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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.

Black, White, and Red All Over: DST’s “Sin City” and Garden Warfare Collectibles

The Yellow Bastard Box Will Be The First 2 Inch Mini-Mate Sin City Set from Diamond Select Toys.

The Yellow Bastard Box Will Be The First 2 Inch Mini-Mate Sin City Set from Diamond Select Toys.

Hot Town, Summer in Sin City…
August 22 seemed forever away when I first spied it as the release date for Sin City 2 in Diamond Select Toys’ 2014 New York Toy Fair booth last February. Now it’s yesterday and the follow-up to Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’ most graphic and novel of graphic novel inspired films is in general release.

Of the tie-in’s previewed by DST last winter, the three Sin City Select Action Figures representing Nancy (Jessica Alba), Hartigan (Bruce Willis) and Marv (Mickey Rourke) have already hit the shelves. Production versions I’ve seen look really good, with the 2005 film’s range of whites, grays and blacks rendered with subtlety over the Jean St. Jean sculpts. These display boxed “Select” models are each supplied with appropriate stands

Sin City's Nancy, as Portrayed by Jessica Alba,  "Select" Figure is Already Available.

Sin City’s Nancy, as Portrayed by Jessica Alba, “Select” Figure is Already Available.

The action figures will be followed shortly by two Mini-Mates box sets. The first – due momentarily – is the Yellow Bastard Box featuring Nancy, Hartigan, Senator Roark and YB himself. Box set two will arrive in the fall and feature Marv, Wendy, Kevin and Cardinal Roark. This set is based on Miller’s story “The Hard Goodbye.” Both sets include interchangeable parts, accessories, and what looks like a slew of weapons.


Victory Garden…
If you prefer more color in your collector life, DST will accommodate with a selection of zombie whacking flora and their undead foes based on the insanely popular Plants Vs. Zombies Garden Warfare game from Popcap and EA. The aptly named “bloom and doom” roll out will begin in September and there are a number of standard, specialty store, and Toys “R” Us permutations.

A Wonderful Selection of Plants Vs. Zombies Characters is Coming From DST in September 2014.

A Wonderful Selection of Plants Vs. Zombies Characters is Coming From DST in September 2014.

Here’s the breakdown directly from Diamond Select:
Each set of two 5″ scale action figures will include one plant and one zombie[…] The assortment includes:
– Gatling Pea with Scientist Zombie
– Camo Cactus with Foot Soldier Zombie
– Chomper with Engineer Zombie
– Shadow Flower with All-Star Zombie


Additionally, two box sets of Minimates mini-figures will be available in early September, one at Toys “R” Us stores and one at comic shops and specialty stores. Those two sets include:

Toys “R” Us set:
– Foot Soldier Zombie, Scientist Zombie, Chomper, Sunflower, and two Pea Shooters

Comic shop/specialty stores set:
– Engineer Zombie, All-Star Zombie, Cactus, Sunflower, and two Pea Shooters.

Too Much Monkey Business: NECA Shapes “Apes” Series 1

NECA's 7" Caesar, King of the Apes Action Figure

NECA’s 7″ Caesar, King of the Apes Action Figure


Mr. Mojo Risin’…
20th Century Fox’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens July 11, 2014 and early reviews are promising a spectacular addition to the solid reboot of the much loved franchise. I will admit that after the misstep of the 2001 “re-imagining” by Tim Burton I was skeptical about future films, but the James Franco and Andy Serkis performances in 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes won me over and I have been looking forward to this sequel.

Since the denoument of the original 1968 film revealed the apes’ planet to be Earth itself, the question was always “how did we get there.” “Rise” and “Dawn” tell that story in a thoughtful and effective narrative. A third, currently untitled, installment is set for summer 2016.


Sneak peaked at last winter’s New York Toy Fair, NECA Toys already has their first wave of articulated action figures on the shelves. Series 1 includes 6 inch renditions of Caesar, Koba and Maurice. Each comes with interchangeable hands and appropriate weapons. Check out NECA’s site for some really great posed studio shots of these three.
Dr. Zaius, as played by the late Maurice Evans, is perfectly portrayed as part of NECA's Classic "Planet of the Apes" Series 1.

Dr. Zaius, as played by the late Maurice Evans, is perfectly portrayed as part of NECA’s Classic “Planet of the Apes” Series 1.


Classy Classics…
NECA is also poised to release beautiful likenesses of the original film characters this month. Planet of the Apes Classic Series 1 includes 7 inch Cornelius, Dr. Zaius and an armed Gorilla Soldier.

Skeletonpete Says…
Follow NECA on Twitter for their #monkeymonday communiques and news about their other great collectibles.

DST’s Best Bust Yet: Going “Meta-loony” for the Mutant

DST's Metaluna Mutant Bust Bank is due Halloween 2014

DST’s Metaluna Mutant Bust Bank is due Halloween 2014

I love Diamond Select Toys‘ range of Bust Banks and back in February at the New York Toy Fair I got a sneak peek at the prototype for this one but could not reveal the details. It’s my favorite so far, for its great sculpt and killer color palette. So I’m thrilled to share DST’s notice for what I think is the best bust bank yet, the quirkiest of Universal Monsters from This Island Earth, the Metaluna Mutant.

Brain Change….
DST’s official communique says “The Universal Monsters are not dead yet! This year, Halloween will bring one more vinyl bust bank to join the monstrous line-up, the Metaluna Mutant! Whether you love him from This Island Earth or the Mystery Science Theatre 3000 takedown, he’ll make a big impression on your shelf, with high-quality sculpting and paint details. Plus, his brain alone will hold several dollars in change, thanks to the coin slot on his back! Packaged in a clear polybag. (Item #JUL142037, SRP: $22.99)”

Such An Evil Child: NECA’s “Bad Blood” Predators Previewed @ NY Toy Fair 2014

NECA's Dark Horse Comics Inspired "Bad Blood" Predator @ NY Toy Fair 2014

NECA’s Dark Horse Comics Inspired “Bad Blood” Predator @ NY Toy Fair 2014


NECA (National Entertainment Collectors Association) displayed their prototypes for both Series 12 and 13 Predators at the recent NY Toy Fair, giving the press a peek at the still to be finalized designs for what will be on the shelves in the coming months.

In The Pines, In The Pines…
As the longest running of NECA’s action figure licenses Predator continues to be extremely popular and collectors anticipate where inspiration for the next wave will come from. For Series 12 the company looked to the printed page with two of the three figures representing characters in Dark Horse Comics’ four issue adventure Predators: Bad Blood from the 1990’s. The standalone story told of a “serial killer” Predator on a rampage in the wild Pine Barrens of New Jersey (also the home of the legendary “Jersey Devil”) and his battle with an Enforcer determined to thwart him. Fortunately for humanity the Enforcer did not have to use the George Washington Bridge on a bad traffic day to get to NJ.

Dark Horse's "Predator: Bad Blood" Comics Inspired 2 of NECA's Series 12 Figures

Dark Horse’s “Predator: Bad Blood” Comics Inspired 2 of NECA’s Series 12 Figures


NECA’s “Bad Blood” sculpt is one sweet looking piece, bound to make fans of the franchise happy, and I think also bring in the casual collector. He’s like a walking, stalking, trophy wall adorned in the bones of his victims. He appears blood spattered from a fresh kill, whose heads he’s happy to brandish. His nemesis, The Enforcer figure is clad in silver armor, with shoulder cannon, disk and rod ready to bring the rogue to justice.

Younger Edler…
The third figure in Series 12 is a revamped Series 3 character, the Elder from the Predator 2film. NECA says “Elder V2 features additional articulation, a shoulder cannon, new straps and belts, and new feet, all upgraded and improved from the original version.” The models sport 25 points of articulation and stand approximately 8” tall.

Expect to see these in their final form around June of 2014, followed closely by the revealed but undesignated Series 13 figures in August.

NECA Predators Series 12 Prototypes – Not Final Product

NECA Predators Series 13 Prototypes – Not Final Product

Blade Fighter Vehicle Joins the NECA Predator Collection in August 2014

Blade Fighter Vehicle Joins the NECA Predator Collection in August 2014


Blade Rider…
In addition to the series 12 abd 13 reveals, NECA showed off its first vehicle of the collectible cache with a really hot Predator Blade Fighter complete with Viper rider. It’s sure to bring back fond memories of those who collected Kenner Predator toys back in the 1990’s.

NECA's NES Game Styled Predator

NECA’s NES Game Styled Predator


Blues Clues…
There’s more fun and nostalgia as NECA expands it’s spin on 8-bit video game characters. this time it’s Predator, looking sharp all in blue as depicted in the 1989 NES game. Expected in May 2014, it will be sold in a special flapped window package reminiscent of the original video game box and limited to one production run only.

More To Come…
I have plenty more NECA goodies to be posted in the coming weeks, including gigantic Pacific Rim Jaegers and Kaiju, an uncanny Dark Knight Joker, some amazing Planet of the Apes figures, Diablo and more.