FigureFan’s Favorites 2017, Part 1

Welcome, Toyhounds, to the first part of my Favorites from 2017 and I’m not really here. In fact, I’m probably out on my patio smoking a cigar and getting caught up on my stack of comics. If you’re confused about why you’re reading some kind of canned bullshit and not an actual review, I’ll refer you back to yesterday’s post where I explain everything. If you’re up to speed, then we’re going to dive right in to my first five favorite additions to my collection from 2017. These are in no particular order, so let’s go…

DC “Designer Series” Frank Cho Wonder Woman Sixth-Scale Statue by DC Collectibles: There was never any doubt that I’d have a statue from DC Collectibles on my Favorites list this year, because I picked up some great ones. But which one to choose? I waited a long time to get a version of Adam Hughes Wonder Woman in my collection and she turned out great. Likewise both the Babs Tarr Batgirl and the Deluxe Harley Quinn Bombshell were superb releases. In the end, I went with Frank Cho’s Wonder Woman because it’s just such a wonderful representation of the character, and it is executed flawlessly. I love the costume design, the paintwork is nearly perfect, and I really dig the materials DCC is using for flesh tones on these pieces. Cho’s Wonder Woman is not only my favorite DC Statue pick up in 2017, she may very well be my favorite statue of all my collection.

Transformers “Titans Return” Jumpstarters by Hasbro: This is only the second item on my list, and I’m already cheating by giving one slot to two figures. But that’s OK, because I couldn’t break up the Titans Return Jumpstarters by showing preferential treatment to one and ignore the other. If I wanted to really cheat, I could have taken up a lot more spots on my Favorites List just from Titans Return alone, so getting me down to just two was quite the achievement of willpower. It’s no secret that I loved this line, and there were a lot of figures that could have landed on this list, but in the end I had to go with Topspin and Twin Twist as my favorites. Not only are these great figures, not only are they superb updates to their G1 toys, but the fact that we got official Jumpstarters from Hasbro still boggles my mind. These are so good, that I ended up selling off my far more expensive third party Jumpstarters.

Ghostbusters Firehouse by Playmobil: If you had told me a few years ago that we’d be getting a Ghostbusters Firehouse playset in 2017, I’d have called you a raving lunatic and poked out one of your eyes as a lesson not to f*ck with me. And yet here it is! What’s even more baffling is the fact that it came from Playmobil. Now, I may be a little biased, because PlaymoSpace and Playmobil Pirates were my jam growing up, but even if I wasn’t already sold on the brand, I probably would have jumped at this. With their track record for going nuts on parts and accessories, and their easy to customize figure buck, Playmobil turned out to be the perfect fit in this otherwise unthinkable union. Yes, I could have just as easily listed the Ecto-1 here, but c’mon… this is the freaking Firehouse! And Playmobil did a beautiful job with it. It’s almost a pity this set didn’t come out closer to Christmas, because it would have been a perfect review for Christmas Morning!

Epic Marvel Quarter Scale Deadpool by NECA: I’ve been trying to stay away from NECA’s Quarter Scale figures. They’re amazing figures and very reasonably priced, but I really don’t have the space for them. Nonetheless, there are some releases that are no-brainers, and when they first revealed Deadpool, I knew I had to make an exception. And I’m glad I did! This figure truly lives up to the name Epic. The sculpt is phenomenal, the accessory count is over-the-top, and despite being such a big figure, he is loads of fun to play with. NECA absolutely surpassed themselves with this figure and it is some of the best work I’ve seen out of anyone all year long.

Star Wars Rogue One TIE Striker by Hasbro: I’m probably as surprised as you are to see this on the list, but this toy just impressed the hell out of me. I wasn’t expecting much, and I didn’t even buy it until it hit deep clearance. Star Wars vehicles aren’t what they used to be, but this one feels like it belongs among the best of them. Sure, I could have done without the Nerf gimmick, but apart from that this is a quality toy and a cool design from what has become one of my favorite Star Wars movies of all time.

And that’s it for my First Five Favorites of 2017. Come on back tomorrow and I’ll wrap up my list of the good stuff!

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Terminator 2 “Judgement Day” 3D: T-800 by NECA

I’m a little pressed for time today, so I’m checking out something from my pile of new arrivals, that should be quick and easy. It’s NECA’s T-800 from Terminator 2 “Judgement Day” 3D!!! What does the 3D have to do with it? Nothing really, but it was a great excuse to get this figure back on the pegs again. Or at least most of it.

The T-800 comes in an attractive and collector friendly window box, which features that iconic shot of The Terminator on the motorcycle in the front and lots of photos of the figure on the back. You also get a cool flame motif on the insert behind the tray. And yes, the package is indeed branded to match the 3D re-release of the film. If the figure looks familiar, this is essentially a minor repaint and re-issue of the Ultimate T-800, released back in 2015. What’s different? Let’s open him up and find out!

So, as far as the figure goes, this is the same sculpt as the Ultimate T-800, which I reviewed a couple of years back. It features the T-800 in his motorcycle jacket, leather pants, and black boots. Yes, there’s a whole lot of black in this outfit! The biggest difference between the two figures is the color of the shirt. The Ultimate had a gray shirt and this one has a black one. This version also isn’t wearing gloves, doesn’t have the bandoleer strap of grenade rounds, and the pants have more of a leathery sheen to them. Both jackets have the bullet holes in the front and in the back. Obviously, the articulation is the same, and I’ll refer you back to my review of the Ultimate for the rundown of the points.

This version comes with two heads: One with sunglasses and one without. They appear to be the same sculpts as the heads that came with the Ultimate T-800, although I think the paint on these are a little better. The Ultimate also came with a third damaged head, and this one does not.

This T-800 does come with the M1887 lever-action shotgun. It’s the same accessory that we got with the Ultimate. It was great then and it’s still great here. His right hand is perfectly sculpted to hold it and he can cradle the front in his left hand.

And he also comes with the automatic pistol. It has a painted silver finish. And that’s it for the guns. Absent is of course the M79 grenade launcher and the minigun that came with the Ultimate version. But, you do get one accessory that’s exclusive to this release.

And yes, it is indeed a cardboard flower box. It’s also the best damn 7-inch scale cardboard flower box I’ve ever seen and it’s just big enough to conceal the shotgun inside. Look, I’m not going to say this one accessory is worth buying the figure again, but it sure does let you recreate one of the coolest scenes in the whole damn movie.

As I mentioned on the outset, this release is really just a great opportunity to pick up the T-800 if you missed out on the Ultimate version and don’t want to pay the $50-60 that it seems to be going for these days. Sure, it’s a stripped down release, but it’s still a great figure and a worthy addition to any action figure collection. I think it’s MSRP is around $20, which granted isn’t a lot less than the Ultimate version released at, but I was able to pick mine up for a couple dollars under that. Truth be told, there are so many different display options for the Ultimate version, it doesn’t hurt to have a second one on hand to display with that extra head or different weapon load out. And I’m always happy to throw my support at NECA.

Predator: Jungle Extraction Dutch by NECA

The sci-fi/action classic Predator turned thirty this year and NECA (who else?) was on the scene with an impressive wave of action figures to celebrate the film’s anniversary. Included in the assortment were no less than four versions of Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer (five if you count the convention exclusive!). Sadly, I didn’t have the budget or space to go all in on this wave, seriously even I have to draw the line somewhere, but I did grab two of the four retail release Dutch figures when they went up for pre-order, and I’m finally getting around to open one of these today!

The packaging isn’t quite as snazzy as NECA’s Ultimate figures, but it’s still plenty nice. Dutch comes in a collector friendly window box that shows off the figure beautifully, has a great shot of him on the back, and features 30th Anniversary logos on the side panels as well as the figure’s name. In this case “Jungle Extraction” version depicts Dutch early in the film and at the beginning of the mission to rescue the “Cabinet Minister” from the guerrilla camp. The figure and gear are laid out on a clear plastic tray with a printed insert showing the jungle viewed through the Predator’s thermavision.

Aliens and Predators may be NECA’s bread and butter, but Arnold Schwarzenegger is their jam, and this figure shows it. Dutch comes sporting his full fatigues, which include camo pants, a long-sleeved, button-down shirt, and a tactical vest. The open vest on the collar is sculpted to look like the shirt is actually a separate piece and you can see a bit of his darker green t-shirt peaking out. As I would expect from NECA, every little pocket, rumple, and stitch is meticulously detailed on this outfit, from the edges on his collar and the grenades on his vest, down to the laces on his boots.

Dutch’s outfit includes a functional holster for his sidearm and sheath for his combat knife, as well as a scabbard for his machete. The holster has a retaining strap, as well as a sculpted pouch for an extra magazine. The knife sheath has a sculpted pouch for a sharpening rod. The detail on these is uncanny, right down to the stitching along the edges.

As for the portrait, well like I said earlier, NECA knows Arnold. They’ve sculpted him young and old, and everything in between and so naturally this is a great likeness. I’m not usually a big fan of this glossy, unpainted plastic for the head sculpts, but I don’t mind it so much here. It looks like he’s sweating his ass off, and that’s appropriate for the jungle setting. Otherwise, there’s plenty of detail in the facial features, as well as his stubble, and yes they even sculpted the cigar into his mouth. Lovely! The paint on the hairline is nice and clean and the camo striping on his face looks great.

The articulation is the usual NECA fare with rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. There’s a ball joint in the waist and another in the neck. I would have liked a little more range of motion in those elbows, but what we got is still plenty good.

As for weapons, let’s start small and work our way up. He comes with two knives, the smaller combat knife and the larger machete type. Both are beautifully sculpted with detailed hilts and silver painted blades. Neither of his hands are really designed to hold them, but I was actually surprised at how well they each looked in his gun hand with the trigger finger over the guard. Yes, they’re rather loose in his grip, but it works.

Next up, Dutch comes with his Desert Eagle. I just re-watched my Blu-Ray of Predator a few days ago and was surprised to find that Dutch never actually drew his sidearm at all in the film. He eventually loses it after he’s forced to take a swim. This is a pretty good sculpt, with both black and gray paint.

And last, but certainly not least is the AR-15 fitted with an M203 grenade launcher. Just like NECA knows their way around Arnold, they also know their way around weaponry and as a result this is a beautiful scaled recreation of the weapon carried by Dutch in the film. It has a bit of weathering to the finish and it includes a soft plastic carry strap so you can sling it over his shoulder.

Dutch set me back about $25, which is a little more than usual for a regular NECA release, but a lot of retailers were really pushing to sell these as a complete assortment and goosing the price on the individuals just a tad. That’s OK. Considering all the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into this figure, I’m perfectly happy with what I paid. You simply can’t go wrong picking up 80’s inspired action figures from the wizards at NECA and when the subject is Arnold Schwarzenegger, you know you’re going to be in for a treat. Indeed, I’m even starting to eye up the other two Dutch figures that I left on the table. But now I’m getting ahead of myself. In a week or so, I’ll double back and take a look at the Jungle Patrol Dutch!

Aliens: Deluxe Alien Queen by NECA

Work for me in September is going to be a nightmare, so I’m trying to get to at least a few of the bigger things on my review list before I get really pinched for time. One of those things that’s been sitting around here for a while has been NECA’s Alien Queen. Originally released for the 35th Anniversary, this lady was re-issued this year to meet a high demand after the initial production had long since sold out. Just give me a few ticks to convert my sad little photo staging area into something bigger and we can get started…

This is a big box! The deco is dark and creepy and offers a window that gives you a peek at the horror inside. Part of that horror consists of the approximately 10,000 twist-ties that you have to undo to get The Xeno Queen off the tray. Otherwise, everything here is collector friendly, but I dread ever having to get this monstrosity back onto that tray, as it’ll have to be in just the right pose. In the end, I will likely get rid of the tray and flatten the box like I do for some of my statue window boxes. I should also note that the Queen requires some assembly and sadly there’s no instruction sheet to show you how. All you really need to do is attach the six spikes on her back, but I had to go through quite a few pictures before I figured out the proper way to do it.

Here she is all set up, and she is indeed a magnificent bitch. I know I sometimes throw the term “work of art” around when discussing NECA’s stuff, and I try not to do it as hyperbole. I’m certainly not engaging in that here when I say, this figure is a piece of art, plain and simple. Seriously, this is something that I would just set up on a roman column stand in entrance hall for people who visit to admire the craftsmanship that went into it. A lot of my Alien figures go into totes, because I don’t have the space to display them, but this was a case where I made room in my den the moment I opened her up. I also poured myself a nice tall glass of Jameson and just sat there sipping and marveling at what a beautiful hung of plastic she is. I know I’m gushing here, but I think it’s justified. Ah, but I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s step back a bit.

The Alien Queen ain’t called a Deluxe figure for nothing. She measures in at about fifteen inches tall and over thirty inches long, which means she dwarfs NECA’s impressively large Alien Warrior figures. Indeed, as big as the box is, it still doesn’t quite convey the size of her once she’s set up. And on that note, she does come with a display stand to keep her standing, since the Queen’s posture isn’t something that could support itself otherwise in most poses. The base of the stand is clear plastic, with a metal rod that connects to a clear plastic circular clasp. The stand doesn’t appear to be designed for any specific area, but I find that just cradling her abdomen in the clasp works perfectly. With that having been said…

If you rear her up on her legs and use the tail as a support, she not only gets frighteningly taller, but can actually stand on her own. I’m still going to opt to use the stand for stability, because I fear if this gal takes a shelf dive, she may not survive it because of her disproportional weight.

One of the cool things about owning this figure is it really gives me a sense of what this beast truly looks like. That’s something I could never really work out from watching the film, because everything is so dark. She stands on two hind legs, almost like a T-Rex and features two pairs of arms: One large pair connecting at the “shoulders” and the other smaller pair connecting under the belly. Lady Xeno boasts a total of 30 points of articulation, consisting of a plethora of ball joints and rotating hinges, which allow for some pretty good variations for display. The sculpt is bewilderingly complex, and I’d expect nothing less from one of NECA’s Xenomorphs. Still, here there’s a lot more surface area to work with and so many little details on display. And as great as the sculpt is, the Xeno-bitch has got the painted chops to back it up. Here are some highlights…

These external rib-like bones, which run along the neck are painted in gold, making them stand out beautifully against the rest of blue and black body. As you can see, even on the undercarriage, there’s hardly a place on this figure without some sculpted detail.

I really dig the contours of the legs as well as the cut outs. Again, you get some nice gold-brown paint along the edges and some more on the blades that come off the backs of the knees. On the insides of the legs you get some exposed segmented tube-like structures running through the inside. She also features silver paint on her claws and all of her finger and toe joints.

The tail is constructed of the typical bendy plastic that NECA has been using in all its Xenos. There’s a swivel cut at the base, but below that you can bend it into all sorts of configurations and it will stay put. Each of the segments are beautifully detailed and painted.

The large plate that makes up the top of Queen Xeno’s head is as long as your average Alien figure. The interior triangle on the top side is sculpted to look like some kind of leathery skin stretched between the exoskeletal framework. Even the underside of this large plate is beautifully detailed and fully sculpted. You really need to get in there to see any of this clearly, which makes it all the more impressive that NECA made a point of adding this detail.

The spikes that need to be attached are simple ball and socket connections. They can be a little tough to get in and every now and then one of them will pop out when I’m handling her, but for the most part they stay in fairly well. Each of these pieces is not only ball jointed, but also hinged, giving them a surprising degree of individual posability.

The head is appropriately terrifying and the teeth are absolutely fantastic. They’re sculpted in a clear plastic with a greenish tint, along with the sinews that connect the jaw on the sides. The jaw is fully articulated and you get two secondary mouth pieces, one that fits inside the closed mouth and one that extends outward.

As mentioned, this is a re-issue of the original figure. I believe the figure is identical, but I think the package is new. It’s a testament to the popularity of this piece that NECA had to go into production again, as the original sold out everywhere fairly quickly and began demanding stupid crazy prices. Not that the figure itself was ever cheap. I pre-ordered mine at around $120. It’s a testament to how much I love this design and what NECA did with it, that I was so willing to drop that money on a creature from a movie that I wouldn’t call one of my favorites, but I do really love the franchise as a whole, and simply had to have this magnificently ugly bitch on my shelf. The only downside? I think I pretty much have to buy the Power Loader now to display with her.

Heroes of the Storm: Sylvanas (Warcraft) by NECA

Last week, I started looking at the last wave of NECA’s wonderful Heroes of the Storm line with the Orc Warchief Thrall. Today, I’m pressing on by opening up Sylvanas. It’s the last Warcraft-based figure in the line, and that makes me a very sad little Murloc.

Ah, but check it out! It’s the sexy and deadly Ranger-General of Silvermoon, Sylvanas Windrunner, now known as the Banshee Queen of the Forsaken. Give me a moment to unsheathe my Sin’dorei Warblade, slice open her sealed prison and release her. ACK! I HAVE UNLEASHED THE NOXIOUS PLASTIC GASSES!!!

Once again, NECA really knows their way around the Warcraft aesthetic and have done a beautiful job bringing this figure to life. She’s their first female from the Warcraft universe and still manages to retain her shapely form while including the jagged and somewhat bulky armor that is so popular in the realm. Sylvanas features beautifully sculpted armored boots, gauntlets, and shoulders, with some added plates on her thighs and to cover her blood elf bewbs. Her midriff and ample cleavage are, of course, exposed, because who would ever take advantage of that in battle?

As with Thrall, the illusion of layered gear on this figure is very well done. The armor pieces are all part of the sculpt, but thanks to the carefully detailed underlying clothes and the sculpted straps and buckles, I could almost be convinced that she’s actually wearing the armor. The attention to detail in the shoulders is particularly exquisite. All the armor pieces have that wonderful hammered metal finish, the reinforced borders harbor tiny nicks and dents from battle, and the shoulders are adorned with spikes, sculpted feathers and tiny skulls.

From the back, Sylvanas sports a purple fabric cape, which shows some considerable wear. She also has a quiver, which also has its share of nicks and scrapes from use. The quiver is designed to hold the loose arrows she comes with, but I’ve only been able to get two in there at a time. I’m not sure what’s going on down inside that thing, but the arrows are fragile and I don’t want to force them.

The paintwork on this figure is a real treat and is all about the contrasting of the drab brown and black of the trousers, boots, and straps with the beautiful metallic purple of the armor plates and the soft matte blue of Sylvanas’ skin.

NECA did a bang up job on the portrait here. Sylvanas is wearing a sculpted hood with slits for her long and elegant ears to protrude through. Her wispy eyebrow extends out over her right eye, but her left eyebrow is concealed. Bits of her hair peek out from the hood to frame her face. Her eyes are beautifully painted, but they can be tough to see under normal conditions, because the hood casts a shadow over the top part of her beautiful face.

Sylvanas sports many conventional points of articulation, some of which are at odds with her sculpting and character design. Y’all know how much NECA loves their rotating hinges, and this figure has them in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. She also has a ball joint under her chest and in her neck. The shoulder armor pieces are flexible, so you can manipulate them to allow her shoulders to move a bit more than you might expect, but maybe not as much as you might like. She also has swivels in her biceps, and mine look like they’ve been pulled a bit, as there’s a noticeable gap. It’s tough to see, since they’re buried under the shoulder armor, but I worry a bit that they may get floppy over time.

As for accessories, Sylvanas comes with her bow, Deathwhisper, which is a damn beautiful sculpt. It includes a lovely organic shape, as well as a shield attached to the center. The underlying bow is brown with bulked out pieces painted in silver and metallic purple to match Sylvanas’ armor. It also includes a real string. It’s a little tough to get her to hold it. I actually had to razor apart her fingers, so that I could wrap her hand around the grip, but once it’s in hand it stays put. Also included are her three loose arrows, which I mentioned earlier.

The articulation allows for her to knock an arrow and get ready to fire, but she can’t really pull back on the string very far. I actually think this may not be so much a restriction of the articulation, but more because the bow is strung tight, and there isn’t much elasticity to allow it to be pulled back. Now, with that having been said, I was still able to get some nice poses of her leading up to taking a shot.

Sylvanas also comes with an effect part for one of her skills, Wailing Arrow. This is a great looking piece, but I was totally stumped as to how it’s intended to be used. I was ultimately able to wedge it in between the shield and her grip to make it look like it’s being fired, but I tend to think it was just included as a bonus and not to be used with the bow in any specific way. I’d say this was a pretty big oversight, but at least I was able to get it to work.

And so, it is with a heavy heart that I end this review, knowing that there will be no more Warcraft figures from NECA. Boo! It’s especially painful because Sylvanas really is a great little figure and I wanted to see so much more out of this line. Which begs the question, where did the license go? Well, I know Blizzard struck a deal with Max Factory to produce Overwatch Figmas, but I don’t know why that would necessarily preclude NECA from continuing with this line. But, them’s the breaks and I really have to learn to be thankful for what I have, rather than what else could have been. Besides, I still have one more figure (from the Starcraft franchise) in this line to check out, and I’ll swing back to him in a couple of weeks.

Heroes of the Storm: Thrall (Warcraft) by NECA

After being locked into Marvel Legends reviews for over a week, it’s nice to stretch my legs and write about something different. I have piles of stuff to choose from, but ultimately I decided to go with NECA’s Heroes of the Storm line, because the final wave is out and I want to both celebrate this line and sob mournfully because it’s going away. This last assortment includes two figures from Warcraft and one from Starcraft.  And, today I decided to open up Thrall, Warchief of The Horde!

Because who rolls Alliance, amiriiiight? Well, I did once just to see how the other half lives, but most my time in WoW, I was Horde through and through. As usual, the figure comes in a sealed clamshell, which means it is not collector friendly, but it will give you a delightful plastic fume high when you open it. Just a reminder, I’ve never played Heroes of the Storm, but I have played the games that it draws its characters from. In this case the hundreds of hours I spent playing World of Warcraft served as a buttress to my life when I needed it the most. I also really love the aesthetic, characters, and lore. Oh, and it ran pretty well on the shitty laptop that I had at the time. Previously, Warcraft characters have included Stitches, Arthas, and Illidan Stormrage. It’s about time Orgrimmar was represented. What about Stormwind? Pahleeeez!

Mmmhmmm… NECA gives good Orc! Despite already putting out three Warcraft figures in this line, this is NECA’s first crack at one of the Orcs. I wasn’t worried, because they have proven that they have the Warcraft aesthetic down pat and Thrall here is yet another example of that. Just look at the love and detail poured into this sculpt. The figure feels so layered, as if all that armor could be removed, even though it’s mostly part of the buck. Each of the heavy armor plates are thoroughly convincing, with hammered finishes, sculpted rivets, and a gorgeously worn bronze paint making up the reinforced weathered edges. This is some incredible work!

Thrall features raised Horde emblems sculpted into his large disc belt buckle as well as the plates on his gauntlets. The furry fringe on his boots and gauntlets have that distinctive angular flavor to them that comes out in the games’ Toons. The cloth sash has subtle sculpted wrinkles, which are beautifully brought out with a paint wash, and I love the sculpted feathers, which give the outfit a tribal motif. Behind those heavy plates on his legs, you can make out a cross-thatched pattern to the underlying suit, as well as the sculpted straps and painted buckles that are meant to be holding them on.

And those shoulders! Warcraft is infamous for its ridiculously proportioned shoulders and Thrall here is displaying the latest in Horde shoulder fashion. You get more of that wonderful hammered texture in the panels, laid into the bulky bronze frames with chunky spikes protruding outward. As for the portrait…  Those narrow eyes, the protruding tusks, those sharp ears, no doubt a handsome devil like Thrall has all the She-Orcs of Grommash Hold under his spell. I really dig his incredibly long braided hair as well. These are cast in fairly flexible plastic, and spill down the front along either side of his neck. I also love the color paint they used for his orc flesh. It’s a fairly bright green that contrasts beautifully with the armor.

With plenty of rotating hinges throughout the figure, Thrall features a respectable amount of articulation and all of those points do the best they can against a design that is not by nature intended to be limber. The shoulders threatened to be the biggest impediment, but they are designed to be flexible and lift up to allow for a fairly good range of arm movement. The elbows are a lot more restrictive. Still, all in all I’m quite pleased with the posability in this figure.

Thrall includes one accessory, and that’s Doomhammer. The hammer actually comes in two pieces, allowing you to pass the shaft of the handle up through the bottom of his closed right grip and then peg in the head of the hammer. It works well and gives him an infallible grasp on the weapon. Although, he can actually hold it in his left hand as well, just not as securely. It’s a heavy and bulky chunk of plastic, with all the same great level of paint and detail that is exhibited in the figure. And damn does it look great in his hand!

At this point it’s safe to say that, Blizzard’s art design and NECA go together like PB&J, which makes it all the sadder that this line is dying and NECA isn’t going to be doing Overwatch figures. Yeah, I was really hoping for that to happen. But rather than end this review under a cloud of doom and gloom, let’s just revel in what we’ve got. Thrall is a fantastic figure, which exhibits all the passion and craftsmanship that NECA pours into the licenses they work on. The coloring and complexity of sculpt bring this figure to life and make him look like he just stepped off the screen. He’ll likely be spending a while sitting on my desk, so that I can keep glancing over and admiring him, before joining his friends on the shelf. Thrall is available now at NECA retailers for around twenty bucks.

Friday the 13th (The Final Chapter): Ultimate Jason Voorhees by NECA

NECA has been killing it (HA!) with their Ultimate line of action figures, each one curated from some of the most iconic horror, sci-fi, and action films of the 80’s. Among them has been their love letters to a personal favorite franchise of mine, Friday the 13th. This is Jason Voorhees’ third outing in the Ultimate line, preceded by versions from Part VI and Part III. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll refer you back to the first review if you want a little taste of how much these films have meant to me growing up. As for now, let’s dig right in!

I’ve reviewed at least a dozen of these Ultimate figures, and if you’ve been on board for any of them then you should be familiar with the packaging. You get a collector friendly window box with a front flap, poster art from the film on the front, and artwork on the side panels to identify the figure. As for the film, The Final Chapter was the fourth installment in the series, and there wasn’t an ounce of truth to the title. But I didn’t care. This one is one of my favorites. From the moment the title collided with Jason’s mask and exploded right in my face, I just knew this one isn’t f’cking around.

I was excited to get this version, as it’s probably my most iconic version of the scourge of Crystal Lake. As expected, this Jason shares a lot of parts with the Part VI figure, as that version wears the same outfit and just accessorizes with a belt of killing tools and some work gloves. With that having been said, the clothes on this version are painted with a gloss that makes him look wet and the pants don’t have the ragged edges around the ankle cuffs that the version from Part VI has. So, there are some changes here to make him unique, but the underlying body is mostly the same.

With the same body comes the same articulation. Jason sports rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles. You also get a ball joint in the neck and swivel in the waist. That’s a lot of points for this lumbering killer, and probably far more than he needs. Then again, more is always better than less.

And that brings us to the noggins. Yes, you get two swappable heads with this figure, and both of them feature removable masks. One of the biggest improvements NECA made from that initial Part VI release was actually putting eye holes in the hockey mask, rather than just sculpting them and painting them black. The two masks that come with the figure are virtually identical, with just some natural variations in paint that are bound to happen. I’d dare say, the extra mask was really unnecessary, as one will fit over either head, but it’s still nice to have. And I can’t say enough good things about the masks. They are perfect little replicas of the one worn in the movie. The detail and paint are just off the charts and the way they fit the heads with actual straps is particularly nice.

The standard unmasked head is a work art as well. I mean, damn, just look at all that detail! The twisted flesh, the jumble of teeth, this is fantastic portrait just brimming with love and affection. What’s more the paint work really backs it up. You get some wonderful variations of brown, and just the right of that glossy wet look around the lips. Jason’s face might be a train-wreck, but NECA elevated it to a masterpiece in plastic.

The alternate head is designed with a gash that will fit one of the weapons to recreate Tommy’s “killing” blow at the end of the flick. He did it with Rob’s machete, but as you can see in the above shot, it works with the cleaver as well. This head sculpt features the mouth slightly more open and the left eye closed. Magnificent! And speaking of cleavers… let’s move on to the accessories!

NECA usually does a great job of including the more memorable weapons from the film. In this case, you also get an extra right hand with a different style grip. Here are the cleaver and butcher knife, both appropriately smeared with blood. It’s hard to pinpoint which kills were done with the knife, but I’m pretty sure he used it to stab Samantha through the bottom of the raft and later Teddy Bear got it right through the movie screen. Jason buried the cleaver right into Dead F’ck’s face, but not before…

Nailing his hand to the kitchen counter with this corkscrew! Why am I so pleased that I own a 7-inch scale bloody corkscrew murder weapon? I don’t know, but I think it’s awesome that this is one of the accessories. Knives and cleavers are all well and good, but NECA knows that when Jason gets creative, you’ve got to include that shit in the box! I might point out here, that the killing tool from one of the best kills in the film isn’t in the box. I’m talking about Paul getting the harpoon right in the worst spot imaginable. On the other hand, the Jason from Part III comes with a harpoon gun, so you can always borrow his. Mixing and matching accessories is one of the cool things about owning a bunch of these Jasons. Anyway, back to the accessories…

The bone saw! When Jason woke up at the hospital morgue, he must have felt like a kid in a candy store. So many great toys to choose from! First he cops a feel on a pretty nurse and then he uses the bone saw on morgue attendant, Axel’s neck before finishing the job by twisting his head all the way around. Let’s take a moment and give a thought for poor Axel. He loved his exercise videos and had one of the best swearing fits ever committed to film.

And that brings us to the Axe, which was used to pretty great effect as Sarah was running to escape through the front door of the cabin and Jason threw it right through the door and into her chest. I know Jason’s been perfecting his game up to this point, but even for him, that was an impressive throw. It’s worth noting that this axe is different than the one that came with Part III Jason.

And finally, we have Rob’s machete. Rob came up to Crystal Lake specifically to hunt Jason for killing his sister and he brought along his trusty machete. I like that it’s kind of ironic that the machete in this film belongs to someone else and Jason doesn’t really use it. It’s also fitting that it’s the weapon Tommy uses to strike that impressive blow right to the side of Jason’s face after his sister knocks his mask off.

Before wrapping things up, Jason does come with one final accessory and that’s his mother’s gravestone. We see this pretty early on as the carload of teenagers pulls over to check their map. It doesn’t really hold any other significance in the film, but it’s a really cool piece and I’m glad NECA included it. Especially since now we have gravestones for both Jason and his mom.

If you’re already collecting the many Jasons of this line, The Final Chapter Voorhees should not disappoint. It’s a great looking figure with solid articulation and a gaggle of extras to play around with. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a single Jason for your shelf and you’re not interested in grabbing them all, this one is a pretty good choice. It would be tough for me to pick a favorite of the bunch, but this one is definitely an iconic look. Ultimate Part IV Jason retails for between $20 and $25 depending where you buy him, and as always, that’s a damn good deal for what you’re getting. NECA has already hinted that they’re hard at work on the next one, and I hope they keep going until we get them all. And maybe an accessory pack, like they did with their Aliens and Predators lines.

Alien Vs Predator: Elder Predator by NECA

I originally promised myself I’d stick to just the Ultimate Predator releases, but when it comes to buying toys, I can’t be trusted… not even by myself. And so, I was in one of those big chain bookstores, which seem to sell more toys than books now, and this fella was calling out to me. There was no way I could leave him behind on the shelf. I loved the look of the bookish old lady that was working the register. She looked surprised and appalled at what I was buying. Why do you fill your shelves with these and then act surprised when people buy them?

I’m used to seeing sealed clamshells for a lot of NECA’s lines, but this is just a bubble on a cardback. I’m not complaining, mind you, as it’s easier to get into and still dispenses that lovely rush of plastic fumes. If you like your Predators mint-on-card, the package is designed to stand up as well as swing from a peg. I remember an Elder from the end of Predator 2, but not so much in AVP. Although, I should qualify that statement by admitting that I’ve only seen AVP once because I hated it. But Predators? I like them plenty, no matter what movie they’re in… I don’t judge!

And this is one regal looking fellow! One of the things I love so much about these figures is that the Predator designs all tend to blur together in my memory, but when I get the figures in hand and line them up, it’s so much fun to pick out all the differences. Whatever your personal preferences on Pred designs, it’s hard to deny that NECA really pours the love into these figures and expresses it through some of the finest sculpted detail and paintwork to be found anywhere in this scale. I swear, if you told me that they kept a licensed Predatorologist on retainer, and by that I mean a consultant who has a PhD in Predator culture, I’d totally believe you without a second thought. Anyway, there doesn’t look like there are any shared parts between this guy and the other three Preds in my collection, except maybe the hands.

Here’s a little close up of some of that lovely detail. The belt is loaded with various bits of Yautjan gear and implements. As always, the armor features a wonderful pitted texture to make it look well warn and there’s a paint wash to give it a bit of a rusted patina. There are plastic straps that secure the segmented thigh armor to his legs, and he has a shoulder strap adorned with trophies across his chest. I’ve already worked out in my little head canon, that the bovine looking skull in the middle is from DC’s Red Lantern Skallox, because Elder Predator is so badass that he hunts Red Lanterns. As always, the plastic used for the skin has a slick and semi-transparent look to it, the web suit is sculpted as part of the buck, and all the painted markings on his skin look fabulous. All this, and he sports over 30 points of articulation, including double hinges in the elbows and knees, and a cartload of rotating hinges.

The Elder Predator also features the ubiquitous computer on his left arm and two removable blades for his left arm bracer.

But even with all that lovely detail, I’ll confess that it was the brilliant red cloth cape that got me to do a double take and pick the Elder up off the shelf. It really makes him stand out in the sea of other Preds on the shelves. And not to be content with just hanging a rectangle piece of red cloth on him, NECA created a beautifully tailored garment that hangs off his neck on an ornamental chain. It sits beautifully on his shoulders and just check out the way it cascades down his back, dipping behind the neck so as not to cover up his glorious dreads.

Speaking of dreads, the individually sculpted and painted dreadlocks remain one of my favorite things about NECA’s Predator head sculpts. That’s not to take away anything from the rest of the portrait, because it truly is superb. The deep set eyes are perfectly painted, which makes me wonder how they can get in there to paint those eyes straight when Hasbro has a tough time doing it on regular human figures. The mandibles look great, which is no surprise, as NECA has been sculpting Predator jowls since Moses wore short pants. I really dig the extra crinkly forehead, which shows this to be a Grandpa Predator, who wears his years with pride. But wait… he also comes with his mask!

And boy does it look badass! The Ultimate Predators came with a separate head for the masked option, but this guy actually comes with a mask that fits right over the Elder’s face and it actually stays on pretty damn well. I love the detail on this piece, from the pitted finish in the sculpt to the alien glyphs and silver highlights.

In addition to the mask, Elder Pred also comes with what the package calls his “Ceremonial Staff” but really looks like a gussied up spear. It’s a bit of a frail piece, but it fits perfectly in his right hand.

Damn you, Elder Predator, but I can already tell that you are going to be a gateway purchase. I’m so damn impressed with this figure, that I’ve got no choice but to start picking up some of NECA’s other Pred releases. If I had to come up with any gripes about this fellow it would be that at $25, he costs about the same price as the Ultimate Preds and yet comes with a lot less. Granted, I’m not accounting for the inflated prices that the bookstores usually slap on their toys, but either way the price is pretty close. Still, I suppose that’s more of a point of praise that the Ultimate figures can deliver so much, rather than harp on this guy coming with less. In the end, I still think he was well worth the money.

Marvel Comics: Quarter-Scale Deadpool by NECA

I know, yesterday was Marvel Monday, and that’s the day I set aside for all my Marvel Comics toy rambling, but sometimes I’ve got to make exceptions, and NECA’s amazing Quarter-Scale Deadpool seems like one of those times. While this is certainly not NECA’s first Marvel character in this enormous scale, previous efforts, like Iron Man and Captain America, have been grounded in the MCU. On the other hand, Wade Wilson here represents their first foray into the comic-based characters, and I was really excited to see what NECA would do with it. You think you can handle 18-inches of rock hard ‘Pool? Well, I know my little photo stage can’t, so pardon me while I go make some modifications to accommodate this beast of a figure.

The line is called EPIC MARVEL and Deadpool is appropriately Figure #00. The massive figure comes in a standard window box, much like previous releases, but this time it’s positively littered with art, quotes, and gags befitting The Merc With A Mouth. Before I even opened the figure, I had a great time looking over every square inch at the box to see all the creative stuff they plastered on it. Putting this much effort into the packaging art is love of the craft, plain and simple, and nobody does it quite like NECA. I have looked at several of NECA’s Quarter-Scale figures before, but if you’re new to this line and want a little help conceptualizing how big this figure really is, check out a shot of the box next to Hasbro’s 6-inch Marvel Legends Deadpool…

Yeah. It’s big! The package is collector friendly up to a point. You can get the figure out by clipping all those wire ties, but the accessories are all sealed to the sides of the cardboard tray with bubbles. This is unfortunate, because there’s a lot of great art on the inside of the tray too, and while some time, patience, and careful slicing with a razor can get these pieces out with minimal damage, it’s not really ideal for preserving the packaging. I tend to keep these figures in their boxes, so I spent a lot of time getting the accessories out. But now that he’s out, let’s start with the figure itself…

Sweet Chimichanga-Eatin’ Jesus… Just check him out! As I already mentioned, this design is based on the character’s comic book appearances, but clearly NECA had some artistic license when designing him, similar to what Sideshow did with their Sixth-Scale ‘Pool. The design here is absolutely superb and the way its conveyed in the sculpt is pure poetry. The suit itself is a mix of textured matte red plastic, some smooth black matte plastic, and some high gloss black paint on the shoulders. Frankly, I think the shoulders might have looked better left matte like the rest, but it still looks fine. There’s so much detail here that I’m just going to take us on a tour around Deadpool’s magnificent body and call out some of the highlights. Where better to start than with…

The crotch! It wouldn’t be Deadpool without a ton of pouches and he’s got a nice selection of these on his belt for storing his tchotchkes, Kleenix, Polaroids of Siryn sleeping, and Bea Arthur’s toenail clippings. There’s more sculpted detail on any one of these pouches than your average off-the-peg 3 3/4-inch action figure. All the eyelets and fasteners are painted in metallic silver, and you get a nice wash over the brown to make them look like rich Corinthian leather. He also has his signature Deadpool belt-buckle and some canister grenades. This shot also gives a nice view of the texturing on his uniform as well as his manly ‘Pool bulge.

If we come around a bit to check out his right thigh, we can see some more pouches and the holster for his sidearm. The sculpted straps look great, along with more silver painted fixtures. I like the brush marks on the panels of the holster itself, and the sculpted screw heads.

Just below his holster is a sheath for his knife. Again, nice job here on the sculpted screws and paint. It all looks really convincing.

Checking out Deadpool from the back shows off his impressive sword rig. The crossed scabbards hold his twin katanas as well as a sai. The sword rig is the one real complaint I have with this figure. It’s held on with two pegs and thick tabs that fit into recessed areas on his back. I found it a little tough to get it in all the way, especially with some fear of snapping those little pegs. It seems to work best on my figure when I put the bottom peg in first, then insert the top, and press the whole thing in as hard as I can. It seems to hold fine when he’s standing there on display, but when I’m playing around with him, it will tend to pop out again. To avoid frustration, I’ve found it best to take it off when messing around with him a lot.

And just to show you how much love and attention NECA put into this guy, check out the soles of his boots. God, I love this!

And here’s a shot of Deadpool’s handsome mug. The mask features some wonderful depth to the sculpt, from the texturing to the tiny rivets, and the recessed eye panels. You also get a very expressive look, with his one eye popped and the other eye squinting and his brow rumpled. Some might cry foul that there’s only one noggin in the box, but I can easily forgive that when I consider how many other goodies are included with the figure. But before I get to all the accessories, let’s do a run down on the articulation…

The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders and wrists, swivels in the biceps, and double hinges in the elbows. The legs feature rotating hinges in the hips, swivels in the thighs and double hinges in the knees. The ankles are hinged, have lateral rockers, and the feet are hinged about halfway to the toes. There’s a swivel in the waist, an ab crunch hinge in the torso, and the neck is ball jointed. The joints on this guy feel fantastic and he’s a lot of fun to pose, although sometimes it feels like wrestling with a small child, because he’s just so damn big. He’s also extremely well balanced. I hardly have any trouble getting him to stay standing no matter what pose I put him in.

Deadpool comes with a total of seven different hands, most of which are tailored specifically for holding his various weapons. Although you do get this sweet left hand with his branded knuckles. Oh, Deadpool, don’t ever change. Let’s look at some guns…

‘Pools prolific arsenal of prodigious pew-pews includes a pistol, a sub-machine gun, and an assault rifle.

The pistol reminds me of RoboCop’s Auto 9, which was a modified Beretta 93R. I love the design of this thing and the sculpt is outrageous. It’s cast in black matte plastic and features some silver paint apps. It’s an entirely static piece, so there’s no working action or removable clip. It’s interesting that NECA went with a single distinctive pistol like this, rather than the usual twin automatics that we often seen Deadpool wielding. I’m actually glad they went this route as it just makes this version of the character all the more distinctive.

The sub-machine gun is another great looking weapon. Like the pistol, it’s cast in black plastic, and is static with no moving parts or removable clip. It does, however, have some great notations by Deadpool on one side and ‘Pool’s symbol stamped on the other. Oh yeah, there’s even a tiny Deadpool charm hanging off the back sling ring.

And the final entry for the guns is this assault rifle fitted with a scope and a grenade launcher. This sucker has a lot of character and includes some sculpted and painted tape on the stock, a couple of magazines taped together to one side and another pair of magazines, which are removable. All three of these weapons make for a strong statement, but sometimes you want to add a little personal touch to your killing, and that’s where the edged weapons come in handy…

‘Pool’s assortment of cutlery includes his twin katanas, a sai, and a fixed blade knife.

The sai is very simple, although it does have a cool sculpted wrap handle and I really love how it has that hole in his scabbard rig for storage.

The fixed-blade knife is a marvelous little piece. The detail on the grips is amazing. I do, however, find it to be a little diminutive for Deadpool. I doubt I will display him holding it very often, but it sure looks great in the sheath on his leg.

His katanas are really the showpiece here. They feature fully sculpted wrapped hilts with a red and black pattern, because Deadpool knows how important it is to accessorize. The tsubas are also fashioned to look like Deadpool’s iconic symbol. The blades are beautifully painted in metallic silver and feature some Japanese lettering sculpted right into the blades. These fit perfectly in the scabbards, are easy to draw, and he’s got a pair of hands that grip them splendidly.

Deadpool retails at $109 and I’ve got to say that’s a mighty good value for what you’re getting here. The figure alone is an absolute work of art and uses a full four pounds of plastic. Add to that plenty of great articulation and a ton of extras and it’s easy to see where all the money went in a release like this. It’s also easy to see where all the love went. Quarter-Pool feels like nothing less than a passion project, which granted is the case with a lot of NECA’s releases. With four of these Quarter-Scales already on my shelf, I have to be careful about how many I buy. Space is always a premium for me, but Deadpool here was an instant purchase the moment I saw him.

Predator: Ultimate Jungle Hunter by NECA

It wasn’t too long ago that I checked out the aptly named, Ultimate City Hunter from NECA. Yes, the Ultimate Pred from the second movie was actually released first, and now hot on its heels comes the Jungle Hunter from the original flick. I need not gas on about how much I’m in love with NECA’s Ultimate figures. To the uninitiated, these are basically characters that NECA has released before, but now they’re given the utmost attention when it comes to articulation, accessories, and overall presentation. They’re not only wonderful action figures, but the line touches on all those wonderful nuggets of cinematic nostalgia from my youth. Needless to say I am super excited to dive right in and check this ugly sunovabitch out!

If you’re like me and already own City Hunter, you’ll be happy to know that Jungle Hunter’s package pairs up with it perfectly on the shelf. Hell, it pairs up beautifully with all the other Ultimate figures on my shelf from Terminator to Commando, to the slew of 80’s horror figures. Seeing these boxes all lined up is a beautiful thing and it reminds me of the VHS cassette cabinet that I had in my room with all the same titles on the spines. The package consists of a seemingly enclosed box with an opening front flap that reveals a window and allows for a good look at the figure inside. You get the Predator title running down both side panels and a whole mess of pictures of the figure on the back. Of course, everything is collector friendly and the only thing standing between me and my new Predator is a piece of cello tape and some twisty-ties.

Jungle Hunter comes out of the box with his shoulder cannon off, but I’m starting out with it attached to the figure and with the masked head on. Remember how I gushed over the City Hunter? Well, all that gushing goes for this guy too! The detail on display here is just crazy. I adore the creepy plastic they use for the Predator skin and how convincing the body net looks, even though it’s sculpted as part of the buck. I also love that I’m getting high off the fumes of this fellow even though he wasn’t sealed in a clam shell. Despite seeing both Predator and Predator 2 more times than I can imagine, I was never really aware of how many differences there were between the Preds until I had these figures in hand to compare. In fact, it’s worth noting that I’m hard pressed to find any parts shared between this guy and the City Hunter.

Some of the wonderful details on this Pred include the leather loin cloth, the beautiful pitting in the leg and thigh armor, the alien carvings in his belt buckle, and the strings of bones that hang off of his shoulders. Oh, and let’s not forget the sculpted sandals. Am I the only one who thinks that Preds wearing sandals is weird? Well, this one does so I should probably just get over it. Where was I? Oh yeah… the details! So good! I know I use the phrase “work of art” a lot when I talk about NECA stuff, and here’s yet another example where it’s appropriate. I can just get lost in every little loving detail that NECA put into this figure. If you want better than this, you’re going to have to go to Sixth-Scale and shell out a whole lot more money. Or maybe just go for one of NECA’s Quarter-Scale Predators.

The shoulder cannon is a lot beefier than what we saw on the City Hunter and it is a beautiful piece. It tabs in at the shoulder and again in the back, making it pretty easy to put on and take off. It also holds in place quite well. I love the segmented armor running down the back of it like a crustacean shell. The piece also mates nicely with the armor sculpted into his left arm as well as the hoses. It all makes him look more formidable, and yet a little more primitive, than his urban-hunting successor. The hoses have a habit of pulling out when I’m posing this guy, as you may notice in some of the pictures, but they can be stuck right back into place.

NECA included an effect part that pegs into the shoulder cannon. It looks OK, but the added weight is too much for that little ball joint to take, so it doesn’t really work that well. I can usually get it to sit right for a little while, but then it just droops. I guess it’s the thought that counts.

The masked head is a lot cleaner than the pitted and weathered City Hunter’s mask, although it does have a few painted blast marks and some light scratching and scarring. I really like the detail in the laser tracker just above the right eye slit. But in the end, it’s the dreadlocks that impress me the most with this head. Each one is individually sculpted and painted and boy do they look great. And while I do enjoy the masked head a lot, it’s hard to go with it when the other display option is this…

Fantastic! Once again, I’ve got to say how great this plastic is. It’s very glossy, giving the Pred a slimy look and it takes the coloring very well. The sculpting on the mandibles is beautifully done and again we get the individually sculpted and painted dreads hanging off the back. The deep set piercing eyes, which are practically buried under that prominent brow are also superbly executed.

In addition to the shoulder cannon, Jungle Hunter includes the retractable blades on his right gauntlet and the self-destruct computer on his left gauntlet. Once again, both of these are completely different sculpts from City Hunter.

Probably my favorite extra included in the box is the mask, which obviously doesn’t fit over the face, but allows you to display him as if he’s taking it off for that memorable moment in the film. It’s especially nice if your torn between displaying him masked or unmasked, because it gives you the best of both worlds without having to buy a second figure.

And finally, you get some trophies! The skull with spine is the same piece included with City Hunter, only this time without the gore. You also get an extra skull. Jungle Hunter also comes with an extra set of hands, which are designed to hold the spine.

Is it any surprise that City Hunter turned out so fabulously? Well, it shouldn’t be, because NECA has been working their magic on Predators for what seems like forever now and they know their stuff. Their regular release Predators are fantastic in their own right, so it’s only natural for me to have high expectations from the Ultimate Preds, and all those expectations have been fulfilled here. It’s the crazy level of detail and all the differences between the City and Jungle Hunters that make me want to start collecting NECA’s regular Predator line. And yet it’s still something I’m trying to resist. Both my wallet and limited space do not need me to dive down that rabbit hole. Now, I’m just counting the days until the re-releases of Dutch come out, so I’ll have someone for Jungle Hunter to fight. Sadly, still no Lt. Mike Harrington figures on the horizon, but a fella can still hope.