After first introducing us to his Hopping Ghost vinyl figure earlier this month, John Cafiero (Osaka Popstar) was cool enough to send us one for review. Designed and produced by Cafiero, and distributed by DKE Toys, the 8″ figure puts a kid-friendly spin on the Chinese vampire (jiangshi) legend seen in Hong Kong cinema like Encounters of the Spooky Kind, Mr. Vampire and Tsui Hark’s Vampire Hunters. The cool thing about these limited edition figures is that they come in two versions, a default Blue edition and a web-exclusive Green variant—both are about $49.99 which seems pretty normal for a figure this scale.
For this review, we received the Blue edition. I can’t exactly explain why, maybe it’s the nose, but there’s a real Muppets vibe to this design which I dig. Despite being an undead bloodsucker I can see this character having some appeal to both young collectors as well as adults. While there aren’t a ton of details, the ones that do exist are well-painted (primarily in the face area). It’s a little hard to make out, but the Osaka Popstar and Hopping Ghost logos are also etched on the bottom which is a nice touch.
The figure also comes with a death blessing (scroll spell) that features some really well done and—according to Cafiero’s interview with Clutter Magazine—100% authentic Taoist scripture to keep the cartoonish corpse at bay when affixed to the forehead. Unfortunately, I had a bit of a struggle finding a way to get the scroll to stay on. Apparently it’s meant to sit on the lip of his hat toward the side, but it took me a while to figure that out and even then it falls off way too easily. What would have been awesome, though it may have added to the production cost, was if the scroll could be magnetized to the hat somehow.
The Hopping Ghost comes packaged in a large, windowed box which features lyrics to the official Hopping Ghosts theme song on one panel—“Hear the Bells, They’ve Come to Toll for You, See These Claws, They Wanna Dig at You, Feel these Fangs… Then Hop Like a Ghost!” The other panels pretty much just show a front and side illustration of the figure. While the illustrations are nice, it would have been cool to see either a little backstory on the Hopping Ghost myth or maybe even instructions for some Thriller-style Hopping Ghost dance moves.
As a nice bonus, there’s a download card for the theme song performed Osaka Popstar in addition to an “animated instrumental” version.
The figure is made of out solid soft vinyl, which means it’s slightly more flexible than hard plastic. There’s some weight to it, but you won’t get a workout from lifting it. I actually had fun making it hop up and down in synch with the song on more then one occasion while writing this review… just sayin.’ There’s no articulation on this figure, though I was able to get the head to move from side to side. As I mentioned before, the paint application is well done with clean edges and no offset areas. There are two subtle “seams” that show on the palms, but you can barely see them at all, even up close.
Overall, Osaka Popstar’s Hopping Ghost figure is well-designed with simple made-for-animation features and a great paint job. The $49.99 price tag is somewhat offset by the scale (8″ tall) and the addition of the theme song is a nice bonus. The fact that there’s a variant should help the collectability of both pieces, though it’d be nice to see other figures in this series to complement it… perhaps a Van Helsing-type character! Whether you’re just a vinyl collector or an amateur vampire hunter, you’ll find something to appreciate about this figure.