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Frankenstein, His Bride and Dracula
Universal Monsters - Diamond Select Toys

Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys


I'm an old school fan of the Universal Monsters - as a Detroit child of the 60's, I grew up watching the classic movies on Saturday afternoon with Sir Graves Ghastly. Whenever another company produces figures, I snap them right up. Some might say it's an addiction, but I prefer to call it a desperate attempt to regain my youth.

Diamond Select Toys is producing a series based on the classic monsters, and the second wave is now available. There's Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula, and the Bride of Frankenstein. And yes, I know he's not Frankenstein, but rather the Monster...but that's just too damn long to type out. From here on out I'll be referring to him in the simpler if inaccurate way.

As with the first wave, there are two versions of these figures. The mass market versions come in large bubbles with a backer card, and fewer accessories. The online version comes in the DST 'select' packaging, with larger diorama pieces.

That's at least true for Frank and Drac, but the Bride appears to be a Toys R Us exclusive, so there may not be an online version. She has a diorama as well, so I'm betting she's the one and only.
Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys

Packaging - ***
Since Dracula and Frankenstein are the online versions, they come in the larger book shelf style 'select' packaging. It's a tad oversized, but it does allow for the various diorama pieces to fit comfortably. Frankie has assembly instructions for his table that are clear and easy to follow.

The Bride comes in the more traditional bubble/cardback packaging, but she does sport a 'TRU Exclusive' sticker on the front.

Sculpting - Frank, Bride ***1/2; Dracula ***
I like the sculpts across the board, but Dracula takes a hit for one simple reason - it's not Lugosi.

Yea, I know it shouldn't bug me too much, but when you're doing the Universal Monsters, you really have to do the Bela head sculpt. Without it, he looks...just off.

Frank looks much more like the actual Karloff version, and I love the detail work on the face and costume. There's a nice texturing to the outfit, and while he doesn't tower over the other figures, he is bigger and thicker.

While the Dracula head sculpt is not the likeness I'd prefer, the rest of the sculpt looks great. All the key features are here, like the ring and amulet, and while the paint takes away a bit from the detail, it still looks quite nice.

The Bride is much prettier than I expected, right down to the slight gap in her front teeth. The long funky hairdo is nicely textured, and there's some great work on the bandages around her body.

These are in scale with the first wave, all done in a 7" style. All three stand fine on their own without the bases, but work even better when they are on the pegs.

Paint - Bride ***; Frank **1/2, Drac **
The paint on these aren't doing a whole lot for me, even in person where the scale is a bit smaller than you see in the photos.

There's too much wash on Dracula's face, and the same can be said for Frank depending on your personal tastes. There's a fair amount of slop too, especially on Dracula's costume.

The work on the Bride is a sight better. While there's still a decent amount of wash on the costume, it works to bring out the detail of the bandages rather than hide it. The work on her face is also much better, with cleaner lines and an even skin tone.

Articulation - Dracula **1/2; Frank, Bride *
The big disappointment in this trio, at least for me, was the joints. Or more specifically, the breaking joints.

Dracula didn't have any real joint issues, but he's a pretty stiff dude. Ball neck, 'NECA' style shoulders with limited range, cut wrists, and a cut waist. Drac's neck tilts a bit, but his is the only one with any movement at all.

With Frank, that's because he has no neck articulation. But for the Bride, it's because the minute I breathed in her general direction the neck snapped. It didn't appear that the joint was stuck, just very brittle. I had to SuperGlue her back together before I could take any photos, and it really hurts her score here.

She has cut shoulders, a cut waist and cut wrists. You could remove the outer clothing if the neck doesn't break - the head can pop off as can the arms. I'd be careful though, and stick with the more traditional look unless you really, really feel strongly about it.

Frank has a similar issue, but it's because his shoulder was glued or painted tight. The right shoulder was fine, but the left one simply would not turn, and eventually the post started to rip. I hate it when that happens.

He has cut ankles and wrists too, but that's about it. His articulation is largely intended to pose him on the table - not much else.

Accessories - Drac, Frank ***1/2; Bride ***
All three have nice diorama pieces included, making them better toys whether you're a kid or a fan.

The Bride has the smaller diorama, not surprising since she's the Toys R Us exclusive. There are two posts, with real metal chains, which fit inside the stone-like base. The chains can wrap around the arms, or hang loose - either way, the base looks great.

Dracula and Frankenstein, being the slightly more expensive online versions, have the larger displays. Dracula comes with a small grassy base with posts to fit his feet, as well as a large sized wolf. The wolf also attaches to the base, and has a very good sculpt. The paint ops are a little light, but the wolf works well with any figure in this same general scale - including the Mego sized Phantom.

Frankenstein has the most complex piece, the large metallic looking operating table. This comes in several pieces, and there are instructions included in the package to show you the proper way to assemble it. It's pretty basic when it comes to the sculpt - there's no texturing - but it does look good with Frankie lying in repose.

It's tall as well, taller than I expected. It comes in around chest high on Dracula, although it doesn't appear as tall next to the larger monster.

Dracula's cape only sits on his shoulders, making it another accessory if you wish. It stays in place quite well though, and without it he looks a tad nekkid to me.

Fun Factor - ***
While these characters might be old school when compared to the current crop of vamps and monsters on the big screen, most kids still know who they are. And if they don't, they're parents should be ashamed.

With the playset pieces they make decent toys, as well as excellent display figures for the monster fan in the family.

Value - **1/2
These are in that $15 - $20 range, depending on whether you get the mass market or online versions, and based on which retailer you select. While that's a pretty hefty chunk of change for a 6" DCUC figure with one or two simple accessories, here you're getting a nice sized 7" scaled figure with a diorama piece - a reasonable value at least.

Things to Watch Out For -
As mentioned, I had joint issues with both Frank's left arm and the Bride's neck. Take extreme care when freeing them up if they're stuck!

Overall - **1/2
I had very high expectations for these based on three things - first, I'm a huge Universal Monsters fan; second, I loved what I saw of these at SDCC; and third, the first wave was solid.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, causing me to be harder on these than usual. But they would be at least a solid B if it weren't for the sloppy paint and breaking joints. 

Once I had things all glued back together though, they looked pretty damn good on the shelf. While my enthusiasm was a tad dampened, I have to admit that I'm still very much looking forward to the next wave as well as the upcoming Munsters figures that DST is doing in this same style and scale.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Frank, Bride ***1/2; Dracula ***
Paint - Bride ***; Frank **1/2; Drac **
Articulation - Dracula **1/2; Frank, Bride *
Accessories - Drac, Frank ***1/2; Bride ***
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - **1/2 

Where to Buy -
You'll find the mass market versions at Toys R Us, but the online versions can be had at these sponsors:

- Urban Collector has them for $18 each.

- Entertainment Earth has them at $20.

- Things From Another World has them for $20.

- Big Bad Toy Store has them for $20 too.

- Hollywood Heroes has them for $30.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I'm a big fan of the Universal Monsters, so I've covered a lot of products over the years:

- of course, I looked at wave 1 of the DST figures from last year, 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:
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Universal Monsters series 2 by Diamond Select Toys


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

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