Not every movie deserves a line of action figures, but lord knows if there's a buck to be made, someone's gonna make it. Movie Merchandise from Hell deals primarily with action figures, vehicles, and playsets from movies that didn't merit a line of toys, but can also cover generally horrific merchandising decisions. This week, we're looking at the figures, playsets, and role playing toys from the 2004 fiasco Van Helsing.
If you weren't cognizant of big budget event films around 2004, Van Helsing has likely eluded you completely. No one talks about the film or even mentions it anymore thanks to its well deserved reputation as a terrible sack of shit. Jakks Pacific, who until then had mostly worked in wrestling toys, landed the license to produce toys and they shit out some garbage action figures and playsets I once bought my now ex-wife as a gag gift after finding them at a Toys R Us liquidation sale for about 97 cents a piece. Getting rid of them a few years back brought up all the great memories of her scowling face when I presented her with a litany of toys from a movie she actively told me was the worst movie she'd ever seen. Good times indeed.
Like all great action figure lines, this one was broken up into waves of both standard figures and deluxe figures of our hero(es?) and villains...
Our hero gets three figures, two standard and one deluxe, though they were all the exact same sculpt and only varied thanks to packed in accessories—yet another sign that this series was DOA.
Crossbow Van Helsing
This Van Helsing comes with a comically oversized crossbow that he looks ridiculous holding, as well as a black coat.
Spinning Blades Van Helsing
This was my Van Helsing figure of choice because he came with a hat and mask and two blades and a brown coat, I guess.
Deluxe Van Helsing with Grappling Hook
This entire wave had a bunch of bullshit features where the deluxe figures came with these rigs you could mount to the wall via a suction cup and let your figures fly up the walls. If only someone gave a shit.
The film's big baddie, played to hammy excess by Moulin Rouge's Richard Roxburgh, got five fucking figures and was clearly meant to be the breakout star of the film. About that...
Dracula with Biting Action
See, this is the figure you want to use if he's gonna bite someone.
Dracula with Flying Action
And then this is the figure you use if you want him to fly around, again via a shitty suction cup rig that you might as well just chuck at some asshole bicyclist while you're on your way to work.
Ballroom Scene Dracula
Here's Biting Action Drac with a frilly gold cape and mask. This is for when Dracula needs to rub elbows with the wealthy elite and not give up his secret identity. Spoiler alert, you can still see his ridiculously wide open mouth even with the shitty mask on.
Deluxe Dracula with Coffin
This guy, in case you couldn't tell, is the Flying Action Dracula figure just repackaged with a coffin he can launch out of. It's not as cool as it sounds, and I made zero attempt to make it sound cool.
They saved this guy for Wave 2, you know, because of spoilers. If people knew that Drac turned into a giant cartoon bat in the third act, they might think the whole film is ridiculous and just skip it altogether. Good thing they hedged their bets, amirite?
If I remember correctly, much like Mongo, Frankenstein's Monster was only a pawn in the game of life in this film. I know he was played by Shuler Hensley who went on to play Frankenstein's Monster in another high profile disaster: Mel Brooks' Young Frankenstein The Musical. He got three figures, because sometimes, two Frankensteins just aren't enough...
Frankenstein's Monster (Revealing Brain)
This guy has Twisting Torso Action. I'm not sure why, he didn't seem like a fitness nut to me, but whatever.
Frankenstein's Monster (with patchwork coat)
Why yes that is indeed the exact same fucking figure, just buried under a ridiculously sewn together coat because symbolism!
Deluxe Frankenstein's Monster with Ice Block "Playset"
Remember that scene when Frankenstein's Monster is frozen in ice and breaks out? Yeah, me neither, but that's what this guy does despite being, you guessed it, the exact same figure. This line is the epitome of cheap.
The Wolf Man
Wolf Man's got nards, but he also got the shaft when it comes to figures. Sure he got three figures, like everyone else, but one of them is from before he even turns into the Wolf Man.
The Wolf Man (Removable Wolf Skin)
This is a decent concept with poor execution. The Wolf figure is nothing more than the front of a Wolf figure and you plug this asshole into his back. Again, I appreciate what they're attempting, but it blows.
The Wolf Man (Color Changing)
Ooooo, same shitty half wolf concept, but this one can change colors! Also, this one kind of looks like that bunny from Donnie Darko.
Deluxe Velkan with Iron Pod Playset
This doesn't come with the Wolf. Not even a half Wolf. Who the fuck wants a figure of a shirtless guy with no Wolf Man?
Kate Beckinsale's female lead got one figure in the second wave, one surprisingly stacked with accessories. On one hand, at least we got a female action figure in this line. On the other hand, they really couldn't think of any way to get their money's worth out of this sculpt and put out a second figure?
Castle Dracula Playset
And here's the glue tying the whole line together. Theoretically once you got all the deluxe figures and this piece of shit castle façade, you could add them all together to make a tricked out castle. The concept, while interesting, doesn't matter because again, the execution is lackluster at best.
Van Helsing's Crossbow
What entry into Movie Merchandise from Hell would be complete without a shitty role playing toy? Not Van Helsing. With this steampunk inspired design, you can kill vampires in your backyard or whatever. I never had this, so I can't speak to just how shitty it is, but it looks terrible and the picture of the kid holding it on the box makes it look way too small to be effective.
So there you have it, folks. All the toys from Van Helsing that eventually wound up in the clearance sales and liquidation blowouts of 2005. May they keep each other company in the landfills of the world.
Toy images via Figure Realm