Yeesh, I've fallen behind! So very much behind. The blog's been silent for almost two months! That's... That's just not right. Oh well, let's talk about dead people.
I'm sure I've said it before, but I love shopping for toys when I'm travelling. You can usually find any of the BIG lines everywhere, but it's the smaller, more obscure things that excite me most. Those random little toy lines that you just can't find at home. Extra points if I've never heard of them before!
I found these Deadstone Valley figures at a Toys R Us in Edinburgh, Scotland. They were right in through the door! I barely made it in there and I already found something new! At first I didn't really know what they were or what they did, but they had one thing that instantly appealed to me: humorous gravestones. I've always loved stuff like that (the gravestones outside Haunted Mansion are one of my favourite parts of Disney World). They weren't overly expensive (relatively speaking for the UK), so I grabbed a few. Had I known I wouldn't see them again, I would have grabbed more...
Right, so as I said, the first thing that caught my attention was the headstones. Not that I spend a lot of time hanging around graveyards, but whenever I see a headstone with a clever rhyme or something humorous about it, it appeals to me.
Not that I've seen any in real life.
Each character comes with a headstone that gives you a funny little rhyme about the deceased. The writing is just a sticker, but I guess it makes more sense than having to sculpt an entirely unique headstone for every character. If they ever peel off though, I'll freak out.
The very first character I saw was also the first one I grabbed. I think. Old Judge Wriggs here looks like something out of a Tim Burton movie! He doesn't really look overly deceased, but he could be there soon.
Each figure sports a whopping ONE point of articulation: the head turns (and pops off, but I'll get to that later). Articulation isn't the name of the game here though. It's novelty. And these figures are quite novel!
Along with a headstone, each character comes with a coffin. The lids are removable and each on has a hinged bottom so you can stand the figures up. The figures are fully removable from the coffins and stand well enough on their own, so this feature works best for a creepy, "rising out of the coffin" action.
I don't know how many different coffins there are in the line, but out of the three figures I got, only one is completely unique. Still, they're all painted differently, so each character still has their "own" coffin. Each coffin also has a space at the top that I assume is to attach the headstones. They don't really fit like a glove, but they stay there firmly enough. I don't know if I'm doing something wrong, but I can't see any better way to mount the headstones, so that's what I'm going to keep doing.
This next figure probably isn't the one you'd peg as my favourite (I wouldn't either), but that's what she ended up being (at least out of the three that I got). First, I like her headstone rhyme the most out of the three.
Secondly, Auntie Flo looks the most dead of the three. Judge Wriggs looks like he could still be alive, and Lucky McGraw could get away with it too, but Auntie Flo is dead. I've got a bunch of skeleton and zombie figures, but I'm used to thinking of them as undead. Flo here is just dead dead.
She's got the closed eyes, the crossed arms, the loose skin... Yep, she's dead alright! And normal! She doesn't look like a "character", you know? She's just a dead old woman. Her more realistic look combined with her more regular coffin just gives her a higher level of creepiness than the others. I mean, the whole line has more of a creepy-factor than most toy lines, but she's probably the creepiest of the bunch!
She's giving you her "come hither" look...
Since Flo has the only fully unique coffin out of my three, I like this one the best too. The other two have a stone sarcophagus, but I prefer the more modern looking casket. And again, I just find it creepier.
Flo might not have any spiders crawling around on the inside of her coffin, but she has more details on the outside, so she still wins. Plus, she has a spider on her head. Bonus point!
Lastly, I grabbed the wrestler Lucky McGraw, because something about him must have appealed to me at the time. There was a French maid I should have gotten, but she had a big spike sticking out of her head and I figured "no one would bury someone with that spike still in their head". Ah, the foolishness of youth. Maybe I figured I'd see more of these guys later. Oh yeah! There's also a cowboy with a bullet wound to his crotch, but I never saw him. He would have been great.
Not that I dislike Lucky or anything. I love his big bushy beard, and the fact that he was buried in his tights is funny. He's just pretty low on creepy points. He's not the least creepy of the series (there's a crossing guard that still looks very much alive), but he's on the lower end of the scale. Besides his sunken eyes, he could easily still be one of the living.
His headstone mentions that he died of a broken jaw, and while it could be under that shaggy mane of a beard, it would have been nice to see more of the broken jaw. Maybe have his mouth gaping open at a weird angle or something.
Lucky's coffin uses the same sculpt as Judge Wriggs', but the stone is a lighter colour, and the insides are blue instead of pink. Lucky's a big guy though, so you need more than a regular ol' casket to store him.
On a side note, when I acted out stories with my figures as a kid, occasionally the need for coffins came up. No matter what the story was, I was forced to use random containers from around the house, the coffins from Voltron, or even this mummy sarcophagus that I had. Well, these would have been great for stuff like that! Granted, they're not very big, but for the right size of figure, they're perfect!
But there's even more!
Each figure comes with a cardboard plot of earth that you can "bury" your coffin in.
Really, you just cut out a hole in the plot with the perforated lines, but still! It's kind of neat! The plots aren't deep enough to fully bury the coffins in, but they're still cool enough. Again, two out of three of my figures came with the same plot, but that's less important. I'm assuming there's some other styles out there.
I do know there are some stone graves that kind of stick out of the ground like this, so in this case these coffins work better.
There! Old Judge Wriggs is buried and gone! Of course, you can dig him up whenever you want...
A gal like Auntie Flo don't stay buried for long...
Looks like Lucky McGraw is down for the count!
Remember when I said I'd come back to their heads popping off? Well, they're also interchangeable!
Why are they interchangeable? Novelty! I guess...
In a line like this, less isn't more. More is more! So besides the creepy fun of collecting dead people, burying them, AND swapping their heads, there's still MORE!
Each coffin has a code on the bottom that you can use on deadstonevalley.com. Anyone who goes to the site is able to build a body from a bunch of possible parts, but if you punch in the codes you get with your figures, you can actually bury your body in the online graveyard! The more codes you have, the more choices you have, like what kind of coffin you can choose, how your body is taken to the graveyard, etc. You can even write your character's epitaph, though I assume it has to be approved before it's added to the site. I've been waiting for my headstones to finish being engraved for months now, but it doesn't look like the site is maintained anymore.
But, I took some screen grabs of the bodies I've made so far, and I'll add the poems I made under each pic.
He picked his nose
and jabbed his
Tom the Zombie
is buried underground.
Maybe he'll stay there
this time around.
Boris the Hunter
is buried here.
He was stalking a bear
and got mauled
by a deer.
You also get a death certificate for your body, plus a plot certificate so you can find them in the overcrowded graveyard.
And lastly, just to make sure we end on a properly creepy note, after I found these guys in Scotland, we travelled down to Whitwell, England. There's an old church there, surrounded by an old graveyard. It's so old, I couldn't even read some of the headstones! Anyway, I know I said at the start of the post that I don't spend a lot of time hanging out in graveyards, but I did spend some time in this one.
I figured I would try to get some shots of these figures in an actual graveyard, but the effect didn't really work the way I wanted. Anyway, here they are!
So I don't know what the makers of Deadstone Valley were thinking when they made this line. "You know what kids love? Dead people! And more than anything, kids will want to play with dead people." It seems like this little niche thing (I didn't see any of these outside of Scotland - and the makers are a Scottish company), but because it's really about the novelty, it works. I love the uniqueness, and I love the creepy factor. I just wish they would finish engraving my headstones already!
Oh! And I should mention that each code allows you to build and bury three bodies. That means I have six more to make. Even without new figures, if I ever get around to making them, I'll show them off here on the blog.
That's it! Rest In Peace out!