The Abominable Dr. Phibes

Vincent Price is one of the great actors of American horror, and yet, he's been almost entirely overlooked in the world of horror action figures. We've gotten one sixth scale version of Mr. Price before. About 4 years ago, NECA (in its very early days) did him from the movie The Raven. It was a decent figure (reviewed here), but considering his many roles, surprising that it was the only one. There is one other small scale figure, a Mez-itz based on his role in Edward Scissorhands.

His heyday was the 50's, 60's and 70's, when he starred in many classic horror films. Oh, there were dramas and comedies too, but it was his work in horror films that really made him a name. His unique look and fantastic voice made him a mainstay with films like The House of Wax, The Fly, House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler, The House of Usher, The Pit and The Pendulem, and on an on.

In 1971, he starred in the Abominable Dr. Phibes. The plot was simple enough, but a true classic - the wife of Dr. Phibes dies on the operating table. Phibes, learning of his wife's death, has a terrible car wreck and is killed...but not quite. He is terribly disfigured, but survives, hidden from the world. He vows revenge on the surgical staff he blames for his wife's death, and uses the plagues of the bible to inflict his punishment. Each death gets more complicated and gruesome, and films like Se7en and Saw owe a lot to this early experiment in terror.

Majestic Studios is now producing a figure based on the film. It retails for around $40, and is currently shipping. Your best bet is online, since finding a local store that carries him will be pretty tough.

Packaging -  ***1/2
As I mentioned in another recent Majestic review, they've taken a page from the Sideshow school of cool sixth scale packaging. They've used the original poster art as the front cover, and included a ton of great info on the inside fifth panel.

The twistie ties and insert is also very similar to Sideshow packaging, or at least older Sideshow packaging. Recently they've been using more dental floss, and I actually prefer the twisties. However, Majestic lost a half star because they did break the cardinal rule of collector friendly packaging - they sealed a second plastic tray to the front of the cardboard tray. This holds the white clothing, and also means that you can't remove the figure without damaging the package.

Sculpting - ****
In the film, Dr. Phibes has many Phantom of the Opera parallels. He's disfigured, plays an organ, and is a misunderstood romantic. Price was required to wear make up for much of the film, both as himself and as the disfigured Phibes. This was because they added some layers to his actual face to make it appear slightly 'fake', lending realism when you find it it's supposedly a mask over his true, horribly disfigured self.

I'll be grading this score for the standard Price head sculpt. The figure also comes with a second head sculpt of his disfigured persona, but I'll get to that in the accessories section.

The regular head is extremely impressive, with a great Phibes likeness. There's plenty of texture and wrinkling of the skin, which matches well with the film and provides an additional level of realism. This type of texturing helps reduce the 'doll' effect considerably. The texture also makes the face appear slightly false, like it did in the movie, with the only real life in the eyes.

The most impressive aspect of the head sculpt for me though is the hair line. It's cut quite deeply, actually back in and upward, almost as if the hair is a separate piece. However, that doesn't appear to be the case, and I'm not sure how they managed to pull this off. It adds the realism to the hairline that you get from a separate hair casting, but doesn't have the weird seam.

There black gloved hands are sculpted in appropriate and useful poses, and most importantly, they look natural. They pop on and off a little too easily, but a little plumber's tape around the posts fixes that right up.

Paint - ***1/2
The paint ops here are extremely clean and well done, with no slop or poorly defined edges anywhere.

If I have one complaint, it's a similar one to the Barnabas Collins - Phibes seems a little *too* pasty colored. This is both the skin and the hair, which has a lot of gray highlights. It's not a major complaint, but I don't recall his skin tone or hair being this grayish.

On the flip side though, major kudos to Majestic for making sure that both sets of forearms matched this color, rather than the darker skin tone of the standard body. Little touches like that go a long way to the overall appearance of the figure.

Articulation - ***1/2
I usually don't strip my figures down to the goods God gave them, but since I had to swap outfits, I figured I snap some nudie photos for you. Also, by including the term 'nudie photo' in this review, I've upped the search engine hits by about one billion and three. Pity the poor sucker who comes looking for love and finds a nekkid Vincent Price.

As you can see, there's all the expected articulation of any good sixth scale body. These bodies also wear clothes extremely well, with a good hip and chest design. The joints are all tight, and the bodies are quite light weight, making them one of my favorites on the market right now.

Unfortunately, the ball jointed neck doesn't have the range of movement I'd really like to see, especially when it comes to tilting to either side. But the head and hand swapping features really make up for that inconvenience.

Accessories - ****
The reason they are picking up four stars here is that while I discussed both outfits in the section above, the second outfit is truly an accessory. Add in that the second set of hands and alternate head are also accessories, and you can see why the score is so high.

The white gloved hands are every bit as good as the black, done in natural poses with the forearms matching the pasty skin tone. The extra set snap on and off much tighter than the black set, and I didn't need to add any tape to make them stay secure.

The disfigured head is an excellent sculpt, with terrific paint ops. The mouth rises a little higher on the left side (his left) than I remember, but that's being tremendously picky. Otherwise, it looks like it just stepped off the screen, and with this kind of quality, I can't wait to see what else Majestic has in store.

But the whole extra head/hands/outfit deal isn't the only accessory. There's also a standard display stand, emblazoned with the movie logo, and two 'ropes' that he used in the film to carry his voice around the room.  These ropes attached to the side port of his neck, and then to various speakers. There are two ropes here again, one for each version of Phibes.  The little plastic end on the rope does actually fit inside the port on either head - how cool is that!

Outfit - Black - ***1/2; White ****
There are two complete outfits here, both from the film. They include shoes, socks, body suit, robe, and hood-like accoutrement.

The body suit is made of a lycra like material, and fits very snugly. It is sleeveless, and intended to give him something under the robe, just in case you were tempted to peek. The socks are the usual action figure socks, but they match the rest of the clothing perfectly.

And that's key - all the pieces of clothing match in color extremely well. The white robe isn't exactly the same white as the outer clothing, but it is clean and bright, and looks terrific.

Just like with Barnabas Collins, I'm very impressed with the quality and number of snaps included. The quality of the tailoring and stitching is also top notch, especially in the white suit.

Of the pair, I prefer the white suit, with either head. He was in the 'normal' face in the white, at least briefly, so you could theoretically display him that way. But odds are good that most folks will go with the disfigured head and white costume. Funny how that is, since people have clamored for a great Price figure, and will now probably display this one without the Price head.

The black is well done, but is made from a shinier, slicker material, closer to vinyl. That type of material is always going to simply be too thick to look quite right in this scale, whereas the thin, soft material used for the white costume looks perfect.

The hoods are not really hoods, but rather intended to fit over the shoulders and down on the cape. There's a velcro closure to fit it around the neck, although I'm not sure I got it right, even looking at stills from the movie.  I didn't use the black one with that outfit because of the thicker material - I just couldn't get it to look quite right.

Some folks may be put off by the big honkin' bow on the front of both robes. Hey, I'm not a big fan either, but you'll need to complain to Elsa Fennell. She was in charge of the wardrobe on the film, and yes, this is accurate to the movie, goofy as it might appear.

Value - ***1/2
Let's see if I get this right - two heads, two sets of hands, two COMPLETE costumes...if you come up with another nude body, you have two complete figures here! All that plus a couple accessories for forty bucks is a damn fine value, and one of the best in the sixth scale market I've seen in some time.

Fun Factor - ***
The disfigured head and white costume make for a terrific looking monster in any kid's arsenal. The articulation is great, and the build quality high enough that normal play wouldn't be an issue.

Most kids won't find the black costume or Price head particularly exciting, but that's to be expected.

Things to watch out for - 
There's not much to worry about, but I would be careful with removing the shoes. They are a very tight fit, and I managed to pop one of the ankles apart when I first tried to pull the black shoes off. It was nothing that a little super glue couldn't fix (and it didn't damage the actual joint at all), but you'll want to take some extra care.

Overall -  ****
Majestic's work on the Fly and the Zuni Warrior was great, but recent work wasn't quite as exciting. The Munsters were weak, although to be fair that was not the fault of Majestic, but the licensor, who wanted them to be 'cartoony'. The Galactica stuff is decent for the price point, but nothing that caused me to jump up and down and squeal like a little girl.

Now with the release of the Dark Shadows series and this Dr. Phibes, Majestic is showing once again what it can really do. Fans of old horror flicks will really be happy with this figure, and it bodes well for any future licenses that Majestic picks up. Top on my list from them would be a Kolchak figure, which fans have been interested in for years. With Majestic's relationship to other Dan Curtis' creations, they might have the inside track...

And if anyone is looking to do another Price figure, how about snagging that elusive Batman television show license and giving us Egghead? Or perhaps a straight mad scientist version from The Tingler? Or better yet, the wheel chair bound character from House of Wax? There's plenty to choose from!

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ****
Outfit - black ***1/2; white ****
Fun Factor - ***
Value - ***1/2
Overall -  ****

Where to Buy -
Time and Space Toys normally carries the Majestic Studios 12" figures, but they don't have this guy listed on their site yet. You might want to give them a call.

Related Links:
Mr. Price has one other 12" action figure - his character from The Raven.

Majestic has also done several previous figures, including the Fly, the Creeper, the Zuni Warrior, and several figures from Battlestar Galactica.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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