Monday, October 12, 2015

31 Days of Halloween: Creepy Toy Review - Critter from Monstarz

First of all, I have to clarify that this is not a toy. It says so right on the box:

I suppose that makes it an “Adult Collectible”, which is a term that I will never be entirely comfortable with because of the connotations of the word “Adult”. Not just because “Adult” so often means “pervy”, but also because when it doesn’t mean “pervy” it tends to mean “shit that I don’t want to do/think about”. And I like pervy an awful lot more than I like any of that. But I tend to stay away from pervy in the context of Needless Things.

Incidentally, if you can find a pervy use for today’s subject, I’d rather not hear about it.
The 1986 movie Critters is near and dear to me. It falls into that strange category of horror movies that sort of seem like they’re for kids, but clearly aren’t. Others of this ilk include The Gate, Ghoulies, and maybe Troll. I saw all of those and more when I was young and they had a hand in shaping my love of not just horror movies, but creatures and creature design.


If you are not familiar with Critters, it’s a science fiction movie about a horde of small, murderous creatures called Crites that land on Earth while trying to escape from intergalactic bounty hunters. It’s an awesome, fun movie and the Crites are some of the most memorable creature designs of the 80s. It’s actually shocking that this is the first licensed item based on them.

This was a surprise entry into the Monstarz line of collectibles that depicts some of the more obscure or independent subjects of genre films. I follow Amok Time toys on social media and one day they just put up a picture of this Crite out of nowhere with a link to the buying page. It is extremely unusual for a collectible (trying to not say “toy”) to just appear, ready to buy. Even with the new Star Wars toys we knew they were coming, just not specifics of what they were.

I immediately ordered two. I had no idea of what the quality would be or how limited the production run was. I just knew that someone had made licensed Critters and I had to have one. Or two. For all I knew they might sell out while I was trying to order (Matty has scarred me). For those of you that are interested, Amok Time still has them in stock.

FIRST GLANCE

The colors aren’t exactly what you’d expect if you’re familiar with Crites, but this is another case of the creator doing their best to represent the original design of the creature as opposed to what we might remember seeing in the movie. 

In my head, the Crites were balls of grey with red mouths and yellow eyes. I was surprised by the amount of paint on this figure.

PACKAGING

The box is made out of cheap cardboard with equally cheap plastic for the window, which I am totally fine with. This is a monster from a low-budget 80s movie – it shouldn’t be in anything even as fancy as a Funko Pop! box. The graphics look fantastic. The starfield above the farm is a wonderful background (the movie takes place in a rural area).

I particularly like the illustration on the top:

That belongs on a t-shirt. Or maybe tattooed on my arm.

Best of all, the box and interior tray can be opened without being damaged. So you can pull your Crite out, inspect it, fluff its hair, and put it right back in.

LOOKS

The first thing to note is that this sculpt is clearly intended to be a caricature/toy version of a Crite and not a replica of any kind. It’s about 6” tall – slightly larger than I was expecting it to be.

The sculpt is fun and quite detailed given that. The mouth is exaggerated, but otherwise the proportions are relatively accurate. The eyeballs are bulbous and slick while the skin has folds and wrinkles. The maw full of fangs is a bit unsettling. It reminds me of an even scarier version of the Zuni doll from Trilogy of Terror. The sculpting of the teeth is fairly consistent, though it’s hard to tell through the paint – more on that in a bit.

Like I said above – the colors on this guy are a bit jarring. The bright yellow claws and mustard-colored spots on the Crite aren’t what I expected. Even the pale grey bade color seemed odd. But looking at close-ups of some of the models used in the movie, it becomes apparent that while these colors might be a bit brighter, they are essentially correct. Also, the original movie mostly takes place at night (mostly), so the colors seem even more muted.

Here, these colors add a lot of personality to the toy and make it much more interesting to look at.

The paint application is actually quite nice. The eyes are blood red while the surrounding area is a darker shade. The mustard-colored splotches on the skin are randomly but evenly placed. They’re too similar size-wise to look organic, but again – they make the figure more visually striking. There’s a dark grey wash that brings out the sculpted details of the skin. It looks great with the other colors and gives the figure more depth.

The yellow of the claws is applied precisely. This is an area where you would definitely see some slop or bleeding in a lesser toy.

The mouth is kind of a mess. It looks great from a distance, but up close the teeth aren’t great. The gory red behind them is glossy and somewhat disturbing, but the teeth aren’t colored as nicely as they could be. I suppose you could say that they’re covered in blood, but I don’t think that’s the intended effect. I think the teeth were just too narrow to get right with whatever painting process was used.

This is a fun figure overall, but the best feature by far is the fur. At first glance you might assume that this is a cheap-o fur that’s going to fall out when you touch it and might even be so cheap as to have shed pretty badly in the package. That’s certainly what I thought. But it is firmly attached to the figure and isn’t going anywhere. I know this because when the Crite comes out of the box, its sporting a smooth, George Hamitlon-esque hairdo:

And you have to muss it up yourself. Which is fun. A simple shake of the figure will do it, as the hair has enough body, yet is light enough to fluff up nicely.

The coloring is excellent, with grey and black grading into each other to create a great look. I’m impressed by how much thought went into making this little guy visually interesting.

FUN

This is not, technically, an action figure or even a toy. As such, the category of “Fun” doesn’t even really apply. And yet this guy is fun for what he is. He doesn’t do anything, but that fur is a neat feature. It’s kind of like those hideous little Treasure Trolls that seem to cycle around once a decade.

OVERALL

If you’re a fan of Critters or just creature movies in general, this is a must-have – you’ll be the envy of all of your friends.

I wouldn’t mind a larger screen-accurate version – especially if it were an actual puppet – but this guy is a great little collectible. For twenty bucks he’s absolutely worth adding to your shelf.


4 out of 5

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