Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Stranger Week Day 3 – POP! Television: Barb (Stranger Things)

Series 1 of Stranger Things was a show with many breakout elements, but Barb was arguably one of the biggest. Though she only appeared in a handful of episodes, she quickly became the Boba Fett of the series, inspiring a wide variety of tributes, including social media hashtags, fan art, cosplay, and even tattoos

Barb’s outfit was the most overtly 1980s-looking outfit of any of the main cast – big glasses, ruffled blouse, high waisted jeans and boots, accompanied by short but bouffant red hair. Not as gaudy as we tend to picture the 1980s, but definitely evoking an archetypal image of the terrible yearbook photo. The POP replicates it perfectly; whoever designed this put a lot of care into the look and feel of the figure.

Perhaps best of all, she’s decked out with a Trapper Keeper; though the reference is obscure to modern teens, Trapper Keepers were a somewhat higher-end take on the traditional book binder, and extremely popular in the 1980s, particularly in the USA. Produced in all manner of designs to appeal to guys and girls alike, the Trapper Keeper can be seen as a symbol of Barb’s relatively child-like nature – a stark contrast to friends like Nancy who are “maturing” at a rate that apparently leaves her intimidated and sometimes appalled.

At present, there's just one version of Barb available; the only other obvious version would feature exactly the same outfit but with a blue jacket over the top. But there's one on the way for Emerald City Comicon out next month -- an "Upside Down" two-pack which also features a different version of Eleven. The mold is the same, but the paintjob has the eerie green-grey look of the world of the Upside Down. My suggestion would be to get this one, and only get the exclusive if you're not paying aftermarket prices. I suspect it will be in very heavy demand. 

Barb is the first secondary character to be produced; though she has a fraction of the screen time, it’s fair to say that she’s far more popular than some of the more heavily-featured characters like Nancy or Jonathan. Some of these characters are likely to show up as POPs in future, but Barb’s inclusion really is indicative of how fandom can drive a franchise for good ends.  

But that popularity came at a price; in a (likely intentional) inversion of traditional horror film values, Barb gets killed off in spite of not participating in drinking, drugs or sex. But I suspect we’ll probably see her in Season 2 in form or another – maybe a flashback, or maybe as a resurrected Demogorgon-esque creature? The character’s popularity is probably too strong for her to be entirely gone.   

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