REVIEW: Amok Time Monstarz 1:6 BLACULA
His Bite Was Outta Sight!...
BLACULA is in stock now at AmokTime.com priced at $79.99. The 12-inch figure is limited to only 500 pieces.
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When it comes to mainstream horror, toy collectors have had their fair share of action figure releases. Freddy, Jason, Leatherface... these slasher icons have all seen multiple figures produced over the years. But what about the more obscure scream greats? Those campy classics far, far away from Elm Street? That's where Amok Time's MONSTARZ come in. This collection of 7" - 12" scale action figures have captured in plastic everything from the zany Killer Klowns From Outer Space (read our review HERE) to the unforgettable ROTLD Tarman Zombie (HERE). Monstarz takes on niche nostalgic horror licenses that other companies are afraid to touch. Why? Because of Amok Time's love of the overlooked genre. How? By taking very advance pre-orders on very limited quantities. It's a venture not without risk, but so far the formula has worked well - delivering horror hounds cool offbeat collectibles that otherwise would never have seen the light of day.
Today's review is a true retro horror gem, a soul cinema classic: 1972's BLACULA. Now I had never seen Blacula, but as a life-long horror fan I had certainly heard of it. So when Amok Time was kind enough to offer me the chance to review their new 12-inch Blacula figure, I jumped at the opportunity. Finally, the nudge I needed to watch this sure-to-be-fun film. And what a fun film it is! Full of funkadelic grooves, towering afros and outrageous polyester attire, watching Blacula today is like unearthing a time capsule from the early '70s. Blacula is a vampire movie, that for better or for worse, is a victim of its period setting. The thing is that Blacula was a serious film for the time; a benchmark in blaxploitation moving making. That combination - of modern cheesy charm and retro horror nostaglia - is why Blacula is a cult classic today. If you're a fan of campy horror movies, be sure to give Blacula a watch (it's not on Netflix, though you can buy or stream it on Amazon).
That said, Amok Time's 12" Blacula isn't for everyone. This is a figure for true fans of the film - both new and old - though I'm betting it's more the retro nostalgia for this movie that's pushing sales. Amok Time knows this, that's why its limited to only 500 pieces. That small run also partly explains the $79.99 price tag, though in this day and age of 1:6th scale collectibles, $79.99 is dirt cheap. Blacula is in stock now at AmokTime.com
Packaged in a fifth panel window box, Blacula immediately impresses with bold graphics. The use of blood red on a black and white background really adds some pop. The Blacula bat, as seen in the animated opening credits, is an eye catcher, and that animated theme is used wisely on the sides of the package as well. Overall, the packaging presentation is top notch, the product screaming retro vampire movie loud and clear. The back of the box shows off the figure in a classic (my favorite) pose, along with some licensing information (MGM), a safety warning (intended for 18 years or older - heck, you'd have to be that old to know who this was!) and a brief product bio. As is, the packaging for Blacula would have been enough, but Amok Time went the extra mile and added a vecro sealed fifth panel. Opening the package up like a book reveals another product shot and informative Blacula history lesson along with a clear look at the actual figure inside. Also inside the inner flap you'll find a black envelope. I initially thought it was a personal greeting from Paul Lazo (the awesome owner of Amok Time)... and it kinda was. It's the card pictured above - a certificate of authenticity and a "thank you" for purchasing Blacula. It also has the figure's run size and release date, as well as another safety warning (hey, you can never be too safe!). The card's inclusion is a very classy touch; a personal addition that shows Amok is thinking about their fans and supporters.
The figure of Blacula slides out from the top on a plastic tray, meaning that Blacula is mostly collector friendly. I say "mostly" because you do have a few troublesome twist ties to get through, and I don't see many folks retwisting those to repackage the figure. They certainly aren't needed for storage purposes, just saying. Free from his cardboard tomb (ha, it actually makes sense here!), Blacula greets you with an amazing headsculpt of the late great William Marshall as the cursed Prince Mamuwalde, aka BLACULA!
William Marshall emotes two facial expressions throughout Blacula: his normal, charming Prince Mamuwalde look (aka: William Marshall being William Marshall) and his "I'm gonna bite/kill you" transformed, fangs bared look (aka: full-blown Blacula). Its the latter expression that Amok chose for the figure, an excellent choice considering you're buying a figure of Blacula and not William Marshall. While two heads would have been an added bonus, the snarling Blacula sculpt is spot on. I just watched the movie and had the figure next to me the whole time, and yeah, it's a dead ringer. Paint work is adequate, looking excellent from a close distance, but beginning to show some slight slop - especially around the hair line - when inspected a hair away. In other words, the paint work more than gets the job done for display purposes. The flesh tone, I might add, is superb. It's not too dark, nor too "tan" looking, but just the right shade of African American skin tone. This facial skin tone also matches up quite well with his hands. I should note here that Blacula's hands are not of the normal 12-inch figure variety where wrist articulation is usually found. Instead, Blacula's hands sacrifice wrist movement for a seamless arm sculpt. Perhaps matching the flesh tone with the underlying buck body proved problematic? The solution, while a small trade off for articualtion, works well.
Speaking of articulation, Blacula sports plenty. I didn't undress him to see what body Amok Time is using these days, but their previous press release on the figure implied a new buck - one that is a "little more poseable then past Amok Time offerings". All I can say is whatever body is being used - aside from the lack of wrist articulation - works fine for display purposes. You can raise Blacula's arms up in the air, have him gesturing... all those great Blacula poses, which, lets face it, isn't that extreme in the movie.
Aside from an accurate head sculpt, Amok Time needed to nail Blacula's wardrobe. For the most part they succeeded. Blacula's black suit and underlying white dress shirt fit and are tailored very well. His cape (which he hilariously just happens to find laying around in the film), is also nicely tailored and adds that much needed vampire element to the figure. Another nifty thing about the cape is the addition of two arm bands located on the inside. This allows you to place Blacula's hands, or arms, through them and have them lift his cape up in the air for more dynamic poses (such as my photo at the very top of this review). The few downsides to Blacula's outfit are a slightly oversized bowtie, the overly long tie for the cape (though this can easily be fixed by cutting it shorter) and the use of plastic molded shoes. They all get the job done, but collector's used to more high-end 12-inch figures will want to take note.
Lastly, Amok Time provides collectors with a nice "Blacula" themed display stand. It's the type that clamps onto the waist, which is fine given that most collectors are going to display him with his cape on. Other than the stand, no accessories are provided, and honestly, I can't think of many that Amok Time could have included. That bonus neutral William Marshall head sculpt would have been nice, perhaps some extra hands and a bat. His Bloody Mary cocktail drink? Now THAT would have been funny!
Given Blacula's 12-inch price range of $79.99, all these minor shortcomings I've mentioned are to be expected. This isn't a $200+ Hot Toys figure, gang. Judging by what you do get and I'd say Amok Time did a very admirable job. Blacula's packaging is visually top notch, his head sculpt excellent, articulation and clothing solid. In my humble opinion, the very fact that fans are receiving a Blacula figure - the ONLY Blacula figure produced - is miraculous enough. Our hobby needs more fun figures like this - tiny tributes to a genre largely overlooked by the mainstream, but so much a part of what makes horror so great.
Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor
Review Sample Courtesy of Amok Time
Last edited by JeffSaylor; 02-22-2013 at 09:32 PM.