Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Story (Neca)



It wouldn't be Christmas without "A Christmas Story," the 1983 movie that became an instant holiday classic thanks to its winning cast and quotable scenes. The film is as time-honored a tradition as getting your tongue stuck to a pole in freezing weather.



In 2003, NECA produced a small assortment of figures based on this iconic film. The packaging was in a rather festive green, with a red Christmas ball sticker for the figure's name. All four family members, and Ralphie's best friend, Flick were produced for the line. An incredibly rare figure, Ralphie in Bunny Suit was also produced towards the tail end of the series.

In 2008, NECA followed it up with one additional figure, Scut Farkus. The packaging was slimmed down, and utilized a red cardboard backer. A green strip at the bottom was designated for the figure's name. NECA also released the majority of the prior figures in this new packaging design, though they are much rarer, and more difficult to find than the original green packaged ones.

As we take a look at each individual figure (below), we thought it would be fun to also see where these particular actors are today.


Peter Billingsley (Ralphie)

Ralphie Parker, played by Peter Billingsley, had just one Christmas wish as a nine-year-old in the 1940s: an official Red Ryder carbine-action 200-shot range model air rifle, with a compass in the stock and "this thing which tells time."

Luckily Ralphie never did shoot his eye out, and Billingsley has gone on to have quite the merry career. Now, Billingsley works behind the camera as a producer for films like "Iron Man" and "Four Christmases," in which he also has small on-screen roles. He directed Vince Vaughn's comedy "Couples Retreat."


Scott Schwartz (Flick)

Schwartz played Ralphie's pal Flick, who landed himself in a sticky situation after falling victim to the dreaded triple dog dare. Schwartz played a few childhood roles, in "A Christmas Story" and in "The Toy" in 1982. In 1985, he starred as Adam Weisman alongside Liza Minnelli and Corey Haim in "A Time to Live."

The grown-up Schwartz also starred in a few films that weren't so family-friendly - including "Scotty's X-Rated Adventure." He dabbled in the adult film industry until 2000, then attempted to break back into the mainstream acting scene.


Melinda Dillon (Mrs. Parker)

Dillon played Ralphie's ever-doting mother, Mrs. Parker. Dillon has steadily starred in movies throughout her career from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" in 1977 to Mrs. Rogers in "Captain America" in 1990 (co-starring again with Mr. Parker, Darren McGavin).

One of Dillon's most important roles as of lately was as Rose Gator in the 1999 film "Magnolia." She played the wife of TV game show host, Jimmy Gator. She also starred in the drag queen comedy, "To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything!" as Merna in 1995.

Dillon's resume includes more than a dozen TV movies as well as TV series appearances in recent shows like "Law and Order: SVU" and "Heartland."

Ian Petrella (Randy Parker)

The baby of the family is all grown up these days! Ian Petrella played Randy Parker, Ralphie's adorable little bro who struggled with picky eating habits and a bulky snowsuit.

Inspired by Petrella's character, Randy Bibs are on sale at the A Christmas Story House Gift Shop these days...

As for Petrella, he went on to star in more than a few TV series. He played Bill on 'Who's The Boss?' and Alex on 'Diff'rent Stroke.' You could also catch him on 'Beverly Hills, 90210,' 'Once a Hero,' and in 2009's 'Crafty.'

These days, Petrella focuses on animation and puppetry rather than acting. Petrella worked on a Jim Henson project as a puppeteer. Petrella co-founded a production company that creates web content and produces various animated shorts.


Darren McGavin (The Old Man)

Darren McGavin played Ralphie's profanity-unleashing father, known to his sons as The Old Man.

McGavin's long, varied career included big-screen, small-screen and stage roles, as well as producing, directing and writing credits. McGavin starred 'Billy Madison' in 1995, as the fed-up father to an immature and down-right lazy, Billy Madison.

We fondly remember McGavin in his heroic newspaper reporter role in the short-lived horror TV series, "Night Stalker." He passed away in 2006 at the age of 83.


Zack Ward (Scut Farkus)

Farkus was portrayed by Zack Ward, who's still acting as an adult. Ward went on a rampage as Postal Dude in the horror-comedy "Postal" (2007). He also played First Sergeant Donnelly in "Transformers" that same year.

Ward's acting resume is extensive, and he's even popped up on your TV screen in "Warehouse 13," "Dollhouse," and "Cold Case." Ward's big into the horror-themed scene, if you couldn't tell. You can also see him in "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," "BloodRayne 2: Deliverance," and "Freddy vs. Jason."

Starting off as the bully in "A Christmas Story" put Ward well on his way for his future acting ventures.



Two box sets were produced over the course of the series. The first was the four pack "Parker Family" which included each member of the family. The second, which had no official name, was that of the children from the film. The latter pack even included the new Scut Farkus figure.



NECA extended the line to include the 10 and 12 inch talking figures. Though they were not as popular as the regular sized figures (not that the figures were all that popular either).

As we make our rounds to the various retail stores this year, while we have seen some new items based off of the film such as; Bobble Heads, Leg Lamp Replicas, and other various nick knacks, we have yet to see any new figures emerge. It's possible that NECA has cashed in their chips on the series, but at the same time, it's difficult to tell considering there was a five year laps between figures being released in the past. So will there be more? I suppose only time will tell. Until then, we at least have these.

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