I Was a Teenage Werewolf/Frankenstein

I was a Teenage Werewolf action figure from Amok Time

Regular readers know how much I love the old black and white B movies of the 50's and 60's. And so it's been no real surprise that the new figures being produced by Amok Time on a number of truly unique and unusual old monster movie properties has warmed the cockles of my heart.

Two of their recent releases are I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, and I Was a Teenage Werewolf. Interesting trivia: IWATF was actually released to theaters as a double bill with Invasion of the Saucermen, and Amok Time released figures for that movie at the same time (reviewed here).

I'm not one of those people that thinks these were great cinema, however.  Yes, I love them, but that doesn't mean I can't see their warts. Was the acting bad? Often it was atrocious. Was the writing bad? They grinded these stories out faster than a toddler after three Mountain Dews. But it's the warts that make them beautiful. Or some such crap.

American International Pictures released IWATW first, in early 1957, and due to it's phenomal success (IWATW brought in a couple million bucks a week for awhile, big box office for back then), they followed up with IWATF. IWATF wasn't really a remake or sequel to IWATW, beyond the concept of involving teenagers, but AIP did release another movie at the same time that I agree with others is a true remake, called Blood of Dracula. As others have stated, it could have just as easily been called I was a Teenage Vampire, and it followed the plot of IWATW almost exactly. These low budget movies were so successful for them that the released another follow up in 1958 called How To Make A Monster.

If you have never seen these films, go for it.  Start with IWATW, because it probably is the best of the set, and starred a young Michael Landon as the hairy teen.  A few months later he'd be cast in Bonanza, and his fame would rise.
I was a Teenage Frankenstein action figure from Amok Time

I was a Teenage Frankenstein action figure from Amok Time
I was a Teenage Werewolf action figure from Amok Time
I was a Teenage Frankenstein action figure from Amok Time
I was a Teenage Werewolf action figure from Amok Time
I was a Teenage Frankenstein action figure from Amok Time
I was a Teenage Werewolf and Frankenstein action figures from Amok Time

Amok time produced 500 of each of these in this initial production run, which is a very low number by any standards. The SRP on each is $60, although shopping around might shave off a few bucks. I have some sponsor suggestions at the end of the review, as always.

Packaging - ***
The boxes are reminescent of the old Sideshow fifth panel Universal Monsters boxes. They've used graphics from the film as well as a poster style design to give it a nice retro feel.

There are a few more twisties than I like, and I'm not particularly fond of them packing the figure with the display stand already around the waist.  This always wrinkles up the clothes, and you'll need to end up ironing them later to get it out.

Sculpting - ***
The head sculpt on Frank is top notch, even if my final score here doesn't make it appear that way. The makeup effect in this film was well before it's time, and is one of the more gruesome versions of Frankenstein we've ever gotten. They've captured the look extremely well, right down to the remaining bandages around his neck. And while the remaining bulging eye appears on the left side of his face in the poster artwork, it was actually on the right side in the film, just as it is on the figure.

So why does he get a lower score than my praise might indicate? It's the hands, man.  They've re-used the hands that the NOTLD zombie has (and probably a number of other figures will also have these hands), and they really don't fit the character. Like Rondo or the Werewolf, they really should have given Frank a specific hand sculpt that better fit the character's malevolent intents.

The Werewolf has excellent, hairy, threatening hand sculpts, which were obviously necessary. But the head sculpt, while imposing, seems off to me.

Part of the problem is those ears.  In the film, they were more hidden by the hair, and by the similar color.  Here they stick out from the head quite a bit AND are a very distinct fleshtone.  I'll complain more about the paint in a minute, but in general those ears tend to mess up the overall look.

The nose is also a bit too small and too human-like. In the film, it was larger and more canine in appearance. On the flip side, while he had some major choppers, I don't recall them looking quite so false, as though they were about to fall out if his head.

Still, it's a recognizable sculpt of a very off beat, cult classic monster. It might not be perfect, but it has it's charm.

Paint - Wolf ***; Frank **1/2
The paint issues I'll discuss are not related to quality. Everything is painted the color they intended it to be painted, there are very clean lines (especially on Frank's damaged face), there's a good use of detail work to add realism, and there's no real slop anywhere.

But that doesn't mean there aren't some issues.  As I mentioned in the previous section, the Werewolf's ears are far too light, making them much too obvious on his head. This is a great example of where better paint could have helped improve a sculpting issue, but instead the choice to go with an obvious skin tone only amplifies the dumbo look of the ears.

With Frank, there's only one real paint problem, but it's a huge one, one so big that he lost at least a full star in this category because of it.  The reused forearms and hands do not match the rest of the body skin tone.  And it's not even close. This is such an obvious error, what with the bare arms, that it really messes up what is otherwise a good looking figure.

Articulation- **1/2
For regular collectors of sixth scale figures, the underlying body won't be anything unique. This body (and ones very much like it) have been used over the last decade by a number of different companies.  I stripped Frank's shirt off to show you the articulation (I'll explain later why he's still wearing his pants). The body is very much out of date considering the improvements we've seen from companies like Hot Toys, Medicom and Takara (and hopefully Sideshow in just a matter of days), but considering the size of the company, as well as the very low production runs, I can live with the use of a cheaper, older body. I was able to get reasonably good poses out of them considering the characters, and I didn't need to use the display stand to keep them upright.

Accessories - *
The only accessory either figure comes with is the display stand.  These are the usual style, with the movie logo on the base.

There was plenty of potential for accessories with either of these characters, but the most obvious one is a second normal Gary Conway (the actor) head for Frankenstein. For those that haven't seen the movie, this Frank was the usual monster, pieced together from various dead people.  But the gruesome face was due to the traffic accident that the main 'donor' endured, and not the creation of the overall monster.  After the monster kills someone, Professor Frankenstein decides he needs a new face, and has the monster kill a teenager, and the graft his face onto the monsters disfigured body. Both the monster and the teen were played by Gary Conway, so having a normal head as an accessory would have made at lest some sense (unlike the 'normal' Bill Heinzman head we got with the NOTLD figure).

Another opportunity is including the old movies themselves on DVD. If Kellogg's can send me free DVD's for buying cereal, then the actual cost for producing them must be pretty low these days. For folks that are unfamiliar with the source material, including it with the figure could have been a big selling point.

Outfit - ***
Neither of these figures are wearing particularly complicated uniforms.

Frank has his tight blue t-shirt, which was designed to show off Conway's muscles (yea, people worked out back then too). I'm going from memory, but I think the blue is right too. While the majority of the movie was in black and white, the very end used color for impact, so there is reference material out there.

The shirt is well done, with hemmed edges and a good fit.  Of course, the underlying body isn't as beefy as Conway was, but it will have to do.

He also has on black pants, black socks, and black shoes.  Youve' seen these before, and Amok is getting their money out of them, particularly those shoes. I didn't have quite as much trouble with bowed soles on this pair (or wolfie's), but there's still some deformation that makes it tough for him to stand in deep poses.

A word of warning on those socks. I planned on stripping down Frank to show you the body, since he has the least amount of clothing and I figured it would be easy. Turns out, I was wrong.  Big surprise, eh?

The socks are glued to the calves at three or four points around the leg.  Really glued.  Really, REALLY glued. You'll have to probably cut them free if you want to remove them, and so I just gave you a shot of Frankie with his shirt off.  You get the idea.

The Werewolf has a bit more complicated outfit, but there's still plenty of re-use. There's those shoes and socks, as well as a blue version of the cuffed pants. He's wearing a white shirt similar to the NOTLD zomibie, but not identical.  The collar isn't as oversized, but it does have those same real buttons.

Thankfully, neither the jacket or the pants have real buttons.  There are small snaps instead, and the jacket has much better scaled fake buttons down the front. The jacket is a smidge short at the waist and cuffs, but it's only a very minor nit.  The jacket has those cool knitted edges at the cuffs, collar and waist as well. It isn't a perfect rendition of the movie version, as the stripes on the pockets look a bit too wide, and I believe there was a white strip around the collar as well...and maybe the cuffs. But only people that remember the film well - or google stills - will notice these minor differences.

And yes, his socks are glued on too.

Fun Factor - **
While kids love monsters, I suspect that neither of these are likely to speak to a generation raised on CGI.  For those of us that still prefer makeup, they're ideal.

Value - **
The NOTLD zombie and Rondo Hatton were only $50, but these two troubled teens have an SRP of $60.  You can get them a bit cheaper than that from my sponsors, and I do understand that the very low production run effects the final price as well.  But with the re-use of things like the shoes, hands and bodies, as well as the lack of any accessories, makes it tough to swallow the price increase.

Things To Watch Out For
As I mentioned earlier, I planned on stripping Frank down all the way so you could see the body underneath.  That hit a snag with the glued on socks, and trust me - they are REALLY glued on there.

Even if you cut them loose, you should still take a lot of care removing the shoes. The ankles can come apart at the joint fairly easily, and the shoes are on there very tight.

Overall - Werewolf ***; Frankenstein **1/2
The Werewolf has a good outfit, and the sculpt and paint are solid if not outstanding.  He really needs some accessories at this price point, but I'm cutting them a little slack due to the extremly low edition size.

Frank has bigger problems with those awful arms. His head sculpt is actually better than the wolf's, but the forearms are so glaringly different on the shelf, that it's hard not to notice.  This is a figure that screams "transfer me to a TrueType body!"

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***
Paint - Wolf ***; Frank **1/2
Articulation - **1/2
Accessories - *
Fun Factor - **
Value - **1/2
Overall - Werewolf ***; Frankenstein **1/2

Where to Buy -
You have a number of online options:

- Alter Ego Comics carries both figures for about $57.

- Time and Space Toys has them for $60.

- or you can search ebay using the sponsor

Related Links -
I've covered several of the Amok Time figures so far: 

- Gort and Klaatu hit first.

- then there was the Invasion of the Saucer-men.

- and most recently, Rondo Hatton.

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

Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  Averaging and Converting to a five star system for comparison is: 3.4

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I was a Teenage Werewolf action figure from Amok Time

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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