Monday, October 5, 2015

31 Days of Halloween: Ancient Toys of Yesteryear – Resurrection of Monstress Franken Steela from Yellow Submarine

I wanted to do something special for the first toy review of this year’s Halloween coverage. While there are plenty of new horror toys on the market thanks to companies like NECA, Mezco, and Funko, you can find reviews of that stuff everywhere (which is not to say that I won’t be reviewing some of that stuff here – after all, nobody else is me). I decided to dig into my toy archives and review an old favorite.

Sort of.

As you may know, I worked at Hot Topic at the end of the last century. I was lucky enough to be there during a time when they were first experimenting with carrying import and specialty toys. Plenty of retailers were carrying McFarlane’s releases, but we had all kinds of wild Japanese toys and low-run domestic stuff. Today’s subject is one of those wild Japanese toys.

Resurrection of Monstress is a toy line that was produced by Yellow Submarine. Like many of Japan’s cooler lines it was not based on any specific license, but on the ideas of the designers. Each figure is a sexy anime-style lady version of a famous monster, though the characters are a bit more involved than that.

While we didn’t receive the full line at my store, we got a few and one of those was Franken Steela. And I am not one that can pass up an action figure of a sexy, mostly-nude Frankenstein lady.

The figure I’m reviewing today isn’t that figure that I bought back in 1997 (or so). I still have that one, though some of the parts are broken due to the number of times I’ve moved since then. Today’s figure is a variant version that I recently acquired thanks to an incredible deal from BigBadToyStore.com. The bright, vibrant color scheme of this figure fits the tone of the line more than the one I bought the first time around.

Also, it glows in the dark, so yeah – I’m probably ending this thing with a perfect score.

FIRST GLANCE

I love the design because it incorporates elements of the Bride with elements of Frankenstein’s monster himself. The blister card is jam-packed with cool accessories, which is a good thing given the figure’s almost complete lack of articulation.

This is another case where I have to adjust my expectations slightly. This is not a toy for posing and having fight scenes with other figures. This is a display piece for putting on your shelf and feeling cool about. It’s almost kind of more of an art thing.

PACKAGING

Franken Steela comes on a big ol’ blister card, like many of the Japanese figures from back in the day. While this is my favorite form of packaging, this did become problematic once the figures had been hanging around for a few months. The weight of the figures (and accessories) would almost always pull the blister away from the cardback and we’d have to staple it back on. This, of course, leaves the product in a state that nobody wants to pay money for. That means that tons of the import toys got marked down to almost nothing on clearance. Which is when I would buy them.

Benefits of being an opener.

The figures and accessories are displayed nicely, so the cardback art doesn’t have much work to do. It features an illustration of Franken Steela that looks more like pop art than Manga. The back has bios for each of the characters. The card is super glossy, so I had a really hard time getting a decent picture of this figure’s bio. Here it is:

Franken Steela

Sculpted By Takayuki Takeya

The year is 2000ac.

Victor Frankenstein’s last bloodline Guielle Frankenstein has created a new being from the brains of intellects around the world and stitching body parts from various super models. Steela has born into the world destroying the castle with her right handweapon “Electra”.

Height 190 cm

Weight 70 kg

This might be my favorite toy bio ever. Imagine if this guy had written all of the Masters of the Universe Classics bios:

Skulllehead

From Mountain of Snakes Skullehead controls his favored instrument “Ram Havoc” to utilize Biting Face, Hair Demon, and Gran Sushi in defeat of Thunder Nipples and his adjacent Master of the Universes – Prince Mustache, Manatarms, and Plant.

I would buy a book of those.

LOOKS

Obviously the first thing anybody is going to notice about this figure is how naked it is. And how the specifics of the nakedness are covered by metal plates bolted directly into the flesh of the creature. It’s kind of a weird, almost American sensibility –

We can’t show nipples!”

Uh, then how about we just nail some steel pasties onto her boobs?”

Oh, well sure – that’s fine. Wait – what about her vagina? We can’t just put a plate over that. It would be inhumane.”

We’ll nail a plate on her stomach and her back and stretch some fabric between them.”

Great! As long as they’re not naked Toys R Us will carry these for sure!”

This review has made me sad because it has, for the first time, made me contemplate those aspects of the figure.

I am never reviewing anything from the Tortured Souls line.

Steela’s head sculpt is important for carrying off all of the mutilation because she doesn’t look victimized. She has a sort of smirk rather than looking victimized at all. The sculpt also reflects the pop art sensibilities of the cardback, so it captured the artists’ vision nicely. While the sculpt is excellent, the paint is remarkable – much better than most American figures. The placement of the colors is perfect. Steela deserves a close look because she may seem fairly monochromatic, but there are an amazing number of colors on this figure.

All of the Franken-bits are slightly exaggerated and the placement is definitely about giving the figure a remarkable profile. The bolts on the shoulders and neck aren’t just sitting there – they look like implants. The sculpt and paint work together to great effect. The same goes for the stitching, which is particularly notable. The individual stitches are small and neat, not the huge rectangles we’ve come to expect from horror figures. And the paint in the scars and crevices adds so much to the look. There are appliances on her chest and back that seem designed for some sort of spinal support. The front one is much sleeker and feminine, while the back is a thick set of plates with a large bolt in the middle (which is used to affix the figure to the included operating table). All of the metal pieces have a dark wash to give them an aged look.

Steela’s bandaged arms and legs are obviously nods to the design of the Bride. I like the black color and the studded rings added. Again – a lot of thought was put into giving this figure a striking profile. I love the detail on the exposed left leg – all of that stitching wasn’t necessary, but the designer wanted one more point of interest.

The boots are insane. They’re massive platforms in true Frankenstein style, but with huge bolts and spikes on them because why not?

The body of the figure features two different colors – half is my beloved glow-in-the-dark green, while the other half is painted a non-glowing standard green. Initially this kind of annoyed me because why the heck would you ever paint over glow-in-the-dark plastic? It almost seems like a sin. But once you turn the lights out and see how eerie the effect of that patchwork glowing is, it’s worth it.

ACCESSORIES

SO MANY THINGS!

I think that this figure has more accessories than anything else I’ve reviewed. Steela comes with an operating table, a bolt necklace, forceps, a scalpel, a hypodermic needle, her “right handweapon Electra”, a skull, a brain, a rat, a beaker, and a flask.

The skull is glow-in-the-dark plastic and has painted bolts sculpted on. The brain looks fantastic. The sculpt and paint job are outstanding. I like that the texture of the bolts is so different that they appear to be separate pieces. The brain fits nicely into the cavity in the top of the skull.

The rat has the same multi-colored design as Steela, as well as some bolts and stitching, all as detailed as the main figure. I’m surprised it’s as cute as it is rather than being either more macabre or cartoonish.

All of the surgical instruments are surprisingly straightforward. The detail of the meniscus on the beaker and flask is a great touch. I also dig the green fluid in the syringe – it reminds me of Re-Animator.

The necklace and “Electra” are both glow-in-the-dark plastic. “Electra” fits snugly over Steela’s right hand. 

I wish it covered the whole hand, but what are you gonna do? The necklace is a little weird. On the older figure it is more clearly a necklace, but on this one it looks like it’s supposed to be electricity. 

But it glows in the dark, so whatever.

The table looks incredible. The sculpt is precise and detailed and the paint wash creates a beautiful rust effect. The table pivots on the stand, but doesn’t have a device to keep it in a horizontal position, which is my second biggest gripe about this toy. My biggest gripe is that the pegs that attach the sides of the table are a soft plastic that, over time, will tear apart. That’s what happened with the older figure. So if you buy one of these, don’t just turn the sides to move them. You have to actually remove them from the table and re-insert them in the position you want.

The top of the table features some old-school mad science gizmos as well as some glow-in-the-dark electrical effects. The two long bolts can attach to a couple of different points on the figure, though they work best with the shoulders. I have to admit to being surprised that they aren’t designed to attach to her metal pasties.

Steela comes with a ton of beautiful accessories that are well thought out and fun.

FUN

Speaking of fun, those accessories are pretty much the source of it. Steela herself has three points of articulation – neck and shoulders. There’s not much to do there. The figure does interact with some of the accessories, and some of the accessories interact with each other – you can put stuff in the beaker – but that’s it. Once you’ve figured out how you want to display the table and the stuff, you’re pretty much done with this one.

But again I want to say – this isn’t an Avenger or Batman. It’s a cool display piece that will enhance your “Weird Toys” shelf.

OVERALL

I do believe Franken Steela was close to forty bucks back when we had her at Hot Topic. I think I paid around ten for that first one I got on clearance and that BigBadToyStore deal nabbed me seven different Resurrection of Monstress figures for sixty bucks. So what I’m saying is that for the prices I’ve paid, this figure was absolutely worth it. She looks fantastic and is probably quite a bit different from most of the toys you own.

This is a unique action figure based on a concept from someone’s brain rather than a comic book or movie. That alone makes it special. I highly recommend you buy yourself one, or just get that set from BigBad while they still have them.


4 out of 5

1 comment:

  1. I bought the Wolfinica and Phanteana figures because they were both packing musical instruments and for years they were on a shelf with Animal and Dr. Teeth from the Muppet Show,Bleeding Gums Murphy from The Simpsons,and a few members from Kiss Psycho Circus in a bizarre looking orchestral display.It was a collecting phase that kind of came and went,but I still have the figures in storage.

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