COOPER & BRAND
You know those movies where you go in with absolutely no expectations, and they still totally disappoint you? Yeah, I had a couple of those this year. On a rare few occasions, I’ll go into a movie with no expectations and come out of it thinking that was one of the best movies I’ve seen in some time. Such was the case with Interstellar. I, like just about everyone else, mostly know Nolan from his work on the Dark Knight trilogy, which I enjoyed, but was never particularly enamored by. I did really like his work on Inception, but I still didn’t really expect a whole lot going into Interstellar (Matthew McConaughey in the lead role didn’t really boost my confidence either). I didn’t get around to seeing it until this summer, but I was very much impressed. It’s the sort of movie you don’t see much of these days, a send up to the hard science fiction movies of the ‘70s, and in many ways a spiritual successor to 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was a lot of fun. And, even better, it had toys! In the words of Matthew McConaughey: “Alright, alright, alright!”
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
In 2014, NECA released Cooper and Brand as a two-pack within their 8-inch retro cloth line. The figures are kind of like slightly higher end Megos, so it’s an appropriate style for a movie that was a love letter to movies of that same time period.
Joseph “Coop” Cooper is Interstellar’s central figure, not only as the story’s lead and focus character, but also as the heart of the emotional core that makes the movie as gripping as it is. Though this may be a grand space epic, at it’s core, Interstellar is the story of a father-daughter bond. Coop’s entire motivation for taking on his mission is to give his daughter Murphy a chance to live, which is a pretty compelling reason to root for the guy. His figure stands about 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 24 points of articulation (I think. It’s hard to tell, because the space suit isn’t removable).
Coop includes two heads: with and without his helmet. The helmeted head isn’t what he’s wearing in the package, but it’s kind of the default and really the only one I can see most people displaying. The actual head is a separate piece from the helmet (but glued in place), which presents a fairly decent McConaughey likeness. The paint’s a little messy in some spots, but is generally pretty good looking. The actual helmet is very nicely sculpted, and looks quite accurate to the source material. It even has a hinged visor, which is pretty spiffy! The unhelmeted head is a bit of a step down. The likeness feels rather off here (despite the two heads sharing the same face). His head just seems like it’s too deep. Also, the paint’s pretty rough, with the five o’clock shadow being much heavier, the lips standing out much more, and the eyes being just completely misaligned. Seriously, it’s hard to take the head seriously with those eyes.
I’m pretty sure Coop uses the same basic body as all of NECA’s male retro cloth figures. This is the first time I’ve encountered it, but it seems pretty solid, especially when compared to the old Mego bodies (which were, admittedly, rather flimsy). Coop’s space suit is made up of a cloth shirt and pants, as well as sculpted pieces for the gloves, boots, breastplate/backpack, neck guard, elbow boosters, and the straps around his ankles. In terms of accuracy, the overall appearance definitely evokes the designs seen on screen, but there are a few minor differences here and there. That being said, they do appear to be conscious deviations, put in place to fit the “retro” feel just a bit better. That I can certainly get behind. The tailoring on the cloth parts is a bit rudimentary, but certainly not bad (and once again, fitting the whole retro thing). The sculpted parts are actually very strong pieces, and really match up well. The only issue I have is the neck guard, which is just the slightest bit too tall, thereby making it rather difficult to get the helmeted head placed properly. The paint on the sculpted bits is decent. It’s not amazing, but there are some nice touches, especially on the NASA logo.
Amelia Brand sort of ends up taking a backseat to Coop and Murph, but she’s far from an unimportant character. In fact, her relationship with her own father, left on earth with Murphy, plays out as an interesting reflection of Coop and Murph, offering an interesting sort of “what if”scenario of how things could have played out differently. Her figure stands about a half an inch shorter than Coop, and has 22 points of articulation (having lost the bicep swivels present on Coop).
Like Coop, Brand has two head sculpts, one helmeted, one not. The helmeted sculpt is very similar to Coop’s, with the actual helmet being the same piece. The face is new, and is a pretty decent Anne Hathaway. She doesn’t have the most distinctive features, so it’s a little generic, but still pretty good. The paint is a lot cleaner here than on Coop, which is certainly nice. Her unhelmeted head is, on a whole, better than the one included with Coop, offering a much closer likeness, and a bit less weirdness with the proportions. However, the paint brings this one down too. The eyes in particular feel rather lifeless and a little creepy. Also, for some reason her nostrils have been painted, despite this detail not being present on the helmeted head. It’s not a good change, I can tell you that.
Brand is built on the female equivalent of the body Coop was built on. If I’m recalling correctly, she was the first officially released figure to use this body (Broomhilda from Django Unchained would have used it, but only a scant few of her made it out before those figures were cancelled). It’s okay, but it’s not quite as solidly constructed as the male body, and I miss the extra articulation. Her suit is pretty much the same as Coop’s, just with the cloth bits tailored to fit the different body. The sculpted parts are all the same, with the exception of the boots, which are a bit smaller on Brand. The paint on Brand is actually a bit better on my figure, though I would imagine this varies from set to set.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
I watched Interstellar with my Dad, who has long been a fan films such as 2001. He was very enamored with the film, so we ended up picking up this set for him on Father’s Day this year. I was quite impressed with the figures myself, and was keeping an eye on the set still in stock at the then-closing Movie Stop, waiting to get a good deal. Sadly, I missed it. Oh well. I still ended up getting a pretty good deal, though, since I found it on clearance at a Suncoast (yes, there are apparently still some of those around. I was shocked too). I’m pretty happy to have these figures. They both have some flaws, and the unmasked heads are kind of a waste, but I do really like these two. I just wish I had a TARS to go with them. And a CASE. And Doyle and Romilly. Heck, I’d even buy Topher Grace’s character.