It’s October, which is classically a kind of a spooky month, I guess. I don’t frequently get too invested in all the spooky stuff the way some people do, but I can enjoy it well enough, and I’ve certainly got some knowledge of various things spooky. When it comes to classic monsters, Universal Studios really set the pace in the ’30s and ’40s, but as they began to fade away, many of those same monsters would be reimagined by Hammer Film Productions, whose horror films became a staple of the ’60s and ’70s. Perhaps their best known work are their Dracula films, starring the late Christopher Lee in the titular role. Playing opposite Lee in the role of heroic vampire hunter Dr. Van Helsing, was Peter Cushing, whose take on Van Helsing (and one of his descendants) would help to shape later portrayals of the character.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Van Helsing is part of Mego’s Horror line, and was released in the latest assortment of mixed figures. He was originally supposed to be released at the beginning of August, but he crept into the end of September. As with other entries in the line, he’s showing up in a mix of specialty stores and select Targets. The figure stands 8 inches tall and he has 16 points of articulation. He’s build on the updated Type 2 body, which is a decent enough standard starting point. Cushing was just a pretty regular guy. The all-new head sculpt here does a pretty great job of capturing Cushing’s likeness. It’s not often that we see a younger Cushing in toy form, but it works out well here. He’s got rather distinctive features, and they lend themselves to this style pretty well. This is actually the second time Cushing’s gotten a Mego-style figure, since he was also in Classic TV Toys’ Space: 1999 line. I think the likeness here is a little bit better. The paint work is pretty basic, but it gets the job done, and everything is pretty much in line with where it should be. Van Helsing is clearly meant to based on his look from the first Hammer Dracula film, and he gets an outfit based on that. It features his jacket, shirt/tie (one piece like on the Cheers figures), pants, and a pair of rubber shores. They’re all really goofy looking, but, of course, that’s really part of the style, and he matches well. Van Helsing is packed with a rather small stake, which is probably going to go flying the first time he gets jostled, being lost for the rest of eternity. Or something like that. Given is tendency to use both a hammer and stake together in the films, just the stake is perhaps a little light. Honestly, I would have liked to get the candlesticks for the cross he makes during the film’s climactic battle, but I guess those might be a little harder for him to hold properly.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
Van Helsing was initially intended as a birthday present from my parents, but he got delayed, so I had to wait a bit for him. Worse things have happened. While I’m not necessarily the biggest Hammer Horror fan, I’ve always quite liked Cushing’s take on Van Helsing, and I’m glad he finally got some figure treatment. He’s goofy and hokey, but I do really like him.
There’s a slightly more serious side to this one as well, I suppose. In the months since losing Jess, I’ve been trying to find comfort in the stories of people who have experienced a loss similar to my own. In reading up more on Peter Cushing, and specifically how he responded to the death of his wife in 1971, I really felt like I found a kindred spirit. His habits and the words he said about his loss really have resonated with me, and the fact that he was able to continue his life in some way after such a devastating loss has served as an inspiration to me. So this figure, as hokey as he may be, really serves as a symbol to me, and how I can’t just give up. And I like that.