It has been more than a year now since I first saw the trailer for the film Trick ‘r Treat. This is one of those horror anthologies, with four stories all loosely related and themed with Halloween, of course. The trailers looked good, and one character, in particular, stood out, Sam.
The film was supposed to be released for Halloween 2007. That did not happen. Instead, the movie lost it distributor (Warner Brothers) and has since languished. It is still without any solid release date. While there were some rumors that Warner Brothers might pick it back up for release this Halloween, those turned out to be just that, rumors. There is no word at this point if it will ever get a release. What we do know about the film (and the character Sam) comes from the book Trick ‘r Treat: Tales of Mayhem, Mystery, and Mischief (available at Amazon). He is a Halloween mascot who enforces the ‘rules’ of the holiday. Moreover, he enforces them with great fervor and enjoyment. This is a pumpkin that enjoys his job. Meanwhile, I got the hands on the Sam manufactured by Sideshow Collectibles and decided to write a short of review on it. This package is a bit of a departure for a Sideshow Collectibles. In fact, compared to their work on Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, it is like night and day. It is a large window box, something you would be more likely to see from Mezco Toyz or NECA. It is an attractive package to be sure, and it shows off the figure fairly well, but even packed inside two heavy cardboard boxes, mine still arrived severely dented. This kind of package just is not as sturdy and not as likely to survive the handling it will get in the mail. My other major issue is the number of twists. That is not uncommon for this type of package, but there were enough that I lost count. Collector friendly? Not this time around. There is some good text on the back, though, giving you about as much info as you will get on the character. It turns out that under that spooky Halloween mask is not a sweet little tyke, but rather one nasty looking creature. Now, some of us have large heads. Yes, I was born that way, cut it out! However, Sam could be our poster child. You have heard the term ‘melon head’, but I bet this is the first time you have seen one. Yes, his giant noggin’ is designed like a pumpkin, or more specifically, a jack-o-lantern. However, unlike a character such as the Headless Horsemen, who had an actual jack-o-lantern, Sam has a corpulent, raw, realistic quality to his pumpkin head, making it look more like a real head that is simply so deformed as to appear to be a member of the squash family. It is a truly gruesome and unique design, and I can only assume that the sideshow sculptors captured the look accurately. There is a tonne of fine detail, and the fleshy folds around the eyes and nose cavity give it that extra bite of reality. There is also a cool combination of skin-like wrinkles and melon-like wrinkles, very different in design and execution. The skin-like wrinkles tend to run across the face and are very fine. They also flow with the features, much like the ones I see in the mirror every day. The more pumpkin-like wrinkles come down from the dome and are much broader and wider. This combination creates a visually unique and arresting character. If I were grading this only on the head, it would have been four stars. Of course, part of that might be because I have no real reference material to compare it to – this is what Sam looks like for me – but I do love the work they have done. However, the score gets pulled down a bit by the hands. The left hand is sculpted in an open gesture pose while the right is sculpted in a very distinct way to hold the sucker. There is a hole in the palm of the hand, and the hard plastic handle of the sucker should run through the fingers and into the hole, giving it a very sturdy home. Unfortunately, it does not. It fits in the hole all right but does not thread through the fingers properly. Because the hands are made of a very hard vinyl, there is no give to be gotten, and if you try to force it, you will just bend the lollipop handle. This is annoying for a couple of reasons. First, it obviously looks less attractive sticking out of his hand at an odd angle. Also, second, the sucker is quite heavy, and not having it in the correct position makes it harder for Sam to pose with it. When I went back and looked at my photo of Sam at SDCC, I realized they had this same issue. There is a second disappointment with the hands. In the early prototype photos (and in the pictures of the figure on the box), the hands were originally wrapped in actual burlap. In the production figure, they went with sculpted burlap on the hands. While it looks decent, it certainly does not look as good as the real deal. By the way, Sam is a vinyl figure. The body parts are all hollow and lightweight and have that distinctive vinyl look. He stands about fifteen inches tall. Another almost four-star category is the paint work. For a great sculpt to come there, there has to be great paint, and sideshow pulled this one off nicely. There is a shine to the face that is usually not appropriate, but in this case works perfectly. The slight shine gives the head more of a pumpkin skin look than a human skin look, adding to the contrast of vegetable and animal. The paint work on this production figure is greater than what I saw at SDCC in the glass case. This looks much more pumpkin orange, with just the right hint of shadow and detail. I also love the eyes, which are almost alien in appearance with the bright patterned iris’ against the black eye. The hands hold him back from a perfect score again, however. I am not particularly impressed with the painted burlap, and the skin tone of the fingers looks more too much like vinyl and not enough like real skin. Most vinyl figures are not highly articulated, so it was surprising to see the number of joints that Sam has. He has a ball jointed neck that works moderately good, but not outstanding. He can tilt side to side a bit, and the movement can add some evil personality to standard poses. He has ball shoulders, cut elbows, cut wrists, cut hips, cut waist, and cut ankles. He can stand great, and can also sit if you do not mind the pose with his legs spread wide to either side. If there is one category where he falls a bit short, it is in this department. He comes with a breathtaking, and apparently very deadly, Halloween lollipop. However, while it looks good on its own, there is the whole issue with not fitting in his hand properly that I mentioned in the sculpt section. His other main accessory is a rather small bag of candy. It looks fine, but without any handle or loop, he cannot hold it particularly well. You can tie it on with the bag closure, but it is not ideal. It is filled with material to simulate candy inside. He also has a display stand, although you do not need it. It is a very well built stand, nothing like the usual plastic Sideshow variety. The base is quite wide (7 inches in diameter), and made of metal! It has a rubber label on top with the logo and character name. The arm has a screw which attaches it to the base from below, making it a very sturdy design. However, the loop does not fit particularly well around this little character, and dear Sam stands quite well all on his own. The outfit is made up of two main pieces – the burlap mask, and the soft pajamas. The pajamas are outstanding. The soft material has just the right dirty, worn look, and even the little footies are padded with the no-slip rubber soles that never quite match up with the bottom of a kid’s foot. There is even a butt pocket in back, although you cannot open it to see his butt. Probably a good thing, considering how ugly his face is. The pajamas fit great, but cannot be removed easily. The burlap mask is not quite as good of a fit. The problem is not so much the bag as the odd pumpkin shape of the head. In all the promo shots I have seen from the film, Sam has an almost perfectly round head when the bag is on. They were not going to be able to match that look with the properly sculpted head underneath and an actual burlap bag on top. The bag is also a bit less weathered and dirty than I was expecting. It is much cleaner in appearance than the pajamas, although in the right lighting it can still look quite creepy. You will need to adjust it quite a bit out of the box to get the look you want. The sewn on smile should be up on the face higher that it is in the box, but you can get it to look about right with some futzing. If you compare him to other similar 14 – 15″ vinyl figures, you will see a similar price point at $50 – $60. I find it amusing that Medicom charges more than this for itty bitty vinyl figures that could almost fit in Sam’s butt pocket, and people think it is a great deal. If you are having the same issues getting the lollipop in his hand (and you will), do not force it! While the stick will bend a bit, this will cause stress fractures in the plastic and it will break. Sideshow does not do much work in the ‘hot new property’ sort of licensing. They tend to stick with well established license, properties that have been around for a respectable amount of time. Therefore, it must be all the more painful that when they do dip their toes in that particular pool, a shark happens to be right there to bite off their foot. Such is the situation with Sam. They tried to capitalize on what looked like a new film with a bright future, got the product signed up early, and bam – now are stuck holding a bunch of vinyl figures of a character nobody knows. The saving grace here is that the design of this character is really strong, and they have executed well on it. Even if the movie never makes it out, he is a terrific Halloween decoration, and the fact that the film may never get released gives you an interesting story to tell your inquisitive guests. Straight from the film Trick ‘r Treat comes Sam by Mezco Toys, the enforcer of the rules of Halloween. Beneath his apparently innocent scarecrow mask is his misshapen, demonic head. Part pumpkin, part supernatural being, Sam shows no mercy to those who show disrespect to his holiday. Sam comes complete with his infamous and mysterious sack and his deadly oversized lollipop. He wears his film accurate removable hood mask and his orange footie pajamas. Sam stands 10″ tall, features 5 points of articulation, and comes packaged in a collector friendly, specially die-cut window box. Mezco Toys apparently did a great work regarding detail as their version of Sam may look like a child dressed for trick or treating, but Sam is the personification of Halloween itself. In related news, the first film was only officially released six years ago, but for many film fans, a viewing of Michael Dougherty’s Trick ‘r Treat has become a Halloween tradition. The movie is a wonderfully entertaining, scary anthology treat, that not only wonderfully embraces the traditions of the holiday, but even established its own diminutive horror icon in the burlap sack-headed Sam. After years of waiting, the festive treat is finally getting a sequel, and it was during a recent interview with the project’s writer/director that I learned some key details regarding what it will be about and how it will be structured. The universe of Trick ‘r Treat recently expanded with the publication of the graphic novel Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead and it was while discussing the book with the series creator that I learned some key details about Trick ‘r Treat 2. Michael Dougherty was hesitant to offer too much, and chose his words carefully, but he did explain that a big part of his goal with the sequel is to dive further into the history of Halloween – which he finds utterly fascinating. One of the true treats of Trick ‘r Treat is that it is not just an anthology film, but one where all of the stories unfold within the same neighborhood and on the same night. This is not the way that Trick ‘r Treat: Days of the Dead operates, telling Halloween stories from multiple times throughout history, but Michael Dougherty promises that the structure of the feature follow-up is planned to function the same as the original. Trick ‘r Treat 2 does not currently have a release date, but is in the works behind the scenes – so hopefully we will hear more about its development and production calendar in the coming weeks or months. In the meantime, Sam is scheduled for shipment between October and November 2016, currently available for preorder at the Mezco Toyz site for $46.00 USD.