The Toymaker (2017) poster

The Toymaker (2017)


aka Robert and the Toymaker

UK. 2017.


Director/Screenplay – Andrew Jones, Producers – Lee Bane, Rebecca Graham, Robert Graham, Andrew Jones & Jonathan Willis, Photography – Jonathan McLaughlin, Music – Bobby Cole, Makeup Effects – Jodie Gibson, Puppeteer – Tracy Dunn, Production Design – Felicity Boylett. Production Company – North Bank Entertainment.


Lee Bane (The Toymaker, Amos Bluchert), Erick Hayden (Colonel Ludolf von Alvensleben), Jo Weil (Officer Herman Fegelin), Bodo Freisecke (Officer Karl Gebhardt), Claire Carreno (Abigail Kendrick), Francesco Tribuzio (Christophe Muller), Ali Rooney (Brigitte Muller), Harriet Rees (Esther Muller), Rik Grayson (Benjamin Hoffman)


Bavaria, Germany, 1941. Fleeing from the Nazis, Benjamin Hoffman seeks refuge with Christophe Muller and his wife and daughter. He reveals that the Nazis are seeking the occult secrets of a book he carries. SS officer Colonel Ludolf von Alvensleben comes to the house, believing Hoffman is there. In the course of this, he kills Hoffman and the Mullers. However, the Mullers’ teenage daughter Esther escapes with the book and seeks refuge with the toymaker Amos Bluchert before dying. Fascinated with the book, Amos reads from it and uses a spell to bring Robert and other dolls in his workshop to life. However, after seeing the living toys, his assistant Abigail Kendrick becomes fearful and turns Amos in to the Nazis seeking the reward.

Robert the Doll (2015) was one of the films from prolific Welsh low-budget director Andrew Jones. (See below for Andrew Jones’ other films). It was made as a quick copy of the killer doll film Annabelle (2014) and came with a similar Based on a True Story claim. The Toymaker/Robert and The Toymaker was the second of four sequels that Jones made. It was preceded by The Curse of Robert the Doll (2016) and followed by The Legend of Robert the Doll (2018) and Robert Reborn (2019).

The Robert the Doll films were blatant copies of the Annabelle films. Before that there was a long line of the killer doll films stretching back to the silent era – see Dolls and Puppets. In this case, Andrew Jones draws on Charles Band and Full Moon Productions’ long-running series of Puppet Master films that began with Puppetmaster (1989).

With the third film in the series Puppet Master III: Toulon’s Revenge (1993), Full Moon took everything back to the Nazi era and created an origin story for the puppets and puppetmaster Andre Toulon. Andrew Jones does exactly the same here, creating an origin story for the puppets set during the Nazi era with a near-identical plot involving the fight over the spells that can bring the puppets to life. To this extent, Jones even has to create his own puppetmaster character, the titular Toymaker (played by Jones regular Lee Bane, unrecognisable in old age makeup).

Lee Bane as The Toymaker, Amos Bluchert in The Toymaker (2017)
Lee Bane as The Toymaker, Amos Bluchert in The Toymaker (2017)

Andrew Jones does quite well with the Nazi scenes. In this regard, he is well served by Erick Hayden as the S.S. Commandant. The scenes with he coming to visit, playing poker with young daughter Harriet Rees and challenging Francesco Tribuzio about being a human lie detector feel like they are strongly drawn from Christoph Waltz in Inglourious Basterds (2009).

I found The Toymaker a somewhat better film than Robert the Doll. That said, it is past the one-hour point before we get to see Robert. It is still the same scrawny immobile puppet it was in the first film, although this time it gets to be accompanied by a couple of other dolls.

British director/producer Andrew Jones started out with two troubled teen films Teenage Wasteland (2006) and The Feral Generation (2007) and subsequently joined the horror genre with The Amityville Asylum (2013), The Midnight Horror Show (2014), Valley of the Witch (2014), A Haunting at the Rectory (2015), The Last House on Cemetery Lane (2015), Poltergeist Activity (2015), The Exorcism of Anna Ecklund (2016), Cabin 28 (2017), Werewolves of the Third Reich (2017), Jurassic Predator (2018), The Legend of Halloween Jack (2018), Bundy and the Green River Killer (2018), The Curse of Halloween Jack (2019), The Manson Family Massacre (2019), The Utah Cabin Murders (2019), The Haunting of Margam Castle (2020), The Jonestown Haunting (2020), A Killer Next Door (2020) and Alien: Battlefield Earth (2021). He has also produced and written Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection (2012), Silent Night: The Homecoming (2013) and Kill Kane (2016).

Trailer here

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