|Creature from the Black Lagoon
|While not the most famous movie monster, ol' gillface is a favorite of many and easily one of Sideshow's finest. This Creature from the Black Lagoon feels more true to a movie prop than most others because it's a normal 1/6 scale figure with a rubber suit over it. Then again, the rubber is thin, and its long-term durability is hard to gauge. Still, it's a gorgeous piece and if taken care of properly, should bring joy to whomever purchases it. It's definitely worth a look.
The school of thought for making a 1/6 scale guy-in-rubber-monster-suit was usually to make a large figure in solid plastic. A few notable exceptions have been released over the years, like a 12" G.I. Joe in a rubber Godzilla suit, and now we've got another toy that follows the pattern with this fairly magnificent Creature from the Black Lagoon. It's nicely jointed, fairly tall, and created with the kind of attention to detail that will pretty much make you ignore the price tag, which is actually quite fair.
This set includes a stand and a fossilized hand.
In 1954, the Creature jumped to the silver screen and entered the now legendary pantheon of Universal Studios Monsters. He was played by two actors-- one in the water, and one out of the water. He also appeared in three movies and captured the imaginations of countless fans in addition to having appeared in 3D. While many versions of this monster have been made in plastic, it would appear this is the new definitive version.
Just look at this thing. The rubber suit encases a typical 1/6 scale body that's highly posable and now has the added bonus of having its joints obscured. His feet move, his hands move, his knees and elbows move, his head can look up and down... this guy can do it all. If you want to pose him to look like he's swimming or standing, he can do it. Of course, he's really suited to standing.
The amount of detail is incredible. In the past decade we've seen an iffy 12" offering from Hasbro, a cartoony but neat figure from Playmates in its Monster Force line, a Ninja Turtle version of Leonardo as The Creature, a Burger King Figure, and a few others. But this one is easily the best. The mind-boggling amount of work that must have gone into sculpting just his head and hands trumps anything I've seen in recent memory, and is superior to them in just about every way.
The only drawback is the rubber suit, which is also one of the toy's highlights. The thin rubber is probably one of the reasons the box marks this as "ages 14 and up." This doesn't feel like a toy you can play with, but since you'll probably need to order it by mail and the cost isn't exactly priced for a birthday present for little Billy, you knew that. It's quite flexible, but it does feel a little fragile. While it will probably have no problem continuing to exist in its current state, it definitely feels like a piece you'll need to make it a point to take care of. Since it's a gorgeous piece and easily one of the best monsters released in recent memory, this shouldn't be a problem.
Here, you can see the fairly great range of articulation. In the first image, the "sleeve" is pulled back a little so you can see one of the many joints that has movement free of most restrictions. Ordinarily a rubber outfit over a figure means it'll be stiff or unable to move in most positions, but the second picture shows that you can have quite a bit of fun with him. His large feet do a great job at keeping him standing upright even if the stand (below) isn't present, so it's obvious the Sideshow engineers knew exactly how to make the best Creature that monster fans could ask for. Except they really can't play with it too much.
Accessories & Gimmicks
The accessories include a fossilized fin hand and a stand.
This one is a nice extra, but not especially useful. What will the creature do with the hand? Stare? Gawk? Sing into it as if it were a microphone? That decision is all yours, but rest assured that this is a most excellent if superfluous accessory. The paint and sculpting are right on the mark, and again, there's really nothing wrong with this nice, durable cluster of bones.
It's a doll stand. There isn't much to speak of here, other than it has a label printed on the stand and it really does a great job of making sure the gillman doesn't fall over. It's also nice of Sideshow to include it in the box instead of selling it as a separate piece, mainly because this is something most fans will be very glad to have. For a toy that really needed no extras, this is a real treat.
In the style of an old movie poster, the packaging goes out of its way to appeal to collectors. It ships in a brown mailer box with just enough packing material to prevent the nice colorful box from being punctured in transit. While you can't see it in the images, my mailer did get punctured in a few spots and the actual toy's box came through unscathed.
Velcro keeps the flap shut, and a list of movie credits appear on the inside. The stand is sealed in a bubble that's glued to the box' cardboard insert, but other than that it's easy to remove the toy from the box without causing it any damage.
It's hard to ask for anything more, and the toy doesn't really advertise additional product on the box. Nowadays, that's a little unsettling, but it does show that the designers are a real class act. The product sells itself, really, and the box is nice enough that you probably won't want to throw it away if you're a collector that opens your goods.
There's no better collectible of the Creature as far as I can tell, so this is a no-brainer. Do you like the classic monster? Great. Go get this. You can get it from Sideshow directly for $45.
While most mass-market figures in the 12" scale cost $15-$25, it's also worth noting they aren't created with this level of craftsmanship. Is it worth twice the cost of a large G.I. Joe or 12" Star Wars figure? Given the quality of the piece and what I assume is the price of the license, it makes sense that this item isn't exactly being sold at a mass-market price. As long as this item is being purchased by someone who's careful with their toys and collectibles, or plans to leave it in the box, it should provide joy for years to come, or until Sideshow decides it's time to announce one in a 1/4 scale.
Reviewed and photographed by Adam Pawlus
Sample received on November 17, 2003
Reviewed on November 20, 2003.