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Mr. Hyde

Universal Select
by yo go re

Sasquatch, Godzilla, King Kong, Loch Ness/
Goblin, ghoul, a zombie with no conscience/
Question: What do these things all have in common?
None of them are what you'd call a Universal Monster.

Loosely based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1953's Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde starred stuntman Eddie Parker as Boris Karloff's murderous alter ego.

Okay, I'm just gonna throw this out there: when you start getting into "Abbott and Costello Meet..." territory, you're really stretching the definition of what really constitutes a Universal Monster. The traditional pantheon is Frankenstein (and his Bride), the Wolf Man, Dracula, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and maybe the Invisible Man, Phantom of the Opera, and the Metaluna Mutant if you're feeling generous. Anything more than that and you're off the edge of the map. In Diamond's defense, though, we choose to view it as an indicator of the line's success (that they've made it so far into the catalog) rather than them scraping the bottom of the barrel. Not even Sideshow Toys, who had an extensive Universal Monsters line in the late '90s/early 2000s, got all the way down to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The direct market version of this figure comes with both Jekyll and Hyde heads, but this version, available at Toys Я Us, only features the monster - so I don't get a Boris Karloff face. Like the bio says, Karloff only played Hyde during the transformations (lest you thought a 66-year-old man was the one freerunning around the rooftops of London). Rather than merely appearing as a twisted, deformed human being, this make-up makes the wearer look like a cross between the Wolf Man and an ape. He has a humanoid nose, even if it's larger than usual, but the pronounced underbite and the beard of fur that frames his face conspire to make him look inhuman.

In the original novel, Edward Hyde is described as being smaller and younger than Henry Jekyll (though he was getting larger with time, which is why Alan Moore opted to use him as The Hulk in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). The Mr. Hyde that Abbott and Costello met is exactly the same size as Dr. Jekyll, which perhaps explains why this movie's Jekyll seemed to enjoy deliberately becoming Hyde so he could carry out his dark desires - he was more like a villain with a secret identity than a man tormented by his own dual nature. In this movie, Dr. Jekyll is Norman Osborn; Mr. Hyde is the Green Goblin.

Anyway, since the two are the same size, it allows them to wear the same clothes (which is why DST can have them swap out heads and hands to create both characters). He's dressed like a dapper Victorian Edwardian gentleman, with a black overcoat, grey trousers, and plain dark shoes. He has a deep red shirt with a white collar, and his left hand has a large silver ring - it's important to the plot.

Mr. Hyde comes with three accessories: a top hat, a silver-lined cape, and his cane. The cape has a notch on the right side, so he can raise his hand up high, probably ready to strike someone with his cane. He has swivel ankles, hinged knees, swivel thighs, H-hips (blocked by the coat) swivel waist (ditto), swivel and hinged wrists, swivel/hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders and a balljointed neck.

The direct market release comes with Jekyll's lab table and a whole assortment of beakers and flasks; the TRU version comes with a display base representing the rooftops he used to get around. It's just a small piece, barely larger than the figure itself, but it has all the details you'd want: bricks on the sides, a small lip around the top, a bit of (sculpted) gravel laying all about, plus a small chimney in one corner. There's a single footpeg, but Hyde stands fine without it.

Stephen King once said that there are three monster archetypes: the Vampire, the Werewolf, and the Thing Without a Name. Makes sense to us. The story of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde definitely falls into the second category (a responsible man transforms into an unrestrained beast), and this specific movie makeup looks more lycanthropic than anything else. In fact - 60-year-old spoiler alert for a movie you're probably never going to watch - transforming into a Mr. Hyde (is that the proper term?) is shown to be transferable by bite. This guy is going into my werewolf collection. And at only $12.99 at TRU, even missing out on the Dr. Jekyll head and the lab equipment doesn't seem so bad.

-- 10/23/13

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