Sometimes, the writers of a show, movie, comic book or whatever will put a lot of effort into creating an enigmatic character with an air of mystery surrounding it ... only to have the marketing department kill all the mystique by putting out a stupid action figure.
This happens way more often than you'd think, like in ...
Whether you think The Blair Witch Project is one the creepiest movies you've ever seen, or one of the most pointless (there's surprisingly little gray area on that scale), the one thing that made the movie stand out is that you never actually see the Witch herself. She doesn't appear anywhere in the 90ish minutes of the movie, nor the sequel, nor the piles of documentaries, video games and books that you never knew/cared about.
Above: the Blair Witch.
So when you really think about it, it's a bit creepier than, say, Jason or Freddy, because the likelihood of a sequel including a scene where she kills someone with a video game substantially decreases. It's a pretty solid movie monster premise -- each of us is forced to draw from the dark corners of our own psyche to imagine the horrific thing lurking in the woods. What could be scarier than that?
Except the marketing folks had to have an action figure.
We feel the need to apologize for this.
So much for avoiding all the horror movie cliches. Fangs? Check. Claws? Check. Glowing red eyes? Check. Standard movie monster weapon? Check. Looks like the old lady that lives at your grandma's nursing home who always asks you to take care of her long-dead cats? Double check. To be fair, that's technically an "interpretation" of the Blair Witch designed by Spawn creator, Todd McFarlane, for his Movie Maniacs series. This was part of the fourth Movie Maniacs set, and that's clearly about the time he started running out of ideas.
Someone paid him to make the most boring, uninspired and disappointing representation of a horror icon ever. Maybe someone mentioned that, though, because he later released a second, even more WTF version.
It's like Treebeard got it on with Swamp Thing.
Maybe the logic behind this one was that she could have been hiding in the background disguised as a tree the whole time, like Elmer Fudd or something. We also like the implication that this huge, monstrous tree-being goes around picking up twigs and leaving little signs on the ground to freak people out, as if she couldn't do that by just standing in front of them.
Typically, the G.I. Joe cartoons and action figures existed in a symbiotic relationship. The cartoon sold the toys and new toys meant new characters on the show. But while the show wasn't airing new episodes in the early 90s, Hasbro needed a new way to print money. So, they came up with the G.I. Joe Hall of Fame series -- 12-inch-tall throwbacks to the original 60s era G.I. Joe toys but with characters from the 80s.
"The best part is that we don't have to come up with any new ideas."
And to keep the money wheel turning, they came up with a pretty clever gimmick: A major selling point for the figures was that that the Cobra Commander, Destro and Snake Eyes figures had removable masks. You could finally find out why they hell these guys needed to wear masks every damn place they went.
And yet no one gave a shit about Beach Head.
So if you (read: your parents) shelled out the money for them, what did you get? Behold the true forehead of Cobra Commander, international terrorist leader:
... a goofy looking dude who apparently thinks he's a Wild West bandit giving a Spock brow. OK ... uh, so, how about Destro? Destro's got to have something cool under that chrome helmet, right?
No, nope. He looks like the long-lost brother of Mario Lopez.
Which one is truly made of nonliving parts, here?
But surely Snake Eyes has something impressive going on. He's a good guy! Good guys are always handsome and awesome looking!
Goddammit. It's a massive freaking cocktease. Thanks for the money, kid! Though it's probably for the best, because this is what Snake Eyes looks like without a mask in the comics:
"We'll make him into a toy and then make parents pay us to take him back!"
Speaking of horribly disfigured faces ...
Despite what you may have seen in the Fantastic Four films, Marvel actually has a strict moratorium against showing Dr. Doom's disfigured face in the comic books. Usually, when someone gets to look under his iron mask they end up regretting it.
"Also to clean all the puke from all the times I gross myself out."
Dr. Doom's origin establishes that his once handsome face was scarred in a college campus accident that he blames Reed Richards for; in some versions this was only a small scar at first, but he made it worse by stupidly placing the iron mask on his face before it cooled. So, why doesn't he just ask a doctor to fix him up? Well ...
Science has officially declared him hideous beyond repair.
So for 50 years they've never, ever, shown Doom's real face -- they've shown (in flashback sequences) the version with the little scar, and the movies showed his face literally turning into metal, but the disfigured version remains a mystery.
Unless you count action figures, that is.
This Dr. Doom action figure has a fully removable mask and comes with three different faces: one is a robot face (that's actually one of Doom's robot duplicates), then there's the version with the small scar, just like in the flashbacks ...
Which makes him look like a 1920s gangster.
... and finally, there's the mythical disfigured version, which is actually ... you know what, it's not that bad.
OK, sure, he's pretty ugly. But after all the buildup we sort of expected him to have a dick on his forehead or something. As far as horrible, unsightly disfigurements go, he got off pretty lightly -- compared to the Elephant Man he's still an Adonis. Turns out all those people screaming in terror at the sight of his face simply didn't like looking at chewing gum. There's actually another action figure that also reveals his face, and that one just makes him look like he has psoriasis.
"Feast your eyes upon my slightly enflamed rash!"
While Cloverfield may have borrowed its marketing strategy from The Blair Witch Project, they did at least give up the goods with the monster a little bit. Throughout the movie, we get a couple of brief glimpses of the thing, but we never really get the whole shebang. The best look is at the ass-end of the movie (where the giant monster with Earth-shaking footsteps is somehow able to stealthily sneak up on our heroes), and even then, we only get an extreme close-up, and only for a few seconds.
But with the $150 collector's edition figure, you can look at it as much as you damn well please.
And then you can think about how you just spent a month's worth of groceries on that.
It's kind of ... not as impressive without the camera work and the selective lighting and the touch ups and oh god it sounds like we're talking about a fashion model. Except fashion models don't usually look so angry and spindly and oddly dirty. (Well, OK, maybe spindly).
It even comes with an extra head so you can give it that disappointed spouse look:
"I thought I asked you to take out the garbage yesterday."
The good news for weird fetishists everywhere is that it has tentacles. The good news for Internet comedy writers who go for cheap laughs is that from the right angle, they kind of look like they're coming out of its crotch like two tentacle-dicks.
In case you hadn't met your imagined monster-dong quota for the day.