Friday, October 21, 2011

31 Days of Halloween Day 15: Spooky Toy Review – Universal Monsters Retro Cloth: The Wolf Man By Diamond Select Toys

You might be wondering why the Ghostbusters all got lumped together into one review and the Universal Monsters each get their own.
It’s because the Universal Monsters require a lot more unique parts than the Ghostbusters and also because I realized I could get four days worth of posts by separating the classic creatures. But mostly the parts thing. I promise.

I – like any normal human being – am a huge fan of Universal Studios’ interpretations of the classic horror icons. It could be argued that these are the definitive versions of the monsters, given that their likenesses have been raking in dollars for over seventy years now.
Many companies have had the toy license over the years. Sideshow Collectibles is responsible for the most prolific and highest quality run, but many other licensors have produced items – Hasbro, Playmates, Marx, JAKKS Pacific, Burger King (seriously – and they’re good toys, too).
But now it’s Diamond Select Toys’ turn and they are proving to be formidable. Their standard 7” action figures are nice, but a bit too reminiscent of ground Sideshow has already covered. Where DST is really killing it is with their Retro Cloth line – a tribute to the Mego toys of our youth. Unlike some of the other more recent Mego-inspired lines, DST’s Universal Monsters figures are going a step above simply aping the simple Mego style and producing quality, higher-end figures. For the same price and sometimes less.
The Wolf Man and Frankenstein’s Monster were the first ones I picked up, so I’m going to take a look at them first.
First Glance: There’s a fancy looking figure inside that package. The solicitations did not get across how nice these were going to look.
Sculpt: While similar figures feature the same bodies with different head sculpts, the Universal Monsters have a lot more effort put into them. The Wolf Man has a unique head, hands, and feet. Each of these pieces looks much more detailed than your average Mego-tribute toy.
The head is more than just a standard werewolf head. The sculptors clearly utilized the license and went for a Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man likeness. The detail is very nice – easily on par with modern 6” scale action figures. I’ve championed the simpler, less-detailed look of these retro figures previously, but now I think there’s something to be said for updating them a bit more. His snarling expression looks menacing, but it isn’t overdone to the point where he looks too vicious like some other Wolf Man updates have.
The hands and feet look great. The detailing of the claws and fur is very good and the joints are tight enough that you can get a great standing pose in several different ways.
Other than the above parts the body is the standard (Emcee?) style.
Design: (mine has some kind of schmutz on the shirt - I don't know where it cam from) The paint on the Wolf Man’s exposed parts is fantastic. Again, much more detailed than the other Retro lines. The face paint is tight and accurate. The hands and feet have gradations and even the claws are painted a darker color.
The Wolf Man’s clothing is very well done. He has a separate shirt, pants and belt with a furry chest and legs. The fabrics look great and the colors are accurate to color references we’ve seen. I’m glad DST released their Universal Monsters in color rather than going black-and-white like Bif!Bang!Pow! did with their Twilight Zone figures. I get it – that’s how the show was. But those toys just don’t look as dynamic. It’s probably the reason I haven’t bought any of them. They’d look so odd on my shelf with all of the color toys.
Accessories: None. But none are necessary.
Packaging: (I know that's the wrong cardback, but I can't find my pics of Frankenstein's Monster and the Wolf Man anywhere)
These Universal Monsters come in the same packaging as the Star Trek Retro Cloth figures (I’m still not sold on “Retro Cloth” as a good name for this line). It’s a perforated plastic shell over a cardboard backer. You have to cut the edges of the shell to get the figure open, but the shell is resealable. I would like it more if there were stickers or something holding the shell together and it did not require cutting. Once you cut the edges it leaves them sharp and they will cut you rather easily. I’m not keeping these anywhere in the house with my son, so they’re out with the trash. I don’t generally save packaging anyway, but I might’ve hung on to these in the event that I one day tire of this Mego resurgence and want to move everything on eBay.
Overall: Great, great figure that makes me happy just to own, let alone be able to put on the shelf. I didn’t expect the Wolf Man (or the other Monsters in this line) to be able to pose so nicely. I thought at best they’d just sort of stand there and at worst I’d have to buy some little stands. Not so.
5 out of 5
I can’t think of anything I would do differently to the figure itself. It’s outstanding.
You might still be able to find the Wolf Man at your local Toys R Us. If not, you can always order one from BigBad or Entertainment Earth or probably just about anywhere that carries toys. These got fairly decent distribution. He’s easily worth the twenty bucks. It boggles my mind a bit that a nice, complex toy like this one retails for only slightly more than the DCUC figures.
Scareglow: “Hello Mr. Talbot. My name is Karak Nul and I’d like to talk to you about an exciting new opportunity in the area of professional villainy!”
Wolf Man: *growl*
Scareglow: “No doubt! But what you’re looking at here is a chance to work with some of the top evil minds in the business! This will be a one-time opportunity for five forward-thinking and highly motivated individuals to wreak a very special kind of havoc!”
Wolf Man: *urf?*
Scareglow: “Ah – very canny, Mr. Talbot! But of course we will provide transportation, lodging, and equipment. All you have to do is meet me here on the thirty-first of the month at eleven o’clock ante meridiem.”
Wolf Man: *rrrrrrrr*
Scareglow: “Splendid! I’ll see you then!”
31 Days of Halloween vs. 31 Days of Halloween!
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM – Kaw – The last half of what is sure to be a terrible fucking movie.
Halloween score – 3
Quality score – 1
12:00 PM – 2:00 PM – Pterodactyl – While almost anything can be considered Halloweeny, dinosaurs are a stretch. Also, this will probably suck.
Halloween score – 2
Quality score – 2
2:00 PM – 4:00 PM – Reign of the Gargoyles – This is that stupid WWII movie again. I saw some of this the other day when they showed it and it is terrible. I had Playstation 1 games with better CGI.
Halloween score – 2
Quality score – 1
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM – Rise of the Gargoyles – I don’t know if this is a sequel to the previous movie or not, but Eric Balfour is in it and that’s enough reason to avoid anything.
Halloween score – 2
Quality score – 1
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM – Resident Evil – I would say this saves Friday from being a totally shit day, but they’ve already shown it twice now.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 4
8:00 PM – 10:00 PM – WWE Smackdown – Last week marked the second time I just deleted Smackdown without watching it. If I’m skipping this show, I can’t imagine what sort of sick addict is still watching.
Halloween score – 0
Quality score – 1
10:00 PM – 11:00 PM – Sanctuary – An all-new episode. I think the people on this show bug me. The lady is sort of off-putting in a way I can’t define and the dude looks like an extremely tall 8-year-old with Bert eyebrows.
Halloween score – 3
Quality score – 3
11:00 PM – 12:00 AM – Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files – I like this show. Give it a try.
Halloween score – 3
Quality score – 3
12:00 AM – 1:00 AM – Sanctuary – An all-new episode. I think the people on this show bug me. The lady is sort of off-putting in a way I can’t define and the dude looks like an extremely tall 8-year-old with Bert eyebrows.
Halloween score – 3
Quality score – 3
1:00 AM – 3:00 AM – Rise: Blood Hunter – Lucy Liu and Michael Chiklis hunt vampires again. I say “again” because this is the second showing.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
3:00 AM – 5:00 AM – Witchville – It’s a town. Populated by witches. I guess – I don’t know.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score - 2
5:00 AM – 6:00 AM – Friday the 13th: The Series – Awesome!
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
6:00 AM – 9:00 AM – Paid Programming
Halloween score – 0
Quality score – 0
9:00 AM – 11:00 AM – Pumpkinhead: Blood Feud – I don’t know why they’re playing this one first. It’s the last one of the four(!) that came out. I haven’t seen it, so I’ll definitely check it out while we’re getting ready to go to the Halloween Parade.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 2
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM – Pumpkinhead: Ashes to Ashes – Well, at least it isn’t called Ashes 2 Ashes like a Prince song or something.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 2
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM – The Pumpkin Karver – I find the “K” in the title problematic enough, but the fact that the producer is going by the obvious pseudonym of “Sheldon Silverstein” is just profane.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 2
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM – Mothman – I will not be watching this because Mothman terrifies me.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – It doesn’t matter. Too scary.
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM – House of Bones – Starring Corin Nemec and Charisma Carpenter. I’d like to give her a house of bones. Uh.. or something.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
7:00 PM – 9:00 PM – Jeepers Creepers 2 – This is a good sequel to a good movie. And the annoying Apple guy isn’t in this one.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 3
9:00 PM – 11:30 PM – Rob Zombie’s Halloween – I dug the heck out of Zombie’s remake of the Carpenter classic. But then, I am an unrepentant fan of pretty much everything Zombie does that isn’t overt double-dipping.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 5
11:30 PM – 1:30 AM – House of Bones – C’mon, guys. At least don’t show the same movie again on the same day.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
Saturday
1:30 AM – 4:00 AM – Rob Zombie’s Halloween – I dug the heck out of Zombie’s remake of the Carpenter classic. But then, I am an unrepentant fan of pretty much everything Zombie does that isn’t overt double-dipping.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 5
4:00 AM – 6:00 AM – Splinter – KICK-ASS FUCKING HORROR MOVIE! Watch this or you are a lame-o supreme. Honestly, this movie is so fucking creepy and good!
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 5
6:00 AM – 9:00 AM – Paid Programming
Halloween score – 0
Quality score – 0
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Scare Tactics
Halloween score – 4
Quality score - 1
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Paranormal: Fact or Faked
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM – Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula – I can’t imagine this is any good. It sounds like one of those stupid Bluewater comics.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 2
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Ghost Voyage – I wanted to rag on this but it honestly doesn’t sound that bad. Nine strangers wake up on a ship to find… mystery!
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM – Ghost Town – I doubt this is the one with Ricky Gervais, but then again the personnel at SyFy Channel with such a knack for picking terrible movies may have finally tapped into the goldmine that is Gervais’ American career.
Halloween score – ?
Quality score – 1
Quality score - 1
4:30 PM – 6:30 PM – Jeepers Creepers 2 – Are you guys really running that low on movies?
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM – End of Days – Well, shit. I guess they are.
Halloween score – 2
Quality score – 2
9:00 PM – 11:00 PM – The Haunting In Connecticut – Creepy movie.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
11:00 PM – 1:00 PM – 100 Feet – I can admit when I’m wrong. I watched some of this one the other day and was hooked pretty good. If I hadn’t had to go to work I would’ve watched the whole thing. Sorry I talked shit about you, 100 Feet.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
Sunday
1:00 AM – 3:00 AM – Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula – I can’t imagine this is any good. It sounds like one of those stupid Bluewater comics.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 2
4:00 AM – 6:00 AM – Dracula 3000: Infinite Darkness – This one is about a young man from East Transylvania who – along with his best friend, Big Boi – escapes the dangerous slums and drug-dealing life of the ghetto to become one of the world’s foremost hip-hop artists. Or maybe not.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 3
4:00 AM – 6:00 AM – Dracula 3000: Infinite Darkness – This one is about a young man from East Transylvania who – along with his best friend, Big Boi – escapes the dangerous slums and drug-dealing life of the ghetto to become one of the world’s foremost hip-hop artists. Or maybe not.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 3
6:00 AM – 9:00 AM – Paid Programming
Halloween score – 0
Quality score – 0
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Scare Tactics
Halloween score – 4
Quality score - 1
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Paranormal: Fact or Faked
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM – Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula – I can’t imagine this is any good. It sounds like one of those stupid Bluewater comics.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 2
12:30 PM – 2:30 PM – Ghost Voyage – I wanted to rag on this but it honestly doesn’t sound that bad. Nine strangers wake up on a ship to find… mystery!
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
2:30 PM – 4:30 PM – Ghost Town – I doubt this is the one with Ricky Gervais, but then again the personnel at SyFy Channel with such a knack for picking terrible movies may have finally tapped into the goldmine that is Gervais’ American career.
Halloween score – ?
Quality score – 1
Quality score - 1
4:30 PM – 6:30 PM – Jeepers Creepers 2 – Are you guys really running that low on movies?
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
6:30 PM – 9:00 PM – End of Days – Well, shit. I guess they are.
Halloween score – 2
Quality score – 2
9:00 PM – 11:00 PM – The Haunting In Connecticut – Creepy movie.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
11:00 PM – 1:00 PM – 100 Feet – I can admit when I’m wrong. I watched some of this one the other day and was hooked pretty good. If I hadn’t had to go to work I would’ve watched the whole thing. Sorry I talked shit about you, 100 Feet.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
Sunday
1:00 AM – 3:00 AM – Dark Prince: The True Story of Dracula – I can’t imagine this is any good. It sounds like one of those stupid Bluewater comics.
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 3
3:00 AM – 5:00 AM – Dracula 3000: Infinite Darkness – This one is about a young man from East Transylvania who – along with his best friend, Big Boi – escapes the dangerous slums and drug-dealing life of the ghetto to become one of the world’s foremost hip-hop artists. Or maybe not.
Halloween score – 5
Quality score – 3
5:00 AM – 6:00 AM – Twilight Zone
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 4
6:00 AM – 8:00 AM – Paid Programming
Halloween score – 0
Quality score – 0
8:00 AM – 8:30 AM – Scare Tactics
Halloween score – 4
Quality score – 1
8:30 AM – 10:30 AM – Leprechaun - Do I even need to say anything? I cannot believe nobody has made a toy of this guy.
Halloween score – Negative 5 (wrong holiday entirely)
Quality score – 3
10:30 AM – 2:30 PM – Stephen King’s The Langoliers - I didn’t much care for the novella other than its tenuous Dark Tower connections. I detest the mini-series. Why does nobody ever show The Night Flier? That was awesome! Fucking Miguel Ferrer, man.
Halloween score – 2
Quality score – 1

Until next time, stay creepy
-Phantom

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