Oh yes! Star of a movie that actually started life in 3-D, Universal's Creature from the Black Lagoon is a frequent favorite movie creature design. I daresay of the classic monsters, the look is the best - a rubber suit provided a high and a low point as to what you can do with movie monster mayhem, and it's something embedded into our cultural DNA. Last year we looked at Monster Ninja Turtles, this year it's the new Kenner-style figures from Funko. Each figure has 5 joints and in the case of the creature, he has less deco than the early 1980s Remco figure of the character.
A tangent, if I may - the Universal Monsters are something of a boyhood classic. Kids may not see the movies, but they know the characters - the movies weave together existing novels and folk tales into a single branded experience. In many ways, it's like the boy equivalent of Disney Princesses in that a major company has managed to reformat something from the public domain into a cohesive, marketable property. Unlike the Disney ladies, Universal is struggling to really reboot them into something viable on the big screen or to truly grow the property beyond 1954. Dads more than sons seem to be drawn to the property, and their legacy has given us other toys from companies like LEGO which are inspired by the movies, but clearly not licensed products. A pity, as Universal Monsters LEGO would be just a giddy treat.
But I digress. Monsters! I like 'em. Generally speaking anyone who makes something with this property gives us something cool - Sideshow Toys (before Sideshow Collectibles) used to sell into Target and made stunning larger-sized all-plastic figures in the late 1990s. Hasbro had some nice figures. Playmates had some nice figures. It's one of those properties which, frankly, should be a lot more popular but each movie tends to only bring one or two new characters - in the case of the Gill Man, Funko got two - there's a glow in the dark chase variant which I really wish I had. (A pity.) This figure is molded in green with a light green belly, yellow eyes, and a red mouth - it's simple. It works, and it's clean.
A minor sculpt problem I'm having is the legs are bowing out a bit. The Bride of Frankenstein has this pretty bad, the slight case of the Creature's bow-leggedness looks like it can be fixed but it's still a little surprising. The sculpt itself is quite good, with bumpy (but not too bumpy) skin. The fingers are really small and pointy, and I would dare say his hands and feet are a little too fine and a little too good for the 1980s style of toy. Gill Man has fins on the back of his spine, forearms, and on the back of his legs which I wouldn't have expected - it's a nice touch, but again, it's a little too good. It's a strange thing to talk up but it's an interesting mix of the 1980s and what I assume a modern figure might look like at this size. I love the head sculpt - they couldn't have done a better job there. The yellow eyes are painted in such a way that it really does feel like it came out of a factory in 1981, and the mostly unpainted body helps sell the illusion.
I did not anticipate the need for this kind of figure because of the Remco and Burger King figures released earlier, but here we are - and it's a nice one. BK's figure is too large, and Remco's is a little on the ugly side - not that this hurts it one bit. Heck, McFarlane's Monsters 3 3/4-inch figure/playset line is pretty great too for a non-licensed fish man figure. The Black Lagoon's waters are hardly uncharted, and each new take on him tends to offer something new and interesting. Well... usually. I can't really argue that there's anything new here, but I will say being able to snag a figure like this for ten bucks rubs me the right way. It's charming!
I was very happy to order these at my place of work (you can order some here) they're just wonderful. He stands, he sits, and his hands can't hold accessories - just the way the toy gods intended. Universal Monsters seems to be a fun line to collect mostly because of the breadth of products without the nasty depth plaguing things like Star Wars. If you buy this (and more) figures based on this character, you'll amass quite an amazing selection of toys, statues, and knick-knacks that span decades without the weight of a really ridiculous franchise collection. As such, I say if you like the Creature, or this style of figure, or just like the idea of having a nice set of monster toys this is a good one. Come back tomorrow to look at another monster, because it's Halloween and I can get away with this kind of a thing.
One more thing - while I love the layout of the packaging, the tactile feeling is strange. If you're the kind of person who gets mad about ink from comic books or video game manuals coming off on your hands, that's how the Universal Monsters ReAction (and only the Monsters, oddly) feel - there's a stickiness to them I can't recall ever coming across in any of the toys I've since purchased. As such, be sure to order online before anyone gets their grubby mitts on it, or examine it carefully in stores. A few years from now I assume you'll want to get a good close look at any of these unless there's a running change in materials down the line. Don't let this deter you from getting one, but if you're a carded collector it's something to be concerned over.
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