Well, here’s one of the biggest surprises of the 2019 Halloween season: Walgreens is now selling Universal Monsters Bend-Ems figures!
Beautiful, aren’t they? The set includes Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, all wearing expressions that do little to betray their murderous intents.
My friend Dan Nations told me about the figures on Monday, and I responded by hitting six different Walgreens stores before midnight. None of them carried the monsters, and none of the employees had even heard of them. Unless they were lying, just for kicks.
They’re so new that most stores haven’t received them as of this writing, which has inspired eBayers to try selling the figures for four times their retail price. Be patient, if you can stand it. They’re not gonna stay rare for long.
(Fortunately, Dan offered to sell me a set at cost. Thanks, Dan! I wouldn’t get to spend Thursday night writing about bendable ghouls if not for you.)
If the figures seem familiar, they should! This can absolutely be considered a sequel series to the Universal Monsters Bend-Ems collection that was available in the 1990s.
Hell, the new card art shown on top even retains the older version’s “BENDABLE POSEABLE COLLECTABLE” burst. I’m so tickled that a burst reading “BENDABLE POSEABLE COLLECTABLE” stands as the firmest proof of the toys’ blood relation.
At first glance, you might even assume that they’ve simply re-released the older figures. Not true. While retaining the same flavor, the molds and paint jobs are completely new. (We’ve also traded the original set’s Mummy for the Creature from the Black Lagoon, but that’s a pretty nice upgrade IMO.)
This is the kind of deep cut toy nostalgia that I’d expect to see from like, Super7, and only as a Comic-Con exclusive. To get this sort of awesomeness from a place like Walgreens is just the greatest.
The figures stand around six inches tall. All of ‘em are cool, but that Creature is the clear chaser. They seriously bulked that mofo up, and you can tell that the sculptor considered him the most important project in history. (The Creature is also the only monster who can stand upright without disappointing you five times first, so there’s that, too.)
Tied for second are Dracula and Frankenstein. Please don’t make me pick one, because then you’re making me choose between Dracula’s cape and Frankenstein’s agitated starfish hands. I can’t do it, guys.
Wolfman comes in last, mostly because he looks like Roseanne in her “Bob” costume. Come to think of it, all of the monsters resemble unlikely characters. Dracula is Pee-wee Herman, and that Frankenstein is a dead ringer for Sam from Final Destination 5.
Creature is Boss Nass, I guess.
I adore these figures. I like looking at them, I like throwing them, and I like breaking their arms like Chucky with his voodoo doll. If you plan on hunting the monsters down, they’re six bucks a pop and totally worth it.
The Walgreens thing just makes them all the sweeter. (Full disclosure: They’re actually not exclusive to Walgreens — Big Lots has them too, I’m told — but let’s call Walgreens your best bet. Mainly because I’m in the mood to gush about Walgreens.)
See, Walgreens has been one of the lowkey best things about Halloween for decades. Every major pharmacy chain hits Halloween in a big way, but something about Walgreens just feels different. If it was raining and Linus had to drop the pumpkin patch to settle on the most sincere pharmacy chain, he’d pick Walgreens. You know I’m right.