First, my apologies to Diamond, who sent the samples, for taking so long on this.
Second: as you all who read regularly know, I love figures with dioramas. I like displaying figures out of package, and if there’s a little piece of their world to stand in, it makes the display that much better. Like prior Universal figures, these will be available at Toys R Us with no-frills stands, but any fan of these ought to go for the exclusive versions if possible.
I’ve been mixed on Diamond Select’s output lately – love the Star Trek, don’t love the Sin City. But they’ve been doing these monsters in Select style longer. How do they fare? Let’s find out…
Diamond Select figures come in standard-style packaging, all the better for in-package collectors to keep everything uniform.
Out of package, however, they’re anything but. Scale is consistent within each sub-line, but when put side by side, characters from across the Diamond Select spectrum have similar scales, but not exactly the same. You can stretch it and say that a Frankenstein character ought to be extra huge, but Van Helsing is meant to be a regular human and you can see how he towers above Steve Rogers.
Now, let’s talk about that Van Helsing. Clearly, DST is running out of Universal Monsters to do and looking to expand, and I’m guessing they can’t get the rights to Abbott and Costello (though how cool would that be?). So they’ve created their first original design, which looks a lot more like a comic-book version than someone who’d actually show up in an old Universal movie. And his forehead is the size of Texas.
Van Helsing’s base is a graveyard, which includes two headstones placed impractically close to each other, and an emerging Mina Harker vampire torso, with articulated neck and arms.
Obviously this is neither book nor movie canon, but borrowing bits from each…
He also borrows from the Hugh Jackman movie in that he has a similar arsenal, all holstered, and they’re also all removable except the stakes on his bandolier.
Each figure has 16 points of articulation listed, though on some it’s more hampered than others. Van-man has the most useful; Frankie’s huge hair vest restricts his leg articulation (which is good, because on mine it’s loose, which gives an authentic lurching quality but requires finding a balance); and Creature From the Black Lagoon, a.k.a. Gill-Man, has fins restricting the mid-torso joint.
Son of Frankenstein is the only one of the three that has to capture an actor likeness, and it nails Karloff.
He comes with a severed arm accessory, and a highly detailed retro-science console that could be used for many other figures.
The looseness of the legs on mine is an issue, but that aside he’s pretty much perfect for what he is, and stands on the base nicely. That’s more of an issue with the other two: Van has slightly awkwardly placed foot-pegs that make you really have to contort him to strike the right pose with Mina.
The Creature’s pegs are problematic in that they’re a very soft plastic and don’t hold his feet to the base well. I tried to photograph him underwater, but he promptly slid off the pegs – so here he is in my pool sans base.
On the plus side, the base somewhat allows you to balance him in a swimming pose, but there’s no peg or clip to hold him that way, which is a bummer.
This is more the default, with the underwater foliage doing more to balance him than the hidden foot-peg. You may notice his hands are more of a brown tone than the rest of his body – this is a little weird looking, but I can buy it as he probably forages in the mud for food.
Overall, these are well-intentioned figures with a couple of minor drawbacks. Nothing that could or should deter the true fan – and I’m not necessarily hardcore but that Son of Frankenstein is cool. I thought I’d like the Creature the best – design-wise he is, but the flaws with the base could have been rectified. Van Helsing is so McFarlaney that I half-think he should have been put in a more pre-posed state like Diamond’s Kirk and Spock, but that isn’t how the Monsters line rolls.
Recommended for fans. Mileage may vary for the more casual buyer.