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: 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.

ReAction Figures: Universal Monsters, Series 1 by Funko

Early last month I checked out Series 2 of Funko’s Universal Monsters ReAction figures and was mighty impressed. I also waxed nostalgic about the original 1970’s REMCO figures that were also based off these movies and how this was one of those instances where Funko hit the whole nostalgia and retro concept right square in the bulls-eye. The Series 2 figures had great sculpts, awesome cards, and unlike a lot of their ReAction lines, they worked brilliantly at what they set out to do. I started with Series 2 because all of those characters were also released as part of REMCO’s original line, whereas only two of the four monsters in this first series were included in that vintage line: Gillman and Frankenstein’s monster. I like that they took the opportunity to expand and the additional characters, The Invisible Man and The Bride of Frankenstein, are pretty good choices, I think.

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Once again, the cards for these figures are excellent. Funko took B&W stills direct from the movies. I even like these designs better than the original REMCO cards. Maybe that’s blasphemy, but I think these do a better job of capturing the flavor of the individual films. James Whale directed three out of the four of these films and I think his talents are best displayed by the magnificent lighting in the shot of Elsa Lanchester as The Bride. I also think it’s rather clever that they used that profile shot of her while the figure also had to have its head turned in the package because of the tall hair sculpt. The shot used for Frankenstein’s monster is perhaps not quite so stunning, but still a fantastic image for the card and oozes atmosphere.

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Moving on to the second pair of cards, The Invisible Man was always among my least favorite of these films. I never really considered Dr. Jack Griffin to be a proper Universal Monster, but the film still works for the genre, especially since Whale directed it along with so many of the others, and I still welcome the addition of the figure into this fold. And that brings us to the wonderful Creature From The Black Lagoon. It’s one of my favorites of this entire genre and I think both the movie and the Gillman costume both hold up remarkably well to this day, especially the underwater shots. As good as Series 2 was, and as many great characters as they packed into these two waves, Gillman was the one that had me most excited. Especially since I absolutely loved that old REMCO figure. Time to open these figures up, but fear not, I’ll be using a razor and a degree of care so I can save the cards. Let’s start with The Monster and his Bride!

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Frankenstein’s monster is a really nice sculpt and packed with some cool detail for a retro-style figure. The bolts in his neck are there, albeit they are a little hard to see. He does have a little paint applied to the scar at the top of his hairline. There are stitching marks around his wrists and his shoes even feature little lifts. You get the usual little sculpted wrinkles in his jacket and trousers. Is it a great likeness to Karloff in the makeup? Nah, not really. Karloff isn’t even credited anywhere on the card, but it’s an iconic enough look that it works fine for the figure. My one complaint would be that his clothes are way too clean and tidy. Some sculpted tears and weathering would have gone a long way. Still, this guy is a solid figure!

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The Monster’s Bride is also a really nice effort and a treat, since she never got a slot in REMCO’s line. I guess the female figures got slighted back then too. There’s very little detail on her torso and the lower half of her gown. Technically, she doesn’t even have feet, just a split down the middle of the skirt, similar to what Kenner did with their robed figures like Obi-Wan or Anakin Skywalker. Her arms, however, do have some great sculpted bandages and their yellowed color helps to break up all the white from the rest of her outfit. The head sculpt on this figure is really good for a vintage-style head, but the likeness isn’t really there, despite the fact that they credited the actress’ likeness on the back of the card. Lanchester had far more pronounced eyes. That having been said, the hair sculpt is fantastic and for a more generic version of the character, I think the head works brilliantly.

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Moving on to The Invisible Man, this was obviously a figure where likeness wasn’t an issue because Dr. Griffin’s head is all bandaged up. That having been said, the attention to detail in the bandages is excellent. If you look closely, the pattern of the wrappings even mimic how they looked on actor Claude Rains. The rest of the figure consists of a sculpted smoking jacket, which looks good, but doesn’t really attempt to recreate the complex checkered pattern on the one worn in the film. Going in, I wasn’t sure I was going to like this figure all that much, but I think Funko did a pretty solid job on him.

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Last up is Gillman and I gotta say, Funko did an amazing job with the sculpt on this guy. The texturing, the fins, the segmented plates of his chest are all lovingly recreated as is the frightening head of the fish-man itself. There are sculpted wrinkles at the ankles that look like they were going for a figure based on the actor in the suit, rather than the real creature. Intentional or not, it’s kind of meta and I dig that a lot. With the sculpt being so good on this figure, I kind of hate to knock it, but I think the paint could have been better. There’s are very few paint apps to speak of at all and here’s a case where I think the coloring on the REMCO figure worked better for me. But don’t worry, Gillman, you’re still a great figure.

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As with Series 2, these figures retail for around $10 each, but I was able to do a little better on some. They’re readily available at all sorts of e-tailers and there are even some variants out there if that sort of thing is your bag. I once likened the ReAction line as potentially being the Atari 2600 E.T. cartridge of the action figure world and Funko does indeed seem to be unleashing a torrent of these figures that very well may one day be filling a landfill out west somewhere. Obviously, I’m not here to say that all their efforts are without merit. Indeed, you’ll be seeing ReAction figures featured again here on FFZ and probably sooner than later. For now, all I’ll say is that if nothing else great comes out of the somewhat obnoxious flood of Funko ReAction figures, I’ll still consider these Universal Monsters figures as well worth the effort. These don’t feel like they were “phoned in” to turn a quick buck. Everything from the card art to the character selection to the figures themselves feel like a love letter to the old REMCO line and all the terrible Marty McFly and Pulp Fiction figures can’t wash that away.

ReAction Figures: Universal Monsters, Series 2 by Funko

I’ve certainly given my share of grief to Funko’s ReAction line of action figures and that’s despite only having featured one of them here on FFZ. I’m not against the concept. Hell, my unending praise of Warpo’s Legends of Cthulhu line alone should prove that. But Funko’s scatter shot approach to the whole retro-vintage thing makes it seem more like a shameless cash grab than actually doing something interesting with the concept. This entire faux-vintage idea grew out of Super-7 bringing the un-produced Kenner Alien figures to market based on original prototypes. It was a pretty big success for something as niche as it was and so ReAction was born giving us “what if” imaginings of lines that were never produced. I think it’s a noble gesture where actual 70’s and 80’s properties are concerned, but when you extend it to stuff like Firefly or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, everything starts to break down. Of course, by casting a wide, wide, WIDE net over all sorts of properties it means that they do have a chance to get it right sometimes and today we’re looking at one of those instances with Series 2 of their Universal Monsters. (I know, “what happened to Series 1?” I’ll get to it eventually.) Keep in mind, these figures aren’t a case of paying tribute to what could have been, but rather what was, as the company REMCO* put out a line of six 3 3/4” Universal Monsters figures back in 1979 and I have a lot of fond memories of those figures and the playsets.

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Series 2 consists of Dracula, The Mummy, The Phantom of the Opera and The Wolfman. While Series 1 actually contains my favorite monster, The Gillman, I went with this Series first because I thought it was a little better fleshed out and all of the figures were ones featured in the vintage REMCO line. I like the fact that the cards are all original and the front of each one is branded solely based on the character’s movie. You actually have to turn the card over to see anything tying it in with a larger series. The figures each come just rattling around in their coffin-style bubbles, just like the good old days, although my Dracula came with the bubble completely detached from the card. That sort of thing would have really pissed me off if I was keeping them carded, but who am I kidding? There was never any chance of that!

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It would be impossible to pick my favorite card in this set as they all feature great B&W shots from the original films. I will say that I get a chuckle out of The Phantom’s every time I look at it. It looks like Lon Chaney is looking down in horror at his little action figure! Everyone’s a critic! As good as these cards are, I really wasn’t sad about opening them up. It’s probably because the appeal here is the figures themselves as replacements for my beloved REMCO monsters. Let’s start out with Dracula and The Phantom of the Opera.

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These guys look splendid, although as might be expected there’s some parts sharing and resculpting here. You wouldn’t think that would be a factor in cheap ten dollar figures, but it’s done well so I don’t have any issues with it. These are, afterall, a couple of dudes in black suits and capes so the arms and legs are shared. The torso’s appear to be remolds as there are obvious differences, like Dracula’s very nicely sculpted and painted medallion and The Phantom’s tie. They both have waistcoats, but Dracula’s hangs down over his pants, whereas Phantom’s does not. And of course, they both sport the same basic black vinyl cape, which should have old school Kenner fans mighty happy.

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The head sculpts are also quite good and not overly proportioned like on some of the other ReAction figures. Dracula isn’t really the spitting image of Bela Lagosi, but it’s a good generic vampire. Phantom on the other hand, I think they did a pretty nice job on making him look like Chaney in the makeup.

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Next, we have The Wolfman and The Mummy and again, Funko did some nice work on this pair. I’d say Wolfman is probably the best sculpt of this wave just because of all the detail they put into his furry hands and feet, the little rumples in his shirt and the creases in his trousers. The head sculpt is pretty damn nice too and all the paint is sharp and clean.

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The Mummy also has a lot of detail packed into his sculpt. All the bandages are defined and thre’s little tatters and tears in them to make them look old. There’s not a lot of paintwork on this guy, but then he doesn’t need it. This head sculpt is equally as impressive as Wolfman’s and I’d say if we’re talking likenesses, this one comes pretty damn close to a Boris Karloff in makeup.

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As expected, these figures all have the standard old school five points of articulation. The joints are all nice and tight and the plastic quality feels great. The only drawback might be the total lack of accessories, but then I can’t think of anything to include with these characters anyway.

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I’ve been really choosey about which ReAction figures I’m buying and so far I’ve made some fairly good choices. Sure, The Rocketeer was a little disappointing, but I was perfectly happy with my 80’s Slashers and these Universal Monsters are absolutely fantastic. They hit the right nostalgia buttons by letting me relive the fun memories of my REMCO figures and these actually look like Funko put a lot of love in them, rather than just crank them out. These guys are proof positive that you can do genuine retro-style figures and not have them look like trash. I’ve already got Series 1 on order so I should be able to swing back and check them out in a week or so.

*If you want to read a great little article on the original REMCO toys, check out Terrordaves.com.