DST Universal Monsters
Wolfman, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon

Mummy Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys

Over the course of more than 30 years, Universal Studios produced a series of classic monster movies, starting with the Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1923. They created some of the most memorable film monsters of all time, working with great actors like Chaney, Karloff and Lugosi, and they developed techniques in make up, special effects and costuming that are still used today.

These films have a tremendous number of fans, including yours truly. They've been licensed and made into just about every product possible, and a collector could spend their entire life searching out and gathering all the various trinkets that these films and characters have spawned.

It's been awhile though since we got any really good action figures. Toy Island did a series about three years ago, but those were...less than stellar. Sideshow produced perhaps the best, but it's been quite awhile since any of those saw a store shelf.

Now Diamond Select Toys (or DST) has stepped up with a new series in an 8" scale. So far, they have released the Wolfman, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Mummy, but I have hopes that we'll see them add other key characters as well. Since they are also doing Mego-esque figures and mini-mates, I'd say the odds are good we'll get a few more in the 8" scale as well.

While there are only three so far, there are actually two distinct versions of each one. The Toys R Us exclusive retail versions, and the 'select' versions that online retailers are carrying.

For the Mummy and the Creature, it's pretty straight forward. The TRU retail version is more basic, with just the monster and a small diorama base. There's also a Wolfman, again with just a small diorama base. The packaging is a smaller and better suited to a mass market peg. I have two packaged photos to the right, and the first is the mass market style, while the second is the larger 'select' style.

This Select style for the online retailers applies only to the Creature and the Mummy. They both come with larger diorama bases, and the packaging is much larger to accommodate.

The Wolfman doesn't have a Select version. Instead, he has a black and white variant that is exclusive to Entertainment Earth. That's the one I used for the retailer package photo, so I could kill two birds with one stone.

So to recap - two versions of the Mummy and the Creature, Toys R Us in smaller package with smaller diorama, Select version in larger package with larger diorama, two versions of the Wolfman, both in smaller package with smaller diorama, Toys R Us version in color and Entertainment Earth version in black and white.

All of these will run you between $15 and $20, depending on the figure and the retailer. Of course, the Select versions are a couple bucks higher than the Toys R Us versions. I'm going to be looking at the regular Wolfman and Select Creature and Mummy in this review.
Wolfman Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Creature from the Black Lagoon Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Wolfman Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Creature from the Black Lagoon Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Mummy Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Creature from the Black Lagoon Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Mummy Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Wolfman Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Creature from the Black Lagoon Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys
Universal Monsters action figures from Diamond Select Toys
Creature from the Black Lagoon Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys

Packaging - ***
The larger packaging for the Select figures isn't wasted space - the dioramas really require the bigger size. The graphics are good, and the Mummy even had sturdy plastic ties holding the bubble and cardback together in an attempt to compensate for the extreme weight of the sarcophagus.

While the book shelf style package used with the Select figures is nice, I actually prefer the look of the Toys R Us retail packages. I think it's the large Universal Monsters logo that does it for me. Of course, neither are collector friendly, and you'll have to tear them up and cut through 5 or 6 twisties to get the figures free.

Sculpting - ***1/2
The sculpts on all three figures - plus the lovely lady - are all quite good. These are pretty close representations of the old school characters, and the shape and proportions of the limbs and body are excellent.

The Wolfman has finely detailed hair over his face and hands, and a snarling, menacing expression that works well with all the required poses. He doesn't stand on his own due to the paw-like sculpted feet, but using the included diorama/base will fix that issue.

The Mummy is sculpted in a pose perfect for laying on his back, sleeping through the ages. I was surprised to find that he also stands just fine on his own outside his resting place. The detail work on the bandages is excellent, and I think the actual facial likeness is the best of the three. I can easily see Karloff lurking under the makeup.

The Creature has the weakest portrait, but it's still much better than any other recent attempt in plastic form. The face is a little too flat, the eyes a bit too far apart. He reminds me a little of the Saucermen, in fact.

The detail work on the scaly skin is excellent though, and his proportions are much better than we saw with the Toy Island version.

All three of these figures is done in an 8" scale, making them a bit bigger than most other figures currently on the market, but fitting in pretty well with the old Sideshow versions.

Paint - ***
In the grand tradition of McFarlane and NECA, DST has gone with a 'hit it hard with a wash' style of paint work, intended to add realism and a gritty look to any figure in a similar scale.

It works fine here, and does bring out the sculpted details. There's a little slop that detracts from the overall, and areas like the Woflman's teeth, the Creature's eyes, and the Mummy's weirdly consistent hair brings the score down slightly.

While most of the smaller detail work is good, especially on the sarcophagus, there are areas where there are clearly problems. The eyebrows on the Creature's victim don't match (can you imagine a woman of the 50's with mismatched eyebrows? That's less likely than the existence of the Creature!), and her lipstick isn't evenly applied at the corners of her mouth. While I love most of the work on the sarcophagus, some of the silver bits exhibit sloppy edges and overspray. And while the wash technique does what it's supposed to do, in some areas it is too heavy and over applied.

Articulation - Wolfman , Creature **1/2; Mummy Bupkis
These are not highly articulated figures, and in fact have even less articulation than the Toy Island versions.

The Mummy is the worst, since he's pretty much a hunk of plastic. He does stand well though, which was a surprise.

The Wolfman is quite a bit better, with a ball jointed neck, NECA style shoulders, pin elbows, cut waist and cut wrists. With the upper body articulation, you'll be able to get several very convincing poses, and the ball jointed neck really adds quite a bit.

The Creature lacks that neck joint, and in fact doesn't even have a cut neck. He does have the NECA shoulders, pin elbows and cut wrists, but again, he lacks the cut waist. He adds in cut ankles, which means you can adjust the feet and get him in a very stable standing pose.

I almost bumped the Wolfman another half star here, but in the end just couldn't do it. It's a close call, but I needed a little more to get to that B average. Still, for the person looking for a display figure, all three of these work well.

Accessories - Mummy ****; Creature ***1/2; Wolfman ***;
Once out of the package, it was clear which figure was the winner in this category - the Mummy takes it easily. That's because the sarcophagus is so well done, with an excellent detailed sculpt, nice paint ops, and a serious heft that was unexpected.

The Mummy can fit nicely inside, and the coffin can stand on it's end perfectly with no balance issues. In fact, the lid and base can both stand on their own separately, without leaning against anything. The top fits on tightly, and the entire package looks great.

The Creature pulls in at a close second. He comes with a sandy, rocky base and a hapless female victim, dressed appropriately in a 1950's style swim suit. This was exactly what our heroine in the original film wore, and they even included the double straps. One set of the straps isn't sculpted all the way to the suit for some reason, but that's a minor nit. Julie Adams played the damsel in distress, and I think that DST did a nice job capturing her look from the film. Check out what I assume is the publicity still they based this diorama upon.

Neither figure actually attaches to the base. I can't get the girl to sit quite flat on the sand, but unless you're looking at it straight on, you won't notice the slight gap. She's not articulated, so there's no joints to adjust. 

Some folks may find the lack of pegs annoying, but since both figures stand (or sit) perfectly fine on their own, no pegs means you can display them on or around the base in whatever manner you'd like.

Finally, there's the Wolfman. Again, he isn't a 'select' figure, so his base is much smaller than the others. It's a nicely sculpted forest floor, complete with rocks and an detachable stump, and there are two foot pegs this time to keep him in place. Unlike the Creature, that's critical because Wolfie can't stand on his own.

Fun Factor - Creature ***; Wolfman **1/2; Mummy **
Of the three, the Creature would be the most fun for kids. While he lacks any lower body articulation, the arm articulation allows him to menace other figures just fine, and he stands great on his own with very little effort. Kids can smack around the other helpless figures in their toy box with this guy, and he can take as much abuse as he dishes out.

The Wolfman also has enough articulation to be fun, but he can't stand particularly well without the base. Kids tend to find that a little more frustrating and annoying, but it's not always a deal breaker.

The Mummy stands pretty well, once you find the sweet spot - but that's all he's going to do. Kids are probably going to love the sarcophagus, but this figure is pretty much just a backdrop to the real action.

Value - **1/2
With the dioramas, even the smaller ones, these are a pretty average value at around $15 - $18. Pay much more than that though, and you can knock off another half star or more.

While most people would probably prefer the Select versions, the Toys R Us versions seem to be selling extremely well, and I have a hunch that 20 years from now, they may be the ones harder to come by.

Things to Watch Out For -
Not a thing. These are all very sturdy, with little potential for breakage or issues.

Overall - ***
I was very vocal several years ago when the Toy Island figures hit. I was very disappointed in the poor likeness, gangly limbs, and weird paint work. The new figures from DST are a definite improvement.

However, these lack the articulation that was present with the Toy Island set, and DST still hasn't given us a Dracula or a Frankenstein, two key members of the troupe. Hopefully that will be rectified with a second series, but until then, this set is going to seem a tad slim in numbers.

If I were only going to own one set of Universal Monster action figures in this approximate scale, it would still be the series from Sideshow. Those can be tough to come by now and cost quite a bit more than retail, making these a good option. And if you're a Universal Monster freak that likes to buy just about anything that hits the peg, then these will certainly not disappoint.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - Creature, Wolfman **1/2; Mummy Bupkis
Accessories - Mummy ****; Creature ***1/2; Wolfman ***;
Fun Factor - Creature ***; Wolfman **1/2; Mummy **
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
If you're looking for the Wolfman, Toys R Us is the place to pick up the regular version. That's also the place to pick up the 'regular' versions of the Creature and the Mummy. The black and white Wolfman is available through Entertainment Earth only, and he's on sale right now for just $15! Online options for the Select versions of Creature and Mummy include these site sponsors:

- Urban Collector has them the Select versions for $17.

- Mike's Comics N Stuff has them for $18.

- Alter Ego Comics has them for $18.

- Big Bad Toy Store has them for $18.

- Things From Another World has them for $18.

- Entertainment Earth has them for about $18 each.

- Hollywood Heroes has them for $22.

- for the UK buyers, Forbidden Planet has them for 17 GBP each.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
I've covered a ton of Universal Monsters goodies over the last decade:

- 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.

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Wolfman Universal Monsters action figure from Diamond Select Toys

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

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