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.

Universal Monsters: Frankenstein by Jada

Welcome to my third entry in FFZ’s generically named Halloween Horror Month! If you can’t tell, I’m running through all four figures in the first wave of Jada’s new Universal Monsters series, and number three on the list is Frankenstein’s Monster! I’m a big fan of the original film. It’s so atmospheric and fun to watch, although I’ll confess I’m an even bigger fan of the Hammer Horror flicks featuring the always amazing Peter Cushing as Baron Frankenstein. I’m actually working my way through all of those again this October and loving every second of it!

Now let me be Frank with you… HA! Does it bother me that they called him Frankenstein on the box? Nah. I’ve got no more strength in me for that fight. The last time I heard myself say “Um… actually…” I wanted to punch myself in the face. Let it go, people. Let it go! I will, however, point out that this guy has some fierce competition on the shelves, as NECA has already got their own version of The Monster out and about and in my clutching mitts. And yes, he’ll probably be the first figure I review after I’m done with Jada’s line this week. Let’s face it, NECA is going to own at least 75% of this month!

First off, I think they did a great job on his overall stature. Frank is a big boi and the heft and size of this figure conveys that very well. He’s not overly big, not too small… He’s just right. And true to the film, some of his height comes from his giant platform kicks. His suave monster suit consists of a black shirt, dark gray jacket, and brown trousers, all of which is textured with a cross-thatch pattern to make it resemble cloth. The trousers have all the usual rumples, and a wash to bring out some of the detail. The jacket is the usual soft plastic vest with sleeves sculpted as the arms, and the illusion works, as there aren’t any major gaps in the arm holes. You get sculpted pockets, lapels, and buttons, and some green slime painted on his right arm. I like that the sleeves are too short, but would have liked a little more gross detail on his exposed forearms.

You get two heads, the first of which is a pretty solid sculpt, even if it isn’t a great likeness for Karloff in the makeup. I’m actually not sure if Jada actually got the license to do Karloff or not, but there’s enough attempts at similarity here that I’m going to assume they did. The indent in the bottom lip, for example, is definitely from Karloff’s Monster, but it’s way too exaggerated here, and the overall facial structure just isn’t quite there. That’s not to say it isn’t a decent looking portrait for a more generic take on The Monster. And to be fair, if you aren’t very familiar with the film, or have a picture to compare, you might not notice the discrepancies. The paint is pretty good, especially the shading. They used halftone printing for the eyes, which as usual looks great in hand, but breaks down as you get in real close. I like the silver paint applied to the bolts and the staples, as well as the red for the forehead gash. Still, I don’t need a crystal ball to tell me that the portrait is going to be a big part of what separates this figure from NECA’s effort.

And then you’ve got this head, and I don’t like this one at all. I know the look they were going for, but I don’t think they got there. Indeed, the drop in quality on this head is so noticeable that it feels like it should go to a different figure. Beyond the expression just not working, the paint here is high gloss, giving him a shiny finish, which makes him look like he’s got a flop sweat going. The eye paint is also terrible, and the white for the teeth is sprayed all over his lower lip. I don’t know what happened here, but if the grave robbers I hired brought me this head, I would have sent it back. It’s just terrible.

The articulation here is right in line with the previous figures, so I won’t run through it all here. Suffice it to say, The Monster has a lot more range of motion than a lumbering brute like himself should really need. With double hinges in both the elbows and knees, and the ability to get those wide stances makes him fun to play with. And even with those platform boots, he has good balance and is easy to stand. Frank also comes with a pair of grasping hands, which are probably what I will display him with the most.

In addition to the extra hands and a terrible second head, The Monster comes with two sets of chains and manacles. These are really well done, as each of the manacles is hinged and can be opened and closed, so you don’t have to pop the hands off to put them on.

Despite a total failure on the alternate head, I think this figure turned out fine. I don’t think he’s as amazing as The Gillman, but I’d put him on par with Dracula for sure. Little attentions to detail and texturing on the body go a long way in making this one feel like a labor of love. Even the pair of manacles are well thought out and well executed accessories. So far, Jada’s Monsters have been hitting home, and I’ve got just one more to look at, so come back Friday for a look at The Bride!!!