Thrift Store Hallo-weekends: Monster Force Dracula (Playmates Toys)
Monster Force was a short lived animated series from the 1990’s produced by Universal Animation Studios. The show pit technologically equipped monster hunters against The Creatures of the Night, a catch-all name for some of the more famous ghouls. Since this show was produced by Universal, they had access to the “official” library of Universal Monsters brand were able to make several visual and narrative references to those classic films.
I had never heard of the show before seeing this toy in a comic convention discount bin. I paid $3 dollars for this toy.
We’re looking at Dracula, the de facto leader of The Creatures of the Night. This action figure was made by Playmates Toys, purveyors of lines such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Star Trek, among many others.
Dracula comes on a standard blister card with some rather generic monster-looking character on the front. Is it a werewolf? A different kind of vampire? I don’t know. The bubble on the front has a separate cardboard piece describing the character and his accessories
The back of the card includes a rundown of all the major characters in the series and some of the particulars about Dracula here. The sketchy drawing in the bio at the bottom doesn’t much resemble the toy itself.
The toy line consisted of seven action figures. Interestingly, although the Monster Force toy line covered the heavies in the Universal Classic Monsters brand (Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, Wolfman, and The Creature from the Black Lagoon), two of those characters are described as being a part of Monster Force. I would imagine the more sympathetic nature of Frankenstein’s Monster and the Wolfman would lend itself to that type of play.
I should mention here, the bottom portion of the card backing includes instructions to clip out a scene; that can be included in the base of the toy for display purposes. I have pictures of that at the end of the review and it’s fairly nifty.
With most of their most popular toylines, Playmates’ sculptors would often go for more extreme poses and features. Certain aspects of Dracula’s presentation is on par with that kind of work. He’s sculpted in the classic “advancing walk” pose Playmates so often used in its’ action figures. As a child, I found this annoying and would have rather had a more static standing pose.
The legs and torso are rather restrained and cleanly sculpted… but the arms, hands, and head are full of those extra-gross details Playmates was famous for. Dracula’s hands are veiny, bumpy, and GIGANTIC. Seriously, they’re about the size of his head!
The head sculpt is suitably monsterous. Dracula has that Ra’s Al Ghul facial hair thing going… it’s enough to make me wonder if the toy designers weren’t inspired by Batman: The Animated Series.
Very few paint applications to this toy. The lower body is cast in black plastic, so nothing much to worry about there. The arms… same thing, except white plastic instead of black.
The torso has three paint applications: gold, red, and black to match the legs. The colors are matched fairly well. The hands have black claws in a color that matches the black and reds used on Dracula’s head. This is a good example of a toy that didn’t need a ton of paint to convey the character.
Eight points of articulation on ol’ Vlad here – a cut joint at the neck, two cut joints at the shoulders and at the wrists… a cut joint at the waist, and a V crotch with cut joints for the hips. I appreciate that Playmates could have gotten away with six articulation points but opted to have the wrists included. That gives the toy a lot of nice posing options on the hands.
Since this is Playmates Toys, you know you’re going to get a good amount of accessories… even if they’re all going to come in some ungodly neon hue. First, let’s talk about Dracula’s cape, which I’m counting as an accessory.
The cape is a solid piece of red plastic with two paint applications of black and yellow. It’s molded with a pin in the back that easily fits into a hole on Dracula’s back. The cape is sturdy and fits well on the character.
Also included are a graveyard stand for displaying Dracula. Rather nicely sculpted, it even includes some small play value here, as the stand is compatible with the rest of the accessories.
Cast in that familiar Playmates’ neon orange is a small rat and ankh symbol. The rat looks like it may have been a part of some other toy line before Monster Force, but it’s a good addition and smart reference to Dracula’s storied powers.
The final two accessories are a giant scarab beetle and a vampire bat. The beetle fits over Dracula’s left hand. The bat has a small clip on his feet which attach him quite soundly to the ankh. In turn, the ankh fits into a slot provided on the stand. This was a really cool touch which allows for a great display.
Monster Force only lasted 13 episodes as an animated series. I can’t say I’m very interested in picking up any of the heroic characters in this toy line but I’m quite impressed with Dracula here. He’s nicely sculpted, he has some decent articulation, and he’ll be a suitable addition to my Halloween decorations! If I see any more monsters from this toy line, I’m going to be sure to pick them up.