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Re: Animator – Diamond Select Toys Halloween Treat

Diamond Select Toys just unleashed a sweet treat for your Halloween bag in the form of an animated video featuring their line of Universal Monsters figures. Created by Alex Kropinak, the man behind the madness of the Marvel “What The …..?” series, the short follows a trio of Halloween candy hunters to some surprising doorways. In just over a minute we get a slew of cute vignettes of which I especially love the Metaluna Mutant conjuring up a giant candy corn on the old interocitor.
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Scripted by Kropinak and DST Marketing Supervisor Zach Oat, the film nicely displays the expanded articulation of DST’s newest additions to the line, Son of Frankenstein and a beautifully revamped Creature from the Black Lagoon. It also affords a cameo appearance to their first original concept Van Helsing character.
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SkeletonPete Says…
Thanks to the Diamond Select gang for this excellent surprise. Having spent a healthy chunk of my early teen years creating backyard “jungle” adventures using a collection of 12 inch G.I. Joes, I’m always appreciative of a nice piece of stop motion animation like this one. The miniature sets are an inspiration for us toy photographers and Kropinak utilizes a touch of CGI for the atmospheric effects. This truly makes me pine for a proper animated version of Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree.

Word is Diamond Select will continue it’s Universal Monster line next year. A super articulated Wolfman would be awesome, but I’d be just as happy to see them do something left-of-center like a Henry Hull Werewolf of London. I’m also really curious to see what their next original creation will be.

DST will launch it's "Nightmare Before Christmas" Mini-Mate Series with Jack Skellington.

DST will launch it’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” Mini-Mate Series with Jack Skellington.


Additionally Diamond Select will kick off their The Nightmare Before Christmas Mini-Mates series via shops participating in Halloween ComicFest, with a great Jack Skellington figure that was on display at New York Comic Con a week ago.

Ace Faces: Star Ace Collectibles @ NYCC 2014

Star Ace's Cast Metal Replica  of the Disney Submarine Nautilus Design.

Star Ace’s Cast Metal Replica of the Disney Submarine Nautilus Design.


Little “Leagues”…
For me, NY Comic Con is a chance to say hi to the purveyors of some of the fun stuff that I like the best and also a perfect opportunity to discover some new items to add to the “wow” list. This year was no exception.

While free ranging the Javitts Center aisles what to my wondering eyes did appear but a miniature replica of the Naultilus submarine. This representation of Captain Nemo’s sweet ride (Jules Verne’s grandaddy of steam-punk vessels) is based on Harper Goff’s design for Walt Disney Studios 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954.) The little beauty stopped me dead in my tracks and impressed me even more when I learned it was a die cast metal kit with working parts and lights. This one is a true gem for the builder/collector and is aimed at a winter 2014 release.

Want to know more about the genesis of Disney’s submarine design? A treasure trove of information can be found at DisneySub.Com.


Unique Steve McQueen Collectible will Join Star Ace's Growing Line (Pre-Approval Image)

Unique Steve McQueen Collectible will Join Star Ace’s Growing Line (Pre-Approval Image)


Escapism…
Once I pulled my eyes, and camera, away from the Disney Submarine replica, a look around revealed that I was in the display booth of Star Ace Toys Limited, and there were other delights to be seen. Giving me a steely stare from an adjacent display case was another iconic film entity, Steve McQueen, portrayed in his role as Captain Virgil Hilts from The Great Escape (1963). Though I was allowed to photograph it it should be noted that the McQueen likeness is shown here in pre-approval prototype form.

Lord Voldemort Conjures Up Some Trouble

Lord Voldemort Conjures Up Some Trouble


Say My Name…
Star Ace’s current franchise stock in trade is their growing range of Harry Potter film figures. Along with Harry and Ron Weasley, also displayed at the Yes Anime convention booth, Star Ace exhibited prototypes for Ralph Fiennes’ Lord Voldemort and Gary Oldham’s Sirius Black portrayals.

As the photos show these 1/6th scale articulated collectibles are rendered with exquisite attention to detail from their head sculpts and paint to the delicious scope of their accessories.


SkeletonPete Says…
I’m happy to see that Star Ace is giving some love to the interests of “boomer” collectors like myself, who in actuality are more likely purchase such high scale prizes. If they’re considering mining 50’s-60’s pop culture a Frank, Dino and Sammy Jr. “Rat Pack” would find a home in many “man-caves.”

Dark Horse Comics Mashes Arch(ie) Enemies

A picture's worth a thousand words. You get the point, so will the Archie gang.

A picture’s worth a thousand words. You get the point, so will the Archie gang.


As New York Comic Con 2014 rolls to the end of its second day, the news blasts are coming fast and furious from our friends at Dark Horse Comics. The latest communique alerts us to a totally loony franchise collision that puts extraterrestrial horror hounds, the Predators, dogging the trail of the Archie Comics crew. Hey, my favorite Universal Monster film is Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, so I’m there.

Slash and (Sun) Burn…
April 2015 brings the first issue of Archie Meets Predator a 4 part Alex de Campi (Grindhouse) and Fernando Ruiz saga set during spring break in Costa Rico. I haven’t seen a preview but I’m thinking Betty and Veronica camouflaged in spa mud. If that’s a spoiler, I’m clairvoyant. If it’s not, I’m a twelve year old.

Author de Campi promises the whole Archie crew in tow. His interview with USAToday is here.

Tell Tale ART: Dark Horse Comics Corben & Poe Anthology

Ponder "Spirits of the Dead," Dark Horse's curious volume of forgotten lore

Ponder “Spirits of the Dead,” Dark Horse’s curious volume of forgotten lore


Hell On Wheels…
In October of 1977, just in time for Halloween, record store racks were graced with the amazing cover art of Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell album. The vivid, now iconic, scene of a motorcycle rider blasting his way out of the grave was at the time an irresistible lure to purchase the album. To those of us involved in comic fandom the work was instantly recognizable as that of Richard Corben.

Corben emerged from the comix underground in the early 1970’s to contribute work to James Warren’s horror books Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella. He was also a regular in the pages of Heavy Metal Magazine, most notably with the serialized sword and sorcery feature “Den.”

Poe, Poe, Pitiful Me…
With the release of Spirits of the Dead on October 1 Dark Horse Comics will similarly enlist Corben to get the 2014 Halloween season firmly in flight. The hardcover anthology will ensnare the artist’s entire Edgar Allan Poe corpus into one voluminous tome. Dark Horse has in the last two years published several outstanding single story issues of Corben’s Poe adaptations and now pulls them all together with earlier works.

Throughout Spirits of the Dead we are treated to all manner of morbid machinations served up via Corben’s one of a kind style which lends itself so well to the gothic, grisly and gruesome. His penchant for gnarly characterizations inspected in and panel by panel close-ups prove a fitting visual analog for the psychological horror that Poe is noted for.

Presented within the book’s over 200 pages are 14 adaptations in chronological order as written by Poe not illustrated by Corben. We’re offered a mix of the familiar and the less celebrated, ranging from visual tone poems based on “The Sleeper” and “Alone” through mid-book magnum opus, the nearly 50 page “The Fall of the House of Usher,” to end with “The Cask of Amontillado.” Along the way “Masque of the Red Death” and “Murders in the Rue Morgue” are stand out personal favorites. “Masque” for Corben’s imaginative, madly colored, visions of the reveler’s costumes, and “Rue Morgue” for its unfettered depiction of the savage protagonist.
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None of Corben’s Poe pieces are slavish to their source material. The word adaptation should be taken literally, and that’s part of the fun. This is especially true of the artist’s interpolation of the poetic works as Professor M. Thomas Inge (The Incredible Mr. Poe: Comic Book Adaptations of the Works of Edgar Allan Poe) points out in his introduction. Often injected into the stories is narrator, “Mag The Hag.” The hulking hooded and eye patched witch finds rye humor in almost every unpleasant situation and denouement, sometimes as a framing mechanism and others as a participant in the narrative.

SkeletonPete Says…
I suspect I’m not alone in having a Halloween section in my personal library. A nice handful of books that help conjure the season. Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree rightfully tops the list, but there are plenty of others including last year’s The Halloween Legion.

I expect that Spirits of the Dead will find a comfy niche in that group alongside the recently published Poe and the Visual Arts in which author Barbara Cantalupo shows how Poe’s verbiage was influenced by the illustrative arts of his time.

Writers: For an informative treatise on The Philosophy of Composition by Poe himself follow this link to his discourse on the gestation of The Raven.

High Stakes: Van Helsing Joins Diamond Select Monster Series

Diamond Select Toys' Van Helsing action figure prototype as seen at Toy Fair 2014.

Diamond Select Toys’ Van Helsing action figure prototype as seen at Toy Fair 2014.

Van the Man…
Diamond Select Toys is taking the opportunity to expand the monster line with a unique design of their own. DST’s Van Helsing, is an armed-to-the-teeth vision of the vampire hunter with a wizened and battle scarred countenance. With his axe, rifle, pistol and bandolero of wooden spikes he’s clearly a determined and formidable foe for the feral creatures of the night.

With many of us still cringing from the loopy Hugh Jackman misstep of 2004 Van Helsing was a risky choice. Fortunately DST presents him as an effective cross between the grandfatherly character portrayed by Edward Van Sloan in 1931 and Anthony Hopkins’ frenzied doctor of Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula (1992.)

The Van Helsing “Select” version is the most ornate of the three new Wave 5 boxed packages. The base provides a cemetery scene with dual tombstones and vicious vampire bride Mina Harker pouching from her grave.

More Monsters…
I’ve been stalking Diamond Select Toy’s fifth wave of Universal Monsters figures since they first appeared as early prototypes in DST’s Toy Fair Booth back in 2013.

These two newest 7 inch scale action figures present Boris Karloff as The Monster from Son of Frankenstein, and a new version of The Creature From the Black Lagoon. The Jean St. Jean sculpts are created with “super articulation,” giving the models many more poseable points of movement than their previous incarnations.

DST has announced these items in blister-carded Toys “R” Us Exclusive configurations (already on the shelves) as well as “Select” boxes, available shortly in comic book shops, or for pre-order. The “Select” versions add extraordinarily detailed bases and props.

Inspector Krogh "lends a hand (and arm) to Karloff's "Son of Frankenstein" TRU Exclusive. Image Courtesy of Diamond Select Toys.

Inspector Krogh “lends a hand (and arm) to Karloff’s “Son of Frankenstein” TRU Exclusive. Image Courtesy of Diamond Select Toys.


The Monster is portrayed with a slightly more gaunt look than Karloff lensed in the original 1939 film. He is clothed in his signature “Son of” wooly vest, a look that will forever remind me of Sonny Bono’s preferred garb in the 1960’s. In addition to more articulation The Creature update trumps its Wave 1 predecessor with, to my eye, a sculpt more accurate to its film appearance and a glossier aquatic paint finish.

“Armed” and Dangerous…
The “Select” Son of Frankenstein comes with an awesome Kenneth Strickfaden inspired piece of electrical laboratory gear that will remind old school collector’s like myself of the similar rig that was part of Aurora’s classic Bride of Frankenstein tableau. No Son of Frankenstein collectible would be complete without the wooden arm of Lionel Atwill’s Inspector Krogh for the monster to swing around. For me it’s a must have, and I’m glad to report it comes in both packaging configurations, so you won’t be torn (hee, hee.)

SkeletonPete Says…
While I’m happy to learn that Diamond Select will continue to offer Universal Monster figures in another wave next year, I also applaud the initiative to bring some of their own creative juice to the monster mix.

The Aurora Plastic Model Company did this quite effectively in late 1960’s. Their Forgotten Prisoner of Castle Mare, The Witch, and The Guillotine models were equally cherished by collectors. In fact they are the only intact original Aurora models I still have. The others succumbed to an ill advised tangle with a barrage of firecrackers one fateful Independence day.