Creatures of the Night
Creature from the Depths Mini-bust

It seems like the old monsters just never die. Over the last couple week's, I've reviewed a Mummy mini-bust and a quarter scale Dracula. Tonight I'm reviewing what is really a new take on an old monster, the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I'm a huge fan of the Creature. While he wasn't quite as deep of a concept as Frankenstein, Wolfman or Dracula, he was far more visually interesting, and remains one of the coolest looking on screen monsters ever developed.

John's Toys, and on-line retailer, developed a series of busts to be sold through there store about a year or so ago. Like Mcfarlane did a few years back, these busts were intended not to be exact versions of actual Universal Monsters, but new interpretations of the old themes. The title of the series is 'Creatures of the Night', taken of course from the famous line by Dracula.

The first two mini-busts were of Frankenstein and the Wolfman, and the recently released second series covers the Mummy and the 'creature'. While in Chicago for the Wizard World show, I picked up the Creature, and was so happy with the overall appearance that I wanted to get a review up asap.

Each of these busts is a limited edition of only 750. The regular price is $50 each, but John was selling them for $30 each at the show, or all four for $100. If you can catch him at a show, you might get a better deal, and I have a couple other suggestions at the end of the review as well.

Packaging - ***1/2
The bust is packaged in a nice sturdy, colorful box. The best part is the large windows that allow you to see just what you're buying, a big plus for this bust since he's so much cooler in person. It's very nice work for small operation.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpting on this bust is extremely nice, with lots of detail on the scales and folds.  The proportions are good, and there's solid attention to detail.  When I saw this one on the shelf, it caught my eye and attention immediately, and while the other busts look good, this one is the clear stand out.

The size compared to other Universal Monsters busts (like the X-Plus stuff, or the Sideshow stuff) isn't perfect, but he looks good enough to stand on his own.

Paint - ***
The paint ops are solid, although nothing exceptional. There's some detail work on the skin and scales, and everything is clean and consistent. The green is a tad light and bright for my tastes, and I think a slightly darker choice would have given him a more realistic fish/frog appearance. Still, there's little to complain about when it comes to the quality or application.

Design/Quality - ****
A sculpt can be detailed - the paint can be perfect - but if the design is no good, it really doesn't matter. The best part of this bust is the exceptionally cool design.

The Creature is rising up out of the lagoon, arms outstretched on either side, ready to rip a pair of unsuspecting teenagers, doing stuff they shouldn't be, into a million pieces. The mouth is open, the gills are sucking air, and evil is in the eye.

The overall design gives this monster a feeling of danger and movement, while the use of the clear 'watery' base is nothing short of brilliant. The base has ripples in the water surface, just as if he had quietly risen up from the depths. Of the four busts, there's no doubt in my mind that this one is the single best overall, and 90% of that is due to the design.

Value - **
I'm grading the value here on the $50 that the site is asking. Considering the level of work that other mini-busts exhibit in the same or lower price range, these aren't a terrific value.

It's important to keep two factors in mind though - first, they are a very small run size, and second, it's a very small, independent shop that is producing the line. Add those two factors in, and you can see why the prices are higher than you'd expect.

However, if you manage to snag this bust for $30 or even $25, then you can easily add a star to a star and a half to this score.

Overall - ***1/2
This is a terrific mini-bust, capturing the general idea of the Creature without being a copyright infringement. He displays well with other Universal Monster busts, although not quite perfectly, since the style and design are slightly different. If you haven't seen these, I highly recommend checking them out, and if you can only buy one, pick up this one.

Where to Buy - 
I picked it up directly from John's Toys in Chicago at the Wizard World show.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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