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Boris Karloff - Icons of Horror and Sci-Fi
Amoktime/Executive Replicas

Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime

It's been quite awhile since the last sixth scale figure from Amoktime and Executive Replicas, the companies that have been digging deep into old school sci-fi and horror to bring us some truly classic characters. But this week we got hit with not one but four new figures shipping out the door - Boris Karloff (reviewed tonight), Maureen Robinson from Lost in Space, Barbra from Night of the Living Dead, and the vampire chick from Blood of Dracula. I'll be reviewing the other three in the coming weeks.

For the classic horror fan, there are few actors more important than Boris Karloff. He portrayed many of the most important Universal monsters, including Frankenstein, The Mummy (Imhotep), and innumerable mad scientists. He worked with his contemporary and rival, Bela Legosi, on many true classics, and as I kid I loved nothing more than kicking back on a rainy Saturday afternoon and watching The Black Cat or The Body Snatcher with Sir Graves Ghastly.

We've gotten quite a few sixth scale figures based on the characters he portrayed, but Karloff was more than that, and he was more than merely a horror movie actor. Getting this figure, a figure of the man rather than a character, is a wonderful tribute to his lasting legacy.

Amoktime's website is being rebuilt right now, but you can still order these figures through their Amazon webstore. Karloff runs $70, and is in stock. He's also available through a few other retailers, and I have some suggestions in the Where to Buy section.
Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime

Packaging - ***
The box isn't quite as fancy schmancy as what we're seeing these days from other high end sixth scale companies, but it has the critical elements.

It's collector friendly, which I consider a must have for this particular market. You can easily pop Boris out of his plastic coffin, show him off on the shelf, and pop him back in without any damage to the packaging whatsoever. There's also a decided lack of twisties, which is a big plus since they would wrinkle his suit.

The box photos are not of the toy, but the man himself, another plus in my book. If I want to see the figure, I just open the cover, and there's a nice write up on the interior fifth panel as well. It's always a brave company that uses actual actor or character photos on their packaging, allowing you to compare the product to reality quite easily.

Sculpting - ***1/2
This final sculpt score is really an average of the sculpts of all three included heads - young, middle age, and old. For comparison, here's a still of Boris as a young man, middle aged dude, and old duffer

Mine came wearing the oldest portrait, with the other two packed in the tray. I'm assuming that will be true across the board, but I can't guarantee it.

In person, the old portrait is my favorite. He looks to me like he did back in the 60's, very reminiscent of when he hosted the television show Boris Karloff's Thriller. On close examination, there's a few issues you could call out. He clearly has more (and poofier) hair than he did at this time of his life, and his jowls aren't quite as pronounced in the sculpt as they should be. But this is the way I best remember him outside of the make up, and they've done an excellent overall job of capturing his look.

The youngest portrait is the one hardest for me to judge. For example, I don't remember him ever wearing the thin Valentino type mustache, but upon reviewing stills of him as a young actor, I found that it was not an uncommon look for him. The hair line isn't quite right, a problem in fact with all three sculpts. He had a very distinct pointed appearance to the front of his hair throughout his life, and all three head sculpts here have a very straight, even hairline.

The middle aged version is the one I expect most folks will display him with. It captures the most common movie appearance, at least when he wasn't wearing heavy makeup or prosthetics. Just like the other two, the hairline is off, but the shape and size of the nose, the line of the jaw, the placement of the eyes and eyebrows - all other aspects match the man extremely well.

I'm going to be looking for a mad doctor's outfit (maybe I'll pick up an extra Frederick figure from Young Frankenstein...) to put on him, and place him behind the table you see in the first photo, with a Frankenstein monster laying on it. No, not movie scene accurate, but a cool combination I think.

The figure standa about 12 1/4" or so, just a hair under the old Sideshow size, so he should fit in pretty well with their Universal Monster line.

Paint - ***
The paint work on all three heads is technically sound, with no slop, over spray or weird inconsistencies.

The eyes are always critical, and here they are clean and straight. There's also no 'doll dots' or catch lights painted in that I could make out (if they are there, they are very tiny), but rather the reflections you see in certain photos are actual reflections off the gloss finish on the eyeball.

The eyes all have liner, but it's more noticeable in photos than in person. It also matches the appearance that actors had in the old black and white movies and stills of that era, as eye makeup was often used.

These aren't at the level of a Hot Toys or Enterbay production paint job yet, but they certainly rival the work done by other companies in this same $70 or so price range.

Articulation - ***1/2
Amoktime has made a big, big, big improvement in this category. Gone are the out of date bodies we saw with their past releases!

They've moved up not just one or two rungs on the ladder, but just about all the way to the top, incorporating the new ATOM body that Go Hero uses. This body (minus the sound feature that is also available with Go Hero) is used for figures like Buck Rodgers and Sinbad, figures that cost $100 - $150 and more! The blank body costs $32 from Go Hero all by its lonesome self, and it's a huge step forward in quality for Amoktime.

The body isn't quite TrueType quality yet, but it's at the overall top band of the market, along with similar bodies from Sideshow, Triad, Enterbay and Medicom. It hangs very naturally, and the range of movement on several of the joints is extremely impressive. I was particularly pleased with the shoulders and arms, which could *almost* cross, a pose that's very, very tough for any sixth scale figure.

The hips were also quite impressive, with a true ball socket at the thigh, and a post entering into the pelvis. The leg can turn on the post, and the ball joint is set out far enough to allow for a tremendously wide range of movement.

The ankles and wrists are both a bit of a weak point, however. The ball at the center of both joints has to be turned to get various foot and hand positions, and because the ball is small and the post is fitted tightly into the limb, it can be a bit frustrating to do. It does allow just about any pose, and the feet can remain flat on the floor in deep stances, but it's a bit tricky to get it to work.

The hands themselves are also something that needed to be switched out for this figure. These are the standard ATOM hands, with a right hand in a gun grip, and an open posed left hand. These sculpts, especially the right hand, are a bit limiting, and extra hands would have been a great accessory.

While the heads swapped easily enough, you'll want to take some care. The interior neck post tends to pull out with the head. You'll need to use some needle nose pliers to pull it free from the head (carefully!) and pop it back into the neck, then attach the new head.

A couple joints were a little loose, but nothing was floppy, and he held poses well. I could see this body getting a full four stars with some properly posed hands, and slightly tightened up.

One of the cooler features of the ATOM is that the arms can be popped off at the shoulders. Make sure you check their PDF doc on the body to do it right, but it's a huge help with removing the clothing. More about that in the Outfit section.

Accessories - **1/2
This was a tough call, since I really wanted more accessories. But getting additional portraits is a huge bonus, and for a figure like this who is an actor, not a character, it makes perfect sense.

But with their Night of the Living Dead zombie, we got not two but THREE extra heads, plus extra hands. The lack of extra hands is what ends up hurting this figure, as they would have made it possible to do some iconic poses. An extra set of properly posed hands would have bumped this score another half star, where it should have been.

There's also the usual display base, but you won't have to use it to keep him standing if you don't want to.

Outfit - **
It's not too hard to find a guy wearing a suit in the sixth scale world. From characters like billionaires Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne, to zombies, to villains like Toht, you can find a wide variety of figures wearing suits, and a wide variety of companies trying their best to make them. For such a simple garment, it can be one of the most difficult to reproduce in this scale.

It's probably not good that the last 1/6th suit I saw was Toht's. While this Sideshow Indiana Jones figure had other issues, the tailoring, fit and quality of his suit was not one of them.

The suit on Boris has some serious tailoring issues, issues that will be tough to fix completely even with the most diligent futzing.

Let's start with the good, however, and jump down to his feet. The shoes are excellent sculpts, with very realistic soles that even have the old time metal 'tap-like' wear inhibitors sculpted on the bottom! The shoes themselves are sculpted, but the laces are the real deal, adding additional realism to the look. I did find myself retying the laces every few minutes, but once you get them right and pose him on the shelf, they'll look great.

It's also worth pointing out that these are actual separate shoes, worn on his feet, that can be removed. I opted not to when I posed him nekkid only because of the effort required to remove them, and the fact that the pants would fit over them so it wasn't necessary.

The pants are also quite nice, with a good cut and fit. The ride a bit high on his chest, but you won't see it in most situations since the vest covers it up. There's no belt though, even though the pants have belt loops.

All the problems come in from the waist up.  The underlying shirt has snaps at the sleeves, but real buttons down the front. While that allows the shirt to lay pretty flat on his chest, they can be tough to undo and re-button. When I received the figure I didn't know for sure that the body underneath was the ATOM, so I couldn't risk popping off the arms to take the shirt off. But now you do know, so I highly recommend removing the arms and head, and just slipping the shirt off, leaving the buttons on the front closed.

The shirt collar is too large, a common problem in this scale. It also rides up too far on his neck, and this is a problem that can be fixed by having a strap at the bottom that loops through his crotch. If you pull the front and back of the shirt downward tightly, you'll notice that it vastly improves the look of the collar. A strap running front to back through his legs would have accomplished this, and would have made the shirt look and fit much better.

Over the shirt is the vest, held closed with three snaps. The material is very high quality, but the top of the vest, around the first button, is too loose. The tailoring allows it to pooch out too far, puffing up the outfit right where it's most obvious.

Adding to the general disarray around the neck and chest is the tie. The tie itself isn't bad, and is actually scaled pretty well for the figure. It's much better than the more common oversized knot that we tend to see. But with the huge shirt collar and puffed out vest, it looks too small and tight.

On top of all this is the suit coat. The coat collar is a bit large as well, but it's not as problematic as the shirt collar. The material is top quality as is the stitching, and I think that if the vest and shirt issues were corrected, you could futz the jacket into looking pretty good.

I'm going to be swapping this outfit for something more appropriate, like the aforementioned mad scientist apron. You can also always dump the vest, swap in one of the Hot Toys white shirts, and perhaps get a better look out of just the pants, tie and jacket.

Fun Factor - **
It's a dude in a suit, never a favorite with kids. Few of them will know the man, even if they do know the monsters. If you have a little one looking to be an accountant, or maybe you'd like your daughter's Barbie to have a Sugar Daddy to role play future gold digger potential, than this is your toy!

Value - **
Even with two extra heads and the improved body, this is not a $70 figure. I was actually going to drop it another half star, but it is important to keep in mind that the runs on these are very limited, with only 500 being produced of most of the Amoktime/Executive Replica figures. That's going to add quite a bit to the cost of course, but there's still an expectation that the quality of the outfit be much higher at this kind of price point.

Things to Watch Out For -
If you plan on undressing him, remember that you can pop the arms off the body. It's a huge help in removing the shirt without messing with the real buttons.

Overall - ***
I waffled around a lot on this final score. The sculpts are very good, with solid paint work, and the importance of the upgrade to the body can't be stressed enough. 

But the outfit just isn't doing it, and it's the one area where they really needed something of a higher quality. It's bad enough that I was going to dock them another half star here in the Overall.

In the end though, the issues with the shirt and vest weren't enough for me to drop the figure any further. Certainly, some amount of my own personal sentimentality for both the actor and his films factors in, but the quality of the head sculpts and the use of the much higher quality body are extremely good signs of what is to come from Amoktime.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - **1/2
Outfit - **
Fun Factor - **
Value - **
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
You can get him from Amoktime through their Amazon webstore for $70.

You can also always try ebay looking for a deal.

Related Links -
Let's talk both about Amoktime, and about the man himself.  First, other figures by Amoktime include:

- I was a Teenage Werewolf, I was a Teenage Frankenstein, Gort and Klaatu, Invasion of the Saucer Men, Rondo Hatton and the NOTLD Zombie are all sixth scale horror figures. There's also Bub and Dr. Tongue, six inch zombie action figures they've released.

- if you're a Boris fan, you should check out Sideshow's Premium Format Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein Frankie and his bride, and their regular original Frankenstein

- in Sideshow's old 8" scale, there was also a Son of Frankenstein, as well as a regular Frank.

- let's not forget the Mummy, a character Sideshow has done up in PF format, sixth scale, and Ardeth Bay version.

Discussion:
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Boris Karloff Icons of Horror sixth scale action figure from Amoktime


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

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