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Lucy Westenra

Universal Monsters Select
by yo go re

Last year (by which I mean "2014," because I'm exactly the kind of person who would keep writing the old date on checks, if checks were still a thing anyone used), Diamond Select Toys released an original take on Abraham Van Helsing, casting him as a badass monster hunter. Now he's got a partner.

Bitten by a vampire, Lucy was saved from a fate worse than death by Professor Abraham Van Helsing, monster hunter and expert in the supernatural. Abraham was haunted by the loss of his family, and took Lucy on as his apprentice, teaching her the skills she needed to protect herself and others from the undead, as well as helping her fight the vampiric urges that continued to plague her.

In the novel, Lucy was Dracula's first victim when he got to England - she lived near the harbor where his boat lands, she had a history of sleepwalking, and she was close friends with his ultimate target, Mina Murray. She was pure and good, and represented the ideal of what a Victorian wife should be... at least until Dracula corrupted her (thus showing what a monster he really is).

Like most of the characters in Dracula, Lucy has no specific physical desription; one of the few things said about her (other than her rosy skin) is that her hair has been brushed in "sunny ripples," suggesting she's blonde. This figure has rather Teutonic features, and its long yellow hair is pulled into a doubled-over bun and a split ponytail.

Lucy comes with a surprise accessory, a second head. This one is wearing a hood and some tech-y goggles, but her hair is brown and pulled into a thick braid that falls forward over her shoulder. Is this a mistake? No, it is not. Because Bram Stoker either cared so little about Lucy that he didn't pay attention to what he'd already written or he wanted to portray her lost innocence, after being turned, she's described as "a dark-haired woman." This second head has red eyes, darker lipstick (lips "redder than before"), and her mouth is open to show off her fangs - so basically, the blonde one is "human" Lucy, and the brunette is her using her vampiric abilities.

While Van Helsing's outfit was a pretty plain, reserved outfit that wouldn't look too out of place in his era of origin, Lucy's gone full-on "steampunk cosplay event" with hers. She has high-heeled ankle boots with two big buttons, thick leather thigh-highs with three buckled straps apiece, riding pants with large pockets, a brown leather vest that has a cutout for her chest to stick through, a black corset with silver buckles, tan stiching, and a large green gem on one side, a gray blouse to cover up what the vest doesn't, and thick green and gray sleeves that disappear into thicker green gloves.

A thick utility belt circles her waist. It has a huge silver buckle with another bright green stone in it, several pouches of various styles, a holster, and two wooden stakes. Her main weapon, however, rests against her back: it's a large brass device with a hand crank on the top and a translucent green jar underneath; a tube runs out of the jar and connects to a science-fictiony gun that dangles from a strap around her chest. So, what story are you going to make up for that gun? What do you think it fires?

There are six small silver bullets on the strap, but those likely belong to the gun that fits in her holster - it's double-barrelled, but only one of the hammers is pulled back, suggesting she's already fired it once. Her backpack is flanked by two shallow sheaths, for storing the two short swords she includes. So the final tally for weaponry, both attached to the figure and as separate accessories, is a shotgun pistol, two blades, two stakes, and a hand-cranked galvanic squirt gun. Oh, plus the hood and the goggles on the alternate head are removable, so those count, too.

The heads are a problem, though, and it's one that should have been caught at the design stage. The head is mounted on a balljoint, but it's not molded as part of the torso - rather, it's one of those "barbell" joints with a ballat each end (one in the head, one in the neck). Have those ever worked right for removable parts? No, they really haven't. Like we said before, you almost always end up with the wrong end pulling out, and the problem just gets worse every time you do. In the package, the head is just mounted on the smooth end of a clear T-shaped peg, and that holds in place just fine. They could have used a similar piece in the torso. Beyond that, she's got swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, and wrists, a swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs (at the boot tops), hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles. The paint on her elbows is scraping off, but everything moves okay. It's just the head that's annoying.

Lucy comes with a display base, but it's not as fancy and intricate as Van Helsing's was. In fact, it's not even as fancy and intricate as it was supposed to be - in the solicitations and at conventions, she was shown with a really neat stone archway, possibly a ruined church or a tomb that's been opened. On the final product, all we get is the "ground" portion of the base, and the spots where the archway would have attached have been filled in.

Now, that may sound disappointing (and no lie, it kind of is), but the early version also didn't have the bonus head, the hood, the goggles, the steampunk proton pack, the gun or the two blades - in fact, she was only ever shown with a repainted version of Van Helsing's sword. So they sacrificed a bit of the base in order to make the actual figure better? We can accept that.

This series of Universal Select figures was solicited in May, and was supposed to be out in October, but they got delayed to the new year. It's got to make DST unhappy that they're now trying to sell horror figures in a non-horror season, but Lucy Westenra is a good figure. In fact, she's even better than expected. Give her a chance, so we might see more cool original designs again in the future.

-- 01/13/16

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