Friday, November 27, 2015

Toy Review: Diamond Select Nightmare Before Christmas Jack Skellington




It's been over a decade since NECA started their line of Nightmare Before Christmas figures, and collectors still refer to it in reverent tones. Over several years, they produced almost every significant character imaginable from the film (with the notable exception of Santa Claus) in a six-inch scale with a wide range of articulation and generous accessories.

I think most of us expected NECA's line to be the undisputed, definitive word on the subject. But Diamond Select seems to think they can challenge that assumption. They've produced a wave of three figures from the movie: Jack, Sally, and Oogie Boogie. All are in a similar scale to the old NECA figures. Also like NECA's offering, they've gone to great lengths to add value to the toys by including some extras. While Jack doesn't come with any accessories, he does come with a huge display, as well as a more conventional stand.


Despite generally being happy with my NECA set, I ordered Jack, partly out of curiosity and partly to get the display. I figured I could drop that in with my existing collection whether or not I liked the new toy.

Let's start with the figure's appearance. Diamond clearly set out to beat NECA in terms of screen accuracy, which was no small goal. Remarkably, they seem to have succeeded. Jack's head sculpt is beautiful, as is the paint work. The left side of his mouth is a little off on mine, but I didn't even notice until I looked at the photo.

His body is almost identical to his appearance in the movie. His arms and legs are incredibly thin, and Diamond managed to get his proportions closer than NECA chose to.

Note that I said this was closer than NECA chose to make their figure. That's because NECA and Diamond approached this with slightly different philosophies: Diamond Select set out to make a collectible, while NECA made collectible toys. NECA sacrificed a bit of accuracy to engineer something sturdy. And - frankly - I wish Diamond Select had followed suit.

Diamond Select seems to have tried to deliver it all: in addition to looking great, they wanted this to have as much articulation as possible. And, to a degree, they succeeded here, as well. Using small hinge joints connected with pins, they provided a great range of posing options.


These small joints are located in Jack's elbows, knees, shoulders, and hips. In addition, his hands and feet are connected with pegs, allowing them to turn in place. Lastly, his head and torso contain ball joints (though the torso joint only offers a small amount of motion due to the sculpt).

The hinges are small and grey, which camouflages them nicely. At a few feet away, they're almost invisible. Also, Diamond Select wisely omitted any kind of thick end pieces to the pegs. This means they'll usually pop out instead of snapping.

You'll note I said "usually."

To the right, you'll see a close-up of Jack's right arm. I tried to be careful, but apparently it was stuck, and the peg snapped off. This was after only a few minutes of posing.

Honestly, I wasn't the least bit surprised. Pegs this small break all the time: I'd half expected Jack to fall apart when I took him out of his package.

When NECA produced this figure, they wisely found a compromise between screen accuracy and practicality. Diamond Select tried not to compromise, and - unfortunately - it doesn't seem to have worked out.

That said, I don't regret the purchase. The figure was really more of a add-on, anyway: I got this for the backdrop.

It's essentially a hill and gate from the movie. It's a massive piece, far heavier than the toy it's supposedly packaged with. The bent fences at the sides and arch on top are separate pieces you snap in (the arch has a tendency of falling out if you hold it wrong, but it's easy enough to get back in place.

There are a few areas where it could have been improved, but these are nitpicking. The gate is one piece, which means it can't swing open, and the entire thing is unpainted. But while a little weathering would have been a nice touch, there's enough sculpted detail to sell the effect. Overall, it's one of the best displays I've ever seen with a six inch figure.

In addition to this, you also get a smaller, more conventional round stand. Both work with a segmented arm piece that snaps into Jack's back.

Even better, the arm breaks down into three segments and four identical joints that can be reassembled in any combination. This opens up quite a few options for posing.

Incidentally, this piece also seems to be compatible with some SH Figuarts toys. Even if you're not planning on displaying Jack, it's a useful thing to have around.

Overall, this is a cool, albeit deeply flawed figure. If you love Nightmare Before Christmas and you're too new to collecting to remember the NECA line, this might be a good way to get a collectible connected to the holiday classic. Just be extremely careful working the joints: they're really not made well.

The good news is this won't set you back too much. These figures run about $25 each, which isn't a bad deal considering the size of the display piece.

Here's a comparison of the Diamond Select and NECA Jacks. The Diamond Select is a little taller and is standing to the right. The NECA figure, however, is the one with both arms attached:


Here are a few more pictures.



1 comment :