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Will's Guide to the Universe

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Dark Shadows 8" Action Figures from Spectre Toys

I FINALLY got my hands on a set of these wonderful Dark Shadows figures from Spectre Toys!  The Spectre Toys website doesn't seem to be up and running at the moment, but Toys R Us is currently selling all 3 figures at a pretty fair price ($19.99 each).

They're all so nicely done, I would love to have a second set to display out of package. Spectre Toys is headed by Rick Phares, who also brought collectors 12" Dark Shadows and Battlestar Galactica action figures via Majestic Studios.

This first wave of figures consists of vampire Barnabas Collins, the titular character of the classic Dark Shadows series, Angelique Bouchard, the evil witch (who is actually the one who cursed Barnabas with vampirism in the first place) and werewolf Chris Jennings.

The Chris Jennings figure was originally unveiled as a limited edition Comic-Con exclusive, where 500 of the figures were made available for the first time ever.  Thus far, the going price of all 3 character toys seems to be pretty much the same on average from most retailers and they are also $19.99 per figure at Entertainment Earth.  My guess is that as time goes by, the werewolf will go up in value somewhat, though naturally, that remains to be seen.

Quite naturally, additional Dark Shadows characters have long been planned to be added to the 8" Mego-like series.  The beautiful card the first three figures are packaged on (with art by legendary MEGO artist Harold Schull) also features classic Dark Shadows icons Josette DuPres and Quentin Collins.  A prototype of Willie Loomis and at least one other classic original DS character were unveiled at the 2011 Comic-Con but that's mostly all that's been seen thus far.

I'm not sure at present, about the long term future of these wonderful figures, but my guess is that the line will continue in some capacity for some time to come, even if the company that manufactures them changes hands or transforms in some fashion (as Majestic Toys became Spectre Toys, for example).


The characters on the card art were wonderfully illustrated by Harold Schull

Joe Sena and Paul Clarke of EMCE Toys naturally had a hand in their production (with Sena being credited with package design) and the fact that the first series is currently available at emerging retailers such as Entertainment Earth is certainly a good sign.  Until we see more of these fantastic 1:9 scale figures, we can only hope that no new curses will befall the good (and not so good) folks of Collinsport, Maine.


Joe Sena of EMCE Toys/Fourth Castle designed the Dark Shadows packaging

Midnight: A Hush Falls Through
the Melancholy Halls of Collinwood

The immortal Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid)

Dark Shadows, created by Dan Curtis, originally aired on weekdays on daytime American television from June 27, 1966 to April 2, 1971 on the ABC network .

The basic premise of the show was created by soap opera writing legend Art Wallace, and featured a recurring cast of supernatural characters such as ghosts, werewolves, zombies,  monsters, witches and other assorted heroes and villains of the decidedly macabre.

A short-lived, 12 episode Dark Shadows revival, starring Ben Cross and Joanna Going aired on NBC in 1991.  Yet another version of the show was produced for The WB network in 2004, though the one hour telefilm was not picked up as a regular series and has subsequently mostly only been screened at Dark Shadows festivals.

By far, the cult classic's most celebrated creature of the night has always been vampire character Barnabas Collins, created by regular series writer Malcolm Marmorstein.  Since 1966 the part of Barnabas has been played (in chronological order) by Jonathan Frid,  Ben Cross, Alec Newman and Johnny Depp.


Victoria Winters (Marley Shelton) & Barnabas Collins (Alec Newman) of the 2004 Dark Shadows pilot

Director Tim Burton's 2012 Dark Shadows flick was somewhat entertaining, but I'm not at all sure if the film was really what most DS fans had really been waiting for for so very, very long.  The first trailer released (below) definitely made it look as if the movie would be little more than a send up of the monster movie genre, in the tradition of The Addams Family, The Munsters and Dracula: Dead and Loving It.  And that, sadly, is pretty much what the movie ended up being.

Thus, the 2012 incarnation of Dark Shadows was yet another "re-imagined" mess from out of control director Tim Burton.  Apparently, savaging the Planet of the Apes in 2001 just wasn't enough for him.  Whatever the case may be, it would have been much nicer to have seen the original Dark Shadows material treated in a much more serious and reverent fashion.  Oh, if only original Barnabas Jonathan Frid really had been immortal.

Dark Shadows and all related characters, marks and images
are the exclusive property of Dan Curtis Productions and Warner Brothers
Dark Shadows theme music by Bob Cobert

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