It was looking like we were in for a photo finish this year. Last year, toymaker Fresh Monkey Fiction partnered with online retailer Big Bad Toy Store to launch the Naughty or Nice collection. Structured similar to a Kickstarter campaign, FMF posted several action figures for preorder with a minimum order quantity needed for the figure to go into production. The only difference was, since it was through BBTS there was no real obligation to buy. Payment wasn’t required until the product shipped, which was going to take about a year, so it felt like a pretty significant gamble on the part of FMF and BBTS. Essentially, they were banking on a line of Santa Claus themed action figures to be a big enough hit to take the risk, and so far it looks like it’s worked out.
The goal from the get-go was to get these figures into the hands of collectors in time for Christmas 2022. That was looking a bit dicey going into November, but FMF came through as the figures arrived on Tuesday the 13th and BBTS began shipping them out the next day. I received my order on the 18th, a week before Christmas, ensuring at least 14 days or so of holiday display. As for what I ordered, that ended up being just two figures plus the accessory set. The line is essentially a series of Santa Claus figures. There’s a classic one, a black one, an army one, robot, pirate, and zombie. In addition to that, there were two versions of Krampus on the same buck and a bunch of elves and nutcrackers done in a five-points style. The main Santa body, which is used for every figure, is basically a 1:12 Santa. Some have described it as a “Marvel Legends” styled Santa, but it’s simpler than that as far as construction goes. The articulation setup is more like a Mythic Legions release, but the sculpt less ambitious. There’s also more paint than a typical Hasbro offering and, ultimately, they are their own thing. I ordered just the Classic Santa and the Cyborg Santa. I do like some of the others, but at $37 a piece I’m not sure I need any of the others. What attracted me to the Classic Santa should be pretty self-explanatory, while the Cyborg one just looked pretty cool. In what is planned to be my final Christmas themed action figure review of 2022, we’re going to take a look at both.
The Naughty or Nice collection comes packaged in a window box with a hanger on the top. It’s pretty similar to a Hasbro window box or the old DC Direct boxes. The cardstock is a little thin, but it seems durable enough to protect the figure. It just may be difficult to get a mint one through the mail. The figure can be removed from either side, or the bottom, but not the top unless you want to destroy the box. Both figures are identical with the exception of the heads and hands, which is why I feel fine reviewing them together. The figures stand at about 6.5″ to the top of the head and close to 7″ with the hat on. The hat is removable and it plugs on just fine. It looks like FMF did not apply any paint to the inside of the hats so there should not be a cause for concern with paint rub, unless it comes from the head to the hat.
The figures present pretty well. The heads are fully painted as they were sculpted in white plastic while much of the body appears to be sculpted in red. My Classic Santa has a tiny chip on the tip of his nose and a small blob of flesh-tone on his moustache which is unfortunate, while Cyborg Santa’s default portrait looks terrific. The beard on Santa has some dry brushing over it with a light brown. This is different from the solicitation and even the cross-sell on the boxes where it was all white with some gray shading like Cyborg Santa. I’m guessing they wanted to differentiate the figure more from the others, but I definitely prefer the all-white approach to this one. It’s almost cream colored as a result and it takes some getting used to. The suit is also shaded which looks nice and helps to reduce the plastic look. I like the shading applied to the white portions of the suit as it gives this Santa a more hearty presence like he’s been going up and down chimneys all night. The paint is cleanly applied in most places. It’s not super crisp around the beard of Santa, but it’s good enough. The only issue I have with the paint is the choice to sculpt the boots in red and paint black over them. There’s a couple of small chipped areas where red shows through and the hinge down there seems to pick up pieces of red plastic which flake out. The foot is done in black so the hinge is black as well which is nice, but if I could make one suggestion going forward it would be for FMF to make the entire boot a separate mold that pegs into the lower leg which would also add a boot cut. The hands on both figures are ungloved and the sculpt for the Cyborg Kringle is wonderful. There’s some nice paint wash there as well and they just look great. The regular Santa has hands molded in a flesh color and it looks like they were paint too to give them a warm presence and not a plastic one.
These guys look nice at a stand still, but the one thing that I was really curious about was how these guys would move. They feel really nice and sturdy in hand and out of the box all of the joints were nice and tight. Some maybe a touch too tight, but I never felt like I was in danger of breaking anything while I was breaking them in nor did I need to apply any heat. The head is just on a big ball peg, which again, makes it feel like a Mythic Legions release as it’s the same setup as the Father Christmas figure. Because Santa has a beard and a coat, he really can’t do anything except turn his head as far as the beard will let him. There’s no down, and barely any up rotation. At the shoulder, we have a ball-hinge setup which can raise out to the side almost to a fully horizontal position. It can also rotate around, but you have to avoid rubbing the edge of the torso when doing so as it’s cut at a slight angle. The elbows are just single hinges and do not reach a 90 degree bend. There is a swivel point there as well which is okay, but these arms are pretty limited. The wrists rotate and hinge and I’m happy to report that Cyborg Santa’s trigger hand hinges vertically instead of horizontal which is a nice attention to detail. There’s a ball joint at the waist that mostly allows for rotation with barely anything forward or back. The hips are ball and socket joints and because the lower part of the coat and belt are one piece and done in a soft plastic, the legs can go out to the side way farther than they need to. They kick forward a decent amount, but nothing really back. The knees are like the elbows, a single hinge with a swivel, and also can’t hit a 90 degree bend. At the ankle, there’s a hinge and a rocker which works pretty well..
The overall articulation is merely functional. These guys aren’t going to get into any sort of exotic pose, which is probably expected of a Santa figure. The problem though is they struggle with basic stuff. Santa can’t really get his hands to his head for cookie eating or a finger by the nose pose. You can fudge some of these with perspective shots, but that’s it. Santa also can’t present one of the gifts with both hands under it which is unfortunate. Worst of all though, is Cyborg Santa can’t hold his shotgun in a convincing two-handed fashion. I can get two hands onto it, but not with one on the trigger. I would like to see some improvements for next year’s batch. I think the biggest addition they could make is a biceps swivel. I don’t know if it would solve all of the problems, but it could help. An upper torso joint would be a nice addition too, but I don’t see that happening. I also wouldn’t expect, or even ask for, something like a butterfly joint to help get the hands closer together. And anything that could improve the range of the elbow bend would be welcomed. I think the overall aesthetic of the figure base is good so I get not wanting to mess with it too much. A biceps swivel wouldn’t harm the look, as far as I’m concerned, while I can see some not wanting an upper torso joint. Mostly, I hope they don’t just rest on their laurels and do nothing to improve what was released here.
Both figures also feature some accessories, and some are shared. Both Santas come with a second head. For Classic Santa, it’s a winking face and it looks okay. The winking eye is just a straight, black, line and I feel like it could better. It’s not bad enough that I’ll never use it, but not the slam dunk I expected. For Cyborg Santa, the alternate head is a half Santa half robot look as we’re definitely going for a T-800 thing here. It’s awesome and I’m really torn on which head to go with for this guy. Classic Santa also comes with extra hands. His default ones are gripping hands and he also has a set of relaxed hands and a pointing right hand. The pegs on the hands are basically the same diameter as a Marvel Legends, just shorter, so one could conceivably swap hands with other figure lines. Both figures come with “The List” which is sculpted like a scroll of paper. It’s fine, but I wish the printing on the list itself was different. Santa should have a nice list and Cyborg Santa a naughty list, for instance. Both figures have a red gift box with a painted green ribbon and bow on it. It opens from the top and it’s fine. Both figures also come with a white display stand that is pretty unnecessary since they stand fine and it’s not attractive enough to force its way into the display.
Both figures also have their own unique additions. For Cyborg Santa, it’s a police style pump shotgun. It’s all black and it looks fine, but the problem is it’s too thin. He doesn’t get a good grip on it as a result and it’s a balancing act to pose it. Maybe they were worried about paint rub and thus overcompensated on the thickness of the weapon? It’s too bad and I already mentioned the posing issues with it. For Santa, we get a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. Everything is it’s own piece so the plate is separate from the cookies so you can place them on it or put one in Santa’s gripping hand. He can also grip the plate just fine, and if you’re persistent, you could probably balance it on one of the relaxed hands. The glass of milk is also two parts as it’s a transparent glass with the milk a separate piece of plastic so it can be empty or full. The only problem is, the gripping hands are too tight to grasp the glass while the relaxed hands are too loose. I wish one of the relaxed hands had been replaced with a hand designed specifically for holding the glass. It is possible to position it in such a way that will stay in Santa’s hand, but in an unnatural way. I suppose with enough heat, the gripping hand could be softened to the point where it could hold the glass, but I didn’t want to risk the paint transfer from the hand to the glass. My solution? Blue sticky tack.
We also have one more thing to talk about and that’s the accessory set. FMF sold a separate pack for about 22 bucks that contains the following: a cloak, a sack, an extra red present, a set of green presents, two stockings, two pieces of coal, a candy cane, another list, and another set of milk and cookies. I grabbed this mostly for the cloak and sack, but I’m having a bit of buyer’s remorse. The soft goods cloak has a real cheap feel to it. It’s thin, the white trim is like what you would find on a 3 dollar stocking, and the tie is done with cheap ribbon. It just doesn’t look great on Santa. I think it needs to be heavier and maybe the trim should be a shorter “fur” to add a touch of class. Santa can wear it with or without his hat, but I don’t know that I like it enough to use. The sack is basically the same deal as it’s done in the same style and there is a ribbon for the drawstring which I just don’t like the look of and it’s much too long. Santa needs a sack though, so I can see myself using this, but it could have better. The rest of the stuff is just “meh.” The stockings are solid plastic so you can’t fill them with anything. The Santas both have trouble gripping the candy cane, and the coal is just coal. The green presents are molded together and they add something to the display. The repeat items are unnecessary though – why do I need another set of milk and cookies or list? I guess I like being able to fill out the plate a bit more with the cookies, but how about some toys instead? I like the presents and stockings just to fill out a display, but this set could have been better and I don’t think it’s something I can recommend.
The Naughty or Nice collection isn’t without its issues, but the total package of the Santa figures I purchased are still good enough to merit inclusion in a holiday toy display. I like the look of both figures and my only nitpick there is that I wish Santa’s beard was whiter. The sculpt is great and there’s enough paint to add a touch of class to both figures. These don’t look or feel cheap (provided you’re not using those soft goods in the accessory set) and can stand beside the Figura Obscura Father Christmas and not look out of place. Ultimately, I recommend these based on your own personal preferences. If you want a classic, Coca-Cola, styled Santa then the Classic Santa should be more than sufficient. The other figures are just about what amuses you. I thought Cyborg Santa looked cool so I bought him. If the gun situation was better, I might have talked myself into Sgt. Santa too. I can definitely see a lot of folks liking the look of Pirate and Zombie Santa and it would be easy to just go all-in to amass a larger, Santa, display. I personally wanted to like Krampus, but him being on the same Santa body just doesn’t do it for me. I want a naked, furry, Krampus and not one dressed like Santa, but the head sculpt looks pretty rad. He does have a tail, and there’s a plug on the Santa figures to cover-up the peg hole for that tail, though it’s not visible so I don’t consider it an eyesore.
If you would like to add these or any of the other figures in the collection to your holiday display then head over to Big Bad Toy Store. Some of the figures have been going in and out of stock, but have since been re-stocked it would seem. Fresh Monkey Fiction also plans to make some of this collection available for preorder again when and if they do sell out, but those won’t be delivered until next year. Wave 2 is also up for pre-order and it looks like the major new addition from a sculpting perspective is a shirtless Santa which will also be used for a shirtless Krampus. I am probably going to order a figure or two from the second wave, so check back next year to see how those turned out!
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