Celebrate It Baroque Nativity Set
It was time.
We've been doing this blog for five years without a Nativity Set, and it was time to correct that oversight. We'd have gotten one earlier if it weren't for the fact that they're overpriced, we're not religious, neither of us have any emotional connection to these things, and we consider them - as a rule - horribly ugly, chintzy pieces of garbage. In fact, if I were to refer to them as a blight on Christmas decorations, I'd consider my appraisal charitable. But, beyond that, we really have no excuse for waiting so long.
At any rate, a friend (thanks, Cybil!) pointed us towards Kevin and Chuck Want You to Make a Nerdtivity Contest. A "Nerdtivity" seems to be defined as a geekily re-imagined Nativity scene. This isn't actually my first introduction to the concept, though the name's new. A few years back, I entered (and lost) a similar contest over here. If you visit that link, I think you'll agree that one of the main differences between the good submissions and, say, mine, is the presence of an a scale manger.
Hence the trip to Michaels. We found this going for 50% off, which would have been a great deal if this hadn't started at $50. But we were desperate, so we handed over the $25 and trucked this home. If I'm paying that kind of money for this, I'm damn well getting a few posts out of the deal. So, with that in mind, let's take a closer look.
The packaging sells this as a 12 piece set, which counts the baby Jesus and cradle separately. There are ten figures, a cradle, and the manger display. This is in a 12th scale, incidentally, which is precisely what we were looking. Of course, if you swap out the included 6-inch figurines, the backdrop should work for a wide variety of scales, depending on how large you're comfortable with the manger being relative to your toys.
We'll come back to the figurines in a minute. First, let's look at the manger, since that's what I bought this for.
The dimensions work out to about 14" long, 12" tall, and 6" front to back, about 2.5 of which fall beneath the roof. This is made of wood and covered in a coating of dried moss. The paint work isn't stellar, but it does the trick, provided you're not looking too close.
I like the window, ledge, and ladder. These give the base some added dimension and potential as a display.
Here's a shot from the back. As you can see, there's not much to see from this angle. That's not a huge deal, though it means you'll want to display this against a wall if possible.
The figurines aren't all that much to look at, either. The sculpts aren't as detailed as you'd expect at this price point, and the paint work is sloppy. These are a little better than what I'd expect to find at the Dollar Tree for $1 each... but not much.
They're ceramic, which means they're breakable. I assume that people still associate ceramics with higher quality, which is probably why these were produced that way. Ironically, plastic sculpts could have turned out better and wouldn't shatter from a short drop.
Not surprisingly, Mary is the best of the bunch. Even here, you can see where the weak paint gives the figure a cheap appearance. Still, I think this works at a distance.
Most of the rest, on the other hand, don't fare so well. Lindsay thinks she might be able to "improve" the angel, though.
I'm glad I didn't pay $50 for this: it's certainly not exceptional. That said, it's not an awful base, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't extremely excited to start posing action figures around it. It's precisely the scale and size I wanted, and I have many, many ideas.
You certainly haven't seen the last of this.