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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Cryptic Collectibles, Toys


With his striking performances and remarkable use of makeup, Lon Chaney gave us some of horror’s most iconic and tragic figures, including the pitiable, deformed Quasimodo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923) and the disfigured, mask-wearing Erik from The Phantom of the Opera (1925). Lesser known is Chaney’s wide-eyed, long-haired “Man in the Beaver Hat” from the lost 1927 silent thriller, London After Midnight

Directed and co-produced by celebrated filmmaker Tod Browning (Dracula, Freaks), the film tells of a death investigated by Scotland Yard in which a dead man’s house is later inhabited by a pair of vampire-like beings – a man with sharp teeth, sporting a beaver-felt top hat and a pale young woman in a gown. The terrifying “vampire” turns out not to be a bloodsucker but rather Scotland Yard’s Professor Burke (who can hypnotize others) in disguise to catch the dead man’s killer. 

Released not by Universal but by Metro Goldwyn Mayer, the film was a hit upon release. Deeply unfortunate for Chaney, Browning and classic horror fans, the last known surviving print was destroyed in an MGM vault fire in 1965, leaving only stills and other memorabilia (including a novelization) for film buffs and scholars to speculate and salivate over. Browning would later direct an unofficial 1935 remake, Mark of the Vampire, which would reunite him with his Dracula star, Bela Lugosi. A reconstructed version of London After Midnight was commissioned by Turner Classics Movies using the original script and black-and-white stills and is available for viewing online. 

While numerous figures and collectibles have been produced for the Phantom and Quasimodo, only a handful of licensed products have been made over the years for the ghastly Professor Burke. The latest item (and according to my research, the first figure to be released in over twenty years) is NECA’s new London After Midnight Ultimate Professor Burke action figure. A gorgeous-looking release, this incredibly detailed and highly posable 7-inch scale figure features three interchangeable heads (all with fantastically detailed “hypnotic” eyes, sharpened teeth and sparse hair), three additional hands (set in different poses), a removable top hat, lantern accessory and both fabric and soft vinyl Inverness coat/cape pieces. The figure sports several layers of soft vinyl “clothing” and also comes with a soft, rubber-like bat-winged cape that will allow fans to recreate some of the memorable scenes depicted in stills.

The figure comes packaged in a beautiful, sturdy window display box (with spot varnish highlights) that employs the film’s stunning original one-sheet poster art (Metallica’s Kirk Hammett owns the last surviving copy of the poster). 

NECA has perfectly captured Chaney’s likeness from the film. This is easily one of the company’s best releases and is a must-have for fans of “The Man of a Thousand Faces” and classic horror.

SRP is around $37.99 USD, and the figure is available from various online and brick-and-mortar retailers. For more information, check out the NECA site at London After Midnight (1927) – 7″ Scale Action Figure – Ultimate Professor Edward Burke –

James Burrell has been fascinated with monsters and all things scary since the age of three. Growing up in Toronto during the 1970s and ‘80s, he fed his insatiable appetite for horror with a steady diet of Hilarious House of Frightenstein and Saturday afternoon TV matinees of Universal, Hammer and Amicus flicks - all while eating too many bowls of Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Franken Berry. An avid collector of monster figures, model kits, vintage board games, tie-in novels, records, comics and movie posters, James continues to search for that next item to add to his eclectic and ever-growing collection of horror ephemera. He is the recipient of the 2010 Rondo Classic Horror Award for Best Interview, for his feature on Sir Christopher Lee that appeared in Rue Morgue’s 100th issue and penned two volumes in The Rue Morgue Library.