I have, what I will describe as, an irrational love for “things”. I get hung up on stupid things, it’s one of my admitted shortcomings. I make lists of these things; toys, cartoons, video games, restaurants, hamburgers, ways to prepare macaroni and cheese, costumed Disney characters, etc. These lists go on and on forever, I probably have some form of obsessive compulsive disorder if you analyze it hard enough. If I was to compile a list of cartoons I love irrationally, Count Duckula is probably near the top for sure. Granted, the cartoon doesn’t exactly hold up well against re-watching it now that I’m an adult but honestly which cartoons do? He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is hard to watch (even harder to watch without making a few “gay” jokes to pass the time), Thundercats is pretty much a snore-fest (I swear the lady voicing Cheatara was smoking blunts in between takes) and C.O.P.S, (for as great a concept as it was) seems exceedingly childish when watching it as an adult. Believe me I know these cartoons are made for kids but they seemed so amazing when I was younger. So their mission was accomplished at least, they were entertaining. Not every cartoon can have the staying power of Batman: The Animated series, Pinky and the Brain, Gargoyles, Animaniacs or even Darkwing Duck/DuckTales (I count them as one continuity, but I’ll explain that in another blog). Without further lamenting over ancient cartoons, I give you my irrational love for Count Duckula.
Count Duckula was a British cartoon that made it’s way into American homes care of the fine folks at Nickelodeon. This was far before NickToons was established and the channel got a lot of it’s programming from secondary sources outside the USA (You Can’t Do That On Television was Canadian). The first time I saw it was when it debut on the channel back in the late 80s and I couldn’t have been more than 7 at the time. I was already a strange little kid, trading playtime outside with other kids on Saturday morning and afternoon for watching network TV cartoon programming blocks and Dr Paul Bearer’s Saturday afternoon Creature Feature or trading birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese for getting massive hauls of video games and toys instead (a $200 birthday party equals a lot of loot, especially when you get to do the shopping). A cartoon about an animated vampire duck was totally up my alley in a big way.
The cartoon starts off dark and eerie with a gloomy castle, a lightning storm, a pentagram and a deep voiced narrator. Oh yeah, it’s getting really good now. The explanation of the character thickens as they go on to saying that he’s been killed several times in the past and can only be resurrected once every 100 years while the moon is in the eighth house of Aquarius. This is awesome for me because even as a little kid I knew the references they were making to the Hammer Horror films. Ketchup accidentally gets substituted for the blood needed for the incantation to go correct and out springs Count Duckula the 17th……the world’s first and only vegetarian vampire duck? Needless to say I was confused but still engaged and interested enough to keep watching.
The good count made his first appearance in the Danger Mouse cartoon as a reoccurring bad guy. They make a correlation between the appearances in the Count Duckula cartoon by having him wear Danger Mouse pajamas. It’s said that every time the count is resurrected he has no memory of his previous lives and no preset disposition (besides the blood sucking thing but CD the 17th breaks that mold). They compliment the character by giving him a stereotypical gothic butler who is rather disappointed in him not being a vampire and an oafish hulk of a nanny who’s certainly stronger than she is smarter. Even the antagonists give more throwbacks to classic horror such as Dr Von Goosewing, a send off to the classic vampire hunter Van Helsing. The Count also doesn’t suffer from the Dracula cliches like being deathly allergic to sunlight. I never count the whole steak to the heart thing because I haven’t met a person on this planet that can withstand that wound. The show is entertaining and does a decent job of spoofing classic Dracula lore and hit me at an influential time where that love for classic horror needed to be fed in a particular way.
As for feeding my irrational love for the cartoon, I have done well if I say so myself. I have a t-shirt with the cartoon logo on it and the entire series on DVD and digital download. I have the entire comic book run with 2 copies of the Geraldo Rivera issue, one signed by Geraldo himself about 4 years ago when I sent him two copies and graciously asked him to sign one in return. I’m fairly certain I can recite the theme song from beginning to end (I’m less proud of that now that I’m reading it typed out). Recently, while trying to feed my need for another piece of Count Duckula memorabilia, I lost an auction for a bootleg articulated figure from Argentina made exclusively for the South American market. That was a sad day but there’s never just one of anything in the world. I set my sights on eBay but little did I know where my next fix for Count Duckula was coming from.
And my most recent addition to feed my addiction was licensed Count Duckula figurines from a defunct company called Star Toys of Spain. Star Toys made licensed toys for the European market like figurines for the likes of the WWF, they also made highly desirable 14 inch WWF figures with tons of accessories and rooted hair like a doll. I had seen the gamut of Count Duckula related merchandise and never been impressed enough to buy any of it. T-shirts I can make at home with iron on transfers, mousepads are silly keepsakes and I can’t bring myself to buy a Count Duckula costume; I’m way too fat to even attempt it as a joke. I knew that one day I’d come across something worth buying. And hopefully that day would come before I was forced by my irrational admiration for the series to buy something silly, forcing my hand in the name of fandom to spend money against my better judgement.
I’m glad my wife found these while hunting at the local flea market. Buying things online is tough when you aren’t familiar with the product. For all I know these could be complete garbage and not worth the time or money to import ( older European toys rarely show up at conventions or shops and worldwide shipping is the bane of my existence). My wife saw them in a flea market booth weeks ago hiding in a rotating jewelry case full of other figurines. 2 of the Count and 1 of Dr Von Goosewing, I normally don’t buy variants of main characters but with a great collection comes great responsibility to buy everything you see. Luckily the booth owner was someone we have bought things from in the past so she took pity on me and gave me a decent enough price break considering the rarity of the items in question.
The standing Count Duckula is probably my number one favorite out of the three I purchased. As for likeness he gets a strong A+. The paint job is a little chalky looking and at first I thought it was an eraser but it really does match the cell shaded, unremastered glory that is the original source material. It’s like both the figure and the cartoon gracefully aged together. I’d even consider using this as a birthday cake topper for myself in the near future I like it so much. Don’t question my logic here…….
The guitar playing Count Duckula is probably my least favorite of the three I purchased. He was the one where I reasoned with myself about already buying two figurines and even though it
was a variant of the main character, when would I see this again in my hand. Once again irrational love wins over logic and it cost me another $8.
Dr Von Goosewing was an excellent addition to the score. Totally my second favorite of all three, usually you see Igor the butler or Nanny online but I haven’t seen Goosewing while I’ve been hunting. The sculpt is great, they nailed everything from his spats to the crosshairs on his gun ( a blunderbuss!) . An exciting find and a total win for my collection. My wife has a very keen eye and without it I’d still have a need to add these to my collection.
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