Don’t get me wrong, I am a sucker for the end of the year holiday season, but Halloween really is the best time of the year. Autumn weather is just to my liking, things start to get a little spooky, and each year General Mills brings back their collection of monster cereals featuring Count Chocula, Frankenberry (and Boo Berry, and sometimes Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute). Well, for their 50th anniversary, Jada Toys is also bringing ACTION FIGURES of these iconic characters, and I have been waiting a very long time to marry my love of Halloween, cereal, and toys into this very dynamic combination.
I admit that I am an ardent and hopeless fan of cereal mascots and ad icons in general. I understand their use and purpose of creation, but some of them as so masterful in their designs it’s no wonder many of the most well-known characters have endured for decades. To me, the General Mills Cereal Monsters are the pinnacle of that group, and while there my be others that are more well-known, from a design and characterization standpoint, this group is pretty much perfect. When the cereals (and thus, the characters) were originally relegated to a seasonal push, I was sad, but their re-emergence each year has become such a beloved event (dig that Monster Mash cereal this year), it is now clear that move has actually strengthened their popularity.
There have been several collectibles released over the years featuring Count Chocula, Frankenberry, Boo Berry, Fruit Brute, and Yummy Mummy, and while I own many of those, these new offerings from Jada are what I would consider the first honest to goodness ACTION FIGURES of any of these. Ah, let us rejoice to the sugar-enriched gods that our day has finally come. Jada has started with the anchors in Count Chocula and Frankenberry, but I am hoping that they have plans for the rest of the bunch as well, because overall – I REALLY like these figures. Jada is relatively new to the action figure space (they do a lot of die-cast and metal toy work), but these, along with their Universal Monster figures, and really strong first offerings.
There are so many things going right with these releases. The packaging and box art is just wonderful in recalling the actual cereal boxes (indeed, if you don’t look closely, you might not realize these are actual figure boxes on first glance), and the sculpting work on both figures is fantastically accurate to the character designs. There is a lot of articulation to get any reasonable pose, and because it would seem criminal not to include them, both figures get their own (plastic) box of there iconic cereal as well. I do have a few nitpicks here and there, so we will get to those, too.
Even though I prefer Count Chocula as a cereal, the Frankenberry figure wins of the two for me. The bright colors, costume details, and expressions in both portraits are just so perfect for the character, and it all makes for a very eye-catching action figure. Count Chocula is pretty damned perfect for his design as well, but browns and lack of chain suspenders and head whistle/gauge just gives Frank the slight edge. Plus, this might seem ridiculous, but the include of his strawberry fingernails might just be my favorite detail from both of them. Either way, if you are going to be half a heretic and only pick up one of these, you really cannot go wrong.
I also love that Jada included two portraits with each figure. For the ≈$24.99 price tag I would have liked to have seen a least one other accessory for each past the alternate head and cereal box, but what we do get is pretty awesome. In fact, I am actually surprised by how much I love the alternate heads. These happy or surprised faces are just so expressive, I can see them being used in all sorts of toy photography hijinks. At the very least, these guys LOVE the products they help promote, so good on them for believing in the brands.
Now, I mentioned that these guys have a pretty robust articulation scheme that features double knee joints, rocker ankles and great range of movement overall, but the joints are where I have most of criticisms. Well, it is only a couple, but the hip joints need to be tighter. My figures have not buckled over or fallen, but I can see them getting looser over time, so that is something to watch. Additionally, While I really appreciate the joint configuration in many of the spots, some places feel fragile, too. The aforementioned hips are one spot (especially on Frank), but also in the neck joints. I like the creativity of the actual joints themselves here, they allow for a really nice range of movement, but I worry about the durability of the pegs.
This is exacerbated by the tough plastic of the heads so swapping can be a challenge. These needed to be a bit lower on the durometer to make them more pliable, so I would ALWAYS recommend heating the heads up before changing them out. Frankenberry’s chain suspenders are made of a much softer plastic, so that is what I would have liked to have seen for these heads, so be cautious when swapping for sure. The hands are beset by this as well – it seems like the right hands are made to hold the cereal boxes, but you really cannot accomplish that without heating the hands first, so be sure to do so.
Those quibbles aside, I LOVE these figures. They are just perfect little action figure representations of some of my favorite ad characters of all time. It almost seems crazy we have been waiting this long for something like this, but now that they are here, it was well worth it. The joint fragility aside, I think if you are a fan of these characters you will enjoy these two very much. These are mostly hitting some select locations now, but you can still get a pre-order in at BBTS, so don’t miss out. Now, Jada, I implore you – GIVE US BOO BERRY, FRUIT BRUTE, AND YUMMY MUMMY TO GO WITH THESE! A complete set would an absolutely amazing and delicious thing to behold.