The Light That Never Warms…
What’s that wheezing under your bed? Peering, gape mouthed, from that crack in your closet door? Tap, tap, tapping in your crawl space? It’s likely Mezco Toyz’ Living Dead Dolls Series 31 figures. This group of five represent the theme of all the things that thrive in the dark. Night lights won’t help as these nocturnal kiddies dart from shadow to shadow.
They Are Legion…
Series 31 features, Umbral, Kreek, The Dark, Bea Neath, Thump, who join the legion of LDD’s brought forth from the twisted creative minds at Mezco over the last 18 years. Collectors can expect this individually coffin boxed group of 8 inch tongue tied and tongue eyed spirits to emerge from their pitch black sanctum later this spring.
Tipping the Scales
Last year at this time we were treated to a look at Mezco Toyz’ early prototype for a Creature from the Black Lagoon Living Dead Doll which quickly went on my must have list. Since then the company has done a design rethink on the figure and gave us another early look during last week’s Pre Toy Fair press event.
The little Creature’s head sculpt still presents a child like look in keeping with his Living Dead Doll siblings but he has lost the Mego style cloth jump suit that represented his scales in the original design. The rethink gives the doll a nicely sculpted fully molded body more in line with Mezco’s stylized lagoon monster released last year. I was lucky enough to score an all white pre-production “test shot” of that guy, seen in the photo below, at Mezco’s vault clearing sale.
Due in July 2015, the “creach” will join the Mezco’s other Universal Monster LDD’s Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride. Preorder the prehistoric gill-boy here.
Damned If I Know…
What’s In A Name? Well, that which we call a rose might wither in the hand of any of one of Mezco’s long running and award winning Living Dead Doll line. New Series 29 will introduce us to the The Nameless Ones. Fresh from interment these 5 children of the damned are garbed in a variety of togs from party dresses to morning and mourning gowns.
Follow the Jaundiced Brick Road…
Along with their original LDD designs, like the new Grim Reaper kissing booth ghoul, Mezco continues to spin up licensed merchandise in some of the most sort after fan franchises. Leafing through their beautifully laid out 2015 product catalog reveals some interesting surprises ahead. In addition to Child’s Play‘s Chucky (design still pending licensor approval) and The Conjuring’s Annabelle, I’m most excited to see the announcement of Wizard of Oz themed dollies joining the Living Dead roster. Dorothy and her companions The Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Tin Man dolls are first up, but I’m hoping for an LDD Flying Monkey easing’ on down the road.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
When Super7 and Funko announced their partnership in producing a 3.75 inch Alien figure set last August, they promised the collaboration would yield a lot more surprises. That was probably one of the biggest understatements of all time. At Funko’s 2014 Toy Fair booth the companies revealed an over 60 figure roll out for the ReAction line. The retro feel of the characters harks back to Kenner’s Star Wars figures of the 1970’s.
Many under served franchises like Goonies, Pulp Fiction, Escape From New York, Firefly, and the original Buffy, the Vampire Slayer film are fully represented, although sadly the Rocketeer is missing a companion Betty.
Modern monster fans will get a chance to add to their Nightmare on Elmstreet, Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth collections and also enjoy miniature spins on Sam from Trick ‘r Treat, Hellraiser‘s Pinhead Cenobite and my favorite, a pretty awesome rendition of The Crow. The Terminator and Predator franchises are represented too, with a cool, clear, “active camo” version of a Yautja hunter.
A bit less off the beaten path, classic Universal Horror fans will have there choice of 8 figures, including a rather dapper Invisible Man in smoking jacket, though the Frankenstein Monster is looking a little strange in a grey suit. There’s also a selection of Nightmare Before Christmas characters.
The individually blister-carded miniature series will roll out through the end of 2014 and retail for $9.99 each.
This is a pretty amazing assortment of licensed items released in a short period of time. While I don’t see most collectors buying ’em all, there’s enough diversity to make lots of people covet at least 50% of the offerings. If there’s a Wave 2 down the road, I’d love to see Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Reservoir Dogs and Kill Bill, and Sucker Punch represented.