Friday, February 16, 2024

The Spiderwick Chronicles - SPRITES!

McDonalds Happy Meal - The Spiderwick Chronicles - Sprites - McDonalds 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles are a series of five children's fantasy books by Holly Black written between 2003-2004 (with an additional six tie-in books published through 2009). I really appreciate when faerie lore is taken seriously. I grew up poring over the creepy encyclopedic Faeries by Brian Froud and therefore have a healthy awe and fear of the fey. Ted Naifeh's Courtney Crumrin series epitomizes the dark and mysterious faerie aesthetic I love. And coincidentally I discovered Holly Black when Ted illustrated her Good Neighbors trilogy. She clearly carries the same respect for the genre that I do. I immediately began reading The Spiderwick Chronicles and really enjoyed it. The movie adaptation had come out a few years prior in 2008, but I hadn't seen it. When I did, I was predictably disappointed. I find that big studios often miss out on the nuances that make these properties so great. In this case, the movie started great, with a slow creeping discovery of a magical world under our noses. I loved the atmosphere.

But it quickly became frantic and rambunctious; with the characters yelling and running constantly. The ambiance was gone after the first 15 minutes. I honestly think that movie execs think children have zero attention span and can't pay attention during a quiet moment. But I've personally found that to be very far from the truth. When I babysit, a slow-paced Studio Ghibli movie goes over much better than loud in-your-face entertainment. But I digress. One great takeaway from this live-action movie was the Sprites. They weren't major players, and only had one real scene (in Lucinda Spiderwick's container garden), but they looked great and captured that Arthur Rackham / Brian Froud aesthetic well. Luckily the McDonald's Happy Meal toys seemed to like them too and featured four different Sprites. They aren't necessarily gendered, but I'm featuring them on this female-centric site because they're wonderful and pastel. Plus I am obsessed with plant-themed toys. Lets check them out below! 

(Note: There is a Spiderwick TV series premiering on Roku in 2024. I didn't know this until today. Hopefully it prompts more toys!)

So the really confusing thing about these toys are the regional variations. The US, European, and Australian releases are all slightly different. (The Asian releases seem to match the Australian ones, but don't hold me to that).

In general, the European releases are smaller and have a switch on their backs. 
The US and Australian releases are larger and have a push button on their backs.

The light-up feature is pointless. The distracting hole in the middle of all their torsos has a little red bulb that lights up. Like the kind that lights up on a TV remote so you know the batteries work. It doesn't illuminate the plastic or add anything. A total waste.

Yellow Flower Sprite (European)

Yellow Flower Sprite (US and Australia)

The Pink Flower Sprites didn't get a US release unfortunately. The smaller one is from Europe and the larger one is from Australia.

Pink Flower Sprite (European)

Pink Flower Sprite (Australian)

Here are my four Flower Sprites together. Between the color, scale, and sculpt variations, it's a pretty diverse group. 
Also, for a long time I thought the sculpt difference between pink and yellow was only the head. But the bodies are unique. 
The only shared parts are the arms.

Water Sprite 

This is the US release. This sprite looks identical regardless of region. I assume that the European release is smaller and has a back switch, but I only own this one so I can't be certain.

The Humming Sprite looks basically the same between regions. The main difference is that the larger US/Australian one has legs that seem a little less squat (it's more obvious from the back).

Humming Sprite (US and Australia)

Time for some Group and Comparison Pics!


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