These Stranger Things Toys Are Scary for the Wrong Reason

These Stranger Things Toys Are Scary for the Wrong Reason

The action figures based on the hit Netflix sci-fi series look like they came straight from the Upside Down.

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A Stranger Things action figure depicts Lucas' head horrifically wrenched off at his jaw while he holds his slingshot.
Image: Bandai/Netflix

What’s the line between making a retro action figure and one that just looks like crap? I don’t know, but Bandai certainly seemed to have crossed it with this new line of “Stranger Things Feature Figures.” These toys of the Netflix series’ five main kids—Mike, Will, Lucas, Dustin, and Eleven—are supposed to look scared, but instead, they look horrifying. In multiple ways! Care to see?

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Will

Will

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

OK, these toys are clearly modeled after Kenner’s Real Ghostbusters Fright Figures action figures from 1988. Not only do they share similar names, but many of these Stranger Things items share the exact same action features to depict them being scared at their respective otherworldly horrors. However, their sculpts are far less detailed than their 33-year-old predecessors. Will’s face looks exactly like a Mii from the Nintendo Wii.

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Upside-Down Will

Upside-Down Will

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

Will goes from looking like a Mii to a Mii with a gaping wound where his mouth should be. Given the giant crack on the side of his body, I’m assuming this second head is hiding in his torso, which you have to pull apart to access and rotate. Note that Will’s hands look perfectly fine, thus ruining the effect.

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Upside-Down Vomiting Goo Will

Upside-Down Vomiting Goo Will

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

Will apparently comes with a little Upside-Down goo accessory that can be jammed in his mouth. The sad, wide eyes give this a really troubling vibe.

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Mike

Mike

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

The Real Ghostbusters were cartoons, which made their terrorized transformations, bugged-out eyes, dropped jaws, or 360-degree spinning heads make visual sense. As poorly sculpted as these toys are, we know that they’re supposed to be of real people, which places them in the uncanny valley when their “scared” action features are activated. For example...

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Bugged-Out Eyes Will

Bugged-Out Eyes Will

Image for article titled These Stranger Things Toys Are Scary for the Wrong Reason
Image: Bandai/Netflix

...this total nightmare, in which Will’s eyes are trying desperately to escape his skull. There are so many reasons this doesn’t work. First, Will’s eyes are not sculpted to look scared, so they’re just extended. Second, they’re only barely extending so they look like body horror instead of comically bugged out. This is exacerbated by the inexplicable decision to color the stems of his eyestalks the same color as his flesh instead of white. I’ll also mention that Real Ghostbusters Fright Features Peter Venkman figure also had bug-out eyes, but his jaw dropped and his hair raised up in terror.

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Lucas

Lucas

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

Lucas comes with his slingshot.

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Screaming Lucas

Screaming Lucas

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

Lucas also comes with a skull that partially detaches from his neck at the cheek. Again, he hasn’t been sculpted to look scared—worried at best—so the intended effect is ruined and it’s just more body horror. The red-painted mouth really sells that this is a figure of a real child whose head is being torn off at the jaw.

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The Packaging

The Packaging

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

To be fair to the toy line, the retro packaging is dead-on and looks outstanding. You can see the Demogorgon’s torso to the figure’s right because it’s a build-a-figure, so you’ll have to purchase all five kids to assemble it, which you can only do at Target or Target.com as they’re exclusives.

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Eleven

Eleven

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

I mean, come on. She doesn’t even have eyes, she has dots. Weirdly, there’s no official photo of her special fright feature being activated, but she does have one. See how she appears to have a nostril? Could it possibly be that blood comes out of it?

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Gaten Matarazzo

Gaten Matarazzo

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Image: Netflix

This is just a quick break to remind you what actor Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin on Stranger Things, looks like. No reason.

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Dustin

Dustin

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

This is heartbreaking. Especially when this figure has arguably the most reasonable, best-looking action feature, which is for his hat to fly off his head and his jaw to lower a reasonable amount.

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The Back

The Back

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Image: Bandai/Netflix

You can see Dustin’s feature on the back of the toys’ packaging, along with Eleven’s, which is, of course, for blood to drip out her nose. I’m petty enough to mention that her nosebleeds usually happen when she’s using her psychic powers, during which she usually has a very intense facial expression and not the dead eyes of a department store mannequin.

You can pre-order Eleven, Dustin, Will, Lucas, and Mike for $12.99 a pop at their respective links.


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