Action Figure Review: Universal Monsters Dioramas (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, August 05, 2008
No toy/collectible company has been at the forefront of keeping the legacy of Universal Studios’ classic monsters alive more than Sideshow collectibles with the wide range of figures, bobble heads, busts, and statues. Their two latest offerings are Polystone dioramas featuring classic scenes from two legendary Universal films, “Dracula” and “Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man”. These are interesting choice by Sideshow as they come from the two distinct Universal Horror cycles. Dracula is from the first cycle, noteworthy by it’s gothic settings and reliance on atmosphere, minimal music, and sheer terror. Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man is from the second cycle. This group of horror films was produced for sheer entertainment. They were made quickly and relatively cheaply. By the 1940s, Universal studio heads figured if one monster was good, then two or three was even better. This was the era of the monster bash when films like House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, featured multiple monsters although they rarely actually battled.
The Dracula diorama captures the scene where the Prince of Evil ignores Renfield’s pleas for mercy and kills his lackey on the steps of Carfax Abbey, letting his body fall to the bottom. The diorama stands 13” tall and 7” wide. The sculpt of Lugosi as Dracula is one of the best ever produced. It not only captures an amazing likeness of Lugosi, but also his facial expression as he chokes the life from Renfield, glaring at him with those hypnotic eyes.
He is immaculate in his trademark flowing cape and white tie tuxedo. Oddly though, the likeness of Renfield was only average and didn’t quite succeed in getting Dwight Frye’s crazed look as well as one would hope. This piece is due to ship in the final quarter of 2008 and it’s not yet been determined what the quantity will be on this piece.
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man was the first and best of the Monster Bash Trilogy to go along with the two films I mentioned previously. This was the second time that Lon Chaney Jr. would play the Wolf Man. More interestingly was Lugosi getting a chance to play Frankenstein’s monster. He was originally considered for the role in 1931 by director Robert Florey but when new director James Whale replaced Florey, he preferred Boris Karloff for the monster. Both Lugosi and Florey were tossed a consolation prize with Murders in the Rue Morgue. In the climax of Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, both monsters are brought to full power by Dr. Mannerinig and they soon attack each other.
This diorama captures that scene in spectacular detail. The Wolf Man, is claw raised and showing his fangs, leaps at the monster who tries to hold him at bay.
Again, Lugosi’s likeness is perfectly captured. That grimace is pure Bela and the details are true right down to the mole/dimple on the monster’s right cheek. Universal make-up wizard Jack Pierce’s Wolf Man make up is meticulously sculpted. Nothing is overlooked; even the paws…er, feet are flawless. The entire piece stands 13” tall and 7” wide. This diorama is limited to 600 pieces. Both the Dracula and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man dioramas have a retail price of $159.99.
Items like these continue to set Sideshow heads and tails above its competition.
Mania Grade: A+
Action Figures: Universal Monsters Dioramas
Manufacturer: Sideshow Collectibles