So far, NECA’s first series of Classic Apes figures has been great and I saved the one that I was anticipating the most for last. Today I’m checking out the Gorilla Soldier. While I grew up watching the PotA movies, it wasn’t until I was a lot older that I finally realized that there was a hierarchy to the apes. The Orangutans seemed to be the main bureaucrats, the chimps were the scientists and naturally the gorillas were the military. These guys terrified me plenty when I was a kid, and yet I always bemoaned the fact that I only had a single one of the Mego gorillas. Yup, even way back when I had a longing for army building! Ah, but I’ve spent a lot of time waxing nostalgic while talking about these figures, so let’s jump right in.
There’s the packaging. We’ve seen it twice before so I don’t have a lot new to add. It’s an attractive and collector friendly window box and it’s color coded to the character. You get some character specific art on the front corner of the box. The back has the same art we’ve been seeing all along, but Gorilla Soldier has his own special little blurb just like the other characters.
Just look at this magnificent bastard! He’s gorgeous!!! I can’t argue with that sculpt. This fellow comes clad in his standard issue ape fatigues, which consist of a black padded vest, black gauntlets, tall boots, and dark purple pants and sleeves. The vest and gauntlets are sculpted with a cool quilted leather look to them and the rest of the outfit has convincing folds and wrinkles. The whole ensemble is capped off with a brown baldric slung over his left shoudler with sculpted pouches, presumably holding ammo. I would suggest he could have been a bit taller and bulkier, as I don’t recall Dr. Zaius being nearly as tall in comparison to the soldiers, but either way the sculpt is excellent.
And that applies to the head sculpt as well. Unlike the previous figures, this guy is aiming or a more generic portrait, which freed NECA up to do a little more of their own thing. The two previous head sculpts in this series were quite good, but this one is particularly exceptional. The myriad of creases in the face and the copious amount of hair are all sculpted with sharp detail and a slight wash helps give it some added depth. He’s also got a great set of penetrating eyes.
So, one of the little issues I have with this guy comes with the articulation. It’s basically identical to what we saw with Zaius and Cornelius. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, and ball joints in the wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and have rotating hinges in the knees and ankles. The head is ball jointed, although the sculpted mane of hair does limit that joint quite a bit. He can also swivel at the waist. What’s here is good, and was certainly enough for a bureaucrat and a scientist, but I would have liked a little bit more for the soldier, who is begging for some more extreme action poses.
The Gorilla Soldier comes with two accessories. First, you get a little billy club for beating inferior humans into submission. The club is designed so it can hang on a hook at the bottom of his baldric, which is a very good thing, because neither of his hands were sculpted to hold it very well. It may seem like an oversight, but my guess is NECA decided to favor hands for the rifle, and short of giving us a swappable hand, they probably made the right decision… oh wait… NECA did include a club holding hand. It wasn’t until I was putting the figure away in the box that I noticed the spot in the tray where the extra hand fits. But where’s the hand? WHERE THE HELL IS THE HAND? So, based on how hard it was to get the figure and gun out of the tray, I’m guessing it went flying somewhere and I never even noticed. Maybe it will turn up. Maybe not. It seems as if I’m having really hard luck with losing extra pieces lately.
The rifle is a pretty good likeness of the weird ape guns that were used in the movie. It’s not very detailed, but then neither were the props seen on screen. It does have a strap so you can sling it over his shoulder or across his back. Nice! But he can also hold it in both hands, which does make for some nice poses.
A few potential improvements aside, the Gorilla Soldier is still a grat figure and I still intend to go out hunting in some brick-and-mortar stores to find one or two more. From the first reveals I thought NECA and the Classic Apes would a perfect match and this first series hasn’t dissuaded me. This trio of figures has stroked my nostalgia and plugged a hole in my collection that I didn’t even realize existed. Series Two should be coming along soon, with Zira, General Ursus, and a second version of Dr. Zaius. There’s also a Gorilla Soldier 2-pack with some new sculpting and new accessories. We also know that NECA has the likeness rights to the late Charleton Heston as they have revealed a Mego-style figure of George Taylor. Surely, they’re going to give us one for the 7-inch line too, right? RIGHT??? I’ll keep my fingers crossed.