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The Wolfman

by yo go re

In 1999, the world was waiting for Star Wars Episode I, and needed something to kill the time. Universal Studios released The Mummy, a flashy revamp of one of their classic horror properties from the '30s, and had a huge hit on their hands, kickstarting a franchise that has so far delivered three more films - and one of them was even good! An attempt to bring all the other Universal Monsters together in one film was a raging disappointment, but now they're trying to capture that Mummy magic again, with The Wolfman.

We've talked before about the original Wolf Man film, and the nearly extinction-level impact it had on all subsequent fiction. Stephen Sommers' Mummy updated and tweaked the basic story of the 1932 original, and Joe Johnston's Wolfman is doing the same thing.

Sure, there have been some changes - the original movie took place in the present (i.e., 1941), while this version is bumped back to 1891, and it's set in England, not Wales - but it's still the story of the prodigal son, Lawrence Talbot, returning home to reconcile with his father Sir John Talbot after the mysterious death of his brother. And, spoiler alert: he still turns into a werewolf.

Mezco landed the license for Wolfman, and has made a few different figures, including this 7" beastie. Well, they say he's done in 7" scale, but he stands 7½" tall, despite his wide stance and bent legs - how tall is the Wolfman supposed to be? He looks like he'd fit better with 8" or 9" figures. Mezco has a (not entirely undeserved) reputation for making "cartoony" figures, but the Wolfman is definitely on the realistic end of the scale: this will blend in nicely with your Movie Maniacs, Cult Classics, Now Playing, Reel Toys... you get the idea. Amusingly, it'll look most out-of-place among Mezco's own Cinema of Fear. Go fig!

Larry is still half-dressed, in the classic Wolf Man style. He's wearing dark pants, a white shirt and a vest that strains to reach his obviously broadened shoulders. His hands and feet (paws?) are bare, and his clothes have ripped or at least popped their buttons around the edges. The vest is a separate piece, and all his fur is detailed nicely.

Benicio del Toro is kind of a hairy guy. Like Cracked said, "to transform into the hirsute wolfman, [he] had to sit still two hours each day while makeup artists shaved him." Funny! This movie stuck with the famous "dog-faced boy" design that Jack Pierce came up with in the '40s: you know, the furry head, the snub nose, all that. It's certainly more feral now, but it's not, say, the full-on wolf head of designs like Dog Soldiers or Doctor Who.

Articulation is very much the standard Mezco mixed bag. If you didn't know who made this toy, you might be able to figure it out based on how he moves. The head and waist are balljoints, allowing for some variety and personality in the posing. His shoulders are swivel/hinge joints, and he has v-hips. There are swivels for the "ankles" and wrists, but the weirdest thing is the choice to make his elbows swivel joints. Not hinges, which would allow you to straighten his arms, swivels that turn them side-to-side in their bent poses. What? Why?

The Wolfman has only one accessory, a wolf-headed cane. The piece is a nod to a similar prop in the original film, which Lawrence bought at an antique shop just so he could flirt with the proprietor. It's a nice piece, but has a certain undeniable flaw: there's no way for the Wolfman to hold it, nor any reason for him to do so. It's just included because it can be, and sometimes that's not enough.

I have to say, Mezco missed a prime opportunity, here. They offer a prop replica of the Talbots' medallion, which has more ofr a role in the film than the cane does. I'm not saying they should have made a medallion accessory, but rather, a display base: getting the werewolf to stand is a tough proposition, and a large round base, designed to look like the medallion, would have been neat.

It's too soon to tell if The Wolfman will be the success The Mummy was, but those who have seen it really seem to like it. I was already sold on this figure due merely to the fact that it was a werewolf, but the toy turned out fairly well. There are definitely some things that could have been improved, but this is by no means a bad figure. There's apparently a "bloody" variant available at Blockbuster Video, of all places, but there's no need to bother with that; the standard release is good enough.

-- 03/07/10

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