THE EVIL DEAD: 40TH ANNIVERSARY (NECA)
In 1981, after a series of glorified home movies, and otherwise widely unseen product, Sam Raimi and a bunch of his friends put together a full-length feature. A horror movie about a group of friends trapped in a haunted cabin in the woods, and an extremely low-budget affair to boot, The Evil Dead gained quite a bit of notoriety for its cast and crew, especially Raimi, and the film’s star, Bruce Campbell, who made his first turn as Ash Williams, the man who would become the face of a franchise. While there’s been toy coverage for the ultimate badass that Ash would become, we’ve never gotten anything based on his debut appearance. In honor of the film’s 40th anniversary (well, last year, anyway), NECA’s gone back to the beginning, with a full on “Ultimate” treatment for Ash, circa the first film.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Ultimate Ash is a single release figure, under NECA’s general Evil Dead banner, but the very first to be officially branded as The Evil Dead, aka the first movie. The figure was first released in limited quantities to Target as part of their “Haulathon” event, before getting a wider release through specialty stores the following month. This figure stands about 7 inches tall and he has 28 points of articulation. Ash’s articulation scheme matches up with the modern NECA set-up. It’s generally pretty decent, but there are certainly some areas where he could stand to have a little more range of motion. For the most part, it does what it needs to, however. Ash’s sculpt is an all-new affair, based specifically on Bruce Campbell’s much less action hero-y portrayal of the character from the first movie. It does a pretty respectable job on that front. The details match up well with the look from the movie, and the sculpting is all pretty sharp and on point. There are three heads included with this release, each with a slightly different expression. Given how expressive Campbell is in all of the Evil Dead films, it’s nice that NECA continues to give us a full range of extra heads to fully showcase this. Of the three, I particularly like the more frightened head, which I feel best fits the first movie version of the character, but all three of them have a pretty respectable likeness of a very young Campbell. Ash’s paint work is generally alright. Nothing too fancy going on here. Ash is based on his appearance early on in the film, before he really gets all messy from killing his possessed friends. Knowing NECA, a bloody version will more than likely follow, but this one keeps with the clean look. Given that all of the Evil Dead 2 figures had him in various states of dirtiness, having this one be totally clean actually makes it a bit more distinctive. Ash is packed with a sizable assortment of accessories, befitting the “Ultimate” status of this figure. He gets three alternate right hands (basic grip, trigger finger, and lantern holding), a lantern, chainsaw, rifle, axe, and the tape recorder he and his friends find in the cabin. He lacks the book of the dead, which feels like an odd omission; maybe that’s a piece they’re saving for that inevitable bloody variant. As it stands, not a bad assortment of extras.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
As I’ve addressed before, my first introduction to the Evil Dead films was via Bruce Campbell’s behind-the-scenes discussions regarding them in If Chins Could Kill. I really enjoyed the book, and figured I might as well actually watch the films discussed there in. I watched them in order, and notably caught The Evil Dead after midnight, which certainly made for a slightly more restless night. I love the low-budget roots of the film, and I’ve been hoping to see some sort of toy coverage for a while now. This guy finally gives us that, and he does it well. He’s quite a lot of fun, even if he’s not the distinctive version of Ash that most people remember.
Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review. If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website.