The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Diamond Select Toys

Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST

When people talk classic Universal Monsters, they always remember Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon. Sometimes they'll remember the Phantom of the Opera, the Bride of Frankenstein, or even the Metaluna Mutant. But too often they forget one of the very first - the classic Hunchback of Notre Dame.

The first film version was released in 1923 by Universal, with Quasimodo played by the fantastic Lon Chaney. He created his own make-up for the role, so realistic that viewers at the time believed they'd actually found an actor this scarred and disfigured to play the role.

Diamond Select has released quite a few of the monsters in their new series, but it's taken awhile for Quas to get his due. The figure was finally released this month, along with another often forgotten character, Dr. Jekyll.

You can find this guy at online retailers for around $20. I'm not sure if there's a stripped down Toys R Us version this time out.

Packaging - ***
This is the online/specialty retailer version of this figure, so it comes in the large bookshelf style package. It's a neat idea - line them up on the shelf like books for storage and/or display - but the Openers won't care.

They used graphics more reminiscent of the Hugo book, but the style is consistent with the other Universal Monster releases. It's not collector friendly of course - you'll have to tear it up to free the toy - but that's to be expected.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST
Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST
Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST
Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST
Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST
Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST

Sculpting - ***1/2
If you missed out on the 8" scale series of Universal Monsters produced by Sideshow Collectibles (and if you did, I feel for you, as they were terrific), then these new releases from DST are a good substitute.

This figure is about 7 1/2" tall, making him about right to fit in with those figures, and the previously released characters from DST.

Sideshow did do a version of the Hunchback, and theirs had a cloth robe. Here, he has a royal but tattered cloak done in soft rubber, sculpted to hang over his hump and upper arms.

The head sculpt looks good, especially the tortured face. Chaney was a master of movie monster make-up, and could run circles around the modern day Face Off contestants. Can you imagine an actor doing his own make-up work today?

DST has captured the original look fairly well, although the hair is a tough one. It's a little too thick and tootsie roll-ish, but that's a problem with sculpted hair in this scale. Not an insurmountable one, however.

Another nice touch is the hairy hands, true to the appearance of the on screen character.

While the character design does not allow him to stand straight, he does stand well on his own, and the outfit is designed to be less restrictive than it could have been.

Paint - ***
While Sideshow tended to go with clean paint work on their series, DST has gone for the heavy washes and extreme shadowing. Whether or not this works for you will be largely a matter of taste.

On some of the figures, like their earlier Dracula, the wash was just too much. Here, it's a bit better, giving some of the detail more depth. There's still more than I'd like on the outer coat, but it's a minor nit.

The work on the face is fairly good, with the teeth and lips being the high point. Of course, when you use this much wash, it also tends to hide sloppy edges and weak detailing.

Articulation - ***
The character design can be a bit restrictive, but they've done a reasonable job overcoming his physical limitations.

The neck is my biggest complaint. Because of the stooped posture, it really needs to be a good ball joint with the ability to tilt backward - it's not. It turns, but no real tilt. That hurts some of the posing potential.

The shoulders are ball joints with cut biceps, and the elbows and wrists are ball joints as well. There's a cut waist, hinge hips, cut thighs, ball knees and ball ankles as well. While this might seem like a ton of articulation, the hunched nature of the character does reduce the usefulness of some of these joints, making it tough to find the right center of gravity at times.

Still, you should be able to get several good poses out of him, and it's not like he should be taking any extreme ninja stances anyway.

Accessories - ***1/2
I already mentioned the rubber cape, which is an accessory since it is easily removable. To go along with this and complete his kingly appearance is the soft rubber crown and dreidel-like scepter. The sculpts on both are good, and the soft material they used with the crown means it can fit tightly over his locks.

He also has a small diorama piece, a large gargoyle. Looking just like something you might see hanging out on the side of Notre Dame, this gargoyle has two foot pegs that can be used to keep Quasimodo in place.

What's nice about this item is that it can serve double duty, particularly with Batman figures in the 6 - 7" scale.

Fun Factor - ***
This is a character from true movie history, but he's still one that resonants today. Every few years we get a retelling of this classic story, and I'm betting we're due for another soon. Kids whose only exposure to the character is the Disney movie might be taken aback slightly by the gruesome countenance, but fans of the Universal Monsters will be quite pleased.

Value - **1/2
You can pick this guy up for around $20 with a little effort. Interestingly enough, if you do a little searching you should be able to find the almost 20 year old Sideshow version for about the same price.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing.

Overall - ***
If you already have the Sideshow version, this is probably a figure you don't have to pick up. Unlike some of the other characters who have really cool dioramas included, the gargoyle isn't enough of an incentive to spend another $20.

But for those that missed out and want to add this classic horror character to their Universal Monsters display, this is an excellent option. He'll fit in nicely with the other DST releases so far, and may just spark some terrific discussion on early film making with those that see him on your shelf.

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

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Entertainment Earth is at just $20.

- Mike's Comics N Stuff comes in at $21.

- Things From Another World has him for $22.

- Big Bad Toy Store is also at $22.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Previous DST Universal Monsters include Frankenstein, his Bride, and Dracula, and the Creature, Wolfman and Mummy. Other companies have done Hunchback figures, including the 8" version that was part of Sideshow's series 3, and Sideshow's 12"  Hunchback of Notre Dame.

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Hunchback of Notre Dame action figure by DST

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

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