Universal Monsters: Ultimate Frankenstein’s Monster by NECA

My sincerest apologies to those of you who aren’t into horror, but I’ll be back to comic characters and transforming robots and all the other stuff in just a few weeks. For now, it’s the second week of my Halloween Horror Month and I ain’t done with The Universal Monsters just yet. After a week of looking at Jada’s efforts, it’s time to switch gears and check out NECA’s own version of Frankenstein’s Monster! And I’ll go ahead and do some comparisons throughout.

If you’re familiar with NECA’s Ultimates line, then the packaging here should be instantly familiar. Frank comes in what appears to be a fully enclosed box, but there’s actually a front flap secured with a little velcro. Opening it reveals a peek at the figure inside. While I wasn’t entirely sure whether or not Jada was up and up on all their likeness rights, there is no doubt at all, that NECA is offering the real deal here! You get a beautiful recreation of the movie poster on the front and they rightfully dub him The Monster in the bottom left corner. This figure was released in both Color and Black & White versions, and I’ll be looking at the Color Edition here today!

IT’S ALIVE!! ALIVE!!!! Well, he looks so damn good, he might as well be! Let’s be honest, NECA has their share of problems, but when the stars align just right, and the QC holds up and the joints don’t bust, you can count on them to produce an amazing looking action figure. And to be fair, I’ve had precious few issues with NECA’s stuff over the decades, and absolutely none with this figure here. Frank looks amazing, from the top of his flat head to the bottoms of his platform monster boots. If I’m being honest, I fell in love with this figure the moment I got him out of the box, and I’ve had a big dumb smile on my face the whole time.

As always, realism is the order of the day, and Frank’s suit fits the bill! It actually has less textured detail than Jada’s, but manages to look more convincing with it’s smoother finish. The jacket is cast in soft plastic with the sleeves sculpted as part of the arms. The jacket is fastened at the top two buttons, showing off the top of his black undershirt, and parting down below his trousers. You get some rumpling in the sleeves, and a lot more down in the trouser legs. The suit has mostly a matte finish, but there’s some gloss splashed here and there to give him a bit of a wet look in some areas. The coloring on the trousers and coat also match quite closely here. The sleeves are short, exposing part of his forearms and they have all the detail that I lamented was lacking in Jada’s release, including staples and sutures.

You get three heads here, and each and every one of them is a winner. The standard head is just Frank being Frank. His eyes are partially rolled up into his head, and he’s generally expressionless. Here is all the Karloff likeness that I couldn’t find in Jada’s figure, and I’m still not sure that’s what they were going for anyway. Whatever the case, this is a strikingly gorgeous sculpt with some absolutely amazing paintwork. Let’s talk about skin color! I’m no Frankenstein expert, but I do know that the makeup was tinted green, and as I understand it, that was to make it look gray and dead on B&W film. As such, NECA went with an approximation of what that would look like in color. It’s more yellow than gray, but the jaundiced hue works for me very well indeed. I also love the glossy red they used for his forehead wound.

The next head is kind of derpy and I mean that in every positive way, because I LOVE derpy Frank! Yes, this is actually designed to replicate his cheeky growl, and it’s a mighty fine effort, but frozen like this it takes on a whole different meaning. NECA’s wizards manage to keep the likeness there, and the mouth is just some fantastic sculpting!

And finally, you get grimacing Frank, and again I think this one is up for interpretation. I think they were going for angry or scared, but I think it looks more like a big dumb smile, which I really adore because it reflects the misunderstood tragedy of the character. This is also some wonderful execution, and again the depth and realism in the mouth is striking. I don’t think it’s like has been equaled at this scale by many other figure sculptors. Take it as you see it, but like the previous one, I think this head works for a couple different possibilities.

In terms of articulation, NECA’s Frank takes a step back from Jada’s, favoring rotating hinges in the elbows and knees, as opposed to double-hinges. In this case, I don’t mind. As I stated in the other review, I don’t need super-articulation out of my Monster figure, and this guy is capable of whatever pose I wanted to do with him. I will say that the elbow joints look a bit unnatural in some poses, but I guess those double hinges aren’t always attractive either. In the end it’s all compromise, but I’m happy with what we got here. The figure also comes with three sets of hands to change up for different poses. He has a relaxed pair, a grasping pair, and a pair to interact with his flowers.

Yes, flowers! Frank doesn’t come with a whole lot of accessories, but he does come with a trio of flowers to recreat the famous scene. The flowers are sculpted in two pieces, one pair and one individual and he can hold them quite well in his special hands. These are perhaps not the most exciting accessories, but I think they were essential part of the character’s true nature, when people weren’t antagonizing him.

You also get a set of manacles, as opposed to the two sets that came with Jada’s figure. These feature a shorter chain, and the cuffs do not open so you have to pop off the hands to put them on. Still, they look better and feel more substantial.

By every assessment, this is an excellent figure, and for fans of the original film, I think it’s a must own. Jada’s figure still has it’s merits, and I’m happy to have it in my collection, but it’s an entirely different take and comparing the two is like apples and oranges. For a while, I was actually going to pass on this release, since I’m trying to limit my acquisitions these days rather than expand into new areas, but once I saw that the line would be expanding, I jumped on board. I think you’d probably have to look to Mezco’s One:12 release to find a suitable rival, and considering the vast price difference, I think this one wins the day.

2 comments on “Universal Monsters: Ultimate Frankenstein’s Monster by NECA

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