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The Cloverfield Monster

Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro

We just don't get enough monster movies these days.  When I was a kid, I loved the classic creepers and crawlers, but in the last 20 years movies have focused more on human monsters, from serial killers to vampires to zombies. So for me, Cloverfield was a welcome change.

Not everyone felt the same way.  The movie used the "pretend it's all done with a hand held camera" gimmick which has quickly become cliche, but it worked well for me. It also gave us our first truly unique and unusual creature based monster in quite some time, at least in an American film.

There was much talk in collector circles as to whether who - or anyone - would produce a monster figure from the film. Early bets were on McFarlane, since the creature fits with past lines, and they already had a relationship with J.J. Abrams, working with him on the Lost figures.

But Hasbro announced they were doing the creature, surprising most folks. Even more surprising was that it was aimed squarely at collectors, being sold online only through Hasbro Toy Shop Online, and listing for pre-order at a whopping $100!
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro

Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro

The figure hasn't been without its further controversy. About a month ago, Hasbro's system sent out emails to all the folks that had pre-ordered, saying the product was canceled. Calls into Hasbro revealed systems issues. They had updated their ship date to a later period, but the system had decided to cancel all the current orders when that occurred. Reps suggested people re-order at this point, but they did manage to get all the old orders reinstated within a few days.

This guy is a 'limited edition'. There's no word on what that actually means yet in terms of how many are produced, and we may never get official word. But at this price point, you can bet that there won't be a landfill worth produced.

In all fairness, I want to point out that before receiving this figure, I was not expecting to like it.  After seeing the prototype again at SDCC this last summer, I did not feel good about him, and so I had already predisposed assumptions about the final product.

Packaging - ****
Hasbro can produce some really amazing packaging when they get the itch. The Sigma Six packages were fantastic, and even the work on the Star Wars figures is usually well done and attractive. But this box is about the nicest they've ever done.

The exterior box has some excellent graphics, themed around the film. I like that the outer box doesn't have the monster, but rather has the same feel of unknown destruction as the early posters.

The box is also very sturdy for it's size. It's huge, and often companies will skimp on the cardboard quality or the quality of the graphics on very large packages. That is NOT the case here in any way.

The interior of the box is the city diorama, already assembled. The backdrop is a permanent part of the box bottom though, which means that the monster will have to stand inside the box, with the 'lip' of the base rising up a couple inches all around. At first I didn't like that, but after playing around with some poses, I found one where the monster was actually coming out of the base, with his fingers wrapped around the edge of the base with one hand, and the other in front of the 'lip'. i really like that look, and the lip does provide the 'Cloverfield' logo to the diorama display.

Sculpting - ***1/2
As I said, I wasn't thrilled with what I'd seen of the prototype, and early photos of the production figure weren't doing anything to warm the cockles of my heart. But I was very happily surprised by the quality and detail of the sculpt once I had him in hand.

The screaming head is the better version, and you probably aren't surprised. The 'relaxed' version doesn't have the cool gas bags inflated on his head, and the mouth looks odd, as though the exposed fangs are stuck on his face rather than coming out of his mouth. If the screaming head were not included, this score would have certainly dropped.

But the screaming, angry, I'm going to eat you in a single bite face looks terrific. The prototype has painted gas bags, but the final version went with them sculpted in a translucent pink plastic, and that looks much, much better. There's still a few issues - the lower fangs are a bit too toyish, and the top of the head is a bit too smooth - but most folks will be happy  with the screaming version. 

The body sculpt is very nice, with an excellent fine texture sculpted over the entire beast. The paint doesn't do a lot to bring out this detail, particularly if you blast it with light, but in person it becomes much more apparent.

There are some extremely obvious seam lines, which is the single biggest negative for the overall body.

Of course, there's also the basic issue of the monster design. If you don't like the design, you're not going to like the toy, so it's a relatively moot point, and not the issue of this particular figure.

Does he look like he did on screen? Well, that's awful hard to tell. We don't get to see him a whole lot on screen, but I do think that they've done a reasonably good job of capturing the film creature.

Scale is tough to call. The monster stands anywhere from 14 - 16" on all four feet, depending on how you bend his knees and ankles. You can also stand him up straight on his two back legs, although he's not going to stay balanced that way for long. That means he's in scale with itty-bitty figures, much smaller than anything you probably have handy. I'd love to hear if someone comes up with figures that would be in scale, as they'd have to be around 1/2" tall max.

Paint - *1/2
Unfortunately, the paint work does not support the sculpting.  The problems largely revolve around weird inconsistencies, thinking that being sloppy translates into realism, and a general toyish appearance to most of the work.

I suspect that Hasbro doesn't have the facilities - or the background - in their production area to create the kind of high end paint work necessary for a figure like this. More likely, they are just using the same folks that paint the much cheaper toy lines, and telling them to 'do it better'. That's not a recipe for success.

My biggest issue is with the stark differences between the head and torso and the rest of the figure. The head and torso are very pink, very clean, and with really no use of a wash to bring out the detail.  This is why the texturing is so hard to appreciate in photos.

Then there's the legs, tail and pelvis, where they went nuts with a dark wash. I really like the way they look - if they whole creature looked that way. As it is, it looks like the feet and tail belong to a completely different monster. The transition between the heavily paint washed feet and tail and the rest of the figure aren't smooth or subtle, but rather a stark break.

Now, I get that perhaps they are trying to give the impression that the lower extremities were getting dirty from the battle while the upper body was staying a bit cleaner.  It's a nice idea in theory, but the execution simply failed.

Articulation - ***
Whoo boy, this is one very articulated figure.  The marketing blurbs claim he has 70 points of articulation, and I have no problem agreeing with that.

Each of the 'hands' has multi-jointed fingers.  The two long fingers on the front hands have three pin/post joints, while the small thumb on the front hands has one.  This pin and post joints are like single sided ball joints, allowing both forward and backward movement, as well as the ability to turn.

The back feet have one long toe with two of these joints, and one shorter toe with one. The ankles and wrists are all these pin and post joints as well.

The neck is designed to allow the head to move forward and backward slightly, as well as turn. This works pretty well for most standard poses, and the heads pop on and off easily enough for swapping.

The shoulders are the pin/post style ball joints, with more of these types of ball joints at the elbow and half way down the forearm. These arm joints are also click style, allowing them to hold the pose even with the weight of the long arms.

I wanted to point out that the shoulders look somewhat awkward no matter how I turned them.  You'll notice that it does seem like there's more of a cut to the shoulder on one side than the other, which would usually indicate the bottom. You'll also notice that in some of the photos that rounded part is on the top - I turned it around both ways, and found that for different reasons it didn't look really natural either way.

The waist allows for the ability to turn, as well as some slight tilting. The hips are only cut joints, which was my only real disappointment. The right leg on mine tended to pop off as well. It's easy enough to put back on, but I was constantly afraid I'd break it.

What passes for his knees are actually double jointed, with two pins and an knee cap. Further down the leg there's another of the pin/post style ball joints.  All these joints, including the knees and hips, are clicky style.

That's a ton of articulation...but wait! There's more!  The tail is bendy, allowing it to be posed up, out or down. He also has two pelvic claws, and these have those same ball joints at the pelvis, with double pin joints about half way down.

The one surprise is that the jaw is not articulated, until you find out that the tongue is designed to work as a switch to activate the sound feature.

So with all that amazing articulation, why not a perfect score? Three reasons. First, some of the joints (particularly the pelvic claws) have weak pins. Second, not all the joints are designed to work as well as they could, particularly in the toes. And third, over time this guy is going to wilt in the legs. We've seen it with some other large scale amazing figures, like the NECA Balrog. This guy has a lot of weight in his torso, with very thin legs. Over time, and probably not that much, I bet we have trouble keeping him standing in a decent pose. The joints in the legs, especially the ankles, are just not tight enough. Even with the clicky feature, this guy is going to wilt.

Accessories - **
Considering the price point, there's not much here.  In fairness, the diorama is part of the extra cost, but I've already included that in my Packaging discussion and score.

Chloe comes with a severed Statue of Liberty head, since in the film and trailers rolling down the street. It's done to look like bronze, and is probably in scale. Again, you'll have to find some mighty small figures to go with this guy.

There are also supposed to be 10 parasites, the little creatures (little in relation to the larger monster) that attacked our heroes in the subway tunnel. You'll find these in their storage compartment in the relaxed head.

I only got nine of them, not ten, although they are so tiny that it's not surprising that either they mis-packed them, or I already lost one. Do they look like their film counterparts?  Well...not really. But they are so small, that getting (or seeing) any detail is pretty much impossible.

Since finding figures in scale with this guy is going to be tough, a nice accessory would have been some human victims, just a handful. I would have preferred this to getting the tiny parasites, since adding a few screaming humans to the display would have gone a long way to amping it up.

Sound Feature - **
The sound feature works off 3 AAA batteries, included with the figure. It looks like they won't be too tough to swap, and the battery compartment is well hid by the swappable heads. The speaker is on the chest, and the main button to activate the sound is on the back. However, a cool feature is that the tongue on the screaming head is also used as a switch!

The big negative here is that he only does one sound, one of the monster screams heard in the distance in the film. I searched all over for a 'try me' switch that might be in the wrong position, but there isn't one, which makes sense considering how this is packaged and sold. 

I say that it's a disappointment, since the monster made more than just that one noise, and at this price point and size, you'd expect more out of the sound feature.

Fun Factor - ***
This guy is as sturdy as the usual Hasbro toy, and as a monster he fits in with plenty of play scenarios.  Of course, no kid should be watching the movie, and no kid is going to have a bennie to drop on this guy. But the generic ugly of him will appeal to kids even without knowing about the film (my 7 year old loves him), and besides, this is your chance to show up your putz of a brother by buying your nephew a ridiculously overpriced toy.

Value - *1/2
This guy retails for $100, although right now there are some Hasbro Toy Shop coupons floating around (like HOLIDAY25) out there that will get him down closer to $80, OR you can get free shipping. That takes a little sting off it, but not enough.

We've seen plenty of large scale figures this year, including figures in the 18" range, that even include sound features, that are half what this figure is. I'm sure that part of that extra expense is the articulation, and part is the low production number, but this guy really needs to be $60, $70 tops to get a reasonable value score. The poor paint ops do nothing to improve your feelings about the price tag.

Things To Watch Out For
Not too much. I'd be careful with some of the joints, particularly those on his pelvic claws. The pegs there are fairly soft, and can be damaged.

Overall - **1/2
I suspect a whole lot of folks are going to hate this figure merely on principle. They'll hate the design, they'll hate the price tag, or they merely hate Hasbro in general.

I have to admit that I was not looking forward to it myself.  A $100 for what I saw at SDCC was not doing it for me, as much as I liked the movie. However, once I got it in hand, I was pleasantly surprised.

You'll note that the surprise wasn't enough to get this guy a great score, but that's largely due to the price point and the poor paint.

Looking this figure over, and posing it in a variety of ways, I was very much reminded of how I felt when I received the 18" Pumpkinhead from SOTA. Underneath those $10 toy quality paint ops is a much better sculpt.  On top of that, we got some terrific articulation here, at least for awhile. Strip him down and have someone repaint him right, and you'd have a pretty nice collectible on the shelf.

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

Where to Buy -
Options for picking him up right now is limited. These are exclusive to the Hasbro Toy Shop right now, or you can search ebay using the sponsor MyAuctionLinks. Don't forget about the HOLIDAY25 coupon at HTS.

Related Links -
Nope, no other Cloverfield links.

Discussion:
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Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  My score converted to a five star system for comparison: 3.13

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Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro
Cloverfield monster action figure from Hasbro



Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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