Review: Hasbro Signature Series Cloverfield Monster

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It was dubbed as “America’s monster” by producer J.J. Abrams. The creature that terrorized New York City on 1-18-08 was never given a name, but its rampage was chronicled to perfection in what was perhaps one of the best films of 2008. Cloverfield told a story that any self respecting geek has already seen, but with a new twist. It was the embodiment of the classic Hollywood horror movie, only shown from the perspective of the nameless masses who are blindly running from their lives. The Cloverfield monster’s destruction was seemingly purposeless, the actions of a creature who paid no attention to the buildings it toppled or the people it trampled… and it was truly an awesome spectacle to witness.

Capitalizing on the fevered success of Cloverfield, Hasbro unveiled plans at last year’s Toy Fair International to produce a large-scale action figure bases on the film’s beastie. A prototype was shown encased in protective glass and displayed on a scale model of the destroyed Big Apple. The response was… well, monstrous. Pre-orders were offered via hasbrotoyshop.com and fans eagerly awaited the figure’s release. Over the coming months, excitement over the film waned with the onslaught of the summer blockbuster season. The monster remained available for pre-order on Hasbro’s site, but rumors surfaced that production delays would push back the figure’s original Fall 2008 release date. Or even (ack!) cancel the figure altogether. By October, things weren’t looking to good for the Cloverfield monster. Thankfully, the rumors of the creature’s demise were greatly overstated. In mid-December, faithful monster fans were overjoyed to see a beast of a package appear on their front doorsteps. The creature had arrived.

PACKAGING:
When I spoke with Hasbro representatives at last year’s Toy Fair International in New York, I asked how they planned to deliver this massive 14″ creature in a means that would keep him both secure during shipping and allow for storage of the figure when not displayed. Even then (at the debut of the prototype) it was made clear to me that every aspect of the figure, including the packaging, would be tailored to collectors. Hasbro delivered on that promise in spades, as the packaging for the Cloverfield monster is more of a display diorama than cardboard prison.

The outside of the box is decorated with wraparound artwork from the Cloverfield movie poster. It also bears the signatures of both director Matt Reeves and producer J.J. Abrams, highlighting the figure’s inclusion into the Hasbro Signature Series line. When the box top is lifted, a base is revealed to contain a diorama of New York City, complete with gnarly battle damage. This diorama base is intended as the primary display piece for the figure, and allows sufficient room for a variety of skyscraper-smashing poses.

SCULPT & CHARACTER LIKENESS:
This is an interesting area to tackle when looking at the figure, as we never get a completely unobstructed view of the Cloverfield monster during the film. Large portions of the beast are shown throughout the movie, but Hasbro’s figure offers fans the first true detailed look at some of the creature’s more debated features (including the tail and mid-torso arms). So, drawing a comparison between what is shown in the film and what is included in the figure creates a bit of a dilemma. Luckily, this figure has been sculpted with every bit the painstaking detail that it likely took the animators who designed the creature’s celluloid version. The interchangeable heads are the undoubtedly the highlight of this figure and feature the monster in both a calm and enraged state. Beyond this, the various creases, folds and ridges that are included in the monster’s torso and limbs reveal aspects of the creature that were at times only hinted at in the film.

PAINT & COLOR:
Given that this is a 14″ tall creature (with limbs stretching almost twice that) which features a staggering amount of articulation points, the paint applications on the monster are surprisingly resilient. The majority of the creature’s body is colored in tan and serves as a slightly muted visage compared to the shadowy hulking beast as he appeared in the film. However, display him on the included diorama base with the right lighting and this monster comes to life. By contrast, the deep red and pink hues used in the creatures ‘angry’ face offer up a hint at the ferocity of the beast as he trampled through New York City.

ARTICULATION:
The Cloverfield monster is touted on Hasbro’s website as containing a whopping 70 points of articulation. Generally, when a standard action figure is marked as having a high level of articulation, it comes at either a sacrifice to the sculpt or hidden joints due to clothing. Amazingly, this figure suffers neither of these drawbacks. The articulated limbs, waist, neck and various other appendages (including a wire bendy tail!) are all functional and the multitude of joints do not detract from the overall look of the figure. The monster can be posed crawling, sitting or even standing with ease and is well balanced enough to allow the figure to stay upright in even the most abstract of skyscraper-toppling attack forms.

ACCESSORIES:
This monster is astonishing in its own right, but the fact that it comes with in-scale accessories serves as yet another reason that this is one of the best toys released this year. The incredibly detailed Statue of Liberty head and tiny Parasite creatures are really more bonus items than proper accessories, but they are a great addition to this piece. Fans of the film will appreciate the attention paid to the Statue of Liberty head, which comes in a severely battle-damaged state and will fit in nicely with a multitude of custom dioramas. The Parasite creatures (a total of 10 included) are less impressive and are small enough to be easily lost if you aren’t careful. Thankfully, Hasbro saw fit to include a secret storage compartment in the back of the monster’s ‘calm head’, where my Parasites will likely live out their days. The two interchangeable heads pop on and off the creature’s body with ease and once attached, are secure enough to allow for stable positioning.

The Hasbro Cloverfield monster is hands-down one of the finest toys released in 2008. Fans of the movie will appreciate the up-close look that they finally get with this figure and those who haven’t yet witnessed the greatness of Cloverfield will undoubtedly be compelled to do so at the sight of this 14″ behemoth. Hasbro clearly had a team of product designers working on this release who had a passion for both Cloverfield and monster movies in general. From the resourceful and imaginative packaging to the interchangeable heads, this beastie comes with everything you might want from a toy that has been the subject of a year’s worth of speculation and anticipation. Congratulations to Hasbro, Bad Robot and everyone involved in the production of this figure. They have created something truly special that will serve as the centerpiece of my toy collection for years to come.

You can pick up your own Cloverfield monster direct from the manufacturer at hasbrotoyshop.com.

Click here to view our full photo gallery of the Hasbro Signature Series Cloverfield Monster!