Wednesday, October 24, 2012

#0064: Universal Studios Monsters Mike & Don


Tread softly, me lads, for it be the season of ghouls and specters! Where creatures go bump in the night, witches whizz by with a cackle and an odour, and Khloe Kardashian could be lurking behind any corner!

…I mean, ideally, that’d be the case (except that last one). In actuality, nobody really gives much of a toss about Halloween down here in Aus, so you’d be excused for forgetting it even existed. No eerie decorations. No pumpkin spice latte. No Garfield Halloween special, and that is truly the biggest misgiving of them all.

Regardless, I shall do my best to press on and embrace the Halloween spirit as ably as I can. We watched Jumanji last night, and I guess that’s kind of creepy, isn’t it? I have also unleashed the beast(s), and I now present to you my dear friends, Universal Studios Monsters Mike & Don.

One year removed from Universal Studios' 80th anniversary (so kind of an 81st anniversary celebration, if you’d like), these toys hit shelves in 1993, and were no doubt met with a degree of confusion. Modeled after classic monster movie stars, these Turtles figures featured Raphael with rotting flesh, Michaelangelo ironically brandishing the very torch that kills him, and GLOWING PARTS.


The first friend – or fiend? – we’ll take a look at is Mike as Frankenstein. Sort of. As kids, very few of us realized that Frankenstein was actually the man who made him, and it’s more or less become a cultural staple to dub the monster by the same name. I guess Frankenstein sounds more threatening than ‘Adam’ or ‘Bruce’ or ‘Mr. Bob Dobalina’.

Otherwise, Mike looks every bit the part: he’s got a vacant stare even in those little white lifeless eyes, he’s dotted with wee stitches and bolts, and my favourite aspect: You can outstretch his arms to look like he’s lumbering. That’s a nice little feature. I tried it with Don too, but it looks more like he wants to cuddle.

My main gripe with this series of figures is that they don’t particularly fit in, which I suppose is quite appropriate for Frankenstein’s monster. All of the other series of Turtles can be seen as interchangeable costume swaps of our four heroes: oh look, they’re going to the beach – they’re dressed for summer now. Oh shit, they’re in the army – so they’re all decked out in army fatigues. But where do these ones fit in? Oh my, they’ve traveled back to the 1930s – best to suddenly become various monsters. Rawwwwwwwwr motherufcker!

You could in theory substitute them as villains for other toys, but come on… who has the heart to bash the living shit out of the Turtles? Other than Shredder? I might be overthinking this. I don’t know if anyone has ever overthought the Ninja Turtles Universal monsters toys. Maybe I should be proud?


This here is Dracula Don. He’s probably my favourite, because he has sideburns, a ‘WTF’ expression on his face, and his spatterdashes remind me of Scrooge McDuck. Perhaps life is like a hurricane here in Donburg.

As should be expected in a toy representing Dracula, this one is quite dapper, and has a cape that I could almost swear is removable, because it really feels removable. I’ve learnt in the past though that removable sometimes translates to ‘broken off’, so I’ll refrain from undressing Don with anything other than my eyes.

My sister owns the Wolfman Leo figure, and I still have the Mummy Raphael, strangely making this one of the few series in which we own all four Turtles. If memory serves, the only other completed collections were the original set, and a few of the various iterations of the wee little miniature ones.

So what else is there to be said about these guys? Not much, I’m afraid. They’re really just minor oddities in a toy collection famously loaded with major oddities, the likes of which wouldn’t be reached again until Pok√©mon really hit its stride. Like I said, they look really nice, so that’s always a plus, but I don’t recall them ever getting much mileage. In fact, now that I think about it, not many of the various Turtles sets did get much playtime. Sure, I’d play with ‘em after we got them, but ultimately, I would just revert back to the classic set. It’s apparent just looking at those originals, with their missing accessories, chipped paint, and in some cases, a missing arm, that they certainly got around.

As for these fellas here, I lost their weapons (because that’s just what I do), but they’re otherwise in good nick. Be that as it may, I salute them for their efforts! It’s now reached 100 years of Universal Studios, and I sit back and wonder if we’ll ever again see a crossover of the two franchises?

Moneyball Leo? Blues Brothers Don? Bridesmaids Raph? Nanny McPhee Mike? I would totally buy any of those, for the record.