Mark Burnette has provide us with some great guest reviews in the
past. Today he looks at a line that most of us probably didn't even
know existed! Take it away, Matt:
Japanese Toy Company Yanoman has
recently released in Japan miniature versions of Universal Studios Monsters.
A total of sixteen 3 inch figures have been released, which includes eight
famous film monsters rendered in both full color and silver screen versions.
The series consists of The Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, Frankenstein,
The Mummy, This Island Earth, The Phantom of the Opera,
The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and The Wolfman. In this
review, I will focus on the Silver Screen Versions of Frankenstein, The
Mummy, and The Wolfman.
Packaging - **
Each figure comes in an identical, sturdy cardboard box. The figure is
packaged in a sealed plastic bag, and you assemble the figure to the base.
In some cases, the arms have to be attached to the body. The graphics on
the box are colorful and use the same Universal Studios Monster Logo and
color scheme found in the first series of 8 inch figures released by
Sideshow Toys. The front features close-ups of the eight available
characters in their full color versions, and the back shows full body
I have only one complaint with the packaging, but it is a BIG one. With
the identical box design and lack of any opening window, it is impossible
to know which figure you are purchasing, or whether it is a full
color or silver screen version. At first, I thought this was simply my
lack of knowledge of Japanese characters. My wife Yuka, who is Japanese,
assured me that the box was not labeled to identify the contents. I
suspect that Yanoman may think that this will encourage buyers to purchase
more figures, since the chance of duplication (and frustration!) is
increased by this packaging scheme. A simple sticker could have solved
this serious problem.
Sculpting - ****
The sculptural detail on the figures is really wonderful, especially given
the scale of the figures which is about 3/4 of an inch smaller than a
standard Star Wars figure. The Frankenstein Monster figure even resembles
Boris Karloff, which is quite amazing! Also of note is the detailing in
the sculpting of the bandages on the body of The Mummy.
Paint - ****
The paint detailing, like the sculpting, is nicely done given the
restraints of a black and white color palette and the size of the figure.
I wish I had been able to find more than one of the full color versions to
be able to provide a comparison of the paint ops for these particular
Articulation - *
Frankenstein and The Wolfman have articulation points at the
shoulders. The Mummy has no articulation. If you are interested in
posing your figures, then you will be sorely disappointed. However, the
static poses which have been sculpted are quite appropriate for each
character, and at least feel dynamic.
Accessories - **
Each figure comes with a base, which is very nicely sculpted, and an
insert specific to each figure. These are the only two accessories, which
is a minor disappoint but is somewhat expected considering the small scale
of the figures.
Value - **
Each figure is priced at 3.77 yen, which at current exchange rates comes
out to about $3.00 including tax. Not bad, considering the detail in the
painting and sculpting of the figure. However, because of the generic
packaging you will most likely encounter duplicate figures which will mean
more money if you wish to complete the series, or especially if you have
one particular figure you wish to get. The price for one figure would rate
***1/2, but the lower score reflects the extra expenditure created
by the packaging.
Overall - ***
I was pleasantly surprised when I found these figures while visiting
Japan this holiday with my wife. With excellent sculpting and paint ops,
they are nice addition to any collection of Universal Studios Monster
Where to Buy -
These figures are currently available for purchase in a set of ten from Yanoman's
website. Unfortunately, I am not certain if they will ship to the U.S.
You also need to read Japanese to navigate their website. (Another reason
I love my wife!)
They have also been listed through Hobby Link
Japan under the item code YN044-902. I have never ordered from them so
I cannot attest to their reliability, or whether they still have figures
available in stock. Hopefully, these figures will arrive sometime here in
the States, and perhaps they will have fixed the packaging problem.
Figure from the collection of Mark Burnett.