Toy Review: NECA Monsters, Munsters, and Ninja Turtle Mashups

October’s the spooky season, and for those inclined to celebrate, or the spooky scorpios in your life, sometimes nothing beats a good monster action figure as a seasonal surprise. NECA makes the best of them, and for our perusal this year, they sent over a sampling of some of their latest and spookiest. For fans of classic Universal Monsters, we get the black-and-white Bride of Frankenstein. To those who like irreverent takes, The Count from Rob Zombie‘s The Munsters (we can’t call him Grandpa since he isn’t one during the timeframe of the movie. Also, he shouldn’t be called Grandpa Munster since he’s Lily’s dad and not Herman’s. Anyway…). Finally, for wild mash-up fun, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Universal horror combine to give us Donatello as the Invisible Man (classic version, not the Elisabeth Moss update).

Rob Zombie’s The Munsters may be a cheap-looking, heinously unfunny kids’ movie from a director who doesn’t like or understand kids, but NECA went all out on the action figures anyway (maybe if they humor him on this one, they’ll get to do more figures from the good ones, like 31). Comparing the Count figure to the actual movie, you’ll see the largest gap in quality between toy and source maybe ever. Not that actor Daniel Roebuck’s bad in the movie, per se; he’s just working with really bad material. As a reward for his heroic upstream efforts, he gets a really nice likeness here. Two, in fact. They’re so similar they almost feel redundant, but look really closely, and you’ll see one has its mouth more open in a smile and is looking straight ahead, while the other gives off some side-eye.

The cape is everything a vampire cape ought to be, too. It’s large, lined red, and black on the outside; it’s also big enough to spread up like wings or hold in front of the face like Ed Wood’s wife’s chiropractor.

If you like really nice vampire figures, he’s a good one. So long as you can stomach his attachment to an awful, awful movie. Accessories besides the extra head include a skull-head staff, a grave-digging shovel, and multiple hands. We’ll get into the articulation later.

The Bride’s gown is even larger and more flowing than the Count’s cape, but fortunately has enough weight to hang down. It’s tied in the back in a bow.

So what does she look like under it? Like the Mummy, basically.

Unlike most other NECA figures, the Bride’s head doesn’t simply pop off its peg. Her head and neck are part of an assembly that plugs into the body, Borg Queen style. She comes with three: the basic Bride, the screaming face for when she sees her intended husband and a bandage-wrapped face with a removable eye mask.

Those eyes are pretty terrifying when isolated all by themselves. Masked, however, she could be something out of Silent Hill. (Which she obviously predates by a lot.)

Like most companies, NECA seems to be moving away from double-hinge elbows and knees, in favor of disc and pin, which break up the sculpt less. Bride and Count fit this; ninjas, however, need the extra sweet moves. Sort of.

Donatello’s articulation can be hard to judge, because his outfit is restrictive, and his knees and elbow pads cover things up. He definitely has double ball-and-hinge elbows, and maybe at the knees, but that’s unclear. Other things are very clear, of course — of the alternate hands and feet, he gets two completely transparent versions of each.

Don’s jacket sculpt appears to be a tribute to the original Playmates crossover figure, which was Michelangelo. (Don as the scientist makes more logical sense.) There’s a weird aspect to it, though. Don has an awesome “invisible” shell, complete with undigested pieces of pizza inside. However, his entire jacket is underneath the shell, and that’s physically impossible. Turtles’ skeletons are attached to their shells from the inside. If his shell were fully detachable, it would be dead, and thus visible. They should have sculpted the shell busting out of the jacket like the Hulk in a shirt.

The fabric ties allow him to stash the bo staff back there. Other accessories include a microscope, beaker with sculpted-on stirring rod, and a bound book (unopenable) marked “TGRI.”

Don comes with two heads — the classic goggled-and-bandaged look, which the fedora fits on. (The goggles are removable, but there’s no good reason to take them off.) The second is partly unbandaged, with creepy eye and mouth holes, along with tufts of fake hair sticking out. It’s fairly scary, and hollow. He’s actually the creepiest of the three, which is surprising considering he’s the only unabashed good guy of the bunch.

It’s ironic that Don has the most articulation of the three figures but can arguably strike fewer poses because of his clothing. The flowy robes and capes help a lot for the other two, as do the waist/midtorso joints.

The Bride and the Count are up at Entertainment Earth for $34.99 apiece; Amazon has Invisible Don for $37.99. $35-ish for one of these figures does feel steep, but it depends what your basis for comparison is. Are they worth $10 more than a 6-inch Star Wars figure with two accessories? Probably. Even McFarlane Toys, working in the same scale, is trying to add new pack-in pieces in order to upsize the packaging and raise the price above the amazingly low $20 per figure they’ve somehow maintained. This is just the current economics of toys.

Besides, one of these is bound to make any monster-loving friend very happy. Get a gander at more images below.