One of the movies back in 2012 that I enjoyed was Rise of the Guardians. It wasn't really one of the films that was on my radar early on because the design of the characters looked a little too “Dreamworks” (oh, wait...) for me. The trailer didn't really help improve my outlook since it seemed to be a lot of “wow, lookit!”, which I've found usually means there won’t be much to the movie but visuals.
I was wrong.
It’s a genuinely entertaining film that takes a nice spin on those things that we believe as kids and like How to Train Your Dragon and A Series of Unfortunate Events, it’s another great adaptation of a series of books. The darker tone may ultimately make it less accessible for younger audiences, but for older “kids”, it’s like icing on the cake.
The fact that Guillermo Del Toro was involved in this thing from the beginning, was another surprise for me, but it does kind of explain the tenor. The author of the books, William Joyce, is another name I’m gonna be following, since I now know that he was involved in a number of movies I enjoyed, like Meet the Robinsons, Robots, and the upcoming Epic. Peter Ramsey, the director, seems worth keeping an eye on as well, since he seems to have hit a home run his first time at bat.
Anyway, my delight after watching Rise of the Guardians was the reason that for about three weeks last December, I was munching on nothing else but Burger McDo meals from McDonald’s. The chain got the license to use the film’s characters in their Happy Meal marketing and they had six figures to sell (for the Philippine market, anyway): Jack Frost, a snow globe with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, and one of Santa’s elves.
This set of figures is really one of those that is more about the action feature than appearance. Most of the toys play well, but don’t look all that good as display pieces. For instance, both the Easter Bunny and Jack Frost launch projectiles using spring-loaded mechanisms, but because of it, neither looks as cool on the shelf. Sandman is pretty interesting, though, with a stand that houses a weak magnet at the top that will hold him upright, balanced on the tip of his toes while you spin him slowly.
Easily the best figure in the lot for me was the Christmas Elf in his little party hat tunic. The character/s on screen were responsible for some of the best little moments in the movie (I want a new dabog emoticon for plurk of the trumpet tantrum!) and the figure captures the look of them very well. Plus it’s got other things going for it, too.
One, it’s action feature is worked into the toy well and is largely unobtrusive. You push his feet in (or push him down if he’s standing on a table), and his face changes to another expression. This being a Happy Meal toy, it’s limited to three expressions, but those are plenty. The fact that they've included that annoyed face just kills me. It’s easily the favorite! With it you get a two variations of happy, depending on how close it is to Christmas I guess.
Two, the thing is a natural army builder. Santa’s got an army of them in the movie and they all look the same, so there’s an excuse to collect as many as you can until they takeover your desk. I reached 9 before they pulled the set from the shelves, but I wanted more. At least 12 so that they can go head to head with my robot army from Monsters vs. Aliens.
If you ask me, McD’s should have dropped Jack Frost and the other Guardians in favor of the rest of the Guardians minions. Santa’s got the yetis as well as the elves, Bunny’s got the huge stone eggs and the little eggs with legs, and Tooth Fairy’s got those... well fairies. I guess you could give Sandman those sand dinosaurs, or have him riding one of his prop airplanes. Hell, while we’re at it, have Santa and the rest of them on the sleigh!
Then again, this is all from a toy collector’s perspective. If you’re a kid who’s just watched the movie (and liked it), I figure you’d have be disappointed if there weren't any Jack Frosts in the assortment. And hey, the disc launcher gimmick is pretty nifty, if kind of weak. In that sense, I think this is one of the more successful sets that the food chain’s come out with in recent memory.
I can dream though, can’t I?
Here's a commercial: