Teenage Caveman

I'm trying something a little different tonight.  This is a Point - Counterpoint style review, although nothing quite like the old Saturday Night Live bit.

Mark Burnette comes in with the pro argument for this review, while I do my best to be negative.  Let me know what you think of this style, and if you'd like to do something like this as well.  On to the review!

Teenage Caveman/Future Mutant is one of five figures in Stan Winston Creature Features, a new line of figures connected with an upcoming Cinemax series produced by Stan Winston, Colleen Camp and Samuel Z. Arkoff. In this series, Stan Winston revisits and redesigns classic Arkoff B-horror film creatures for a contemporary audience.

Winston is probably best known for his outstanding (and Academy Award winning) creature design work in Terminator and Jurassic Park. This line of figures marks Winston’s first foray into collectibles for a mainstream audience. If my memory serves, some sculptures of his film work have been sold in the past, but were marketed to only a select group of collectors (meaning folks with BIG bucks.)

While these figures are not drawn from his famous film work, they are extremely well sculpted and painted, and will likely appeal to fans of Winston, or anyone who collects monster figures. For this review I am focusing on the Teenage Caveman/Future Mutant figure from the series. Each figure retails for $14.99. These figures are exclusive to Toys R Us, but can also be purchased online from

Packaging - MB ***, MWC **
(MB) The packaging includes a large bubble in which the figure is displayed, with artwork on the front unique to each figure. The back of the card includes photos of all five figures in the series. Since I am a collector who almost always unpacks a figure, I am not terribly picky about the packaging. In the case of Teenage Caveman/Future Mutant, the display of the figure is fairly good in the package, but you will need to open it to complete the diorama base that comes in two interlocking pieces. The CD-ROM is also sealed to the back of the card, which means you will need to do some tearing to get at it. The figure is thankfully not overly secured with black wire ties--the curse of collectors everywhere-- so removing it and setting up the diorama will take just a minute or two.   

(MWC) Well, I can't argue too much with Mark on this one, but I'm being a little rougher on these than him.  While the packaging is servicable, it really isn't eye catching or special.  It'll hold the figures, but it didn't get me to pay any special attention to the line.

Paint - MB ****, MWC *1/2
(MWC) The greatest failing of this entire set is the dull paint ops.  With a predominately green and brown palette, everything runs together.  There needs to be more contrast in the colors of various items to make this set, and the others, stand out.  The choice of colors was almost the greatest turn off for me - we still haven't gotten to number one yet.

If you look at other great monsters and monster sets, there is at least some level of reds, blacks and whites involved.  Here, the overuse of dull colors causes the sets to be washed out to the eye.

(MB) The paint detailing, like the sculpting, is extremely well done, even in small areas like the teeth of the creature. Overall, the paint application is precise and wonderfully textured, and the color palette on the figure and base is appropriately muted and nicely harmonized, making the figure feel like a part of “the world” of the base diorama. This unified color palette is essential because of how closely tied the figure is to the base. 






Sculpting - (MB) ****, (MWC) ***
(MB) Not surprisingly, with Stan Winston’s background in film creature design, the sculpting on Teenage Caveman is quite exceptional. The musculature of the creature is nicely detailed, striking a good balance between an ultra-realistic and an ultra-stylized sculpting. The pose, and the pained scowl of the creature, creates a nice sense of movement in the overall piece. Of special note is the sculpting on the diorama base. The detailing on this area of the piece is most impressive. This figure includes the most realistic simulation of brick and concrete I have yet seen in a mass marketed diorama. Plus, the sculpting is able to create several believable textures (brick, mortar, metal, wood, plastic) that still feel connected and unified.

(MWC)  When Stan Winston advertised these new figures in various interviews and magazines, he did a lot of talking about McFarlane figures.  Well, the sculpting here isn't bad, but it has a long way to go to rival the work coming out of McFarlane Toys.  The detail isn't bad, but it can't compare to the level of detail of one of Todd's.  The diorama is again the strongest piece, but at fifteen bucks, the figure has to rival the diorama.

Articulation - MB **1/2, MWC *1/2
(MWC) If you're going to create a statue, which Stan Winston pretty much said in at least one interview that these were going to be (more or less), then leave out the obtrusive looking joints.  They do little for the figure, and are likely there for easy assembly at the manufacturing plant rather than for any great poseability options.  Winston clearly stated that articulation wasn't important in these figures, so I'm not sure why the superfluous joints were added.

(MB) Although articulation is included in the figure, it is fairly limited. Clearly, the intention is for the figure to be displayed with the diorama rather than separately. Joints are found at the left shoulder, right elbow, the neck, waist, left thigh, and the right leg below the knee. The waist and upper body articulation points do allow for some slight variation in posing, but the lower body joints serve little purpose, and the joint in the right thigh is noticeable and slightly detracts from the otherwise excellent sculpting.   

Accessories - MB ***, MWC **1/2
(MB) The accessories include two pieces of broken wood, a section of a steel girder, and a piece of broken concrete. These “accessories” do allow for some choice in the placement of debris, and are nicely sculpted and painted. The other major accessory is a CD-ROM that provides a “behind-the-scenes” making of the figure. The CD-ROM played smoothly on my Mac and includes a short video with Stan Winston talking about the figure with video of the actual sculpting of the figure, a gallery of photos of the Teenage Caveman, 3D rotating models of all five figures in the series, a brief biography of Stan Winston, and a sneak peak at future Stan Winston Creatures, Inc. releases. Overall, the CD-ROM was nice, but did not go into any real depth into the process making of the figure which was my personal hope. However, the presentation on the CD-ROM is very professional, and the 3D rotating models of all the figures are pretty cool.  

(MWC) Okay, I have to admit that the diorama is pretty cool, with some good detail and great display potential.  But the CD doesn't do much for me, and adds little value to the overall figure.  Stick this info and rotating models on a website, and that would be appropriate.  Don't charge me for it.

Value - MB *** 1/2, MWC *
(MWC) For me, fifteen bucks is way out of line for a figure of this quality.  This was the biggest turn off of this entire line.  While the diorama is nice, the CD is pretty much worthless to most collectors, leaving you with a plastic statue of decent but not extraordinary quality.  Movie Maniacs figures are under ten bucks, and I managed to find the Jaws playset for $15 on line.  Comparing this to the earlier Sideshow Toy 8" monsters, and they blow it out of the water for ten bucks.  Drop the CD and the price by at least five dollars.

(MB) The price of $14.99 is not too bad considering the inclusion of the CD-ROM, although I think $12.99 would have been a better price point. Like any line of figures, I tend to pick what I like, rather than trying to complete a series. I imagine that for most collectors, especially fans of monster movies, they will find at least one figure in this series that will be worth the expenditure. I hope Winston continues to market action figures. For a first series, the sculpting, paint detail, and overall presentation is quite impressive and holds it’s own against some of the outstanding work being done by Sideshow Toys and McFarlane Toys.   

Overall Score: - MB ***1/2, MWC **
(MB) For a first line of mass-market figures, Stan Winston is off to an excellent start. With superb sculpting and paint detail, Teenage Caveman/Future Mutant is a fun figure which brings back memories of my watching classic monster films on the Saturday movie matinee on KPLR TV in St. Louis. The only minor shortcomings of the figure are the limited articulation points, and the slightly high price of $14.99. Perhaps without the CD-ROM the price could lower to a more comfortable $12.99.

Although this is not a series of figures I feel compelled to complete--unlike my collection of Universal Monsters from Sideshow Toys--I imagine at least one or two in this series of five figures will appeal to the monster movie fan in you. I am definitely looking forward to some of the future releases from Stan Winston. Hopefully future lines will expand from the current exclusive status at Toys R Us, opening up the market to this promising new figure company.

(MWC) I was very disappointed in this first release, even though I knew what to expect based on the interviews with Winston early on.  I do hope that things improve, and perhaps they'll drop the price of these figures AND find some monsters that are a bit more visually compelling.  

Where to Buy -
As mentioned earlier, these are a Toys R Us exclusive, so you should be able to find them on an endcap of your local TRU.  But if you need to go the on line route, has the full set in stock.  Search for 'Stan Winston', and they will be under the Toys section.  It will cost you shipping of course, but you might be able to come up with a coupon at one of the coupon web sites that could reduce the price.

Figure from the collection of Mark Burnette

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