I was pretty happy with my existing toys of The Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth. And a friend of mine said how great it was. And someone else insinuated an ex-Kenner fellow worked on him. And we had him on clearance at work. I'm not made of stone, people. There's an amazing line in sci-fi design that you can pretty much square as "pre-Star Wars" and "post-Star Wars," with Universal Studios' movie featuring the Mutant coming in before - specifically, 1955.
This figure fits in pretty well with the class of 1979 - Kenner's Hammerhead, Greedo, Snaggletooth siblings, and Walrus Man figures all have similar poses and a design that is a little bit Star Wars and a little bit cheap newspaper sci-fi comic. If you've got a Cantina to fill out, the Metaluna Mutant is going to be a great addition. No, he wasn't in Star Wars, but so many comic illustrations of that movie feature recognizably movie creatures in the foreground and more big-head, bug-eyed, or otherwise retro looking characters in the back. Along with Maria [FOTD #2,454] this alien is almost more Kenner than Kenner.
In the context of Universal Monsters, This Island Earth isn't obscure - but it's not terribly famous compared to the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Frankenstein, Dracula, or Mummy pictures. It's a sci-fi movie but the bug-eyed brain creature sometimes gets lumped with the undead... but if you were part of the Star Wars generation you might never have encountered the character until Raphael dressed like him for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or until the movie was screened as part of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie. The character lacks the timelessness that comes from most of the other characters in Universal's pantheon, but it's an unambiguously amazingly great 1950s space alien. This is the one that inspired tons of others.
This 3 3/4-inch scale action figure is jointed nicely with legs that swing forward well, arms that twist without a problem, and by some miracle, a head with a neck you can turn. Given his bulbous dome I was surprised - a lot of Kenner figures just molded the helmet or head to the body, but the blue creature has no problems moving. Sculpting is good, perhaps not as simple as the simplest old offerings but not as ornate as what we got by the time The Power of the Force rolled around. Unlike modern "Kenner" figures, there's a lot of subtle detail and none of it is smoothed out. There are little wrinkles on the sides of the torso, tiny veins - some of which are painted red, and some aren't - subtle pant wrinkles, and some smooth elements. The back isn't completely smooth either - there's a subtle texture here.
This alien seems to exist in an area in between "this is a figure of a real creature" and "this is a figure of a guy in a costume." The figure keeps the blue pants of the movies and doesn't try to play them off as skin, and while the head is big, it would seem the arms and torso are skinny enough that it might be a tight fit to cram a person in there. This makes it pretty consistent with Kenner's old offerings, as sometimes you get a giant helmet or mask where a head might fit in there... and quite often, not. Hammerhead was super skinny, too, and this figure seems to exist within that design language. He was veiny, too.
What makes this figure one of my favorites is that it feels it was designed as a toy as well as a collectible. The feet have a little webbing between the clawed toes that eems to go up more than usual and should help keep them stable, while the hands are wonderful little claws. He has no problems standing or sitting, and has fit in some old Kenner vehicles without much fuss. If this were on the shelves back in the 1980s you'd marvel at the high level of sculpted and painted detail, particularly the multi-color eyes and veiny arms, while admiring how it tends to fit in pretty well with other older toys. Sure, he's skinner. Yes, his arm joint slices up his shoulder. But in terms of mobility, it just plain works.
If you buy retro-style figures because you like the property, this may not be for you. If you live for 3 3/4-inch scale robots and aliens, you must get one of these. It's the perfect addition to your Adventure People or Star Wars figures. He's a bit shorter than Orbitron and stylistically different, but if you missed out on The Outer Space Men you probably would be pretty happy to get this one too. With four colors of paint, this figure is better than most alien figures of the 1970s or 1980s by a lot. But he fits in that sweet spot of "retro" and "modern," not being too hyper-realistic, but also not too simplified. If you already own Healey Made's stuff, you'd do well to add this to your toy box.
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