Planet of the Apes (Classic): General Ursus by NECA

It’s been a while since I raved over NECA’s first series of PotA figures and it’s long overdue that I rave about the second batch too. I already did a lot of reminiscing during my feature on Series 1 Dr. Zaius, but suffice it to say the original Planet of the Apes films were a big deal to me growing up. I watched them whenever they were on TV and while nothing can beat the original in my eyes, the sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, still had merit, despite what a lot of people would have you believe. We got to see a different side of the ape society, or perhaps we just delved further into it. That is before the whole thing practically turned into a Doctor Who episode complete with telepathic mutants and a doomsday device. Well, like it or hate it, you can’t say this movie didn’t try. Hell, we even get to see the ape army in full mobilization with endless columns of horse soldiers, cannon, and infantry, and it is an awesome sight to behold. We also get introduced to General Ursus, wonderfully portrayed by the late James Gregory (and woefully underused), who joined the line up of familiar ape faces.

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The packaging is right in line with what we saw with the Series 1 figures. Thankfully, NECA has ditched the sealed clamshell packaging they have been so fond of in the past. These sharp looking window boxes are designed to either sit on a shelf or hang on a peg and each box is colored to sort of match the coloring most associated with the character inside. I also love that they print the name of the character on the side of the box, as I currently have this series of figures boxed and lined up on one of my bookshelves. You also get a good look at the figure and his accessories, which are spread out on the tray. Naturally, everything is collector friendly too!

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I didn’t have to get Ursus out of the box to start appreciating the beautiful sculpt NECA did on this guy, but in hand it’s even more impressive. Yes, there is some parts recycling here as he shares the legs of the Gorilla Soldier with just a wee bit of tweaking to the sculpt.  I’ve recently re-watched BTPOTA, although I didn’t pay particular attention to Ursus’ pants. Either way, I’m fine with the reuse as it looks good and seems appropriate and the legs do feature a complete repaint.  The arms and torso, however, all new as The General is sporting his amazing armored coat. I’ve always loved the design of this thing as it looks medieval with its little segmented plates, making the evolution of Ape Armor seem all that more unique. NECA went crazy with this thing, crafting it out of soft plastic and layering it onto the figure’s torso. Each plate is wonderfully defined and are also sculpted onto the shoulders and biceps. The brass studded gorget and the arm bracers all look great too! I can’t even describe the paint used on the armor jacket. It’s like a gun metal gray with a wash to resemble weathering. It contrasts nicely with the matte used on the rest of the outfit.

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As if not to be out-classed by the uniform, Ursus sports an amazingly sharp head sculpt. I think the details in the face are better than anything we’ve seen in Series 1, and that’s saying a lot because all of those portraits were superb. The General’s helmet is sculpted as part of his head, but the flaps are cast in soft plastic and fall down about his shoulders. It’s hard to make out the paint apps unless you get the figure under really bright light, but those deeply set eyes are indeed painted and there’s also some subtle brushwork inside the mouth.

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I expected Ursus’ bulky outfit to curtail his articulation, but that’s certainly not the case. The soft plastic used for both the jacket and the helmet’s hood don’t inhibit movement in the slightest. Let’s run down all the points! You get swivel hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. There is also a generous ball joint in the neck and another hidden in the torso. He’s a fun figure to pose and play around with and I dare say if NECA ever decided to grace us with some POTA horses, Ursus would be able to mount it pretty well.

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Moving on to accessories, The General comes with two guns and a spare right hand. The extra hand is a vaguely pointing hand that looks like it’s meant to hold something. It might be the same one that came with the Gorilla Soldier (you may remember I lost that hand) so I may give it to him and see if it’ll let him hold his truncheon because Ursus really doesn’t need it. I also found it very difficult (and painful) to get on.

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The pistol is a simple piece and it fits comfortably in the holster on Ursus’ right hip. He can also hold it pretty well in his stock right hand.

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I expected the rifle to be a repack from the Gorilla Soldier, but it’s an entirely new piece of Ape weaponry. Incidentally, I love how all the Gorilla’s firearms in the films look like they were crafted as a Junior High School wood shop project. Anyway, this thing appears to be some kind of Ape assault rifle with an extended magazine. The problem here is that neither of The General’s hands are really sculpted to hold it very well as it has a very wide grip and a rather unconventional design. I was able to make it work, but not as well as I would have liked.

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It’s good to see that this line is still going strong into Series 2. General Ursus was certainly one of the figures I was most excited to get and he doesn’t disappoint. NECA delivered an admirable sculpt and great articulation. And while The General isn’t the most colorful character around, NECA still managed to do some impressive things with his paintwork. Hell, just messing around with Ursus on my desk for an hour or so has transported me back to those wonderful Ape battles my brother and I used to have with our POTA Mego figures! I really want some Ape Protesters for the General to break up. And hey, if only NECA made a two pack of Gorilla Soldiers so that I could increase my ranks… Oh yeah, they did… and I’ll check them out next week!

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