8-inch Universal Monsters
The fifth series of Universal Monsters 8-inch action figures from Sideshow Toy is likely the most anticipated, as it includes Bela Lugosi as Dracula. The other two figures in this series are Bela Lugosi as Ygor from Son of Frankenstein and Lon Chaney as the Mask of the Red Death from the film Phantom of the Opera.
Aside from the inclusion of Lugosi as Dracula, another appeal of the 5th series is its limited nature: there were only 5,000 sets produced, with an additional 5,000 Dracula figures made.
The Series Five set is sold out on the Sideshow Toy online store, but the single Dracula figure is still available (as of October 2001) for $17 USD. Comic book stores and a few online stores also sell these; expect to see prices of $40 to $60 for a set and $15 to $20 for Dracula alone.
As with the prior series of Universal Monsters figures, these are packaged separately on cardbacks featuring a large picture of the figure in the corner and a background image from the film in question. Sideshow again gives sculptor credits on the packaging: all three Series Five figures were sculpted by Oluf W. Hartvigson. These figures have less articulation than past 8-inch Universal Monsters figures, as described below. Each comes with a stand/base, each of which has a different texture appropriate for the film it represents.
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Ygor bears a slight resemblance (if an unattractive one) to Patrick Stewart and comes with his stand, an apron, a flute (with cord to wear around his neck), a pair of pliers and a pair of scissors/sheers. He has a belt which can hold his tools. His apron is a thin material with a leather texture and has a small bit of string holding it shut in the back near his knees, in addition to the loop around his neck. Ygor is articulated at his neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and waist, for a total of eight points of articulation.
The Dracula has the same eight points of articulation as the Ygor. His pose is more dramatic, including a permanently bent knee for standing on the stairs/steps of his base. Dracula's bat comes with a clear rod for displaying it in a "flying" pose above Drac's head on the stand. Dracula also comes with a candle and candleholder (shaped like a dragon or winged serpent) and a cape. Interestingly, the cape has no clasp on the collar, but instead came with a small length of string and instructions (text and pictures) for tying the string around Drac's neck to hold the cape on. Aside from the clasp issue, the cape itself is very nice, with a gray lining.
Having seen the Flatt World Figures (FWF) 8-inch action figure of Lugosi as Dracula and being impressed with it, we were eager to see Sideshow's version. Sideshow's Drac lacks our favorite part of the FWF figure, which was the eerie sculpting on the hands, which really added to the spookiness of the figure. However, the hands on Sideshow's version still do have much detail in both the sculpt and painting. The price on Sideshow's version is also just 25% to 33% of the price of the FWF Lugosi, so it is hard to complain about the difference in the hands. (Another difference is that the FWF Dracula has a cloth outfit, while the Sideshow Dracula's outfit is molded on as part of the sculpt.)
The Phantom/Red Death figure has less articulation than the other two Series 5 figures, sporting joints only at the neck, waist, shoulders and elbows (6 points total). This figure comes with a hat, a staff, a cape/cloak and an extra head. (If you have cats, please keep the hat away from them, as it has two real feathers on it!)
The extra head has the "Mask" molded onto it, and swapping out the two heads is certainly easier than trying to get a mask accessory to stay on his regular head. The staff is nicely detailed, with a snake wound around it and a skull in the snake's mouth at the top. The cape is not lined, but has two pieces held together at the neck - one side is puckered (gathered, to create a slightly ruffled effect) and the other is not. It closes with a metal snap and stays on the figure with minimal effort.