Over the last few weeks I’ve been taking a closer look at some of my favourite action figures, namely those from Sideshow Toy’s Universal Studios Monsters collection released between 1999 and 2001. This week it’s the turn of Henry Hull’s portrayal of Universal’s first cinematic wolf-man — Werewolf of London — released in 1935.
Werwolf of London told the story of botanist Dr. Glendon, played by Henry Hull, who is bitten by a werewolf while on a research trip to Tibet. Upon returning to London Glendon turns into a werewolf at the next full moon and begins to terrorise the city. Only a rare plant, the Tibetan Marifasa Lumina Lupina (which only blooms in the light of a full moon) can slow his decent into lycanthropy, and Glendon spends most of the film trying the get the bloody thing to flower. Sadly the film doesn’t end well for the good doctor, who is gunned down before he can kill again, or find a cure.
Werewolf of London wasn’t a big hit for Universal, and it isn’t difficult to see why. Although an established and well respected actor Hull is dull as dishwater in the film. It also doesn’t help that, even with a modest 75 minute run-time, the film is interminable. The movie’s only real highlights are the transformation scenes were Hull turns into a werewolf, which are surprisingly imaginative and effective. After the film’s lacklustre box office Universal would leave werewolves alone until 1941, when The Wolf Man, starring Lon Cheney, Jr proved a big hit for the studio,
Although Werewolf of London wasn’t a success for Universal the film did go on to have have an impact on popular culture. The film has inspired at least two pop songs: one by psychedelic rocker Paul Roland and, more famously, Werewolves of London by Warren Zevon, which was a huge hit in 1978. And a video game based on the film was released in 1987 on the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC platforms. But the film’s most lasting legacy must be as the inspiration for John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London, which became a major hit when released in 1981.
This Werewolf of London action figure was part of Universal Studios Monsters, a collection of 15 possible action figures released by Sideshow Toy that featured some of the studio’s most iconic movie monsters. Werewolf of London was part of Series Four of the collection.
The painted figure measured eight inches tall (when placed on its base) and featured 12 points of articulation. It shipped in a cardboard-backed blister pack, the back of which featured a short synopsis of the film and showcased the other figures from the collection available at that time. Werewolf of London shipped with four accessories: a fabric coat; a hat; a moulded plastic scarf (which wasn’t the easiest thing to attach) and a single Marifasa flower. Also included was a base and nameplate that featured the film’s legend.
Werewolf of London was based on a sculpt by Oluf W. Hartvigson, who also designed the bulk of the action figures from Sideshow Toy’s Universal Studios Monsters collection. As with his other sculpts Hartvigson did a good job interpreting Hull’s werewolf makeup, and there’s some fine detailing on both the face and the figure’s clothing. The inclusion of the fabric overcoat was a nice touch and overall the figure has a nice sense of menace about it. The paintwork is also very well done, with some nice colour shading on the face and body. Overall, this was an extremely effective action figure. Sideshow Toy also released a black and white version of the action figure — a Silver Screen Edition — but I’m not overly fond of those versions… they just look so drab
It’ll come as little surprise to discover that, due to its age, this Werewolf of London action figure is now well out-of-stock. Copies can still be found on ebay, but it isn’t the easiest to find and a BNIB edition could set you back anywhere between £30-£50 ($40-$70). As a result this action figure will probably appeal more to die-hard Werewolf of London fans as opposed to the casual action figure collector. It does look good on the shelf though.
Next: The Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth.