Guest Review > The Cryptkeeper! (Tales from the Cryptkeeper, Ace Novelty)

Today’s review is by Justin Gammon of the newly-redesigned Justin, the bone-strewn cave floor is yours. –PG

When deciding what toy to feature for Halloween, we toy bloggers really become conflicted. There’s only so many times you can post pics of the Dracula, Frankenstein, The Mummy or any other variation of the Universal Monsters.

As luck would have it, a couple of years ago I stumbled upon the perfect action figure for such a seasonal blogging occasion.

I present to you, the Cryptkeeper!

I’m fairly certain you all know who this guy is, but for those who don’t, I’ll try to fill you in a bit.

First of all, this figure is from a 90s toy line by Ace Novelty, Inc – Tales From the Cryptkeeper. It was a horror-themed cartoon revolving around the Cryptkeeper and his ghoulish stories.

Look at this package design. Yikes. I understand it needs the art from the cartoon, but what I don’t get is why they need a very textured and very ugly/distracting marble texture… or is that cobwebs? Either way, it’s bad.

This cartoon was pretty much a kid-friendly, Saturday-morning cartoon version of the much more adult HBO show, Tales from the Crypt.

Tales from the Crypt was an episodic collection of horror and mayhem. (Imagine the Twilight Zone but with weird, scary, murderous plots.) The show was always entertaining and humorous. One of the most iconic elements from the HBO show was actor John Kassir’s characterization of the Cryptkeeper and his vast collection of horrible, horrible puns… fun, yet horrible.

Here’s a taste:

It’s pretty clear that the likeness of this toy actually comes from the HBO series’ depiction of the Cryptkeeper. Do you blame them? The animated version just doesn’t’ have the same charm.

But if you go back even further, you’ll realize that the Cryptkeeper actually gets lamer and lamer… visually anyway.

HBO’s Tales from the Crypt pretty much defined the Cryptkeeper for the masses, but in the 1972 Tales from the Crypt movie, the Cryptkeeper was played by Ralph Richardson and is forgettable simply because he’s depicted as an old guy in a jedi robe.. Ha!

I think the puppet does a better job.

And if you go back further still, you’ll see the original Crypt-Keeper in comic form.

You see, the whole Tales from the Crypt phenomenon originates from a horror comic of the same name by EC Comics. In the old days of comics, before parents meddled so much, kids were reading superbly drawn stories of murder and mayhem and Tales from the Crypt and the Cryptkeeper were sold in shops for any kiddy to get his grubby little hands on.

The original EC comics were all over the top gory and gruesome. They were supposedly so unsuitable for kids that laws were passed to essentially destroy the entire genre. (Thanks a lot Comics Code Authority). And funny thing is, it’s now come full circle… but it’s been brought back for the kids, in a cutesy-poo, Hanna Barbera kind of way. Well, it’s still better than Smurfs guess.

The Cryptkeeper toy itself feels kind of cheapy, and each piece has a single paint application. I really like the head sculpt, and the robe isn’t half bad.

The figure even has a “special action feature” – a crappy action trigger on his back. It animates his arms and head. It seems very arbitrary. I’d honestly prefer a pun feature.

But here’s the very weird and goofy part – bare feet with sandals. And not only that, but he’s got pristine, pale beach tourist legs. They are literally a different color than his head and hands. Why?

This smells of parts reuse from another toyline, but I can’t say for sure. Just an odd decisions. Cheaper than making rotting Crypty legs I guess.

That’s it Boils and Ghouls! Looks like we have a rushed toy from a brief cartoon series trying to profit off the recognition of an undead character from an R-rated television series to elementary school children in the early 90s. Now that is what I call true Halloween spirit.


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  1. Barbecue17

    Both this guy and the tuxedo Cryptkeeper have stood along with my other horror toys since my childhood and still stand there today. Not a great figure, but one I have fond memories of. I think I had the Werewolf and Frankenstein at some point, but probably sold them off when I was younger.

    • Agreed. I bought most of the Tales figures in a lot at a toy show. The Cryptkeeper figures are definitely the only ones worth noting 😉

  2. Boxcar Willie

    Great article not just on the toy (which I have the whole line of in my horror toy collection) but also of the entire Tales From The Crypt history. Fun read! By the way I believe there were also some “bend ’em” type toys for the Cryptkeeper as well.

    • Thanks dude. There's also some big talking dolls of the Cryptkeeper. Nice thing to market to the kiddies.

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