Yanoman's Universal Monsters

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 shots.

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 characters.

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 figures.

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.

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