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Film & Television Series Photography Toys & Collectibles

Better Run Through the Jungle: Noble Collection Meets Universal Monsters

It’s Monster Monday Again!

noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography
The Noble Collection’s Creature From the Black Lagoon Bendy Fig captured in
a paper craft jungle.

“A sleepy lagoon, a tropical moon, and two on an island” is how the lyrics of the 1940 Number 1 hit song imagines a jungle paradise. That’s certainly not what Julie Adams and Richard Carlson encountered when their archeological team traveled down the Amazon in the now classic 1954 monster movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon. It was way more of a creepy lagoon and prehistoric goon experience.  

The Creature from the Black Lagoon ranks as my favorite of the big five Universal Studios monsters, and we’ve featured many different collectible renditions on this site in the last decade. So I’ve been looking forward to setting up a photography session with the Bendy Figs toy version of “the creech” for quite some time. The 6 inch action figure is part of The Noble Collection’s first Universal Monsters Series. Wave 1 also includes Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride. 

Noble Toys has an expansive group of licensed Bendy Figs ranging from the DC Universe and Star Trek, to Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings ( I think I’ve gotta getta Gollum).

noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography

Bend Me, Shape Me…

Based on the product name you might expect Bendy Figs to have a Stretch Armstrong feel, with extremities you could coax to unnatural length. But bendy simply refers to their flexible but unjointed build. Though their articulation is fluid they don’t have a boneless floppiness. In fact the figures have a nicely balanced weight to them. They’re fun to handle and pose.

I found The Creature model to be beautifully sculpted with lots of detail both front and back. Though box art represents the monster’s standard film look, the actual figure is features unique variations. It’s head sculpt introduces a fearsome, fang-filled, characterization that I like very much.

noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography

Even when subjected to close-up lens scrutiny I found the paint work on the production piece I photographed to be applied with care. In particular, The Creature’s froggy black and yellow eyes are precisely rendered. 

For display purposes the figure stands solidly on its inscribed base, which has pegs that insert into the bottom of the doll’s feet. Though actual movement is limited, arm positioning provided a useful range of expression for my photos. Overall my impression is that it’s an excellent collector’s piece with imaginative play possibilities for youngsters.

noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography

If You Build It…

Based on a last minute decision the project became as much a things to make and do task as it was a photo session. 

I chose to create all the set pieces as physical props and light them in the spirit of a studio film. I remembered promotional photos, like those for The Wolfman, (1940) where a few tree branches on an atmospherically lit (but otherwise empty) soundstage could suggest an entire forest.

So the production ethic became no digital imaging embellishments, no photos of my backyard weeds posing as Amazonian undergrowth, and positively no plastic ferns. I wanted this project to be made from scratch as much as possible, so I undertook the task of building a miniature set with paper-craft techniques.

noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography
noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography
Behind the scenes of my tabletop jungle built from
construction paper and cardboard scraps.
(photo © Peter Parrella 2021)

Craft Services…

During the build I got a chance to try out some recently purchased ceramic blades produced by the company called Slice. I found they worked great for precisely cutting out the construction paper leaves, and lightly scoring fold junctures. I stuck with my trusty Xacto #11 blades when cutting through  the heavier corrugated cardboard of the tree trunks.

Lighting was handled in part with a Lume Cube 2.0 kit. These lights and their accessories afforded an easily positionable solution for miniature photography. Adjustable luminance levels and miniature grids and snoots allowed me to go from subtle shading to expressionist level contrast. 

All of the Lume Cube accessories have magnetic attachments, so nothing falls off in the middle of a shoot. This makes them particularly well suited to table top set work. They are also controllable from a iOS app, which I did not try but can see the value of in the future.

noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography
Some Mario Bava inspired color effects were achieved with
Lume Cube 2.0 lights and gels.

What Would Bava Do..?

I recently watched the 1961 sword and sandal epic Hercules in the Haunted World, on the KinoCult Network. It was a super clean print that accentuated the artistry of set designer/director Mario Bava. Bava is well known for the way he used an explosive color palette to elevate often minimal sets. With Lume Cube’s supplied color gels I was able to experiment with similar super saturated color juxtapositions in the style of the maestro.

SkeletonPete Says…

This was a fun pre-Halloween project. It offered me the opportunity to work with some “new-ish” equipment, polish up my rusty paper arts skills, and try some visual techniques I’ve been eager to explore. I’m planning on a similar shoot with the Bendy Figs Frankenstein Monster in the near future.

noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography
The Noble Collection’s Bendy Figs Universal Monsters, Series 1 Box Art.
noble toys, the noble collection, bendy figs, universal monsters, action figures, hobby crafts, toy photography
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Toys & Collectibles

Frank Incensed… Mezco’s 1st Universal Monsters One:12 Figure

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Mezco’s thrilling evocation of Karloff’s Frankenstein Monster enraged.

October 2016 will see the release of the premiere Universal Horror Movie figure in Mezco ToyzOne:12 Collective product line. It’s only fitting that the first to appear should be the cadaverous creation of Dr. Frankenstein. The 1931 film (Frankenstein) launched the now classic series of monster movies that would grow to include Dracula, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, The Mummy and eventually The Creature From The Black Lagoon.

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Toys & Collectibles

Universally Hammered: Monsters Abound @ Toy Fair 2012

Mezco's Creepy Lagoon Creature

Monsters of all kinds were certainly in the mix at The Toy Association’s 109th Industry Conference, simply known as Toy Fair. Always of particular interest to collectors are upcoming licensed figures of their favorite horror characters like the Universal Monsters series from Diamond Select I reported on earlier.

This year toy manufacturer Mezco, who are well known for their “Living Dead Dolls”, are adding classic Universal Films Monsters to their line. As one would expect the company will offer the countenances of The Frankenstein Monster and Count Dracula, rendered in the dead dolls cherubic style. Those are slated for September 2013.

In addition Mezco has shown prototypes for a quirky, set of figures sculpted in an expressionist or Caligari-esque mode that we haven’t seen before. Frankenstein, The Mummy and The Creature From The Black Lagoon are presented in skewed proportions that bring out a menace previously unseen in action figures. I really like this concept and particularly love the gangly look of The Creature; think I might have to own this one even with the limited display space I have. Mezco also has a “Big Frankie” style monster, they’re calling the Mega Deluxe Frankenstein, set for November 2012. This 2 foot bruiser has a dead pan demeanor I really like. “Black and White” variants were on display for all the figures.

Click Any Image to Launch Mezco Gallery


Titan Merchandise Adds Hammer Icons to the Collection

Also at Toy Fair 2012 were Titan Merchandise’s newest 3/4 busts, of Hammer horror films characters. Represented are Christopher Lee in his most famous role as Count Dracula, Ingrid Pitt as the sanguinely rejuvenated Elizabeth Bathory (Countess Dracula, 1971) and Peter Cushing as the intrepid Dr. Abraham Van Helsing (Dracula / aka Horror of Dracula, 1958.) These missed their originally listed Fall 2011 release dates, and are now scheduled to hit the shelves in mid April 2012, right around even scarier Income Tax time. They are limited to editions of 1000.

Click Any Image to Launch Titan Merchandise Gallery