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The Wolf Man Cellar Dweller

Burger King Universal Monsters
by yo go re

Every fall there's a local toy show, which is pretty cool. It allows me to buy things I'd wanted for years, things I'd never seen before, and even toys by the pound (to say nothing of the fact that it keeps the local scalpers away from the stores for a few precious hours). It's also an opportunity to pick up neat little oddities I wouldn't have thought about otherwise. For instance:

Though they'd long been known as the restaurant that handed out little more than cardboard crowns and plastic cups, Burger King eventually got into the kids' meal game in a big way. In 1997, they released a Halloween set of four figures based on the Universal Monsters: Bolts and Volts Frankenstein, Down for the Count Dracula, Scaly Squirter featuring the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the one you just knew I would go for, the Wolf Man Cellar Dweller.

I've reviewed werewolves before. So many werewolves. Heck, I've even reviewed Universal's Wolf Man three separate times (four if you count the remake), so you'd think I might be out of things to talk about. Nope, not yet!

The figure is amazingly good, when you you consider it's a fast food premium. A decade earlier and this wouldn't have been out of place on a real store's shelves. Yes, the articulation is only at the big five, but the sculpt is not significantly worse than what you could expect from any non-McFarlane toy of the era. There are buttons on his shirt and holes in his belt, and though it's very straight and uniform, he does has sculpted fur on the exposed areas of his body. He stands 4" tall, which means he's in the same scale as GI Joe and Marvel Universe.

The paint is flat, but at least it is painted, right? The Wolfman isn't just a solid lump of brown plastic, you know? The clothes are dark, and the brown used for his fur is closer to orange. The "skin" areas are very pale and very shiny: people often attribute that kind of look to unpainted plastic, but it's not always the case; paint can look just as bad as anything else.

So, are you wondering what that whole "Cellar Dweller" adjective is about? It refers to his accessory. Yes, a free toy that was intended to do nothing more than increase sales of hamburgers comes with an accessory larger than it is. Truly, the '90s were a time of unbridled bounties!

Until I learned the name of this toy, I assumed the thing he came with was some kind of coffin, but once you know it's a cellar door, yeah, you can see it. It's wooden, it's got hinges on both sides... it's the kind of thing houses aren't built with any more.

The piece is molded entirely in blue plastic, and has no paint apps. There's a lever on one side, and when you turn it, the Wolf Man pops up from inside, throwing open the doors to attack whomever is standing nearby. Wolfy has large holes in his feet that plug onto the pegs designed extra thick to support his weight as he's lifted. At the same time, a spring-loaded panel pops up, showing the full moon poking through the trees. Although Universal's Wolf Man helped create the link between werewolves and the moon, there was none of that in the 1941 film - in fact, The Wolf Man is still the only werewolf film in in history in which the moon is never even shown!

This figure only cost me a dollar at the toy show, but he's a lot of fun. The design is good, the articulation is sufficient, and his play feature is unobtrusive yet works well. It's rare when an impulse buy works out this nicely.

-- 10/05/12

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