Mask of the Red Death

Sideshow Toy has done right by the Universal Monsters license.  Have they all been perfect?  No.  Have they done every character we'd like to see?  No.  But they have produced the nicesty, best articulated and best sculpted 9" and 12" figures based on the license, and I doubt we'll see anyone out do them any time soon.

The latest figure is based on the original Phantom of the Opera film, made in 1925.  Lon Chaney starred as the disfigured Phantom, and this version captures him in the classic Mask of the Red Death outfit.

They've also produced a standard version of this figure, along with over a dozen other Universal Monsters.  There are also black and white versions of many of them, so there's plenty of variety to choose from.


Packaging - ***
Beautiful artwork and good text make for nice packaging.  This isn't quite as nice as some of the boxes they've produced for Bond, Outer Limits or Twilight Zone however.  They have lost some of their collector friendliness, due to bubble sealing some of the accessories to the inner tray, and due to a lack of background text.  Still, they are very attractive and better than many on the shelf.

Sculpting - ****
The head sculpt is fantastic, but you won't be surprised if you've bought either the regular Phantom of the Opera figure, or the 9" version of this figure.

Unlike the 9" version, there is only one head this time, with a removable mask.  The Chaney likeness is dead on, and Sideshow has proven again that in the sixth scale market, their sculpts are the ones to beat.

Paint - ****
The paint ops follow the Sideshow tradition of excellence, particularly on the face and eyes.  There's tons of detail work here, which means tons of opportunity for error, but all the lines are clean and neat, the face tone is excellent, and the detail work around the eyes and mouth is perfect.

I feel like a Sideshow tool at times, but they are producing excellent figures right now, hitting on almost every cylinder.

Articulation - ***1/2
No major complaints here either.  The usual Sideshow body is in use, with neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, double jointed elbows and knees, chest, waist, ball jointed hips, cut thighs, ankles and wrists. *whew*

I found the ankles to be a tad floppy and loose this time around, although I suspect that will vary from figure to figure.

Outfit - ***
If there's one aspect of this particular figure which I had a few nits to pick on, it was the outfit.  Actually, it's not as bad as I make it sound, but rather I've gotten so used to outstanding quality from Sideshow that even the smallest things stand out.

Overall, the outfit is very nicely done.  The cloak stands out, with a design that matches the source material extremely well, and uses three snaps to get the right look.

The hat is a solid sculpt, and fits either with the mask or without.  The feather and cloth that's attached are decent quality and should hold up fairly well.

The puffy shirt and pantaloons (bloomers, whatever you want to call them) underneath are well stitched and extremely well tailored. The fit tightly, and look great.  My only negative comes with the tights, or the fact that they aren't tights actually.  They fit the legs tightly, but are cut off at the ankles rather than covering the whole foot.  This means they can pop out of the short boots, and the edge isn't hemmed.  That makes fraying a lot more likely.

The boot sculpt is new and quite well done.  Overall, the quality and design is great - if they'd just made the leggings full tights, it would have been perfect.

Accessories - ***1/2
I'm counting two accessories here - the mask and the staff.  Oh, and let's not forget the stand, which is the same stand we have gotten with past Universal Monsters.

Both the mask and staff are great.  The sculpt on the mask looks excellent, and fits nicely on the face without being too tight.  The wash on the mask works well, and the paint ops around the eyes, nose and teeth are solid.

The staff has a snake twisting around the shaft, with a skull trapped in his mouth at the top.  It's well sculpted, and quite sturdy.

Value - **1/2
This always depends on where you buy.  I'm assuming you end up paying $40 - that's really too much.  Even at a limited edition of 7500, that's about ten bucks too much.

But have no fear - I have two sites below that have it for $30, and I suspect if you spend some serious time looking around you might find it a tad cheaper still.  Drop the price to $30 and add a star.

Overall - ***1/2
Another winner in the Universal Monsters line by Sideshow.  If you already have the original version, you might find it tough to spend the bucks on this one, but for the big fans of these great old horror films, these figures are must haves.

Where to Buy - 
You may find these at Media Play or Sam Goody stores soon, but I haven't seen them there yet.  I'm betting they'll be around $30.  On-line:

- Sideshow has him for $40.  These figures are limited to a run of 7500.  They have a limited number of the standard Phantoms in stock as well for $30.  (MROTW Affiliate)

- Big Bad Toy Store has them for $30 each.

- Boise River Collectibles is a new store - to me at least.  They have the Phantom for $30, which is a pretty good price on-line. (MROTW Affiliate)

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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