Universal Studios is singularly responsible for a vast majority of the movie monsters which are almost universally recognized today, having produced almost 70 monster-themed movies between 1923 and 1960. Some of these movies were iconic, featuring the likes of The Frankenstein Monster, The Wolf Man and Dracula. Others, such as The Man Who Laughs, have fallen into relative obscurity (though Laughs can be credited as the film which inspired the creation of Batman’s archnemesis, The Joker).
Because of the awesome horror iconography associated with Universal, countless companies have made memorabilia to immortalize these original monsters and mutants, and the roles they played in forming early cinema—as ridiculous as some of these monsters might seem today.
My personal favorite oldschool movie monster is The Gill Man, who readers might know as “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”, or simply, “The Creature”. The Gill Man would appear in three movies: The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Revenge of the Creature (1955), and The Creature Walks Among Us (1956). All three times, the creature would be played by the same actor while in the water (Ricou Browning, a skilled underwater stunt coordinator), but three different actors while on land. As a lover of all things fishy, both culinary and aesthetically, The Gill Man and I are kindred spirits. So, Diamond Toys’ ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ Select action figure is a pretty excellent display piece for my weirdo water creatures collection (which includes a McFarlane Toys water dragon, and a ‘Revenge of Monstress’ Gilleala).
Seen here, The Creature diorama depicts the famous shot of The Gill Man approaching actress Julie Adams in a sandy cove before picking her up and shambling her away to wherever drippy monsters take their new girlfriends. Probably Applebee’s.
The Gill Man himself is meticulously detailed, with a radiant sheen of green across his scaled body, which is sculpted midway between “weird, rubber movie costume” and “real, scary monster”; it omits the goofy folds and creases of a monster suit while visually maintaining that this is still a film-accurate portrayal of The Gill Man. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s walked well.
The monster is articulated at the shoulders, allowing him to reach out, but not a whole lot else. The more joints that this figure contains, the less it looks like a screen-accurate figure, so I understand the angle of the ‘action statue’ approach. Ultimately, the action figure shouldn’t have a whole lot more articulation than the actual object, and it’s doubtful that Gill Man was doing many splits in this getup. Other Universal Monsters in this Diamond series have higher degrees of articulation, but only where appropriate.
As great as the Gill Man is, another highlight is the depiction of Gill Man’s female prey, Kay, for which I’ll let the images speak for themselves. I don’t have a ‘damsels in distress’ collection, but this might be time to start one.
This is probably one of the coolest Universal Monsters sets released by Diamond, but I’d be remiss in not mentioning their Creature Minimates set, which includes two Gill Men (one of which glows in the dark), as well as Kay and Dr. Reed.
Other releases in this series 7″ scaled action figure series include The Wolf Man, Dracula, The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, The Phantom, and best of all, The Metaluna Mutant, which we’ll be exploring on site throughout the month of October. For now, enjoy this gallery of shots from the entire series, with many thanks for Diamond Select for sending us stuff to play with.