In the mid 1980′s Imperial toys held an impressive number of licenses. They had rights to most of the Universal Studios monsters, Godzilla and King Kong. What’s so interesting about that, is that Imperial did not make “good” toys. Sure it was the 80′s and toy sculpts weren’t perfect, but Imperial seemed particularly behind with the times. I can only assume that the licenses for these brands weren’t particularly expensive. How else can you explain a company with such inept toys holding the keys to so many brands?
In fact all of their Universal Monsters were particularly bad and it makes you wonder why they even bothered to license these toys. Most of these guys look vaguely like what they’re supposed to, but no better than say the Mego ripoff Dracula or Frankenstein. To the untrained eye, the Imperial Mummy would likely be the WORST of the Universal Monsters in terms of likeness… But tonight in the 31 Days of Halloween we actually pay tribute to the best of the Imperial Universal Monsters… The Mummy!
The first thing you have to realize to appreciate this Imperial Mummy figure is that it’s NOT supposed to be Boris Karloff’s Imhotep. It’s not even supposed to be Lon Chaney or Tom Tyler’s Kharis from the Mummy sequels. Instead, this is supposed to be the parody Mummy, “Klaris” from the Abbott & Costello film where they meet the Mummy.
Yes he does sort of look like Super Dave Osborne or some other stuntman after a bad accident…
But that’s how Klaris looked in the film. In fact Klaris, the so called “Prince of Evil” was actually played by stuntman Edwin Parker. Parker had previously been the stunt double for Chaney in the Mummy films when the action got too hot and heavy or when Chaney was too drunk to lumber around properly. In the Abbott and Costello film, he got his chance to star as the titular monster. Once you realize who this Imperial Mummy is supposed to be, it immediately makes all the difference.
Actually the real question is why is this likeness so good while all the other Imperial figures look so god awful? Only the Wolfman even comes close, while this Mummy is a dead ringer for Klaris. Of course it also begs the question, why did Imperial choose to make Klaris of all the Mummies? Was this simply the reference art that they had or did they actively choose to make the worst Mummy?
Unfortunately the Abbott & Costello film was in black and white, so we’re not sure what color skin Klaris is supposed to have. I doubt it was supposed to be flesh tone (he had been rotting for 5,000 years) but that’s the color Imperial went with. Not that it matters much, but to my knowledge this is the only figure of Klaris ever released. He came in several different card variations, including a multi-language version. There were even some in stores without a card at all, in a big box with nothing but a tag. That’s really no surprise though, as these are big soft rubbery vinyl figures, much like a Bandai.
Of course the coolest package is probably the Amigos Del Terror!
He carries three trademark dates on his back, including the original 1932 Mummy date, the 1960 date when the trademark was renewed and the 1986 Imperial date. The figure has an odd sort of dirty bleeding bandage look to him and he’s painted that way intentionally. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say those orange-ish spots are supposed to be sand.
These guys unfortunately come in at a strange height. 8 inches is far too big for most toys and yet too small to be discovered by the Adventure Team. It doesn’t make him very compatible. Unless of course you want to use him as a wrestling figure. Even with only three joints in the swivels at his neck and arms, he could pass as a wrestling Mummy. What, you didn’t know Mummies were excellent professional wrestlers?
Jerry Lawer would often wrestle a Mummy in the late 70′s, early 80′s. Sometimes the Mummy would be a “real” Mummy and sometimes it would be someone else disguised as a Mummy. Even Andy Kaufman took a turn as a Mummy… I couldn’t find Lawler fighting a Mummy, but this works. Check out Prince Kharis from Smokey Mountain Wrestling. He actually looks more like Klaris to me, but he’s obviously scarier. By the way, that’s awesome wrestling manager James Mitchell doing the cool intro.
Actually wrestling has a long history of Mummies. Not just in Memphis, but in pretty much every territory. These gimmicks are mostly forgotten… Of course the best wrestling Mummy was the Yeti… Or the Yeh-tay as Tony Schiavone would say.
“Screw this, man, I’m outta here. I deserve more respect than Yeti clips!”