“The book is always better than the movie!” Every time I hear this, I want to hit that person with a copy of Peter Benchley’s Jaws until they start bleeding. But sometimes, I throw The Thing at them, instead.
The Thing (1982), is an adaptation of John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There, written in 1938. It has been adapted several times aside from the carpenter version, with 1952’s The Thing from Another World being the most prominent. The Carpenter version is most accurate to the book, save for a few details. one of which being the Thing’s true form. In the movie, it has none – it is just a bunch of cells. But in the book, its “true” form was a semi-humanoid, blue-skinned monster with three red eyes and wormy hair. So instead of the alien, unthinkable dread of the movie, we got… a blue muppet.
Artist Pete von Scholly has created a series of paintings in tribute to the old Aurora monster models, called “Horrora.” He’s got mock box art for everything from Yog-Sothoth to The Thing, and Dark Horse Comics picked up the license to actually produce models. This is the only one made, which also coincidentally makes it the only figure of the Thing as it appears in the book. I’ve had my eye on this one long enough that it’s probably a retro review… but the thing is, it’s always been pretty cheap, and I just put it off. Well, no more!
Since this is technically a model it has no articulation. It’s all about the sculpt. The Space Thing stands a little over four inches tall, making it in scale with GI Joe. That said, the sculpt, while accurate to the book, is really complex and filled with tiny embellishments. The Thing has several human parts (mostly faces, though there are a couple of hands and a foot) hidden in its body, representing the various forms it has taken in a nice little tribute to the Carpenter film. It’s a nice touch. The figure itself is made out of flexible PVC, aside from the stiffer ABS base, and is pretty durable and bouncy, so it certainly has play value. It also isn’t very difficult to “assemble” – just plug in the four arms and one hand, and pose it on its base. It isn’t exactly a model meant to show off your skill, it’s a funky little statuette. Or just an unarticulated figure, and those do exist. The paint is great, having chosen really rich shades of red and blue that help it stand out, and layered the whole monster with a suitbale paint wash. It actually looks identical to its artwork!
Unfortunately, the Space Thing does have a few issues. Well, one issue. Seams. No matter how tightly you plug those arms in, there will be visible seams. it looks better in person than in these pictures, but you just can’t get over that fact. The figure runs for about $20, which is what it cost when it was new.
Overall, even hough the book design is rather goofy, this is an excellent figure. It’s got a surprising amount of complexity, and really radiates that old-school sci-fi vibe. The box art is great, too – it’s von Scholly’s art – and the included instructions also contain a fair amount of snark. Oddly enough, though this had to do with the seller and not the figure, mine arrived in a ggiantic styrofoam box labeled CHINA POST, despite being sent to me from New York. Curious, that.