Though I normally end a post with the “SkeletonPete Says” section I think it appropriate to preface this particular blog entry with some introduction to its genesis.
This piece is only one small part of the Criterion Blog-A-Thon that officially began yesterday. The Criterion Collection is noted for its restoration of aging film elements, and attention to detail in its bonus features, often producing what most consider definitive DVD and BluRay releases.
Thanks and kudos to Aaron (Criterion Blues) Ruth (Silver Screenings) and Kristina (Speakeasy) who created and are administering this massive, 200 plus post, Blog-a-geddon. It is unlikely I would have endeavored to revisit Vampyr or Carl Theodor Dreyer’s ethos had it not been for the impetus of this online event. Film buffs who trawl the Criterion Blog-A-Thon should have enough to read until December 2020. Please send the blog posts you like some social media (#CriterionBlogathon) and comment love, and follow the ones that you think will float your boat in the long run.
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.