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The Mummy

Universal Select
by yo go re

The Mummy was originally released in 1932, inspired by Universal's success with Dracula and Frankenstein, as well as the real-life opening of King Tutankhamun's tomb. The cursed Egyptian priest Imhotep is accidentally revived when an archaeologist reads an ancient life-giving scroll amongst the tomb's artifacts.

Come on, you should know better than to pick up a duck in a dungeon read any mysterious text you find in a tomb! Or anywhere else! Don't read scrolls, don't read from mysterious books bound in human skin, don't play tapes of ancient languages... basically, words are the enemy. If you want to read, read to yourself.

Boris Karloff's makeup was done by Jack Pierce, the same guy who did Frankenstein and the Wolf Man. He created it by gluing cotton to Karloff's face, then plucking out sections with tweezers to create the dry, cracked look and all the wrinkles. Then grease paint over that made it look like skin, and a brown pencil was used to accentuate the lines. To make his black hair the yellowish-red of a long-dead corpse, they matted it down with facial clay and fuller's earth.

You may recall that the Universal Select figures come in two varieties: deluxe versions sold in the Select "bookshelf" packaging with big bases and lots of accessories, and simplified versions sold at Toys Я Us. Usually the figures themselves are identical, though that wasn't the case with Imhotep. While the TRU version was a normal, semi-articulated figure (it only had joints at the neck, shoulders and wrists), the Specialty version is sculpted with both his arms crossed against his chest. It's not great for articulation - swivel neck and nothing else - but it's not like a figure with real joints in its arms would have been able to adequately achieve this pose. The hands do seem a bit too small for his body, however. The linen wraps were sculpted by Jean St.Jean, and they have a lovely tan-and-brown paintscheme to make them look aged - kind of like the "black and white" Silent Screamers. His ring gets its own silver paint app, and unlike the mass market Mummy, this one is sculpted with his eyes closed.

The appeal of this figure obviously isn't that it moves well. Or at all. And unlike the TRU version, it doesn't even have a cool little desert display stand for him to pose on (though, since the bodies are identical, it does still have the oversized pegholes in its feet). The reason this is the deluxe release is that the mummy comes with his tomb. His sarcophagus, specifically. It's an absolutely giant piece, 9¼" tall, 3¾" wide, and 4" deep when it's all put together. The lid is a separate piece, 2¼" thick by itself, and the base has ⅝" thick walls. Both halves are solid and heavy and could really hurt someone if you hit them with it.

Imhotep's sarcophagus only appears in the film for a few minutes in the prologue, and then again in the middle when we flash back to his origin. The toy was sculpted by Rudy Garcia, and while it's not a perfect reproduction of the movie prop, it's still very nicely done. How nicely? Nice enough that even though the Mummy doesn't move at all, it's still worth getting this set just for the sarcophagus. That nicely.

So, what's different between the toy and the real thing? The lid is thicker overall, and the figure on the top should be flatter. The interior of the lid should be recessed, not solid. The base here looks like plain alabaster, when it should have carvings to match up with the ones on the lid. Also, there should be hieroglyphics around the interior of the body - it's kind of a plot point at the beginning of the movie.

All that said, the lid and the body fit together the way they're meant to, and there's plenty of room for the Mummy inside. It's a terrific display piece, without a doubt!

I only ever got this Mummy, not the more mobile Toys Я Us exclusive. And that turned out to be a good thing, because (as they're doing with a lot of the older Universal Select monsters) DST is going back and making super-articulated versions of ones they'd done before, and one of this year's lucky winners is the Mummy (well, it was supposed to be this year - the release date on all the preorders recently switched to January 2016, which is a bummer both because we now have to wait longer to get our cool toys, and because sales of horror-themed figures would probably be stronger for DST in October). So now I've got a Mummy in a cool pose in his sarcophagus, and soon I'll have a Mummy that can move around and threaten people.

-- 10/20/15

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