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Mummy playset

McFarlane's Monsters
by yo go re

One of the best things McFarlane Toys ever released was the Monsters Series 1 Mummy. It was one of the few toys to actually deserve the "ultra action figures" moniker, and really set the tone for what the company should have been doing every time. But four years before that, they gave the concept a dry run in Series 2 of the playsets.

The playset depicts some ancient tomb, built from sandy yellow bricks. In one corner stands a statue of Anubis, and there's a bas-relief carving of Horus on the back wall. In the center there are a few shelves where the included canopic jars can sit - the jackal-headed Duamutef guarded the stomach and upper intestines, and the falcon-headed Qebehsenuef guarded the lower intestines. We're missing the other two sons of Horus - a babboon (Hapi, lungs) and a human (Imseti, liver) - but maybe those were already plundered. The right half of the set has a large sarcophagus tucked into a nook above a decaying wooden platform.

The sarcophagus has a golden lid, sculpted with an ornate human figure (just like real sarcophagi were). He has a fake beard and a headdress, and in his crossed arms he holds the crook and the flail, suggesting he was a pharaoh. There are winged birds perched on the arms, and highly intricate sleeves hanging down. The bottom half of the lid is covered in hieroglyphics, but they don't translate to anything the way their bigger brother's later would. There are also carvings of Anubis, Horus, Sobek and Hathor. As we said, the lid is golden, but it's also painted with blue, black and red. The base looks like stone.

So that you don't lose it, the lid is attached via a hinge. But having learned the lessons from Dracula's coffin, the hinge is internal now. The lid can either be opened all the way, or, thanks to a second hinge, moved to the side as though it was being slid away.

And speaking of sliding away, the wooden platform provides one of this set's play features: you can pull a tab on the back, retracting the beams entirely, and dropping anyone standing there into a shallow pit with a two-headed mutant snake. Really makes you wish there were an Egyptologist to curse! The snake's tail pokes through a hole in the back of the set, so you can move it around threateningly. Wiggle wiggle wiggle!

This wouldn't be much of a Mummy Playset if it didn't come with a mummy, so luckily, it does. The mummy ends up looking a lot like the monsters Frankenstein was building, which makes sense since they were both sculpted by Eric Treadaway. The Mummy is mostly unwrapped, leaving him with a lot more dried brown skin than gray bandages visible on his body. There's a little black loincloth covering his butt, and a longer, fancier one hanging down the front. He's hunched over to the side, and his left arm is bent in front of him while his left hangs straight down, and can hold the included crook staff. A great detail is the way his jaw is falling off his face - it makes him look like the bandages really are holding him together. The figure moves at the neck, shoulders, hips and left bicep, but like a lot of McFarlane toys from that era, his legs are different lengths, so he's perpetually standing crooked, and not in an intentional way, in a "when his left foot is flat on the ground, his right foot hovers ⅛" higher.

Since this is a tomb, you might expect the second figure in the set to be a British archaeologist or some other grave robber. But alas, that was not to be! This set doesn't include any humans at all! (Assuming, of course, that you don't count the decaying remains of a pharaoh as "human" any more.) Rather, the second figure is the Anubis statue we mentioned way back at the beginning of the review. It pulls away from the wall, leaving gaps where its legs used to be. The body clearly comprises stacked blocks, so there's no question that this is a bit of statuary come to life, even though actual ancient Egyptian statues were never this dynamic: the style at the time was to have very stiff, straightforward bodies that removed as little material from the original block of stone as possible. This one, though, has a very dynamic pose, even before you consider his neck, shoulder and waist swivels. He's sculpted so the stone looks pitted and weathered (though there wouldn't be any weather inside a tomb), and is armed with a 6¼" long ankh-tipped spear. We do wish he had a swivel in the arm somewhere, so you could get him into some decent poses with only one hand on the spear.

The quality of the Monsters playsets varied quite a bit, but even without a plain human in this one, it's definitely at the high end of the spectrum. The mummy looks cool and the statue looks even cooler, and their diorama suits them perfectly.

-- 10/23/15


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