Halloween week continues here at Mike’s Collection. Now I know I promised you a week’s worth of Halloween themed reviews but guess how many Halloween themed action figures I have, very few. Basically The Nightmare Before Christmas figures are the only ones that are officially Halloween related. So to keep from boring you with repetitive NBX reviews all week I’ve had to bend the definition a bit to include some other monsters. Now I don’t know about you but nothing says Halloween to me like the original Universal Studios Monsters. Dracula, Wolman, The Mummy, The Creature from the Black Lagoon; these guys just scream (no pun intended) Halloween. Even after 70 years they are still mainstay costumes. Trends may come and go but these guys remain. I had a Halloween party this past weekend and despite having music playing and a room full of chatty guests I still put on these classic flicks as background entertainment. These black and white films feature heavy fog, old castles and full moons which set a creepy atmosphere that simply can’t be achieved by hanging a cardboard skeleton on the door and some cotton cobwebs from the light fixtures (Though that definitely helps too. Vanessa did an excellent job decorating for the party). I enjoy exposing these films to people who have never seen them and sadly there are a lot of those people.
One film which I didn’t put on for our party guests was the classic James Whale film adapted from Mary Shelley’s novel of the same name: Frankenstein. The reason for that is I fully intend to sit down and enjoy a viewing of this film properly and distraction free on Halloween night and I didn’t want to catch muted glimpses of it on the weekend that would diminish the thrill.
I don’t remember the first time that I was exposed to the Universal Monsters as I was very young. It may have been in a Halloween coloring book or maybe it was an episode of Scooby Doo. It’s almost as if I was born with a love of these monsters instilled in me. One of my favorite movies as a kid was “The Monster Squad” which was about a group of kids from the suburbs having to defend their town from the evil Count Dracula and his henchmen consisting off a Wolfman, a Sea Creature, a Mummy, and of course Frankenstein. Having all those creatures on screen together was a mind blowing mash-up of a monster movie that helped to solidify my love of these characters. Wolfman was my favorite, followed by the Sea Creature, I liked Mummys when their faces were fully bandaged and Dracula is the boss so you have to like him. Frankenstein was my least favorite monster. He was dumb and kind of sweet but he never struck me as very cool looking. I never really understood the hype with him.
That is until I saw the original film. Bela Lugosi is great as Dracula and Lon Chaney Jr. is an awesome Wolfman but there’s no denying that Boris Karloff was the monster with the real acting chops. Karloff played both Frankenstein and the Mummy and he knocked it out of the park with his performances. He had such a great expressive face and he brought such humanity to the lumbering corpses he portrayed. It’s true Frankenstein wasn’t as cool looking as the other monsters and wasn’t as fun to color in the coloring books but he was far more interesting to watch on screen. For those of you who haven’t seen any of Karloff’s many films you might be surprised to know that he was the narrator of the animated Grinch who Stole Christmas which I’m sure you’ve all seen.
This figure is a recent release from Diamond Select Toys. It may look old but that’s the intention, this line of figures is modeled after the popular Mego dolls of the 1970s. This retro throwback style is back in fashion and many properties are being released as Megos these days. Some of them are re-releases of Megos that actually existed in the 70s like the Star Trek figures, while others like the Universal Monsters are being released in this format for the first time. I have the complete Monster Squad line-up now but I’m still hoping to get an Invisible Man at some point to complete the Universal team of monsters. In the meantime I can just pretend there’s an Invisible Man figure on my shelf displayed with his monster brethren.
This Frankenstein figure is unfortunately my least favorite of the bunch. And it’s for the same reason that he was my least favorite monster when I was a kid; the other guys all look cooler. The face sculpt fails to capture Karloff’s tortured soul and the figure just ends up looking dopey. They did a much better job of rendering Karloff on the Mummy figure. This is by no means a bad figure though. I actually wouldn’t expect a very accurate face sculpt on a Mego doll. Too much detail in the face would take away from the nostalgic feel that reminds of us a simpler time when toys weren’t meant to be displayed, they were meant to be played with. The Mego body is loaded with articulation so Frank can be posed in a number of ways. The clothes fit him well and I love the big ol’ shoes he rocking just like he wore in the film. The colors are good though his skin is a little too green. The original movie was black and white and I think a grey skin tone suits him better. I think this figure would be better had it been released in black and white as his red lips are also a little off putting. 6 out of 10.