Monday, October 16, 2023

The ABCs of 31 Days of Toy Terror: O is for Graf Orlok (Black & White) from Silent Screamers by Aztech Toys/ Art Asylum

   I love digging out some old favorites from my collection and today I'm very excited to show off one of my Silent Screamers figures: Graf Orlok from the 1922 film Nosferatu. I still will argue that even with the advances in makeup, special effects, and CGI over the past 100 years, it's pretty difficult to find onscreen monsters as oddly unsettling and terrifying as Max Schreck's Count Orlok (Graf is the German equivalent of a count). Back when McFarlane Toys had just begun to create toys for an untapped horror market with their 1998 Movie Maniacs line, Michael Markowitz (better know as Mez, the founder of Mezco Toyz) partnered with Art Asylum in 1999 under the brand name of Aztech Toys and released Silent Screamers in 2000, stylized figures based on iconic characters from silent films. Aztech Toys apparently went out of business after the release of the first series of figures, but Mezco Toys was formed shortly thereafter and continued the line for another series in 2001. Mezco just released an updated Silent Screamers Count Orlok from Nosferatu recently, but this is the one that you could say stared it all for Mezco. Graf Orlok was released in two variants, a more grayish version that's actually the "color" variant (visibly red blood) while the one I'm looking at today, which is more of a sepia toned figure, is the "black and white version." Ready to check out Graf Orlok? Then join me after the break...

The Facts:

Height: 7 inches

Articulation: Swivel left thigh, swivel/hinge shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel forearms, and a swivel head.

Accessories: Display base, 6 rats, and film cell card.

Year of Release: 2000

Original Retail Price: $10-$12 dollars

The Positives:

*The earliest Mezco products really distanced themselves from their competitors due to having a very unique, exaggerated style. That style was present in the first series of Aztech Toys' Silent Screamers, too, so we have a rendition of Count Orlok that is clearly recognizable as the character from Nosferatu, but that does something different. It's kind of hard to describe, but he looks more detailed, almost like if he came from a comic book of the late 1990s/ early 2000s. The sculpt is excellent and holds up as a wonderfully terrifying take on the character 23 years later. I love how bizarre and elongated Orlok's arms and fingers are. The sepia color palette definitely evokes the feel of a silent film better than straight up a black and white color scheme might.

* Dracula is a bit bizarre, but certainly can be taken as human, though perhaps just a bit eccentric. Count Orlok in the film is... well, he seems clearly inhuman. This take on Orlok is absolutely monstrous, though. No pupils. Multiple fangs at different angles. Long ears and an elongated face. He's the stuff that nightmares are made of and the excellent portrait has a fine wash to bring out all of those spectacular details. 

* I love the detail work on Count Orlok's coat. It looks very old and ancient. You can practically smell the mildew on it.

* His hands are really creepy with flecks of blood on them. Long, hideous nail and pale skin with the same paint wash as his face definitely drive home his undead nature.

* Remember when so many action figures came with massive display bases and such? Action Figure Barbecue remembers! Orlok's is large stone floor section that's covered with rats. Lots and lots of rats. Kind of like the catacombs scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. This thing is just crazy! 

* Ignore the rats for a moment (if you can) and check out the excellent detail and paintwork on those ancient floor tiles. They look so grimy and nasty! 

* A plague of rats follow Count Orlok back to Wisborg, bring plague with them. These rats definitely look capable of carrying a plague, don't you think? They're very nasty and unsettling!

* Want more rats for any spaces on Orlok's base that are devoid of rodents? Well, Aztech Toys had you covered: The set included six extra rats. Three of them share one sculpt but have different paint jobs. These rat have their tails curled to the right with their necks bent to the left.

* Here are the other three rats. They have their tails bent to the left with their necks looking straight forward. There's quite a bit of paintwork on each rat here, too. At least two or three different paint hits, if not more. 

* From the torso down Orlok is pretty much immobile. His shoulders are swivel/hinge joints, though, which was still a pretty unusual thing at the time for a collector figure, and with those and the hinges in his elbows and swivel forearms you can definitely get some nicely expressive poses out of him. He feels pretty sturdy, too, and not at all durable or flimsy. Nothing brittle about him. 

* A film cell inspired collectible card was also included with the figure, but I have no idea where mine is or even if I have it anymore. 

The Negatives:

* Sadly, there really is no way to keep this guy standing without a base. He just tends to fall over. The only leg articulation is a swivel left thigh which was probably more of a separate piece to make molding the figure easier than for the purpose of serving as functional articulation. 


* Nosferatu presented the first vampire to be killed by sunlight. In the novel Dracula, the titular count walks around in the sun, though it's not ideal for him. Graf Orlok was advertised as having skin that burns when exposed to the sun. I left mine out in the sun to take a picture but nothing happened. I've seen pictures of older figures with the burning skin, so my guess is it just doesn't work anymore. Does anyone have one that still works?


* Want to really display Graf Orlok right? Then pair him up with the Knock Renfield figure from this series. There bases attach and Orlok can peak through the window of Renfield's asylum cell, whispering evil words to him in the night. Ooohhhh!!!

   I still love this figure. It was incredibly impressive at the time of its release and it still holds up extremely well, even nearly 25 years later. The articulation might be dated, sure, but the stylized sculpt still conveys a unique vision of Count Orlok and the base and rats are still fantastic accessories that really add to Orlok's supernatural menace. We're seeing quite a few toy releases of Count Orlok these days from a wide variety of companies (even Mezco has taken another swing at Orlok in One:12 Collective) but this guy still has a unique and special charm. He's an Epic figure and one well worth tracking down. The line is still surprisingly affordable so take a look at them if you're a fan of the classics. 

   One last interesting point: The door I use as the background for nearly all of my reviews? That's from the Silent Screamers' Golem figure!

This is the first figure of Count Orlok/ Graf Orlok I've reviewed. For more Silent Screamers reviews, check out the following:
Maria from Metropolis


  1. Wow. This figure is creepy as hell. Love the base of rats.

    1. Yeah, this line is a real gem and still quite affordable, too!

  2. Remind me and I'll take a gander: mine's in a Detolf, and I don't wanna knock over a bunch of figures yet! I got mine from eBay so no base or anything; I think I got him to display with Spongebob...

    1. I absolutely him showing up on Spongebob! That was one of the earliest episodes, wasn't it?

  3. Saw this figure years ago at some toy store in the mall. Him and Knock. I considered getting at least Orlok but ended up not. I did get the later Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde set, though.

    1. That Jekyll and Hyde set is nice. This line overall was just a real treasure.


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