Saturday, 28 February 2015

Funko POP! Books -- Cthulhu

Company: Funko
Year: 2015
Series: Books

"In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming"

It was only a matter of time till we got a POP! Cthulhu. H.P. Lovecraft has always been a hugely influential writer, but in the last decade or so his popularity really seems to have soared. Modern geek culture has really picked up on his stuff and applied it beyond the horror genre – it’s nice to see him get the recognition he deserved but never received during life.

For those unfamiliar with his work, H.P. Lovecraft was a pulp magazine author in the early 20th century, primarily writing weird fiction – supernatural, horror, that kind of thing. He eked out a modest living in this way, but was more influential than successful in his own lifetime – sadly, he died at the young age of 47.

His short stories and themes have been tremendously influential, but the most famous of his creations was the subject of today’s review – the hideous creature Cthulhu. Cthulhu is namechecked in numerous H.P. Lovecraft stories, but I believe he only appears in person in one – The Call of Cthulhu, a story which ranks among the best of Lovecraft’s work and has gone on to lend its name to a pen-and-paper RPG centred around Lovecraft’s mythos.

Appearance-wise, Cthulhu is an unnatural combination of squid, humanoid and dragon, around the size of a mountain. Temperament-wise, you probably won’t be shocked to discover that he was pure evil. Lurking beneath the sea, he was worshipped as a deity by crazed cultists seeking after forbidden knowledge.

But for all his adoption of supernatural themes and imagery, Lovecraft was an atheist in real life. As I understand it, Cthulhu was not actually a god per se, but rather an immensely powerful alien entity which had arrived on this planet in earth’s dim pre-history. Over time, he became the subject of numerous human religions, as he lay “dead but dreaming” beneath the Pacific Ocean. In a way, Cthulhu was the original ancient astronaut.

This rendition of Cthulhu is a nice balance of cutesy and disgusting. He’s an entirely unique sculpt, and actually quite a bit larger than a regular 3.5” POP -- Dracula is pictured for reference -- but still retails for the regular price! This is good – it can serve as a monstrous terror for my Lego minifigures collection, as well as a POP in its own right. 

There’s lots of little details (some might even say a couple too many for the relatively simplistic aesthetic) sculpted all over him, such as the sucker-like appendages on his head, warts on his wings, the chubby hands and the little spikes on the back of his ankles. To protect his modesty, he wears what must surely be the world’s biggest loincloth. It’s been a while since I read any Lovecraft, but I don’t recall this being a detail he mentions in his stories. It’s a good addition, though – it breaks up what could have been an monotonous display of green. With that said, I think it should have been a darker brown. Which brings us to the issue that plagues most of the POPs you’ll ever get – PAINT.  

There’s not a lot of paint, but the paint that is there is kind of sloppy. The main issue is on his mouth tentacles, the undersides which are painted with a kind of bleached bone colour. It hasn’t been done very cleanly, and the paint looks just a little too thick. On the upside, he’s ripe for customisers to repaint, and hopefully give that him that shiny, just-emerged-from-the-sea look via some gloss varnish. It’s a project I’d like to undertake but currently I lack the skill, the time and the inclination to do so. But maybe one day.   

There are two versions of Cthulhu available – the one pictured here and the Entertainment Earth exclusive version, which glows in the dark and has completely open red eyes, rather than half-closed black ones. I was only going to get one of the two, but after this one arrived I decided I had to own both. So I’ll hopefully be pre-ordering the other version shortly (it seems to be arriving in April). I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a few more versions in future, but I’ve been wrong about most of my POP variant predictions/hopes (Glow in the Dark Gillman/Flocked Wolfman, please Funko?), so don’t be surprised if I am again.

Despite some reservations about the paint, Cthulhu here still comes recommended for all H.P. Lovecraft fans (even though the man himself probably would have hated the cutesiness of it!). Ideal for anyone who needs to add some cosmic terror to their display shelf.    

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