Monday, September 15, 2014

REVIEW: Imaginext Collectible Figures - Dracula

Dracula, Prince of Trademark-Free Vampires
One of the great things about the Imaginext line from Fisher-Price is its diversity. The latest line of collectible, blind-bag figures is a prime example of this, placing ''everyday'' people and workers alongside a number of outre, mythical creatures and characters. So this time around we've a Skateboarder and a Bomb Disposal Expert rubbing shoulders with a Walter White-a-like ''Hazmat Technician'' and, the subject of today's Review, the Lord of the Undead, Count Dracula.

Which is awesome.

Let's take a closer look at Imaginext's take on the Count.
The design - at least at first glance - is a fairly run-of-the-mill Count Dracula. I don't mean that in a negative manner but rather that figure takes the ''iconic'' Dracula look - fangs, black suit, widow's peak hair, red-lined cape - and delivers exactly what you'd expect.
But slip off the removable cape and take a closer look at his lapels and you'll notice what appears a rather incongruous detail in the form of some Día de Muertos-inspired graphics. 

What the what?

It's an oddity for sure. But after spending a lot of time with the Imaginext toys - particularly the Collectible Figures - you begin to notice such out-of-place details actually aren't and that nothing is there by mistake. As I mentioned above, the Hazmat Technician - when his hood is removed - makes for a perfect Breaking Bad's Walter White and this wave's zombie figure can also double as a Jason Voorhees stand-in. It's fun to spot these references, which are clearly there for the grown-ups and really add to the line's appeal.

But what about the Count's Fancy Lapels? Well when Universal filmed the original Dracula in 1931, they re-used the sets and costumes to produce a Spanish language version of Stoker's tale. Is this, then, the designers paying homage to Conde Drácula? I'd like to think so.
And while we're on the subject of homages, is the Count's pale-white, almost Glow-in-the-Dark skin a reference to the classic Remco 9'' GITD Dracula? Or am I just reading too much into it?

As ever, the figure has a pretty solid range of movement for a figure of this scale (and price.) His neck has a single twist-joint, he has single-joint wrists, the legs move on a single joint (and as one) and his shoulders have a double-range of movement to allow for a pretty good range of poses. The joints themselves are solid and hold poses well and whilst the Imaginext Figures aren't hugely pose-able, there's enough her to allow the figure to stand, sit and pose well enough and I'm sure a younger kid playing with the figure would be perfectly happy with the movement on offer.
The figure's face tampo transfer is neatly applied (and I love the crooked teeth!), ditto for his lapel details but his neckerchief is a little sloppy. Similarly his shirt cuffs are a little messy but these are pretty small figures and so it's not really surprising to see a little looseness in the paint app and it's nothing you'll find too worrying.
In terms of accessories, Count Dracula comes with his detachable cape and - coolest of all - a bat/gremlin creature to perch on his arm. As you can see in the above image, the detailing on this piece is lovely, with an evil bat-inspired look but almost human - or skeletal - claws. It's a great little detail that adds so much play- and pose-ability to the figure, even if it is molded in such a manner as to only really sit properly on his left arm.

Final Thoughts
Halloween is still over a month away but as far as I'm concerned, it's never too early to get in the spooky spirit. And if you're looking for a toy that captures the frightful fun of this scary season, then look no further.

The same issues that haunt (ha!) the entire Imaginext line are present, of course. Some will find the sculpts a little too ''cutesy'' and the articulation - whilst solid - isn't going to let you pose him in a particularly dynamic manner but these are very minor issues and not the sort of thing that will taunt you whenever you look at the figure. And yes, it would've been awesome if he'd been cast in glow-in-the-dark plastic but I'm not going to get hung up on that.

On the positive side, this is a great Count Dracula figure, with everything you'd expect from the King of the Vampires. The black and red outfit looks great (the cloak is especially effective and I love that it's molded with some ''body'' to make it appear to be blowing in the wind), the pale skin is a stark contrast to the regular flesh tones of the line (and really helps accentuate the dark facial features) and his pet bat-gremlin is a superb little cherry-on-the-top accessory kids will, I'm sure, love sending to attack their other toys.

A great-looking, super-fun vampire toy fans of retro monsters and classic creatures will totally dig.

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