March 15, 2008

Todd McFarlane's Frankenstein

Artist and entrepreneur Todd McFarlane’s toys were never meant for children. Along with companies like Sideshow Collectibles, McFarlane Toys, launched in 1994, carved a new niche in the marketplace, producing toys, playsets and action figures aimed squarely at the young adult and collector’s market.

McFarlane’s large articulated figurines set the standard for quality sculpts, with amazing likenesses and scrupulous detail lavished on its collections of licensed movie character, rock stars and famous sports figures. The company also produces original action figures, led by McFarlane’s own Spawn superhero character, and dramatic re-interpretations of classic fictional characters.

McFarlane’s horror and fantasy toy series include wildly pumped-up, radical rethinks of the classic movie monsters, legendary horror figures like Jack The Ripper or Elizabeth Bathory, and gleefully sordid, horror versions of assorted fairy tales including The Wizard of OZ characters, and Santa Claus! The OZ series features a Tin Man that looks like a steampunk robot and disturbing, nightmarish versions of Toto, the Scarecrow and the Lion. Dorothy appears as a blimp-chested, bondaged babe. The Santa Claus collection also features blood-chilling renditions of Santa, demonic elves, pointy-tooth reindeer and, here we go again, Mrs. Claus as a candy cane pole dancer.

Between 1997 and 2002, McFarlane Toys offered three different Frankenstein Monsters…

The first Frankenstein Playset, released in 1997, features a deformed, blood-splattered mad scientist and a slabbed Monster on a castle lab stand. The characters are rather crude when compared with versions to come. Note that Dr. Frankenstein holds a severed head that bears a likeness to The Monster’s final iteration, five years hence.

The Dr. Frankenstein Playset of 1998 is a variation of the original. Both playsets are designed to snap together and create a large, multi-character tableau.

This one featured another dungeons-like lab base, a different mad doctor, and a bizarre, two-headed Monster with accessories that include a bone saw and discarded intestines.

In 2002, the McFarlane’s Monsters collection was the most accomplished and extreme remix of the classic monsters to date, featuring Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Mummy, a Werewolf, a marginally Gillman-inspired Sea Creature, and a wholly original Voodoo Queen.

The elaborate design, careful sculpting and construction of this set are vastly superior to that of the previous efforts.

This skull-faced Frankenstein is equipped with a warrior’s wicked wrist-blade. He’s decked out in leather and armor, wears a partial helmet, chains, hooks, and what appears to be a cape made of stitched-together human faces. For reasons unexplained, he carries a mouldy skeleton with entrails in a cage on his back.

McFarlane’s Frankensteins are punk and gore, kickass cyborg monstrosities, worlds away from the Mary Shelley original.

Most of these figures are still available through resellers, though sometimes at inflated prices. The very nicely done McFarlane’s Monsters minisite is worth visiting. On the Frankenstein page, you can access closeups of the figure, and be sure to click the QVTR link to see it in the round.

Todd McFarlane’s site, and the McFarlane horror, fantasy and science fiction toys list.

On Wiki: Todd McFarlane’s page, and McFarlane Toys.


Karswell said...

Pumped up testosteronie on high with extra cheese... I agree these McFarlane monster toys are expertly sculpted but at the same time they are very reflective of the overblown state of modern comics and modern action / horror films (the truly awful Van Helsing immediately comes to mind.) The muscle headed focus is all on endless detail and not enough on true scare factor. Does anyone really like Frankenstein with abs of steel or 'tude? You called these "punk", I think they're more in line with WWF Wrestlers.

Anonymous said...

"For reasons unexplained, he carries a mouldy skeleton with entrails in a cage on his back."

Spare parts? You know, in case he breaks down somewhere. It's the Monster's equivalent of carrying a spare tire... lol

Wich2 said...

With respect, I find most of this stuff to be ridiculous looking.

(Would that "EXTREME!!!" versions of everything would vanish from the culture...)

And that last Monster is clearly Bernie Wrightson's, as much as Tod McFarlane's.

-Craig W.

Justin said...

"For reasons unexplained, he carries a mouldy (sic) skeleton with entrails in a cage on his back."

I seem to remember reading somewhere that that corpse was supposed to be that of Dr. Frankenstein himself.

Also in response to Karswell, I don't mind a muscle bound Monster – in fact the Frankenstein’s Monster that I see in my head usually resembles the Hulk with bolts in his neck – but I do agree that McFarland’s toys push the limit with all the leather, belts, hooks, armor, electrodes, etc… and what exactly dose the Monster need an arm-blade for anyway???

Anonymous said...

Just to look awseome ^^