I love the Gillman from Creature From the Black Lagoon. He is my favorite movie monster of all time and opportunities to review toys of the guy are sadly few and far between.
I do not, traditionally, love Mezco. For many years they made excellent super-deformed and caricature-style toys (like this one), but couldn’t produce a realistic sculpt to save their lives. While that might well have changed now, it doesn’t matter for this figure because it is decidedly and intentionally non-realistic. And I’m good with that.
I saw Frankenstein’s Monster a month or so ago at Toys R Us. He looked great and was a nice, bulky figure with a good heft, but I just couldn’t justify dropping the money on him. But once I saw this Gillman there was no question – I was going to have to buy him. Even though there were four on the shelf, the figure was so awesome that I experienced that weird toy panic where you suddenly get nervous that you’re not going to be able to buy an item for some reason.
Okay, if you’re a Collector you might know what I’m talking about here. If you’re not, you’re just going to think I’m a lunatic.
Sometimes when there is a toy that is particularly awesome or that you have been looking for a long time and then find it, you experience this weird anxiety or paranoia where you get a brief, intense feeling like you won’t be able to buy it. Maybe you’re going to set it down for a second to tie your shoe and somebody’s going to snatch it. Or a little kid might walk up and that’s the toy he’s been looking for and you’re going to have to hand it over (I’ve been lucky enough to never have this happen, but I would cede a toy to a kid if the situation arose). Perhaps you’ll get to the register and it won’t ring up and they won’t sell it to you (I’ve had this happen). Even worse, the item could have the dreaded Street Date, where it can’t be sold before a certain date, but some cretin put it out on the shelf and you should be able to buy it but the Street Date actually came up in the register because technology has just come too far (this has also happened to me).
So I had a brief, intense moment where all of those things ran through my head.
I grabbed the Gillman (and another Xenomorph because I want, like, fifty of those) and almost but not quite ran to the register.
Fortunately for everybody involved I checked out with no problem and here we are today.
First Glance: The articulation appears to be minimal, but the sculpt looks very cool and dynamic. The weight of these figures is very satisfying. They aren’t some cheap, hollow rotocast figures. These things have a heft to them.
Articulation: This is a very different kind of action figure from what I normally review. Honestly, Mezco could have released it with no articulation as a statue-type thing and I still would have bought it.
Head – pivot/swivel
Shoulders – ball joint
Elbows – swivel
Wrists – swivel
Abdomen – ball joint
Waist – swivel
Ankles – ball joint
It took me a minute to figure this out because it isn’t obvious, but the Gillman’s head moves up and down. It’s on some sort of slider so that it can be fully upright or hunched down. It’s a neat bit of functionality. The head also moves side to side slightly, but this is restricted by the sculpt (which is fine).
The shoulders have a full range of motion. Combined with the 360° swivels in the elbows and wrists you can achieve a satisfying number of arm poses. Actually, you can even have the arms hanging straight down in a neutral pose, but the forearm fins end up on the wrong side:
Who wants the Creature just standing there like that anyway though?
The abdominal joint has a great range of motion and is sculpted into the design quite well. From the front it is simply a seam under the chest. It is more noticeable from the back, but it doesn’t mess up the profile of the figure. The back fin is sculpted in such a way that it can be covered by the top portion of this joint and not look weird.
I was concerned that the ankle joints would make this figure hard to stand up, but they are very tight and hold poses well (so far).
All of the joints are tight and function well.
Sculpt: The sculpt is fantastic. The whole figure has a sort of pebbly texture that is more prominent on the upper portion. The scale-like layers that run down the body have a great thickness and definition.
The head looks very similar to the movie version – not a whole lot of license was taken here aside from a mild proportional change. The namesake gills are a good bit more prominent. The level of detail is nice. I like the sculpted accents on the brow that set it apart from the rest of the face.
The fins on the feet, legs, back, and arms are done in a very cool way. They look sort of light and flexible – like they’d wave in the water. I’m particularly impressed with the way the back fin was sculpted around the abdominal joint.
The oversized hands and feet look great. The toes and claws on the feet are thick and distinct. The hands are easily my favorite part of the figure. They are posed for reaching and clutching and the suckers on the palms are creepy. The webbed, clawed fingers are solid. These aren’t going to warp or bend.
Coloring: I’m glad they didn’t get all wacky with the colors on the Gillman. The base is the exact green that you expect the Gillman to be – subdued rather than bright.
There are three main colors in the scheme – the green of the skin, the greenish yellow used on the highlights, the stomach, and the hand suckers, and the ivory of the claws. The fins are painted with a combination of these. All of it is very cleanly applied and looks great. This figure is proof that even a simple paint job can still be impressive. Just look at the hand suckers:
The mouth is a bright red that is almost off-putting in all of that green (this is a monster, so that’s a good thing). The eyes are appropriately walleyed. The detail in them is tight and accurate. These are eyes that say, “I am going to pop out of the water and do something unpleasant to you.”
Accessories: The Gillman doesn’t come with any accessories, but this really isn’t that kind of figure. I feel like it’s more in the statue range and just happens to be articulated. I’m not gonna say it couldn’t have come with an awesome fossilized hand or something, but it wasn’t necessary.
Packaging: This guy comes in a fancy window box. I just love the Universal Monsters logo:
The cardboard of the box is thick and high-quality, the kind that doesn’t get banged up during shipping. I like that the box is printed in black-and-white to evoke the original movie.
Value: This figure was definitely worth thirty bucks to me. I’m not saying that was a great value, but I didn’t have any trouble paying it and I ended up more impressed with the figure than I thought I would be. Realistically I think these should be $24.99 at most, but I suppose Mezco is going to get what they get.
Overall: This isn’t the be-all, end-all Creature From the Black Lagoon. That would probably be Sideshow’s sixth scale version. But it is a darn good figure and one that I had to have. If you’re looking for realistic proportions and screen accuracy this isn’t your Gillman. But if you’re a collector of Creature merchandise, then this one comes highly recommended by Phantom Troublemaker.
5 out of 5
So far I have seen these at two different Toys R Us stores and I bet you can order from their website, as well. I’m sure BigBad and Entertainment Earth are stocking them too. Check the prices and order yourself a Gillman.
Wow! It just so happens that my San Diego Comic Con Exclusive Glow-in-the-Dark Creature From the Black Lagoon figure arrived in time to be included in this review! Since it’s just a variant of the above figure, I’ll quickly go over the differences:
Coloring: This Gillman is molded out of a glow-in-the-dark plastic that glows like f**king crazy. It is the brightest glowing thing that I own. Also, I HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO TAKE PICTURES OF THINGS GLOWING IN THE DARK.
I just about lost my mind when I did my Scareglow review. I could not understand for the life of me why the glow effect wouldn’t photograph, and I still don’t. This Creature glows so darn bright. I don’t understand why it won’t photograph.
Value: I’ll be honest – I’m ashamed to tell you how much this figure cost. It was sixty bucks. That is, obviously, insane. There’s no way I should have paid that for this figure. The painted version – the version that actually required more materials to make cost half as much. I am a dum-dum. But I don’t regret buying this awesome Gillman.
Overall: I’m not happy about what I paid, but I had to have this. I have passed on too many Creature figures in the past and I always regret the heck out of it. And this one is outstanding. Just not $60 outstanding.
5 out of 5
This is a novelty item, not an essential. If you’re a sucker for glow-in-the-dark (like me) and a fan of Creature From the Black Lagoon (like me), you’re really going to want this guy. I was lucky enough to catch it while it was available from Mezco’s webstore. I’m not sure if it will be offered through any retailers or it that’s it. Keep your eyes open.