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Frankenstein's Monster 1:1 replica bust - monochrome edition
Factory Entertainment

Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment


The classic Universal Monster films remain iconic, winning new fans with every release. We get to see them on blu-ray this fall, a perfect medium for the high quality black and white films. I have my fingers crossed the the transfers will blow away everything that's come before.

Collectibles based on the original films remain just as popular, and Factory Entertainment has just released their 1:1 scale bust based on the Frankenstein Monster as played by Boris Karloff in the 1931 movie. The bust includes lights and sounds, with a rather unique design.

There are actually two versions of the bust, and neither has a high production run - or low price tag.  The regular color version is limited to just 400 pieces and runs around $450. The special monochrome version, which I'm reviewing here, is limited to just 100, and costs fifty bucks more.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment
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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment

Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment

Packaging - ***
The box is relatively basic, but it keeps the bust safe within the high density foam rather than the cheaper soft foam. There's no true COA with the edition size or number, but there is a nice full color booklet that discusses the character and the operation of the electronics, and passes for a COA as well.

Sculpting - **1/2
There's certainly no shortage of stills from the 1931 movie online - check this one, or this one, or this one for reference.

Later versions had the continued scar with plates on the left side, like this, but the original did not. It does seem like the length of the jawline scar varied though, as you can see clearly in this shot where it stopped much earlier.

Looking over all kinds of stills, I have to say that the likeness is extremely good. This is Karloff as the monster, and the scars, wrinkles and facial features are dead on. Scale within the bust is great too, with the nose, ears, chin, eyes and facial shape all in proportion to each other.

The front faux wood panel looks great, with a real working gauge on the left, the old style knife switch on the left, and two plug holes for the alligator clips.

These clips aren't necessary, since they are decoration only. But if you don't use them, you will have to rather silly looking holes on the front of the bust.

So why the low score? There's three areas of concern for me - overall size, hair detail, and skin detail.

Let's talk about the size first. The head is human sized, albeit a bit on the small side. I know plenty of people with a head this size, but they aren't the Frankenstein Monster. With the makeup design and prosthetic devices, I expect this head to be about 15% larger than it is.

The next issue that really bugs me is the lack of detail in the hair. The cuts and strands aren't deep enough or detailed enough for a bust of this size and price. 

Finally, there's the skin texture itself. Companies like Hot Toys and Enterbay have nailed realistic skin textures - it's a very specific look. Here, it's more of a plaster appearance, not quite stucco but something you're more likely to see on the DIY Network than the Horror Channel.

This bust is very light weight because it's largely hollow. I don't have a particular issue with that, but because of the hair and skin texture issues combined with the lack of weight, the bust ends up reminding me more of an oversized bank than it really should.

Paint - **1/2
Great paint can lift a mediocre sculpt up to a higher level - weak paint can ruin even the greatest sculpt.

The paint here is monochrome, and I can't really speak to the quality of the full color version. Here, there's a heavy gray wash on the skin, which tends to exacerbate the issues I have with the skin texture. Since they went without the jacket and shirt on the shoulders, the sheer amount of skin all in this same gray tone tends to overpower you.

My other issue is with the hairline. Again, Hot Toys and Enterbay have shown how realistic hair can be, and it's critical at this scale to get it perfect. Instead, it again reminds me of a bank, especially around the ears and sideburns.

All isn't bad though - the eyes are excellent, as are the dark circles underneath. The paint work on the wooden plate looks great, although I'd like the edition number done not by hand but by machine for a cleaner look.

Sound Feature - ***
There are several sounds, all loud and clear played through the speaker on his back. There are two switches on the front - the regular switch to the left turns on and off the sound effects. Flipped up, and they play when you switch the larger knife switch to the right. Flip it up, and the electrical sounds play with the light feature. Flip it down to turn off the lights, and you get the replay of the classic line "It's alive...alive!".

The sound and lights work off of either three AA batteries, included, or off an AC adapter, also included. That's a nice touch - remember when Sideshow electronic PF figures came with an AD adapter? Yea, it's been awhile.

Since the sounds are directly from the 1931 movie, they are naturally a bit crackly and rough. Still, the sound feature is an nice addition, and the sparking sound is critical to the next category...

Light Feature - ***1/2
When you flip the knife switch up, you get two light features. The gauge to the far right (and yes, it's a real gauge) lights up AND bounces around as if a major charge was coursing through the bust.

The large soulful sad eyes also light up brightly, and remain lit up for a short time after the switch is flipped back down. Rather than just simply flick on and flick off, the eyes slowly glow brighter and softer when you turn them on and off. Another great touch!

Value - **
Factory Entertainment produced my favorite all time prop replicas - the two swords from the Princess Bride. The fact that this bust cost almost as much as both of those combined did originally really jumps out at me.

Sideshow life size busts run a little higher, depending on the character and size, usually in the $500 - $1000 range. But they are also solid polystone, very heavy and very large, and usually include a variety of materials, like wood, metal and cloth. They also - generally speaking - have a much higher quality sculpt and paint job. Their production numbers aren't that much different, and the licensing costs are likely to be higher than for something like this. The electronics help out, no doubt about it, and in fact they save this bust from dropping another half star below average in this category.

Things to Watch Out For -
The switches are well made, but that doesn't mean you can crank on them. Take a little care and display him in a spot where they won't get inadvertently hit.

Overall - **1/2
I'm very torn with this score - it's one of those rare occasions where I think I might be being a bit too hard. When I first saw this bust online, I ordered immediately. However, after I saw it in person at SDCC, I decided to cancel my order - it was that lackluster. It shipped before I could however, and when I first unpacked it, I was disappointed.

However, I have to say that the longer I have it, the more I like it. I still see the warts, but I'm able to overlook them due to the coolness of the sounds and lights, and the simple fact that I love Universal Monsters. It also helps that once the money is spent, the fact that it's lower in value becomes less of an emotional issue.

While I might be giving this a rough review, I will say that I originally assumed I'd be selling this guy, but now I've decided he's good enough to remain in the collection, at least for now.

I've included a lot of photos to help you decide, so be sure to scroll all the way down.

BTW, if you're a big Princess Bride fan, do check out the swords - they're outstanding!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - **1/2
Paint - **1/2
Sound Feature - ***
Light Up Feature - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Where to Buy -
You can pick this guy up direct from Factory Entertainment - $500 for the monochrome reviewed here, or $450 for the color version. Online options include these site sponsors:

- Alter Ego Comics has the full color for $420.

- Big Bad Toy Store has the regular at $425.

- Entertainment Earth has him at $450.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Other Universal Monsters include:

- recently Diamond Select released their second series of action figures, with more on the way.

- of course, I looked at wave 1 of the DST figures as well, including the Creature, Wolfman and Mummy.

- Toy Island did a set that some folks really like - I wasn't one of them.

- more recently, Mezco did several Wolfman figures for the new film.

- if you're looking for a odd but cute Creature, check out this one, but if you're looking for something a bit more film accurate, the Sideshow Premium Format statue is the way to go.

- if you like busts, check out the mini-busts that Sideshow did for the DVD release.

- there's the long ago awful Dracula from Jakks. They did awful versions of Frankenstein and the Wolfman too, as well as the modern Van Helsing Wolfman and sixth scale Van Helsing.

- I have a guest review of the nifty little figures from Yanoman.

- Sideshow produced a truly fantastic line of 8" figures that I highly recommend tracking down. I reviewed series 5, series 4, series 3, and series 2 (in black and white).

- Sideshow also did Little Big Heads of many of the monsters. I reviewed series 2,

- and in Sideshow's weirdest move, they did Little Big Head versions of the monsters as wrestlers.

- and then of course there's Sideshow's 12" line up, which was simply fantastic. They started with Frankenstein, and went on to the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, the Phantom of the Opera, Dracula, Fritz, Murder Legendre, Larry Talbot, more Frankensteins, the Gypsy, Renfield, Bride of Frankenstein, Mask of the Red Death, the Mummy, the Creature Walks Among Us, Werewolf of London, the Moleman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, Mr. Hyde, Ardeth Bey, Hunchback of Notre Dame, and the Metaluna Mutant.

- Sideshow also did a set of sixth scale figures based on the hilarious send up of Frank, Young Frankensten.

- They also did a few more monsters that are old school, but not actually Univesal, like the Vampyre, Van Helsing, Anna Valorious, and London After Midnight, and Majestic Studios did the Return of the Fly, and Abominable Doctor Phibes.

- Mcfarlane has done his own take on the classics, including Frankenstein, and the Wolfman and Mummy, along with another Dracula and Wolfman set.

- one year, Burger King joined up with the Simpsons for some Halloween versions of their characters as classic monsters.

- and don't forget Sideshow's line up of Premium Format figures, including Vampyre, Frankenstein, Dracula, and Phantom of the Opera.

- other companies have done mini-busts like this Mummy or this Creature.

- Product Enterprise did this great Dracula based on Christopher Lee's interpretation.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Frankenstein full scale bust by Factory Entertainment


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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