much, but at least now this Chucky is ready for a bit more killing even in the horrific state he's in.

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When it comes to sculpting, the NECA Reel Toys Charred Chucky is a real masterpiece. This has to be one of the most grotesque toys in my collection, and NECA have really outdone themselves on capturing both the melted look of the plastic and the ripped, burnt appearance of the soft goods clothes. In an ideal world that would be enough to give the figure near-perfect status, but boy did NECA drop the ball on this one when it came to articulation QC. The hips are so loose on the figure that getting it to even stand up can be a chore at times, turning even the simplest of poses into endless frustration. Even if it is an issue that varies from copy to copy, the extremely limited nature of the figure makes it a difficult one to replace. Charred Chucky is an AMAZING display piece for any diehard Chucky fan, which is why it's such a shame that it fails on the most basic of articulated toy functions.

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