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Review of Phantom of the Opera - Universal Monsters action figure
On-line and Toys R Us exclusives

Diamond Select Toys
Date Published:
Written By:
Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

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Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Introduction

I'm sure that some of you find it amusing, perhaps even ironic in some way, that someone named Michael Crawford is reviewing a Phantom of the Opera action figure.

But with my love for all things Universal Monsters, it's really no surprise. And this being Halloween week, it seemed like the perfect time to check out the new figures from Diamond Select Toys.

I say 'figures', because there are actually two distinctly different Phantoms. It's not unusual for DST to release an online and brick and mortar version of their Universal Monsters. A good example is the Metaluna Mutant that came in the same wave with the Phantom. The Mutant at Toys R Us, which I reviewed here, comes carded with some very basic accessories, while the online version comes with a much more elaborate diorama piece. However, the Mutant is still the Mutant.

But with the Phantom, they decided to give us two figures that are different enough that the seriously devoted will need them both. The Toys R Us exclusive is carded, and includes the violin and music stand. He also has the black cloak, hat, and a completely different head sculpt, wearing the mask. The online exclusive includes the large organ (it's okay to laugh), and has the hideous, scarred unmasked visage.

The TRU version is about $16 at most stores, while the online version is around $18 - $20, depending on the retailer.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Packaging - ***
The Toys R Us exclusive comes carded, like the Metaluna Mutant I reviewed earlier. The online exclusive comes in the DST bookshelf style package pictured in this review.

While the card backs are less wasteful, I have to give the edge to the bookshelf package. I like the graphics and colors, and being able to store it on the shelf just like a book makes it unique and interesting.

Neither is collector friendly of course, and both have too damn many twist ties.

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Sculpting - ***1/2
This figure is the earliest version of the Phantom on film - the Lon Chaney 1925 silent movie incarnation. For reference, you can see the amazing Chaney as the Phantom here and here, and wearing the mask here.

Both versions, sculpted by the very talented Jean St. Jean, are excellent reproductions of the on screen look. There are minor nits with both - the forehead seems a bit too high on the unmasked, and I don't recall (although it's been a very long time since I saw the 1929 re-release that made it to DVD), the Phantom's mouth and teeth showing beneath the cloth under the mask.  But these are very minor nits to be sure.

The detail work on the skin texture is excellent, as is the wrinkling and folds in the various layers of clothing. The hands are done in great poses, and the figures stand on their own just fine.

While I appreciate the capped/masked version (it's not the usual version we get), I have to give this category to the online unmasked figure.

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Paint - ***
While I've given the paint category the same score as the sculpt, the fact is it's not *quite* as good. Close, but not quite.

Some of the work around the eyes is a bit sloppy, particularly on the unmasked version. The teeth and mouths are good, and I really like the use of both matte and gloss finishes on the black tux, giving it some pop. I also like the gray-scale palette, but there's still a hint of slop here and there. It's not enough to pull him all the way down to three stars, but it's not quite as nice as the sculpt.

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Articulation - ***
This one is dead even, since both figures are identical from the neck down.

There's a ball jointed neck, but it's a bit restricted, functioning more like a cut joint. There's pin/disc ball shoulders and elbows, cut biceps, waist, ankles and thighs, and pin wrists and knees. Finally, there's the cool hinge hips, similar to what we've seen with DCUC and a few other lines.

That's quite a bit of articulation for a dude in a tux, and it all works well. He can actually hold the violin pretty close to proper, and you should have no trouble getting a great pose from either figure.

Unfortunately, he can't cross his arms completely across his chest to replicate his most classic pose.

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Accessories - ***1/2
I mixed and matched some of the accessories in the photos, so you should pay extra attention here if you're only buying one of the figures.

The online exclusive figure includes the large organ (it's just as funny the second time), and that's his only unique accessory. He also has an extra posed left hand, a small display stand, and the book of music "Don Juan Triumphant", the music he's been working on for 20 years. The display stand isn't necessary, but looks good, with a sculpted stone-like surface.

Those three accessories - the stand, extra hand, and book - also come with the Toys R Us version of the Phantom. He gets quite a bit in addition, including the black rubbery cloak, the hat, a cane, the violin, the music stand, a smaller base that matches the figure base but for the music stand, and the violin bow.

These are some great looking accessories too, and have lots of nice little touches. For example, you can hang the bow or violin on the front of the music stand. Sculpts and paints are great, and because of the large number of accessories with the TRU figure, I have to give him the edge in this category.

BTW, since the cloak and hat are removable, they can easily be swapped onto the scarred Phantom if you prefer. The cloak is a bit too thick around the shoulders and tends to ride high because of it, but having the two looks makes the figures even more distinct from one another.

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Fun Factor - ***
With decent articulation and some great accessories, these are very fun figures. Obviously, they'll only appeal to kids who have had the good fortune to see and appreciate the history of horror films, but they're still solid toys.

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Value - **1/2
The online exclusive, with the organ being the main accessory, is more expensive at almost $20. That makes him not as good of a deal as the Toys R Us version, with smaller but more abundant extras and a lower price tag. In the end, I went with an average score here for both, but the slight edge goes to the Toys R Us figure.

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing!

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Overall - ***1/2
Both of these figures are very, very nice. I love the sculpts, and getting the masked and unmasked version is a big plus. These guys will go great with the Sideshow Lon Chaney Phantom from Mask of the Red Death

With the other releases, it's been easy to say which version to buy. For example, it's an easy pick with the Metaluna Mutant - you have to get the online exclusive. But this time, it's not clear cut. While I like the scarred portrait better, we have fewer examples of the masked portrait - and he has such terrific accessories! Yea...I'm sorry, but you just gotta buy both this time.

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

Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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Where to Buy 
The masked version with the violin is a Toys R Us exclusive, where he runs $16 or so. The unmasked version with the organ can be had at these online sponsors:

- has him for $19.

- has him at $22.50.

- Entertainment Earth has him at $20.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
The most recent review was on the Invisible Man, and other Invisible Men include Sideshow's 12" version and their 8" version.

Diamond Select has done other monsters in this style and scale, including the Metaluna Mutant, the Munsters, the Mummy, Creature, and Wolfman, and Frankenstein, his bride, and Dracula.

And if you're a Phantom fan, check out the 8" Mask of the Red Death version, or the Premium Format statue.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
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Phantom of the Opera action figure by DST

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

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