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Werewolf playset

McFarlane's Monsters
by yo go re

McFarlane Toys used to be a company that took chances. After a few years of defining the toy industry, Todd tried something new: 3¾"-scale playsets based on the classic monsters of literature and cinema - vampires, hunchbacks, mad scientists and their creations filled the first line, along with the king of monsters, the werewolf.

Years before the absolutely worthless McFarlane's Monsters Werewolf, Todd gave us a completely badass wolf in the smaller scale. This figure also introduced collectors to someone who would become a bit of a McToys legend.

The wolf stands 4½" tall and moves at the hips, shoulders, waist and neck. He really looks like a half-human wolf, with distorted musculature and lupine hands. The tattered remains of his shirt hang from his right shoulder, and his mouth is open in a howl. The sculpt is quite good, with tufts of fur all over.

I'm really impressed with the way sculptor Eric Treadaway turned the wolf's paws into something resembling human hands while still keeping their beastly nature. This might be the absolute best werewolf figure ever produced by any company, which is what made the new Monsters wolf seem so bad - from the high point to the low point in one grand swoop.

No predator would be complete without his prey, and this set delivers. The Werewolf has found a hapless hunter out in the woods alone, ready to become a midnight snack. Clad in a bright orange vest and hat, the 3¾" tall hunter holds an oversized (3⅛" long) rifle in his hands.

His facial sculpt is based on Steve Hamady, McFarlane Toys'... well, no one's really sure what Steve's job is. He just hung around so much that Todd finally started paying him. Known as "Steve the Victim" to the online community, Steve takes his name from (or lends his name to) this figure.

The "victim" part of the name comes from the packaging. Steve pulls apart to become more bite-sized for the werewolf; his head, arms and left leg can be removed and, in a very clever move, the pegs holding the pieces in place are designed to look like bones poking out. Sadly, a lot of the pegs broke off easily, so Steve the Victim's action feature no longer works. Mr. "The Victim" here is getting to the point where I have to decide if I want him permanently assembled, or permanently in pieces.

Since these were playsets, they all included a nice diorama base; for the Werewolf, we got a section of his forest hunting grounds. Measuring 6½" x 3⅞", the base has a rotting tree (reaching 6⅞" tall) on the right half and a sloping mound of stone and dirt on the left. The tree is hollow, and a panel can be opened to reveal the insides. A peg inside fits into Steve's back, so you can store his carcass for later use. A notch in the dirt allows you to plant his gun barrel-first. On the left side of the playset is a gravestone that says "Richard C: He deserved what he got!" a phrase never officially explained by McFarlane Toys.

Overall, this is a tremendously good set with two great figures. I'd love to see the pair scaled up to full-sized figures, possibly offered through the Collector's Club. Of course, that suggestion has been floating around out there since the line debuted in 1997, and nothing has ever come of it.

-- 10/28/03

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