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Vault Review: Diamond Select Universal Monsters Dracula

Since my local toy watering holes aren’t being cooperative, I’m running a bit low on domestic toys to review.  But I did uncover a couple of Diamond Select figures from my to-do pile.  Today’s review focuses on the retail version of their Universal Monsters’ Dracula.

I think I mentioned this in my Frankenstein review, but I’m pretty surprised that DST chose to do both Dracula and Frank in one wave.  These are arguably the two most popular characters in the line, and I really expected them to be spaced out a bit so they could carry their own wave.

Of course one reason they might have put them together is because Dracula is the first figure that doesn’t actually look like his Universal counterpart.  Apparently it’s notoriously difficult (or expensive) to acquire the licensing rights from Bela Lugosi’s estate in order to use his likeness.  Instead of dragging out the inevitable, Diamond bit the bullet and chose a more generic looking Dracula.

I have some mixed feelings about this choice.  This figure will never be a true Universal Monsters Dracula, which means the collection will never be complete.  On the other hand, this figure looks an awful lot like the actor who portrayed Dracula in the 1987 movie Monster Squad, which is one of my favorite movies from when I was young.

This figure also has a variant head from the comic shop exclusive.  Instead of mouth closed, this Dracula is baring his fangs.

The bodies are both the same and are sculpted wearing a full tux with tails, because Drac is always stylish.  There’s some really nice detail work on his shoes, and they even added that classic giant pendant around his neck.  His cape, which can be removed (notice the glue spot on the back of my figure) is billowing in the wind.  Something that’s a bit annoying is the painted watch chain on his vest.  It looks kind of tacky with all the sculpted bits around it.  Continue to page 2…

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6 comments to Vault Review: Diamond Select Universal Monsters Dracula

  • Russ

    I’m surprised that Diamond Select couldn’t afford the Lugosi likeness rights when Sideshow Toy could…and Sideshow was a new up-and-comer at that time.

  • That’s a pretty horrible looking Dracula, really. I’ve been completely unimpressed with this line and brother, that Drac just, um, bites.

    (sorry, but it was there and demanded to be used. 🙂 )

    I don’t think it’s a problem with the Lugosi estate, I think that for some reason Universal just didn’t want to use his face. I imagine they don’t have anybody handling this licensing stuff that actually knows toys. I think I’d rather they all just own up to being statues and be done with it, ya know?

    They just all look so sad, together like that. As if they’re fully aware of being half-assed phoned-in products. But maybe that’s just me. I’d go $5 a figure.

  • dayraven

    man, these characters deserve better than these. drac, frankie, wolfie & co are literal classics and should be treated as such. these “figs” are just not up to those standards. as vault notices, i think drac looks a boatload more like duncan regehr than bela lugosi… and that’s not entirely a bad thing… but it’s terrible if you’re doing “universal monsters” and you’re doing “action figures” (ok, it’s a lot of quotes… sue me.)

    i’m sure mike crawford would agree… we need REAL figures of the universal monsters, and they need full likeness rights for chaney, lugosi, and karloff in particular. (the chapman and browning estates respectively can suck it.)

  • dayraven

    btw… it might be cuz i’m a tad tipsy… but i miss vincent price. it saddens me on a fundamental level that my kids are living in a price-less era. but it makes me very happy that he left so many great performances to know him through. my mom used to be addicted to AMC back when they showed real classic movies, and every time i was sick, or ferris buellering being sick, we sat at home and watched movies… and i was always sickest around halloween when the horror movies kicked into heavy rotation. the raven was excellent, my favorite price until edward scissorhands, and that movie to this day makes me cry. it’s amazing how a good actor touches your soul.

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  • From what I understand the Lugosi estate won’t give up the likeness rights. Lame.

    Anyone pick up Grandpa from Munsters? Maybe he could be a stand-in for ‘ol Drac here.