DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH (NECA)
NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.
“Out of the sky, his rockets ignite. Jets into battle faster than light. Flash Gordon is the legendary swashbuckler of space travel. This intergalactic adventurer is known throughout the galaxy as the one man to battle the evil Ming — and come out the hero! Flash alone understands the twisted mind of this wicked tyrant — and leads the Defenders’ war against him to save Earth from extinction.”
Preceding The Phantom by two years, Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon was introduced as a competitor to Buck Rogers, but wound up becoming an institution all his own, arguably becoming even bigger than Buck Rogers himself (in fact, when they produced the first Buck Rogers film serial in 1939, they even cast Buster Crabbe, who had famously played Flash three years earlier, in the lead role). In fact, Gordon’s prominence extended even to Defenders of the Earth, where elements from his series and franchise formed much of the back bone of the cartoon’s plot, making him very much the central figure. He’s been no stranger to figures over the years, but that doesn’t make getting one more any less cool.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Flash Gordon is figure 02 in the first series of NECA’s Defenders of the Earth line (making him quite literally the central figure in the first set). Like the Phantom, he’s based on his appearance in the cartoon, but again through that slightly different lens of the NECA release. While Phantom’s design remained more or less consistent, Flash’s was a much more fluid appearance. His show design tried to go for something that summed up those elements into one piece, while also streamlining a bit for the purposes of easier animating. The end result’s a fairly decent, somewhat regal, but still functional design, that feels very true to the character. The figure stands just over 7 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation. His articulation scheme is the same as Phantom’s, by virtue of them using the same core body. As with Phantom, it’s a good enough fit for Flash, matching alright with his usual depictions. He adds a few more new parts to the mix, with a new head and shoulders, as well as an add-on for his collar, and a waist cap with a slightly adjusted belt. The head’s definitely my favorite part of the figure; despite being based on the cartoon character, NECA has opted to also inject quite a bit of actor Buster Crabbe’s likeness into the face, which makes it look even more like that classic Flash Gordon to me. In general, Flash’s sculpt offers just a bit more in the way of detailing than the Phantom, and it really works. Flash’s paint work is about on par with the Phantom for the most part, though perhaps a little better. He’s still got the issue with the paint flaking on the joints on the wrists and ankles, but at least both of his boots match in finish. I do quite like the slightly metallic finish on the jumpsuit, and the red and gold mesh well together. There’s a touch of bleed over between the colors, and my figure’s got a small scratch on his forehead, but overall it looks okay. Flash is packed with a slightly larger array of accessories than the Phantom, with five hands (pair of fists, pair of gripping, and a left trigger hand), a laser gun (same as the one included with Phantom), a sword, and two different effects pieces.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
In contrast to the Phantom, I’ve been a fan of Flash Gordon since a rather early age, courtesy of having my dad’s copies of the film serials to watch (on Laser Disc, if you can believe it). I’ve had a number of toys over the years, but I’m always down for another cool one. Of all the figures shown off for this set, Flash was certainly the one I was most looking forward to, and I have to say, he’s also my favorite figure in-hand as well. He’s still got some slight QC issues, but they don’t seem quite so bad on him, compared to Phantom. He’s a very fun figure, and I’m certainly glad to have gotten one for my collection.