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The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Funko Force
by Poe Ghostal

I love all the Universal Monsters, but none more than the Creature from the Black Lagoon, a.k.a. the Gill-man. He has by far the most interesting design of the group, but also I just tend to like sea monsters and their ilk. I don't have a strong love for - or an extensive collection of - Gill-man merchandise, but I have picked up a few of the more recent toy-related Gill-man products such as the Toy Island figure and, now, the Funko Force thing.

As a rule, I avoid both vinyl figures and bobbleheads. The cartoonish sculpting, exaggerated proportions and, usually, high price of vinyl toys keeps me away from them. As for bobbleheads, they aren't even in the same realm of the collectosphere as action figures - they're just broken statues with out-of-scale head sculpts.

However, Funko has managed to skirt around all those biases. While this may look like a bobblehead, the head does not bobble, and it does have some articulation, which gives it a leg up on many vinyl figures. The price, while not cheap ($15 at a specialty store, but they've been seen at Toys Я Us for $10), is a lot better than your average designer vinyl, and about on par with Mighty Muggs. The figure stands about 5½" tall.

The Gill-man comes in a clear blister tube that shows off the toy from all angles. Well, not a blister tube, because there is no such thing. It's a tube with a lid. A MOC collector would be pretty pleased with this set-up, although the cheap tape holding the lid on is a bit unsightly. The graphics aren't anything to write home about, but they have a certain high-contrast "1960s drive-in poster" look that's appealing.

The figure employs the exaggerated, superdeformed style of many licensed vinyl figures, although it's far more detailed than a Mighty Mugg. The figure has captured most of the essential aspects of the Gill-man costume, such as the fat, fish-like lips, the scale plates of the torso, and the webbed hands. In fact, there's only one flaw: the eyes. They look too human, too sympathetic for the Gill-man. It makes him look just a tad too cutesy.

The paintwork is good here, especially around the torso. The paint apps on this figure are arguably as nice as those on the Toy Island action figure, and maybe even a bit better. The head is made from a slightly different material with a softer look and feel, much like the original He-Man figures (though the head isn't at all squishy). While there's less detail in the head sculpt, the overall look and effect on the figure works.

The Gill-man has swivels at the neck and shoulders. A balljointed neck would have added more playability, but really I'm not sure how much I would have used it anyway. The three points of articulation are key (without them, it's just a boring statue), but I'm not sure any more would have been much better.

I'm not going to go out and buy the rest of Funko's Universal Monsters figures, but I'm glad I picked up the Gill-man. He's a nice bauble (get it?) for display around the house on Halloween, or on your desk at work (where this one is headed). And for a vinyl figure, with his articulation, detail and cheap price, he's a decent value.

-- 10/14/10

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