When I reviewed Flash Gordon from NECA’s Original Superheroes series, I promised to get to Ming the Merciless the following week. Well, here we are a month later, and what can I say? I’m easily distracted. But as one of my favorite sayings goes, better late than never, so let’s check out the ruthless tyrant of from Mongo!
When NECA secured the King Features license, their main intention seemed to be doing Defenders of the Earth (and I’ll get to those figures eventually!), but they also produced these variants based on Flash Gordon and The Phantom’s standalone adventures and called it The Original Superheroes. Which is why it says that on Ming’s box, despite him being a Super Villain! The packaging here is very nice, with some great pulp artwork, some faux weathering, and a collector friendly box.
Out of the box, Ming does make use of a buck that he shares with his nemesis, Flash, and that even includes the belt with the padded waist wrap and holster. As such, I won’t run through the articulation here, but just note that this figure has all the right points and plenty of range for some fun posing. The tops of the boots are newly sculpted, with a front crease coming to a point at the front of each. You also get some new sculpting for the shoulder ridges, the color piece, and the band that secures the cape. The body suit is green with gold paint for the gauntlets and the new sculpted bits. You also get a different shade of green for the boots. Finally, you get a very nice green softgoods cape, which is fashioned out of a light cloth and falls about the figure quite naturally.
There are two heads included with the figure, one wearing his helmet, and the other without it. Both are decent sculpts, but it’s crazy how hideous these portraits look when you punch in close with the camera. The paint is pretty rough on the helmeted head, with some green spray on his cheeks and some random spots on the helmet itself. It really doesn’t show too bad to the naked eye, but it sure looks terrible when scrutinized by the camera.
The other portrait has a pretty impressive skin tone going on for his bald head, with some spots here and there. This one also has Ming offering a villainous laugh, and boy do the teeth look like a jumbled mess up close. Again, it’s fine with the figure in hand, but the camera just does not do either of these portraits any favors. With that having been said, I dig the crazy eyebrows on both of the portraits, as well as the pointed ears and the trademark beard. The helmeted head is the more iconic look for me from this period, but I could see myself going either way when it comes to choosing a head to display.
Ming comes with three sets of hands, but only the fists are painted to look like gloved hands. The other two are graspy hands and accessory holding hands, and they are sculpted with his long fingernails and rings. I guess if you’re using either of these pairs, the gold paint on his forearms are supposed to be bracers, rather than the sleeves of his gauntlets. And it’s a worthy compromise, because I really dig the detail on the bare hands.
When it comes to accessories, there’s a lot of stuff here that we saw with Flash Gordon. The pistol is exactly the same, as are the two blast effect parts. One is a long laser stream and the other is just a muzzle flash. I don’t mind the gun being the same, as it’s a given that Flash just acquired a Mongo blaster, so there’s no reason it shouldn’t be the same. It would have been cool to get the blast effects in a different color, but I guess if it’s the same model pistol, the effects would be the same color anyway. Either way, I’ve already covered this stuff with Flash, so I won’t spend any more time on it here.
Like Flash, Ming comes with a sword and scabbard, but these are thankfully different, and pretty damn awesome as well! The scabbard is painted in the darker green with gold fixtures to match his outfit. There’s also a real chain that hangs from the throat and connects to one of the bands, which looks great. As with Flash, the scabbard has a hole to peg into the side of the figure’s belt.
The sword features a knucklebow, fairly reminiscent of a sword design found on 19th century Earth. The blade is thick and yellow near the hilt and turns silver and tapers off to the tip, where there is a red diamond painted on each face of the blade. The hilt guard is painted green to match the scabbard and you get a splash of gold on the pommel. I dig this sword a lot!
This version of Ming is certainly not as flashy as the one I’ll eventually look at from the Defenders of the Earth line, but it is a really cool nod back to the earlier days. It’s a great looking figure, even if the amount of recycling here is really on the nose, as NECA tried to get some serious mileage out of the license with as many variants as possible. Yes, there’s even an exclusive boxed set of these figures redone in the style of the Dino De Laurentiis film as well as packaged on retro-style Filmation cards. I’ll pick a day when I’m pressed for time to show off the Filmation ones, because I plan on leaving them carded. The Original Superheroes line also included The Phantom, but I opted out of that one, since I’m content with owning just the one from the Defenders line.