If ever there was a series of action figures that I’d encounter again and again as a kid, it would have be Imperial’s Classic Movie Monsters line.
Imperial Toys were known predominantly for their cheap dinosaur figures, but did have a few licensed products like these toys based on Universal’s iconic monsters, as well as King Kong and Toho’s Godzilla.
There were actually four different figures in the movie monster line, but I only own three, due to the Wolfman being oddly expensive and less common than these three. As I refuse to pay over £20 for a figure which is usually very paint worn and battered, the Mummy, Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster are the only creatures getting a mention today!
These figures are huge, around 8″ or so, and perhaps because of their ample size, I always seemed to notice them on car boot sales in the mid-nineties. I’m certain I didn’t own any back then, but they’re definitely toys I wished I’d picked up. I’m not sure why I didn’t, perhaps I just wasn’t drawn by the realistic and drab colours, in a time where I was looking for bright and colourful toys like Thundercats and He-man. But they were definitely everywhere back then. Anywhere, here are the figures I have.
The Mummy looks more like burn victim than any onscreen Mummy that I remember from the Universal movies. I recall Boris Karloff having his face uncovered in the original 1932 movie, and I’m pretty sure the actors who portrayed the Mummy in the follow-up titles had a similar look.
This portrayal of the character has a really nice yellowed paint job which implies as though he has been lying in an ancient tomb for a few centuries. All of these figures have just three points of articulation, which isn’t much, but it’s enough to pose the monsters in a “I’m gonna getcha” pose.
To me, this Dracula figure looks a lot like British right-wing Politician and general dickhead Nigel Farage. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.
This figure is probably my least favourite of the three. I think it’s because of his posture. Due to the cape on his back, he has more limited articulation than the other figures, and as such he ends up having a bit of a Mr Burns pose with his hands outs. Like all of these figures, Drac is a bit battered and has paint-wear, but all of these figures were often found with paint-wear back in the day due to them being sold in open store display boxes. They also saw a carded release as well, but those are rarely seen over here in the UK, so I’ve only ever seen battered paint-worn versions of these figures.
Frankenstein’s Monster feels too short compared to the other figures, but Imperial never seemed to be too considerate about how individual figures would scale with other figures in the same line, which is apparent with the size of the Imperial Godzilla and King Kong figures (which I’ll cover soon).
But in spite of his lack of height, this is probably my favourite figure of the three, as he’s so chunky feeling and really embodies the look of the monster portrayed by Boris Karloff back in 1931.
So there we go, way before all of the ultra-detailed Mcfarlane, NECA and Funko horror-themed action figures that are on shelves today, this was what kids had to play with! Universal have always done well with marketing their characters, and there was plenty of monster merchandise way before this line of toys, but for basic toys that don’t do a terrible job of capturing the feel of the classic horror monsters, this line is pretty good, if a little dated.
Imperial Toys will return again in my next post!