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The Munsters - Herman, Lilly and Grampa
Diamond Select Toys

Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys


Whenever I hear people complain about the quality of television today, I am reminded how much better it is now than when I was a kid. I still love the shows I grew up with, but that doesn't mean I'm blind to how bad they really were.

Case in point - the Munsters. I enjoyed every episode when I was growing up, watching the reruns after school while I did my homework. Fred Gwynne and Yvonne DeCarlo were great as the forever in love Herman and Lilly Munster, but the writing was nothing like modern shows, even the bad ones. As much as I might wax nostalgic for the 'good old days', I wouldn't want television to go back there.

My action figures are another story. Getting great versions of the classic characters is always high on my list, so I was thrilled when I heard Diamond Select Toys was producing a series of figures based on the black and white show. They've just released Herman, Lilly and Grampa, and I have my fingers crossed that we'll see Eddie and Marilyn before they're done.

These run around $20 if you pick up the Select versions, which I'm reviewing tonight. The Select versions are generally available online or at comic shops, and include the extra pieces to build the electric chair. The regular mass market figures, which you can find at Toys R Us, do not.

With all the extra accessories, I went pretty photo happy this time around, so be sure to scroll all the way through to see them all, and don't forget that the photo to the right will pop up life size if you click on it.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys

Packaging - ***
These come in the usual book shelf style packages that DST uses with all their 'select' figures. They manage to fit all the accessories within the double tray, and there's decent background info on the figure and accessories.

There are somewhere between 6 and a million twisty ties on each of these. On top of the inordinate number, they are twisted in pretzel knots that would vex the most patient of saints. I'd suggest having a set of wire cutters handy.

Sculpting - ***
These were done by Jean St. Jean, who is normally one of my favorite sculptors. This time though, theres something slightly off. I suspect it's what DST wanted, but not really what they should have gone with.

Both Herman and Grampa are more cartoonish or caricaturish than they were on the show. They might have been green monsters, but their facial features weren't quite this extreme.

Then there's Lilly, who looks quite different. Nothing extreme here, in fact she looks about 10 years younger than the beautiful Yvonne DeCarlo did on the show. The likeness is more generic than the other two, and suffers because of it.

From the neck down, the sculpts are all great. Herman's trademark suit, Grampa's tux, and of course Lilly's white dress all look great. Lots of detail work, and all the folds and wrinkles follow realistic patterns. I particularly like how they attached part of Lilly's 'cape' to the back of her arms.

The hand sculpts are designed for classic poses (I meant to take a shot of Lilly with her left hand draped over Herman's forearm, but forgot), and all three stand great on their own. Scale is good too, relative to each other and if you intended to use these with other 7" scale figures.

Paint - ***
Like the recent second series of Universal Monsters, DST went for a heavy wash, especially on the face of Herman and Grampa. It's not quite as extreme as some of the other figures, and in person it looks better than in close up photos.

There's also less slop this time around with the eyes, lips and various cut lines between colors. There's still a little slop here and there, but it's not as extreme as what we just saw with the Dracula, Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein released last month.

While these aren't black and white, they are monochromatic enough to give the general impression. The brighter colors - like the red on Grampa's cape and tux - adds some nice pop to the look. While we normally only saw these characters in black and white, the colors here all make sense.

Articulation - Grampa, Herman ***; Lilly **
They gave these quite a bit more articulation than you'd expect, but some of it is restricted, and some has quality issues.

Lilly has a ball neck, but the long, stiff hair completely restricts it. Her ball shoulders, pin elbows and cut forearms allow for some reasonable arm poses, while the waist joint allows her to turn side to side. While she has the same hips, pin knees and pin ankles as Herman and Grampa, hers are restricted by the long skirt. She does stand great on her own, but I really wish you could push her head back a bit to look up at Herman.

Speaking of Herman, he has a decent ball jointed neck, shoulders, pin elbows and wrists that have both a post that can turn and a pin that allows forward and backward movement. Sadly, these posts were very tightly stuck with paint, and I broke the right trying to free it up. The left popped loose, but I had to glue the right hand in a permanent pose.

He also has waist, hips, pin knees, and pin ankles. These allow him to *almost* sit down, so that he can work with the electric chair. It's not a perfect fit, but it works well enough for a display.

Grampa has the same articulation as Herman, with one exception. The wrists simply turn on their posts, there's no pin joint. I didn't have any trouble freeing up any of his articulation, but I did have one Hell of a time popping off the right hand to swap it with the extra. I had to resort to a lot of hot water, and I suggest you do the same. And while he also has pin ankles, these are very restricted by the long pants.

The arms allow for most of the posing, although the necks on Grampa and Herman add a little personality as well. The joint count is pretty high across the board, but it's a bit misleading this time.

Accessories - ****
The online retail versions come with the same accessories as the mass market retail versions, plus the extras to build the electric chair, Herman's version of a Lazy Boy lounger.

Herman comes with several of the larger pieces for the chair, plus his oversized lunch box. He can easily carry the lunch box, and while it doesn't open, the sculpt is great.

Lilly has the large coo-coo clock, complete with raven. It's another great looking extra, and was part of the opening every week.

Grampa has the largest number of extras. There's a small table, with 3 labeled flasks, several test tubes in a wooden test tube holder, a distillation tower and cup, a graduated cylinder, a couple books, a small bat that attaches to his back with a clear rod, a removable cape, and an extra right hand that is holding his cigar.

That's a TON of extra stuff, and it all looks amazingly good. Even with all that stuff, he still has several parts to the chair.

Putting the chair together is pretty straight forward, and once together, it looks great. Each figure also comes with a small, basic foot stand, made to look like wooden planks.

If you pick up all three figures you'll end up with a ton of extras for the display. All together it looks amazing, almost a complete diorama.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While these might not be characters than any 10 year old knows, these are still some really fun toys. It's the accessories, you know - I love it when you get this many extras.

Value - ***
Okay, everything is getting more expensive. But when you give me this many extra pieces for the same price as most other mass market figures, I'm going to be much happier.

Things to Watch Out For -
I had trouble breaking both of Herman's wrists free - the paint is very sticky. The left finally freed up, but the right just tore through, and I had to reglue it. I'd suggest lots of hot water/cold water to avoid the same fate.

Overall - ***
As a kid, I loved the show, so I was really looking forward to these. While I like them better than the second series of Monsters overall, I can't say that I'm loving the general style and look.

It's the accessories that really send them over the top, and everything they come with fits in nicely with the show. Obviously Grampa is the best outfitted, but the clock and lunch box are great as well, and I'd recommend spending the extra money on the online versions to pick up the pieces to build the electric chair.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - Herman, Grampa ***; Lilly **
Accessories - ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Urban Collector has them for $19 each.

- Mike's Comics N Stuff has them at $20 each.

- Things From Another World has them for $20 each.

- Big Bad Toy Store has them at $20.

- Entertainment Earth has them for $20 each as well.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
There isn't any other Munsters stuff at this point, but DST has done series 1 and series 2 of the classic Universal Monsters in this same scale.

Discussion:
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Munsters action figures by Diamond Select Toys


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

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