Saturday, December 30, 2023

Action Figure Review: The Ghost of Jacob Marley (All-In!) from Figure Obscura by Four Horsemen Studios


   I had hoped to have this review up for Christmas Eve, but that clearly didn't happen, did it? Today I'm checking out the latest figure in the Four Horsemen Studios' Figure Obscura line: The Ghost of Jacob Marley! Jacob Marley is one of the most recognizable characters in Victorian literature and a mouthpiece of author Charles Dickens to share the changes and social reform needed in a society that purports to truly observe the celebration of Christmas. I've loved A Christmas Carol for as long as I can remember and I was thrilled when the Four Horsemen sent the teaser email around about this release. This is the first time I've went with an All-In! package for a Figure Obscure, so my version also came with Christmas Card, a mug, and an enamel pin. This is an incredible figure that arrived before Christmas to most collectors, so he really helped get us in the spirit. Ready to be visited by a spirit? Then join me after the break...

The Facts:

Height: 6 7/8ths inches (with a pumpkin for a head)

Articulation: Double swivel hinge ankles, swivel/hinge knees, swivel thighs, H-hinged hips, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel forearms, swivel/hinge wrists and a balljointed head. 

Accessories: Coat, set of chains, 3 swappable portraits, 16 keys, 8 swappable hands, 2 door knockers, copy of First Stave of A Christmas Carol, Christmas card with envelopes, enamel pin, and a mug

Non-Scalper Price: $60 for the basc figure, $95 dollars for the All-In! set.

Fun Fact: Jacob really wanted Robin Hood to portray him in Mickey's Christmas Carol. 

The Packaging:

*  Like with most packaging from Four Horseman Studios these days, the art is by Nate Baertsch. It's very influenced by the scene where Marley's ghost shows Ebenezer Scrooge the multitude of spirits floating around London at night, caught in a purgatory like existence. The front of the box has n image of the door knocker on Scrooge's building, taking the shape of Marley's head. It's all very well done with a lovey and spooky feel.  The part of the box on the right is a wrap around piece that doubles as a backdrop and snaps onto the box on the left via magnets. I'll get to the backdrop again in a moment.

The Positives:

* In case you've missed it, Marley is dead. He's a ghost now and he's wearing the clothes he wore in life. It looks like classic Victorian menswear with lots of nice, sculpted detail, but everything is in shades of blue and grey to give him a spectral appearance. While the Figure Obscura figure are very much compatible with Mythic Legions and even reuse many parts often, but I'm not sure what Jacob Marley reuses from previous figures. I love the decorative cuffs and his cravat. Very classy!

* Marley's waistcoat is a separate, removable piece and he actually looks pretty good without it, too. Of course, he's much more impressive sporting it and it's a nicely detailed piece. He's very spooky and I'm quite glad that the Four Horsemen didn't go with a fully translucent figure. I think the detail looks much nicer this way. They often release a variant of their figure later on, so perhaps there will be a translucent version of Marley later on?

* While the entire figure isn't transparent, Marley's feet are. The bottom of hs jacket is, too, It's a neat effect, as if he's fading into Scrooge's view.

* This is my favorite portrait for Jacob Marley and it's the standard one. Just his face, looking rather gaunt and severe, with bits of peeling flesh, long, pulled back hair, and a handkerchief or cloth wrapped around his head to keep his jaw from falling loose. Marley's eyes are essentially "whited" out with no pupils, too, giving him a somewhat detached appearance. Remember how Scrooge never quite knew what Marley was looking at? 

* The second portrait is much more extreme and shows Marley with a painted expression as he has removed the cloth from around his jaw at Scrooge's request. This is the face that appears on most of the merchandise included with the All-In! set and on the t-shirt, and it's a great one. The sculpting is excellent and very otherworldly. It reminds me a bit of Marley from Robert Zemeckis' A Christmas Carol. 

* Check out the inside of Marley's mouth. Those teeth and his tongue are incredibly well detailed, especially for a 1/12th scale figure.

* The third portrait was a complete surprise! It wasn't show in the sales photos and I'm pretty sure it wasn't mentioned, either. It actually comes stored inside the opening. It's an iron mask that looks rather skull-like. It's covered in rivets and iron slats and definitely seems like a pretty gruesome piece. How neat that this was a surprise, huh?

* There is a chain and a large padlock attached to the iron mask which presumably keeps it shut. I imagine that there will be some Mythic Legions collectors who want to add this piece to their collections, so it should be pretty desirable. 

* The articulation is really fantastic on Jacob Marley and definitely just makes him wonderfully expressive, especially with his nice assortment of hands and the jaw-dropping portrait. The articulation is the same as what you'd find on  Mythic Legions figure, so it's quite good with a model that's pretty consistent with most other 6 inch articulated lines on the market today. The range of motion and quality of the joints is really impressive and while there aren't pectoral hinges or anything, everything that's here works well and the articulation blends into the sculpt nicely.

* Let's talk about Marley's chains as they are a huge part of this figure. The book describes Marley as having a chain "clasped about his middle. It was long and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in steel."

   The Four Horsemen have crafted a harness with multiple chains hanging off of it, toting around most of the things mentioned, along with a massive safe. Yikes! That's some heavy weight indeed, Jacob!

* Here's a close-up of the harness. It looks like straps of leather with metal hoops, clasped in the middle with a dramatically large padlock. The chains and all of their various bits and bots hang from the various hoops, particularly the ones on Marley's shoulders. 

* The biggest item Marley is dragging around is a safe. It fits well with the other items as it's definitely representative of his greed and lust for money, so it's a cool addition to his chains. Well, I'm sure Marley doesn't appreciate it, but I do. This is a nicely sculpted safe with lots of sculpted weathering and detail. There are even some rollers on the bottom (though they don't actually function). 

* Here's a shot of the rear and side of the safe. You can see where the chain connects to the side.

* Yes, the safe opens, and that's where you'll find the iron mask wearing portrait. Feel free to store in inside, or the multitude of extra keys that Marley comes with.

* Here's a shot of the back of Marley's harness which shows off all of his chains, padlocks, hasps, and the other heavy cashboxes and ledgers he's carrying around. 

* Here's a closer look at the blue ledger, or perhaps a book of deeds, that Marley is toting around. The paint work is neat around the edges and there's a metal bookplate screwed to the front. 

* Here is one of the cashboxes. I love the pattern of the wrought iron these look to be made from. It's very atmospheric and keeps these from just looking like smooth, regular pieces. It makes them look older and more fitting Marley' ghostly nature. 

* Here's the second cash box. It's a different shape from the first one.

* Here's another ledger or book of deeds. This one looks like it has a leather jacket and a buckle to keep it closed. 

* Last up is the third cash box. It's also a unique sculpt from the other two, which is just a really nice feature. There are so many unique and fun piece on Marley's chains and it just make him a more interesting figure to admire. 

* Check out this assortment of keys! Besides the keys that are permanently attached to his chains, Marley also comes with four sets of four keys (that's sixteen total for the math challenged!). How neat! Put them in the safe, scatter them about, or just them in different parts of your collection.

* Marley comes with four pairs of hands that swap out easily. You've for some open palmed gesturing hands, some standard grips with vertical hinges, some grasping hands, and some standard grips with horizontal hinges. The nails look look longer and sharp with thin, creepy fingers. 

* Scrooge's door knocker changing into Marley's visage is one of the most recognizable images in literature and the Four Horsemen have used it here on the cover of the figures box, on the cover of the included first stave of A Christmas Carol, and as an accessory. Not only is this a cool looking piece with a bit of patina and a hinged ring but it also has an inset on the back so you can hang it on a tack. You'll need to find a door or some custom backdrop to use it with, but it's pretty neat.

* And here's the door knocker with a bit more of a ghoulish look to it. So you get two door knockers in this set. When you do your end of the year voting for the figure with the best knockers, make sure to nominate Jacob Marley! 

OK, maybe I'll leave comedy to the bears.

* Like previous other Figure Obscura releases, the piece that wraps around the box is made to be a diorama for the figure. It's Scrooge's bedroom, complete with his fireplace which has tiles depicting various biblical stories. Ebenezer Scrooge himself is right there, reacting to Marley's appearance. Where's Marley? You just add your figure in! I really like this one, though I do hope that we do get Ebenezer Scrooge in Figure Obscura one day. I'd love a figure with both his regular clothe and his nightgown look, perhaps accomplished through a soft goods nightgown, alternate portraits, and swappable legs. 

* If you picked up the standard figure, you get everything I've looked at previously plus the First Stave of  A Christmas Carol. If you went All-In!, you also received this mug, an enamel pin, and some Christmas cards. The mug is quite nice and is actually metal with some really nice artwork of the street of London filled with floating spirits (who resemble the Four Horsemen team!).

* The enamel pin is very nicely done and shows off Marley's face with the wrap around his head removed, showing his hanging jaw. The colors are really bright and bold on this piece!

* Every figure comes with a copy of Stave 1 from A Christmas Carol. I like the inclusion here, even though it's a pretty simple copy of the first chapter of the public domain book with some background art from the packaging mixed in. Seeing this included really makes me optimistic that we'll see the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. That's four figures and four staves. But wait; there are five, right? Of course I want an Ebenezer Scrooge to go with them!

* Last up is a set of 12 Christmas cards with envelopes that you can send out to friends and family or you can send them to yourself and hang them all up together in your living room ala Mr. Bean. 

The Negatives:

* I do have a couple negatives, the first of which is the shoulders on the figure. They were very, very tight when Marley arrived. I really had to use the hairdryer a few times to loosen things up a bit, but it's still a bit stiff. 

* How do you attach the harness with the chains? You actually have to pop off Jacob Marley's arms and his head and slid it over the body. If you weren't aware that the Four Horsemen's Mythic Legions and related lines were modular, this would be quite confusing. I really wish the harness unclasped in the front, perhaps with the front lock actually working to some extent.
   This is definitely a dream figure for me. I love A Christmas Carol so very much and the first stanza might just be my favorite part. The Four Horsemen are really doing some incredible things in Figure Obscura and Jacob Marley is an Epic figure that is surely one of the best of the year. The basic figure is just incredible and while I didn't really need the mug, pin, and cards, they're fun to have. I love how the Four Horsemen are delving into literature and world culture and I anxiously await their next drop from this line. This is likely to be my last review of 2023, so I'll wrap things up by simply saying "God bless us, every one!"

Looking for more of Jacob Marley? I've also reviewed Jacob Marley (along with his brother Robert Marley in the Funko The Muppets Christmas Carol set of The Marley Brothers.

For more Figure Obscura reviews, check out the following:
Headless Horseman
The Masque of the Red Death


  1. I think this is one of their best Figura Obscura figures. Very well done. Love the surprise head in the safe.

    1. Yes, it's currently between this one and the Headless Horseman for me.


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