It’s the return of Figures & Speech! Join Nerdist’s regular column by, for, and about grown-ups who still play with their toys, but might want to know more before they buy. From product reviews to informed editorials, these are most definitely the articles that’ll make you want to strike a pose.
If Five Nights at Freddy‘s did not already exist, I think Todd McFarlane might have had to invent it eventually.
For those who did not collect toys in the ’90s, cheaper oil prices and a wider diversity of brick-and-mortar stores with collectible toy sections allowed Todd McFarlane’s McFarlane Toys to get away with making up any toy concepts he could think of. And due to his high standards for sculpting detail and willingness to push the boundaries of acceptable sexiness and gore on action figures, they’d sell!
When McFarlane ran out of designs he could feasibly claim were inspired by Spawn comics, one of the running themes was taking a preexisting topic and making it “twisted.” Twisted Fairy Tales, Twisted Land of Oz, 6 Faces of Madness (a.k.a. “Twisted” real-life murderers), and even Twisted Christmas. Surely Twisted Chuck E. Cheese would have been just around the corner. Fortunately for everyone who likes the idea of disturbingly murderous animatronics, and since mass-retail rarely supports original lines nowadays, Scott Cawthon has had a huge hit with multiple video games and a ton of merchandise on that exact topic.
Five Nights at Freddy‘s is the latest in McFarlane’s LEGO-ish line of construction sets, and at this point in time seems to be the only license they’re pushing in that format for 2016. Two previously revealed Game of Thrones sets appear to be in limbo, and some new Walking Dead sets shown at Toy Fair have not been formally announced with a date.
Five Nights, however, is better suited to this medium than either of the previous properties; where Dead and Thrones minifigs looked more like gashapon and are clipped on to the sides of individual brick studs, the bulkier, cartoonier Freddy’s characters more closely resemble LEGO minifigs, albeit with the McFarlane touch. Plus, their feet fit fully over studs, though their bodies are too large for both feed to fit over two contiguous studs. So the constructions still favor smooth surfaces with the occasional single stud as a foot peg.
They disassemble in more pieces than you’d expect, and while the jaws aren’t hinged, you can pull up on the heads to reveal the mechanics inside and make the figures look like they’re screaming at you.
The three sets I was sent for review are all Walmart exclusives: The Show Stage, The Office, and Pirate Cove. A fourth set, Backstage, is available at other retailers. There are also bagged “8-Bit” style figures available separately, but we’ll get to those.
Let’s start with Pirate Cove, which (one possible small pitfall aside) is the easiest to assemble. It costs $12.99, and can stand to be fairly basic since, in that first Five Nights at Freddy‘s game, you never really see what’s behind the curtain, which serves simply as a creepy area for Foxy to hide in.
But now you know the truth: floorboards! And a ship’s wheel!
The floorboard parts were first used in the Governor’s Office set from The Walking Dead, and that shower curtain is hidden inside the instruction booklet, because, yes, it’s paper. That’s the only real bummer—it feels flimsy, and you have to be very careful to fold it correctly. There are score-lines to help you, but be very sure to line up all the holes at the top, or you’ll have to refold it again. A, er, friend told me so. Yeah.
I always think it’s pretty cool that these sets look like just a regular bag of LEGO in the box, but assemble to look like more than sum of their parts. A big reason for this is that there are swirls of black mixed into every color of plastic the bricks are made from, giving the final construction an authentically dirty and decaying look.
LEGO fans tend to break down into those who enjoy the act of building and those who just want the finished product. I’m the latter, and I suspect Todd is too, because no alternate builds are ever suggested; at most, it is mentioned that you can connect some of the sets to make a larger environment. Pirate Cove, at any rate, is a quick build and makes a decent display piece when you place Foxy just right.
Basically, McFarlane Toys are doing what they always used to, which is selling figures with a piece of diorama base. But economics don’t make diorama bases viable with larger figures any more (and besides, Funko technically has the rights to “figures”), but construction toys can come close enough if you’re clever. Tellingly, the next series of Freddy’s sets due out in winter is all a bunch of smaller figure-and-base combinations; nothing even so big as Pirate’s Cove, but rather a small piece of wall and floor, just like larger figures came with once upon a time and scale-change.
The Office, which also retails for $12.99, is the room in which you as the player spend the entirety of the first game, monitoring the maniacal moving mascots on cameras and hoping they don’t sneak in the sides to stuff you into a robo-bear suit and kill you.
It is also an example of McFarlane construction toys learning from feedback. One of the biggest difficulties I had building the RV set from The Walking Dead was the way the instructions had you put together all the “normal” bricks first, then try to cram the unique/stylized pieces into all the gaps that had been left. I wondered at the time why those pieces couldn’t be layered in as part of the process, and I think the company heard me and/or others. The Office was way easier to build in that way, and it has more “art” pieces than Pirate’s Cove.
In addition to the color washes, some of these pieces have pretty elaborate textures to them.
The square pieces used for tile are recycled asphalt and terrain pieces from the first Walking Dead sets, but they also work as decaying floor bits.
Yes, making the desk before you build the walls around it sure is a good idea.
While I personally would like to see a more elaborate office that features the side corridors, steel shutter doors, and working lights, this is a good replica of just the one room. You do have to add the posters as stickers, and once you do that you’d better not disassemble the bricks, or you’ll tear those stickers apart. The bricks fit tightly, and will not likely fall apart easily.
Also, because the only minifigs are animatronics, there isn’t a person to occupy the office and take on your role as the player. Fortunately, McFarlane themselves have already provided someone perfect for a five night’s watch. You might say he knows something about it, and has more than one life to boot.
The sets are modular and can slide into/next to one another in various configurations.
See the lip/step on the front of each set? Slips right into the gap underneath multiple sides of the other set.
Connecting both in multiple ways is the much larger stage set, which retails for $29.99. One of the idiosyncrasies of this set is that the colors of the pieces don’t always match those in the instructions. For instance, in the below diagram, the two four-by-four pieces in the set were actually the same color, not one gray, one white. Not that it matters, since both pieces end up hidden from sight anyway.
Speaking of color change, it’s a very subtle thing but there are actually two shades of gray at work in this set. It’s very hard to tell without looking closely, but the gray bricks BELOW the checkered layer are more bluish than the gray bricks above. Pay attention when building in order to maintain a consistent look (or go crazy and mix it up if you don’t want that).
Funny enough, the “paper” streamers in this set are punch-out plastic. The arcade cabinet and posters are mostly stickers, save the screen of the video game, which is a printed brick featuring the Balloon Boy hidden minigame.
Pretty sure this is the first LEGO-like set ever to tell you not to poop on the floor. Good advice.
The sets can go together several ways:
None of them quite approximates the game floor plan; you’d need several more sets for that.
And now for what you never see while playing the game. Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza in broad daylight, with customers!
“Lego! They’re all made of ##$%in’ Lego!”
Now, about those $3.99 8-Bit bagged figures…
Most McFarlane Toys are made to look cool even to non-fans, whereas this set is strictly for fans of the source. The Purple Guy, above, is disturbing in the context of the game, but just looks like a blobby, blocky thing otherwise. At $3.99, they’re mostly going to sell to the already converted… and thankfully they are NOT blind-bagged.
The sets overall, though, are well worth your time if you have any interest in this stuff at all. I’ve had McFarlane construction sets since the beginning, and the Five Night‘s sets are by far the best. Some points deducted for details like the paper shower curtain, but overall, a 4.5 burrito rating is merited.
Images: Luke Y. Thompson/Nerdist
Luke Y. Thompson loves him some toys, and takes them as seriously as movies and fast food. Follow him if you choose.