Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein by Jada

Welcome back to the Toy Crypt and my fourth installment of FFZ’s Halloween Horror Month! Today I’m wrapping up my look at Jada’s assortment of 6-inch Universal Monsters figures. So far, we’ve checked out Dracula, The Gillman, and Frankenstein’s Monster, and now it’s finally time for a lady monster… Here comes The Bride!

The Bride of Frankenstein is such a delightfully weird film. It can turn on a dime from innocents being murdered to Una O’Connor’s wacky antics as Minnie. It casually drops Dr. Pretorius’ ability to grow miniature humans in jars, which seems a lot more advanced than his desire to recreate a single full-grown human by stitching bodies together. Besides the fact that I never know whether that whole scene is supposed to invoke shock and horror or is it being played for laughs. And, of course, the film relegates the instantly iconic Elsa Lanchester’s role as the titular Bride to about five minutes of screen time. Absolutely criminal! I do enjoy watching this film, but it’s without a doubt the strangest among these four classic monster flicks.

And yet The Bride is indeed so damn iconic, and I’m pleased to say that Jada did a fine job bringing her to this collection. And with soft goods no less! Yes, The Bride comes donning a long white dress, which is expertly tailored and looks great on the figure. There’s plenty of room for her to move her legs, and it’s sleeveless so as not to impede her arms either. When worn, you can see her bandaged arms and feet, and really nothing else, so let’s take it off and see what’s going on under there!

The dress secures in the back with a velcro strip, so taking it off is pretty easy. With the dress gone, The Bride is bandaged from neck to toe. It’s cool to see that Jada didn’t cheap out on what’s underneath. Every inch of her bandaged bod includes the sculpted detail of the wrappings, all realistically textured and even given a paint wash to bring out all those details. Sans dress, you can also get a better idea of what’s going on with the articulation. Yup, it’s mostly more of the same, although Jada did take a page out of Hasbro’s book by nixing the double-hinged elbows for their lady figure and replacing them with rotating hinges. As a result, The Bride has a lot less range of motion in the elbows than the others.

The standard portrait is pretty damn good. At least, I think the likeness is a lot closer to the mark to Lanchester than Frankenstein was to Karloff. However, I think I recall The Bride having visible scars and stitching running up in front of and behind her ears, which isn’t present here. There is a seam that sort of works as a stand in, but it’s an odd detail to omit. The eyes appear to be halftone printed and the lips and eyebrows are pretty sharp. Of course, the iconic hair is recreated quite well too. All in all, very nice.

The alternate portrait is her screaming at the sight of her Groom to Be, and while I think this one loses something in the likeness, I don’t think it’s all that bad. The open mouth looks good, but the teeth really needed some added detail. I’m not sure I’ll end up displaying this head on the figure a lot.

In terms of accessories, The Bride comes with an extra pair of hands, which look to be copying one of the more common production stills, which has her posing with her left arm straight across her chest and her right arm drawing up to her left shoulder. Unfortunately, because of those elbows, she really can’t recreate that pose so well. She also includes the pylons that were on either side of her when she emerged from the operating table. These are pretty simple and have a chain and a strand of wrapping attached to the top of each.

I think The Bride may be my second favorite figure in this assortment, right behind The Gillman. The soft goods dress is a big hit, and I love that Jada still gave her a full body sculpt underneath. The only other figure I’ve ever owned of The Bride was the retro-style 3 3/4-inch ReAction figure, and this is certainly a huge step up and a nice way to round out this Quartet of Classic Horror.

Considering all I knew Jada for was their lines of mediocre painted miniatures, I think they did a damn fine job on this run of 6-inch figures. They don’t feel like an early effort, but rather like they came out of the gate swinging. I haven’t heard a huge amount of buzz around these, and I’m hoping that they do well from word of mouth, because I would very much like to see a second wave with The Mummy and The Wolfman, and whoever else they want to scare up!

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!!!

Universal Monsters: The Creature From The Black Lagoon by Jada

If you came here looking for Marvel Monday, I’m afraid you’ll have to wait a month. I’m at the dawn of my first, and possibly only, Halloween Horror Month, in which I challenge myself to review only Horror figures straight up until Halloween. Last time I started digging into Jada’s new Universal Monsters lineup, and today I’m continuing with a look at The Gillman!

No, they don’t actually call him that on the package, but I think that’s always been his unofficial name. I’ve always had a soft spot for this creature and the movie itself. When I was a kid one of the networks used to show it in 3D every now and then. Actually, it might have been Revenge of the Creature. I’m not sure. Iw as only like 10 years old. It was a big damn deal, and you had to go get your 3D Glasses from a participating retailer. The 3D was pretty janky, but the underwater bits looked cool, and it made the whole thing a special event. My Dad used to make popcorn for it, and the whole family would watch. Good times! I’ve wanted a figure of this guy in my collection for quite a while now, so I’m pretty excited. I don’t have anything new to say about the packaging, so let’s dive right in!

The first thing I noticed about this figure was just how detailed the body is. He’s got various overlapping plates, as well as some lovely texturing for the scales. Add to that the sculpted ridge-like fins that appear on his back and the backs of his legs and arms, and it shows that Jada not only did their homework on this creature’s anatomy, but they invested in all the little details for the sculpt. If Dracula got away without a whole lot of sculpted detail in his suit, I can see where it all went here! I also really dig the lanky proportions of the Creature and the way he is clearly humanoid, but not quite human. There’s also some excellent detail in his webbed hands and splayed out flat feet.

And then there’s the coloring… oh, the coloring! This figure showcases how dynamic coloring can really make a figure shine. Not only is there a general mix of a light lime green with some darker shades, but he’s even got some gradient striping on his arms and legs. His finger and toenails are painted with a beige bone-like hue, and the entire figure has a wash to bring out some more of that lovely sculpt. I admitted last time, that I’m not that familiar with Jada’s work, but I certainly did not to expect this level of paintwork on one of their figures. I can’t think of too many of their competitors that could have done a better job at this price point.

You get two different heads for our fishy friend, one with a closed mouth and one with it open. They’re both OK, but I definitely prefer the open mouth head to the closed one. There’s something going on with the eyes and lips in the first portrait that looks off, whereas I think the second is just all around solid. It’s also the way I would prefer to display the figure anyway. Everything I said about the body rings true for the heads in terms of paint and sculpting. There’s a lot going on in the back of the head too.

I got a couple emails about how I didn’t run down the articulation for the Dracula figure, and it’s a good point. With reviewing so many figures from the same lines over and over again, I tend to take articulation for granted sometimes. Well, Gillman’s got it all going on. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, the elbows are double-hinged, and he’s got swivels in the biceps. The legs are ball jointed up in the hips, have double-hinges in the knees, swivels in the thighs, and both hinges and lateral rockers in the ankles. There’s a ball joint hidden under the chest, and the neck is ball jointed. The sculpt does a good job of hiding some of these joints, and about the only nitpick I have here is that I wish he could look up for some of those swimming poses.

Gillman comes with a few extras, including two hands. Well, only one hand that can be swapped out on the figure, and that’s a grabby left hand. The other hand is the fossil from the film. It’s a cool bonus, I guess, but I would have probably rather had a second grabby hand.

Next up, you get a harpoon gun, which feels like an accessory for another figure, but since we ain’t getting no Mark Williams figure, I guess they threw it in here. Maybe they were hard up on what else to include in the box. Really, getting two accessories that The Creature isn’t really meant to interact with feels odd.

And finally, you get a net, which is a much better choice. It’s made out of string and it’s big enough to cover poor Gillman. I hate this part of the film. I felt so bad for the fishy bastard.

So far, Jada’s Universal Monsters are doing just fine. Dracula was solid, if not exceptional, but The Gillman here is nothing but exceptional. It may be that I was well past ready to have The Creature figure in my collection, but really I just think that Jada did a fine job on this release. The coloring and sculpt are excellent, the articulation and quality control are beyond reproach, and while I nitpicked a couple of the accessories, they certainly aren’t bad. And now that I’ve gone and tossed a B&W filter over him, I’m ready to see Jada roll out that B&W edition as some kind of exclusive. Gillman seems to be the hardest figure to find in this assortment. I had to hunt a bit. But he seems to be turning up for pre-order now at all the usual places.

Universal Monsters: Dracula by Jada

It’s October! And this year I’m going to make that mean something here at FFZ! Typically, I’m lucky if I can scrape up just one or two Horror themed reviews for Halloween, but this year, I’m going all in, putting Marvel Mondays on hold, and going All-Horror, All-The-Time for the rest of the month! I can’t over emphasize just how important horror cinema was to me growing up, and while I haven’t been the best of horror fans lately, I try to take the opportunity in October to go back and enjoy this rich and wonderful genre. Today, I’m beginning Halloween Horror Month with a look at one of Jada’s brand new 6-inch Scale Universal Monsters figures… It’s Dracula!

Surely the king of the Universal Monster family, or at least he’s the one with the most brains, this is old school Dracula through and through. The packaging is pretty standard stuff for the scale these days. You get a window that shows off the goods and wraps to the side panel and another up top to let some light in, just hopefully not sunlight, because Dracula don’t like that. Drac’s name is down below in a stylized font, while the line’s name up top is just kinda boring. The right side panel has a cool piece of character art, while the left just has some artsy-headshots of the characters. Moving on to the back we get a huge section of multi-lingual copy and a “Collect Them All” style spread of the four figures available in the line. And yes, the plan is to look at all of them this month!

Out of the box, Dracula is looking pretty solid and very iconic. He’s all dressed up, making him a very dapper Prince of Darkness. From the waist down, there’s not a lot of detail going on, although I do appreciate the use of high-gloss black for his well-polished shoes. The upper half consists of a black jacket, gray vest, white shirt, red cravat, and a gray bow tie. He has a medallion sculpted on his chest, which would look a lot nicer if they hadn’t flubbed half the paint. As a result, the bottom half is gold and the top half is white. Come on, guys. It’s dead center on the figure and immediately draws the eye. YOU HAVE TO DO BETTER! Oddly enough, just below that, the tiny individual buttons on his vest are immaculately painted, and overall the other paint lines look pretty clean and tight. All in all, I think the sculpting on the body is solid, if not exceptional.

The cape is softgoods, which was really the way to go here. It falls about the figure pretty well and is attached with two pins in the back, and an elastic strap across his neck. The outside is black and the inside lining is red, and it features his rather iconic high collar. The stitching running down the sides is a little obvious, but otherwise, I think they did a good job here. It’s designed to easy fold over his shoulders to get out of the way of his arms. It would have been cool to have some way to attach it to his wrists, for posing with his arms outstretched, but otherwise, I got no complaints.

You get two heads, one is a bit passive and the other is FEEDING TIME! They’re both decent, but I like the passive one better. Both heads look great in hand, but when I get in close I can see some splotchy paint. It’s actually kind of charming, as it looks a bit like they caked on a little too much makeup before filming. OK, I guess that’s only charming if you want to think of this as a figure of an actor playing Dracula and not the real thing. The skin has a grayish tone to it, which looks good, and he has some reddish purple shading around the eyes. The hair is sculpted and painted to look slicked back, and he has some sharp, high-arching eyebrows.

The second head shows Drac ready for business. He’s baring his fangs and he’s ready to get some of your sweet, sweet corpuscles. I like this sculpt overall, but I think the teeth could have used a little more detail.

There’s a second set of hands, which go well with the fanged head in an “I’m gonna getcha” kind of way.

In addition to the extra head and hands, Dracula comes with two accessories. You get a bat and a candle. The candle features a rather elaborate holder, which looks like it’s supposed to be some kind of lizard or just an anemic dragon. It can fit into the figure’s right hand quite well, and he looks great holding it.

As for the bat, I don’t think it’s supposed to be Dracula in his alternate form because the feet have rings to attach to Drac’s fingers so you can display him perched there. It’s a cool bonus, but the sculpt is very basic. Plus, if I get in close it kind of looks more like a chocolate bat than a real one.

Jada is not a company I have a lot of experience with, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect here. In over 10 years, I’ve only reviewed one of their products, and that was a set of AD&D Miniatures. Overall, I think this figure is a good effort. Indeed, apart from that one sloppy paint spot, I can’t really find a lot of fault in it. At the same time, there’s just nothing about it that strikes me as extraordinary. It probably doesn’t help that NECA is also currently working on their own set of Universal Monsters figures. I don’t think they’ve shown off Dracula yet, but they have released Frankenstein’s Monster. I’ll be checking out that figure sometime before we get to Halloween, and you can bet I’ll be comparing it to Jada’s own Frankenstein Monster.

Dungeons & Dragons: Beholder Boxed Set by Jada

I’ve been desperately trying to streamline my collecting these days, which is why my reviews have been pretty focused lately and rarely hold many surprises. It’s Hasbro, it’s Mythic Legions, it’s Phicen or Hot Toys, etc. etc. It’s mainly a question of the very finite amount of precious space I have remaining and what I am willing to spend it on. A far cry from the days when I would scour the clearance racks at Toys R Us and buy whatever was cheap and tickled my fancy. Still, every now and then something turns up out of left field and I just have to go for it. It also helps when that thing is a an assortment of tiny miniatures.

Dungeons & Dragons! When I was young I enjoyed the franchise through a Saturday morning cartoon and the LJN figure line. Later, it was a defining element of my early teenage years, right about the time I was getting out of playing with toys. I had a few friends that played and we would get together every other week to play. But for me D&D transcended the act of playing the game. I was obsessed with the books, the stats, the monsters, making maps, and yes collecting and painting the tiny miniatures. There was a store dedicated to paper and pencil RPGs and board games called The Compleat Strategist in the neighborhood mall that was like nirvana to me. Anywho, fast forward to my last trip to my Walmart’s dismal toy section, and I would have come away empty handed if it weren’t for finding this curious box of D&D miniatures from Jada Toys.

As far as I know, Jada is known for their diecast cars and miniature figures, so the D&D license seems like a no-brainer. And we all know Hasbro wasn’t doing a god damn thing with the license, right? This set of five painted miniatures comes in a window box, which pretty much lets the miniatures do all the talking. The D&D logo is downplayed, the bottom denotes who you’re getting, and the back has a pretty cool fantasy painting. The set gives you all you need to set up a little battle between your party of four adventurers and a vile beholder. Let’s open it up and have a look.

Oh yeah, did I mention that one of the party members IS FREAKING MINSC FROM BALDUR’S GATE??? He’s the only actual named member of the party on the package and yes, it includes his miniature giant space hamster, Boo! Well, sort of. Boo is just a purple glob on his shoulder. You really have to keep in mind that these are only a little over an inch and a half tall. With that having been said, the sculpt is OK, albeit pretty soft. It’s far from on par with some of the better D&D miniatures I used to have. MINSC is wearing a scale armor hauberk, a cape, and has a broadsword. He stands heroically with hands on hips.

I think the sculpt could have been helped out a lot more by better paint. MINSC is done up in a four color palate, which consists of brown for the hauberk, metallic purple for the cape and face tatts, flesh for his skin tone, and gray for the base, arm bracers, pants and boots. None of the finer details are distinguished, and I don’t mind that for the some stuff like the belt and boots, but it’s a shame they couldn’t paint the sword a different color than his cape. On my worst day I could have painted this figure better, and I was never good at painting these things.

Next up we have the Elf Bard, which I think is overall a lot better than Minsc. The sculpt is still pretty soft, but it conveys the outfit fairly well and he is posed playing his lute. The color palate here is also a bit more varied. The outfit is lavender, the cape is purple, the boots and base are brown, the instrument is black, plus you get his flesh tone and white hair. Sure, he’s probably the least exciting figure in the bunch, but I guess it’s nice to have music while you’re fighting a beholder to the death.

The third member of the party is the Tiefling Paladin and this is probably my favorite of the adventurers. The sculpt here is a lot more impressive than the previous two. You get some good detail in her armor and I really dig the crazy array of cutlery she has hanging off her belt. Her right hand is outstretched and about to strike with her flail, while her right hand is drawn into a fist. I also love her tail, which is sculpted as part of the cape interior between her legs. The paint on this one is limited to four colors: Metallic purple for the bulk of the figure and base, blue for the cape, black for her hair and belt, and red for her skin. This is a damn cool little figure.

The final adventurer is the Orc Paladin and I’m really torn on this one. The sculpt is very soft, but I can make out some details like the belt and satchel. The armored pieces are a little better, but his face is just a mushy lump. I do like the pose a lot. The coloring here isn’t the best. You get a beige for the bulk of his body and cape. Silver for the armor, shield, sword, and base. His face is a grayish green with some black for his eyes and beard and hair.

And the real showpiece of this collection is the Beholder, which comes floating on a translucent plastic stand. I’m not sure how much of this guy is actually diecast because he’s rather light. I know the eye stalks are all a bendable rubbery plastic. I can’t say enough good things about the sculpt here. It’s absolutely fantastic. They worked in a lot of his scales, some stubby little horns, and the teeth are absolutely terrifying. The only thing I will nitpick her is the choice of coloring. Metallic blue seems like an odd direction to go for his skin, as does the gold for his eyes. I can’t deny that it’s a striking color scheme, but it comes off looking a bit like those cheap novelty Christmas tree ornament you might find in a bin at Target. That sounds harsh, and I do really like this figure a lot, but I think it could have been so much better with a different deco. Indeed, the general choice to go with metallic paint in this set is a bit of a poser to me.

So what’s my overall feeling here? Eh, I don’t know. It’s really cool to find a set of D&D miniatures in the toy aisle of a major retailer and it makes a lot of sense for a company like Jada to do them. The sculpts are OK, but I think if these were painted with more care and detail this set could have gone from a mere curiosity to something really cool. Also keep in mind, this set was less than $10, which had a lot to do with me deciding to pick it up. It makes me a little more forgiving, but I would have happily paid another five or even ten bucks for decent paint. Ultimately, I think these are fun, and a little research turned up that they have another similar set of a adventurers facing off against a dragon. I might just have to check that one out too.