Review: Lemax Spooky Town Collection
I graduated from college in 2002, right in the middle of a recession, and found myself living in Western Massachusetts, where the difference between a liberal arts degree and a paper towel is absorbency.
Since the writer/philosopher market was flooded, I needed to look for employment outside my field.
I got a job selling arts and crafts supplies at a nearby Michaels Arts and Crafts. To this day I can tell you that the glue is in aisle 9B.
Now, you wouldn't think of Michaels as a good place for toy collecting, and, for the most part, you'd be right. But, for those of us out for a deal, it pays to think outside the box.
Let me tell you a little about a company called Lemax.
Lemax makes miniature figurines and displays for the holidays. They make these for Christmas, Halloween, and, so far as I know, nothing else.
The Halloween displays are marketed as "Spooky Town Collection." Yeesh. Makes me glad I never keep packaging. They aren't exceptional, but some of them are actually pretty cool and have potential as accessories and displays.
What's more, as it gets close to Halloween, they get cheap. I got most of what's below for 50% off. That means most of these packs ran me $1.50 (a little more for The Chase and the Swamp Monster).
Appearance: 6 (5 - 7)
The paint and sculpt work varies quite a bit. Our scale may be a little different now, since these have more in common with bases and accessories than figures. But, compared to many accessories you'll get, most of these (at least the ones I picked up) are pretty good.
Among these, however, there's some range. On one end of the scale, there are the Pile O' Skulls and Tombstones, all of which are really nice. If I were just rating these, I'd probably give them a score of 7. The bones are well sculpted with decent paint, though the shapes are a bit unwieldy. The gravestones are likewise nice, though the writing on them leaves a quite a bit to be desired.
Next, there's a package of "Creepy Critters," containing 6 rats and 2 snakes. The snakes, while not bad, are on par with what you'd expect to get from a vending machine. But then, I didn't pick this up for the snakes.
I actually bought THREE packs of these, because I have uses for an army of miniature rats (more on this in the 'play and display' section). The rats are actually pretty nice, with red eyes and small teeth. You get two versions: four rats on four legs, two standing upright (how apropos). I have a hard time imagining how I'd score these: probably a six, ignoring the snakes entirely.
The Swamp Monster is a little mixed. Mixed twigs, mixed vines, and a mixed appearance. On one hand, he's kind of cool. On the other, a plant elemental in this scale looks a little like a green blob. Still, he's kind of neat, so I wouldn't score him lower than a 6.
The zombie dog and cat are also somewhat mixed. The paint and sculpt work is definitely on the low end. On the other hand, you get zombie animals. Kind of cool. I'd say they're a 5.
On average, I'd peg the ones I got as about a 6. You'll find others that might go beyond this range in either direction, though.
Packaging and Extras: ---
The packaging is dull and bland. On the other hand, you can clearly see what you're getting. You can see both sides, in fact.
Depending on your point of view, you're getting no extras or all extras. Obviously, no bonus or penalty is called for in this case.
Play and Display: +1
Well, there's no articulation except on the snakes. But these are really accessories. And the one thing they do is add to your display. Incorporate these into a setup you've got. Do you have pirates? Add skulls! Do you have ghosts? Tombstones! Zombies? Give them pets! I'm not saying any of these are great, but there's a lot of opportunity for these to add some spice to an existing base or figure. If you can't think of a use for miniature rats, you either need more toys or more imagination.
Personally, I originally picked these up for use as miniatures in table top gaming. At these prices, they were a steal compared to what similar figures would have cost me.
Oh, I want to add that I liked the effect of displaying the bone piles with the ghosts from Return of the King so much, I shifted them into their permanent display.
Price Tag and Final Analysis: 7, plus or minus, out of 10.
Our final score is admittedly a bit vague, but then it's hard to rate a selection of figures together. The price tag at full retail varied; around $3 - $4 per package. But who pays retail? I dropped by Michael's the other day and found them half off. At $1.50 - $2 each, they're definitely worth the money.
Of course, this will depend on which packages you buy. There were some packs that were downright awful, others that are nice but not in a scale I was interested in. These come in huge sets, items with lights and motors, etc. If you find yourself near a Michaels, head in and look around. You might just see something you like.
But, more importantly, these remind us that interesting toys can be found in unlikely places. To build a really interesting collection, sometimes you need to look off the beaten path. Remember, if you never check, you'll never find anything.
If you've got questions or comments, write them on a piece of paper and mail them to a friend. Then send your friend an email and ask them to transcribe your comment here.