#2802: Ming The Merciless

MING THE MERCILESS

DEFENDERS OF THE EARTH (NECA)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Evil ruler of the planet Mongo.  Ming the Merciless has been battling the unconquerable Flash Gordon for years, in their constant clash of good against evil.  Desperate to seize and dominate the Earth, Ming’s greed for conquest has become his obsession.”

As I touched on in yesterday’s into, Defenders of the Earth leaned pretty heavily on the Flash Gordon franchise for much of its plot and mythos.  To that end, the show’s primary antagonist was Flash’s own nemesis, Ming the Merciless.  Much like Flash was a quite prototypical hero, Ming is very much the prototypical arch-villain, inspiring many popular villains that would follow.  Like his nemesis, Ming has had his fair share of figures over the years, but who’s going to complain about getting one more?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ming the Merciless is figure 03 in the first series of NECA’s Defenders of the Earth line.  He too is based on his animated design from the show of the same name.  Even more than Flash, Ming’s design has been subject to much adjustment over the years, and that was true for the show as well.  Beginning initially with some very definite Yellow Peril overtones, by the time of Defenders, they were trying to move him away from such things.  It marked an early transition to a more alien design for the character, with making his skin a very distinctive green hue.  It also, much like with Flash’s design, attempted to take elements from many prior designs and role them all into one.  The end result is something that’s still very much Ming in terms of look, and definitely gets the idea across.  The figure stands about 7 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  He’s got the same articulation scheme as the other two figures, by virtue of again using the same base body.  Ming winds up with the most sculptural deviations from the main body, with a new head, a slightly tweaked upper torso to add the epaulets, new forearms, a new collar piece, and a skirt piece for the waist.  It’s all topped off with a cloth cape, complete with a wire in the lining for posing.  Technically, for full accuracy to the show, the arms should feature looser sleeves, but that might have been too many new parts to cost out.  The parts that are there are quite impressively handled; there’s a lot of character in the face, and the depth of detail on the costume parts is really well-rendered.  Ming’s paint work is more involved than the other two, but it works well.  The accenting on his face and hands is fairly lifelike, and while he’s still got the chipping issue on the ankle joints, at least the molded color is a little darker, so it’s not quite as noticeable.  Ming is packed with two alternate left hands (one open gesture, one trigger finger grip), a sword, a staff, a laser gun (modified from the other two), and two laser effects pieces.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, if I’m gonna get Flash Gordon, I can’t very well not get Ming, right?  That would be silly.  Ultimately, I wasn’t quite as sure about Ming going in, but I do have to say, he turned out very nicely.  The QC issues are less so on this release, and he’s got a very dynamic appearance.  While he doesn’t quite dethrone Flash as my favorite, he’s still a mighty fine offering.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2801: Flash Gordon

FLASH GORDON

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.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2800: The Phantom

THE PHANTOM

DEFENDERS OF EARTH (NECA)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Lord of the jungle, the hero who stalks, the beast call him brother, the ghost who walks!  The Phantom is the possessor of the strongest and most unique powers on Earth.  He draws upon the ancient secrets and supernatural strengths of his roots in the Deep Woods.  The Phantom’s ‘flashes’ of raw animal power are invaluable in the Defenders’ conquest of evil Ming and his ruthless robot army.”

First appearing in 1936, Lee Falk’s The Phantom is a costumed hero that actually predates Superman and the introduction of the super hero proper in 1938, which is something of a surprise to a lot of people.  The Phantom was a pulp hero, but something of a transitional one, as he helped to move the whole genre more into the direction that Superman would take things two years later.  Definitely a prominent role in the history of modern storytelling, right?  It’s a shame he’s never been able to find his footing with modern audiences.  The character got a less than stellarly received film starring Billy Zane in 1996, as well as some movie serials in the ’40s. Most relevantly for the purposes of this review, however, was his appearance alongside other King Features properties in 1986’s Defenders of the Earth, a 65-episode cartoon, which serves as the basis for NECA’s new line of figures.  I’m kicking things off with the Ghost Who Walks today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Phantom is figure 01 in the first series of NECA’s Defenders of the Earth line.  He’s based on his design from the Defenders of the Earth cartoon, albeit through the lens of something slightly more typical for a modern NECA figure, rather than something purely cartoon accurate.  For the cartoon, Phantom’s appearance was fairly close to his original design, just minus the striped shorts he tended to have previously.  The figure stands a little over 7 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  He’s quite posable for a NECA release, even one of the more recent ones.  The joints are definitely on the stiffer side, but it means he has an easier time holding a pose.  Structurally, Phantom is making use of the core body from NECA’s earlier DC figures from their AvP comic packs.  Of course, given how hard to get those were, these might as well be all-new molds.  It’s a rather bulked up, and kind of an almost ridiculous, body, definitely not the more realistic proportions we see from NECA.  It works well enough for the Phantom, though, especially given his more basic design.  He’s been given an all-new head sculpt, which does quite a nice job of capturing his cowled and domino-masked appearance.  He also gets a new waist piece with his distinctive skull-buckled belt, and a new set of forearms sporting some detailing on the wrists of his sleeves.  It’s a small touch, but a very nice one.  In terms of paint, Phantom is really good…in theory.  In practice, he’s mostly good, but there are some rather notable issues in terms of production.  On the positive side, there’s some really great work on the face, with subtle work on his stubble.  There’s also some nicely handled shading on the body suit, keeping it from being too much of the same color for one large stretch.  Unfortunately, there are two issues that plague pretty much the whole production run.  Firstly, for some reason, his two boots are a differing finish; the left is glossy, and the right is matte.  Secondly, they opted to mold the wrist and ankle joints in purple, and paint them to match the hands and feet.  Unfortunately, the paint shears off after the first posing, leaving them rather obviously a different color.  In terms of accessories, the Phantom is packed with three alternate right hands (standard fist, trigger grip, and fist with a hole for the ring effect), a laser gun (the show replaced his more usual real world firearms with one of these), three different energy effects (two for the gun, and one for his ring hand), and Zuffy, the small little alien that accompanied the Defenders’ children.  Zuffy gets hit pretty hard by the QC issues as well, with incredibly sloppy paint on the face, and a rather obvious and major crack in the mold on the right side of his chin.  I didn’t buy it for Zuffy, but that’s still really annoying.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

In terms of pulp heroes, my experience with the Phantom is rather minor.  I largely knew him from him getting a Captain Action costume, and a little bit from having seen the movie on TV as a kid.  So, I don’t have a huge attachment to him.  That said, I do really like the design, and there’s no denying that he’s a prominent character, worthy of some cool toy treatment.  When NECA unveiled these figures, I was certainly interested, so I snagged the whole first set.  Phantom himself is okay, but he’s held back by those rather frustrating QC issues.  I hope NECA can get those sorted out on future releases.  Still, even with those issues, he’s the best Phantom figure out there.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2761: Casey Jones & Raphael in Disguise

CASEY JONES & RAPHAEL in DISGUISE

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE MOVIE (NECA)

“Now you can catch America’s favorite green teens in their first live-action blockbuster film!  After wading in a puddle of radioactive waste, these radical reptiles are transformed into New York City’s greatest crime-fighting quartet.  Raphael’s a skilled sai-wielding ninja.  Beware: when he gets angry, you don’t want to be around.  Casey Jones, the masked vigilante, carries a golf bag on his back filled with clubs, bats, and sticks…makeshift weapons in his war against crime.”

Hey, how about that totally not at all troublesome or even slightly infuriating topic that is NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?  Which one in particular?  It doesn’t matter!  They’re all equally infuriating!  Yay!  Equal opportunity awfulness!  ….Okay, I’m gonna try not to let this be a review of me just complaining about distribution issues.  Those are no fun to experience, and even less fun to read about.  Let’s just skip past, shall we?  Remember back in early 2019, when I had a man on the inside a fiancee working at GameStop, which was pretty much the sole reason I was able to get a set of the GameStop-exclusive movie Turtles?  Well, NECA decided to do more of those.  And they were even harder to get than the first round, so they stopped giving them to GameStop entirely (not a bad decision, to be fair), and moved the movie-related stuff over to Walmart (a horrible decision, really).  Now, instead of single releases, they were doing two-packs, which they kicked off roughly around the middle of last year, starting with the pairing I’m looking at today, Casey Jones and Raphael in Disguise!

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Casey and Raph were, as discussed above, a Walmart-exclusive two-pack, released as part of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie line last summer….or they were in theory, at least.  It’s not like anyone really saw them–right, trying not to dwell.

CASEY JONES

Casey here is really the main appeal of this set, since he was previously unreleased by NECA, in any scale, or any style.  We got two of them last year, and neither one was particularly easy to–right, I’m dwelling again.  Don’t do that.  This one is movie-based, as you may have guessed from him being in a line that has “Movie” in the title.  This is a kind of big deal, since we’ve not gotten any form of movie Casey from any manufacturer prior to this one.  The figure stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 32 points of articulation.  He’s a little bit better in the articulation department than the Turtles were, showcasing some of NECA’s steps forward in that area since doing those guys’ sculpts back when they were still 1/4 scale.  In particular, he’s got much better range on his elbows, which have the same sort of structure as Brett did earlier last year.  Casey’s sculpt is all-new, and certainly on par with NECA’s usual work.  Since they didn’t get Elias Koteas’s likeness rights, the figure is without his face, instead keeping him permanently masked.  While it’s somewhat limiting, it’s also not that weird for a Casey Jones figure, since the vintage figure’s mask was sculpted in place too.  This one does at least look as if it *could* be removed, since it is actually a separate piece.  It’s a sharply defined and very clean piece, and definitely the best part of this figure.  The body sculpt does a respectable job as well.  The level of detail is definitely up to the standards of the other figures in the set; there are some spots where the articulation could be a little better worked in, especially on the knees, but for the most part, he’s pretty strong.  Casey’s paint work honestly isn’t all that involved for the most part, largely being just large open areas of solid color.  The shirt and vest do get some impressive accenting, however, and, apart from one spot on the side of his hair, the application is pretty clean.  Casey’s accessory selection is certainly one of NECA’s most impressive.  He gets four pairs of different hands (fists, loose grip, tight grip, and open gesture/flat grip combo), as well as his golf bag mentioned in the bio, which can be filled with his included hockey stick, goalie stick, golf club, two baseball bats, and cricket bat.  It certainly gives him a lot of options in how to bring the pain.

RAPHAEL in DISGUISE

Raphael largely exists as an excuse to make a two-pack out of this whole set-up, but I guess also as a way to get Raphael out another time, after the less than stellar distribution of the first two movie releases.  This one operates on the general thematic of Raph and Casey’s first interactions with each other in the first film, which has Raph in the aforementioned disguise, which amounts to a trench coat and hat.  How does this figure manage that?  By taking the previous Raphael (which I reviewed here) and putting him in a trench coat and hat.  The coat is a cloth piece, and is decent enough for the scale.  Some of the tailoring is a little oversized, but it’s not a terrible look, and it’s a pretty close match to the one he had in the movie.  It can be removed, if you so choose, but it’s not really optimized for it.  It’ll definitely take some doing (hence why I didn’t, what with already having one sans coat and all), but it’s possible.  The coat is held in place a little more so by a sculpted back pack, which is a reasonable enough piece.  The whole disguise is topped off by the hat, another sculpted plastic piece.  It’s designed with a hole at the back, so that it can sit more properly on the head, while still allowing for the knot on the back of his mask to be left undeterred.  It’s a little janky to look at from behind, but it does stay in place pretty nicely.  In terms of accessories, Raph has the same alternate hands, alternate ties to the mask, slice of pizza, and sais as the single release, but also adds an extra set of hands which are pointing, you know, for pointing purposes.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’ve always been a Casey Jones fan, and I’d go so far as to say he’s my favorite part of the TMNT mythos.  Despite all this, I owned no Casey Jones figures beyond the Minimate, which seemed wrong.  I’d been hoping for NECA to do some version of Casey, so I was interested in this one, but then there was the whole distribution thing.  That was a mess, wasn’t it?  Fortunately, I’m a patient man, so I just kind of avoided the whole issue for the entirety of the last year.  As luck would have it, my patience paid off, and someone happened to trade this set into All Time last month, at last giving me the opportunity to get one without having to deal with Walmart.  Yay for me!  Casey’s definitely a nice figure, worth the wait, but also not really worth the mark-up, so I’m glad I didn’t pay it.  Raph is kind of redundant for me, and I ultimately decided not to hang onto him, but he’s still as good a figure as the first release.  If someone didn’t get that one, I imagine this one would be a great alternative.  Perhaps even a better one, really.  Whatever the case, I’m just happy to have a Casey to go with my Turtles.  Now, here’s to hoping that April’s not quite as much of a nightmarish ordeal to acquire.  Man, even *I* don’t believe myself when I say that…

#2548: Brett

BRETT

ALIEN: 40TH ANNIVERSARY (NECA)

“Parker, what do you think? Your staff just follows you around and says ‘right’. Just like a regular parrot.”

What good is a manager without some staff to manage?  Parker’s definitely the brains of the Nostromo’s maintenance division, but he’s kept company by his slightly slower on the uptake subordinate, Samuel Brett.  Played by veteran character actor Harry Dean Stanton, Brett has the misfortune of becoming the titular creature’s first victim, but is never the less a memorable part of the film’s cast.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Brett joins Parker as part of the second series of NECA’s Alien: 40th Anniversary line, where the two ship alongside a variant of the main alien.  If Parker’s been scarce as a toy, Brett’s only been scarcer, with only a Minimate preceding this release.  The figure stands 7 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Much like Parker, Brett’s got a lot of articulation, but the range isn’t quite all there.  It’s a little better here than on Parker, and the double joints on the elbows help a little more with posing.  That being said, those double joints aren’t really much to look at, and do end up being more than a little bit jarring in regards to the flow of the sculpt.  The actual quality of the sculpt’s not bad, but I’m not sure it’s quite as strong as Parker’s, which is interesting, because my opinions on the two were swapped based on the prototypes.  Something seems to have happened in the production process, however, and the likeness in particular on this guy took a real hit.  It’s not terrible, but it’s not nearly as spot-on as it looked to be in early shots.  The rest of the body’s not bad, apart from the previously mentioned issue with the wonky elbow joints breaking things up. The detail work is crisp, and there’s a lot of effort that’s been put into making him look properly disheveled.  The only part that’s not really got that disheveled look is the bottom of the shirt, which just ends up looking a bit too neat and even by my mark.  Brett’s paint work is overall pretty decent.  There’s a reasonable amount of accent work going on in the uniform, which helps the make the sculpted details pop.  The head gets the worst work again, unfortunately, with the eyes in particular just seeming…off.  Like, possibly misaligned?  It looked like this on all of the figures I had to pick from, so it seems like a line wide issue of some sort.  Brett’s packed with a motion detector and the same cattle prod that came with Parker.  He can hold them both a bit better than Parker could hold his accessories, so that’s a plus.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Parker was definitely my most wanted member of the Nostromo crew, but Brett wasn’t too far behind him, so I was quite happy when they were confirmed together for this line-up.  I find Brett’s got more issues that hold him back than Parker, but ultimately he’s still a good figure, and I’m glad we got them both.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for NECA figures, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2547: Parker

PARKER

ALIEN: 40TH ANNIVERSARY (NECA)

One of Alien‘s enduring contributions to the sci-fi lexicon was moving space-faring characters away from being just purely scientists and military experts, running around in spandex jumpsuits and carrying fancy laser guns and the like, speaking in perfect english, and rarely ever showing any actual normal emotions.  The crew of the Nostromo were a decidedly blue collar bunch, a band of career space truckers not even remotely qualified to be the ones handling first contact with a hostile species.  Their interactions with these strange situations, coupled with their own very realistic interactions and dialogues with each other, gave the film a far more believable and realist feel, and had the side effect of also making the tragedies that befall each of them even more impactful.  Perhaps two of the most interesting characters in the film are the Nostromo‘s engineers, Dennis Parker and his subordinate Brett, two men stuck at the bottom of the Nostromo‘s totem pole.  Parker in particular is one of the film’s most central characters*, his very reactionary and fiery responses to the growing threat serving as a consistent counterpoint to Ripley’s coldly rational approach.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Parker is part of Series 2 of NECA’s Alien: 40th Anniversary line, which celebrates Alien‘s 40th anniversary, albeit a year late.  NECA’s gotta NECA.  Oh, also Series 2 is the only one available through specialty markets, with Series 1 going to Target and 3 going to Walmart.  Why they decided to split up the line between three different venues is anyone’s guess, and I feel it’s only going to further the growing frustration with NECA’s distribution practices and the relative difficulty of following any of their lines right now.  Not helping matters is the difficulty of getting even this specialty assortment, which appears to have been rather scarce.  But, I’m getting away from the actual review.  Back on topic.  Parker here is getting his third ever action figure, following the old Galoob Action Fleet version and the Minimate.  The figure stands 7 3/4 inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation.  While he’s got a lot of articulation, the range is definitely more on the limited side with this guy.  I had some trouble getting him to properly hold the flamethrower on my figure.  It’s certainly nothing terrible, but he’s not quite up the same level as the Marines.  It’s possible he might have a little more range if I pushed a little more on those joints, but I’m hesitant to do that, given NECA’s usual track record on such things.  Parker’s sculpt is all new, and it’s a pretty impressive piece of work.  The likeness of Yaphet Kotto is definitely a very strong one, and the detailing on his uniform is nice and crisp…well, nice and crisp in the appropriate, disheveled way.  The only thing that seems slightly off to me is the figure’s torso, which appears to be a bit too long to be a proper proportionate match for the rest of the sculpt.  It’s not really far off, but it’s enough to stick out.  Parker’s paint work is pretty decently handled.  His face isn’t quite on par with some of Hasbro’s more recent work, but it’s still quite lifelike, and the detailing on the uniform aids in showcasing the depth of the sculpt.  Parker is packed with a flamethrower (the same one originally included with Ripley), the cattle prod he and Brett whipped up, and a second right hand with a slightly different grip.  The hand perplexes me a bit, because it’s a tighter grip than the standard, but not enough to actually let him hold either of the accessories any better, which makes me question why it was included.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Parker’s my favorite character from the film, and I’ve been hoping to see him added to this line pretty much since NECA started doing the Nostromo crew back in 2015.  I’m glad to have finally gotten the figure, and he’s a pretty solid addition to the overall line.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for NECA figures, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

*Re-reading some of my old reviews, I see that in my review of the Parker Minimate, I referred to him as “not a character who’s key to the plot.”  I’m not sure why I said that, and I’m gonna have to call out 2015 Ethan for his totally incorrect and bogus assessment of the character there.  What gives, man?

#2474: Rhino Alien

RHINO ALIEN

ALIENS (NECA)

NECA’s Aliens used to be a rather frequent feature around these parts, but the line has slowed down a little bit as of late.  The core stuff right now has been a handful of one-off releases, largely centered around Kenner-inspired variants on previously.  A few months ago, I took a look at their Kenner-ized Drake, and now I’m jumping over to another one of the Xenos.  As I’ve no doubt brought up before on this site, Kenner took the concept of the Dog Alien from Alien 3 and really ran with it, creating all sorts of Xeno off-shoots.  NECA’s crafted a few of them in their 7-inch line, and the latest of the bunch is today’s focus, the Rhino Alien!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Rhino Alien is a standalone release for NECA’s Aliens line, loosely meant to coincide with the Kenner Drake figure, though it’s at a different price point and in a totally different style of package than Drake.  It started hitting shelves not too long after he did, although due to some production errors I know he’s been rolling out a little more sporadically.  At full height, this figure’s a whopping 10 inches tall and has 34 points of articulation.  Of course, given that he’s based on one of the Kenner line’s quadrupedal Aliens, he’s not really meant for standing at full height, and is instead meant for posing on all fours.  Fortunately, the articulation works well enough to make both types of poses possible with this guy.  The hips can be a little tricky, but for the most part he’s pretty easily posed, and I don’t feel quite as worried about breakage as on other NECA offerings.  I’m still going to be slightly cautious, because I’ve been wronged before, but it does seem a little better.  In terms of sizing, this guy’s one of largest Xenos (barring the Queen, of course, which is in a class of its own), not just in height, but in bulk as well.  He achieves this through an all-new sculpt, and a pretty impressive one at that.  It’s somewhat patterned on Kenner’s own Rhino Alien, of course, but it’s worth noting that in terms of body construction, it seems to be taking more of its cues from Kenner’s Bull Alien.  The Kenner Rhino’s anatomy was a bit more further removed from the standard Xeno’s, while the Bull had something a little more in line with the Dog Alien’s merging of the Xeno with a quadrupedal design.  Ultimately, I think the Bull’s approach worked a little bit better, and as an added bonus, this leaves the door open for a possible Bull Alien later down the road, which would certainly not be a bad thing.  The quality of the sculpt is on par with NECA’s other Xenos, so the details are all quite sharp, and follow all of the broad strokes of the original Kenner figure, while also filling in some of those smaller parts.  The head dome has been designed to be removable, revealing a whole bunch of further details, which had been hidden under the dome.  This is probably NECA’s most impressive Xeno sculpt, honestly.  In terms of paint, the figure steps things up for Xenos.  He’s molded in orange, with black, brass, and some purples painted over top.  It makes for an incredibly impressive appearance, and looks pretty sick when it catches the light just right.  In addition to the previously mentioned removable dome, the Rhino also includes a reprint of the “Ice Storm” minicomic that was included with the original Kenner figure.  It’s definitely a fun read, but very much a product of its time.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I haven’t been quite as completist on the Kenner-tribute Aliens as I was the movie stuff, so there were a fair number I’d missed.  Because of that, I wasn’t 100% certain I’d be getting this guy, but after seeing him in person, it was definitely hard to say no.  It’s a very, very fun piece, and definitely the best of the Xenos I’ve gotten.  It’s just so much fun to mess with, and pairs off well with the Space Marines I’ve picked up.

Thanks to my sponsors over at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure to review.  If you’re looking for NECA figures, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2446: Ash

ASH

TOONEY TERRORS (NECA)

In addition to putting together a fairly consistent stream of usually quite accurate recreations of various horror and sci-fi fixtures, NECA has a tendency to experiment with some slightly different styles and ideas from time to time, in order to get a little bit more mileage out of some of their licenses.  They like to have a little bit of fun with whatever their working on, and that translates to some often rather goofy, off-beat ideas.  Tooney Terrors, a line launched late last year, fits right in with that.  It’s not the most complex idea; essentially, they’re filtering horror icons through the lens of a Scooby Doo-esque Saturday morning cartoon.  I myself am not the biggest standard horror/slasher fan, at least as far as collecting toys goes, but they managed to pique my interest with their latest assortment, which happens to include Ash Williams, Bruce Campbell’s groovy, chainsaw-handed, boomstick-weilding fighter of evil from the Evil Dead films!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ash is one of the three figures in Series 3 of NECA’s Tooney Terrors line, which started hitting right at the end of May.  He’s the first “heroic” character to grace the line, though he still does kind of fit with the “terrors” descriptor.  The figure stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 8 points of articulation.  It’s mostly cut joints on the movement, but he gets a ball-jointed neck, which was a pleasant surprise, and gives him a nice bit of range.  Given how stiff the figure is otherwise, it actually does quite a bit for posing.  Kudos to NECA for that.  I do have to say, I was a little sad at how large he was, since he’s a little too big to fit in with any of my Scooby Doo figures.  That said, he does fit just fine with the rest of the line he’s *actually* from, so I suppose I can’t be too mad at NECA for not making him fit with a line they didn’t manufacture.  He’s also close enough to be fudgable, so it’s hardly the end of the world.  Ash’s sculpt is pretty fun.  He’s based on the character’s Evil Dead 2 appearance, which is really his most distinctive, and therefore the best choice for such a figure.  It also translates quite well into that simplified design they’re going for, goofy expression and all.  There’s a lot of character behind this sculpt, and even without the usual super hyper accurate recreation of the movie look that NECA’s usually known for, there’s no confusion about who this is supposed to be.  Ash’s paintwork is quite clean, and bright as well, which makes him stand out very nicely on the shelf.  Ash includes his “boomstick”, the twelve-gauge double-barreled Remington he carries through both Evil Dead 2 and its sequel.  He can hold it in his left hand, or stow it in the holster on his back, depending on your display preference.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Tooney Terrors has fascinated me since NECA introduced it, but none of the characters were on the nose enough for me to really warrant picking them up.  As soon as they showed off Ash, though, I knew I had my entry point.  There’s not a ton going on with this figure, but I really do enjoy it.  As much as I love having my movie-accurate 7″ figure, there’s something about this one that almost feels more on the mark to the tone of the movies and the character.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy to review.  He and the rest of his assortment, and many other cool toys both old and new, are still available through their website and their eBay Store, so check them out.

#2425: Leonardo

LEONARDO

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: TURTLES IN TIME (NECA)

What?  No Legends review today?  But I’ve only reviewed half of the set!  How can this be?  Well, I got a lot of Legends in the last two weeks, so I’m going to be trying something a little different in terms of how I drop the reviews, so that I don’t get too Legends-ed out.  So, let’s jump over to something a little bit different: Ninja Turtles!  They’re hardly one of my primary interests, but the Turtles have been showing up with a decent amount of frequency on this site in the last year.  Back in March, I took a look at the Foot Soldier from NECA’s recently launched Turtles in Time line.  Now I’m following that up with a look at the Turtles’ leader, Leonardo!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Like the Foot Soldier before him, Leonardo is part of the first series of NECA’s Turtles in Time line, which is somewhat of a follow-up to their arcade-based boxed sets from 2016.  Unlike those, however, these guys are available at mass retail.  The figure stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  All of the figures in the first assortment barring Slash make use of the sculpts from the 2016 set, which, in the case of Leo, means he also shares his mold with all three of the cartoon-styled Leos released in the last three years as well.  It’s a nice, clean sculpt, which captures the design from the cartoon quite nicely.  It also does a pretty respectable job of working in the articulation, although in the case of this particular figure, I did have some troubles with stuck joints that took a little bit of working with.  Leo’s paintwork is much like the Foot’s, going with a slightly stylized approach to the game’s 16-bit graphics.  It’s a little more pronounced here than it was on the Foot, and is in fact an exact match for the boxed set release this time around.  It still looks pretty cool, and works in its own way.  Leo is packed with two sets of hands (gripping and gesturing), his twin swords (which are actually distinct sculpts from the one included with the Foot Soldier), and a hoverboard with a flight stand.  The board is again the coolest extra here, and I really dig the color coordination with Leo’s mask going on there.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The Foot Soldier was really the only of the figures from the first assortment that I truly felt like I needed to own, since I’m starting to hit my limit on how many versions of the Turtles I can have in my collection.  If I’m going to break that rule, it’s also probably not going to be for Leo, what with him being my least favorite and all.  Why am I reviewing this guy, then?  Poor packaging design, that’s why.  While moving the figures from one location to another on the store floor at All Time, Leo’s hook broke off (that’s why you shouldn’t really make them out of cardboard), so since he was going to need to be opened anyway, Jason passed him along to me for a quick review.  He’s not a bad figure, and it’s nice to get a taste of the cartoon Turtles molds.  If you’re a Leo fan and just want a solid version of his ’80s look, you could do a lot worse than this one.

As mentioned above, I was given this guy to review by my friends at All Time Toys.  If you’d like one of your own, he’s still available via their webstore here.   Or, if you’re looking for other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2412: Space Marine Drake

SPACE MARINE DRAKE

ALIENS (NECA)

Specialty: Never defeated in hand to hand combat

Home Planet:  Detention Planet 27, Requist System

Background: Born in captivity, he fought his way out to join the Space Marines at 21

Quote:  ‘Stay Frosty, Marines…and LET IT ROCK!'”

Hey, look at that! It’s another new item, even!  Man, this is just going off the chain with the new stuff, isn’t it?  Three new things?  I better slow down!  In the midst of all this pandemic stuff, I kinda missed Alien Day.  I knew it was coming up, but I honestly didn’t have anything on-hand to review, so I just let it slip by without saying anything.  It’s been just over a month, but I’m finally coming back around, with one of the items that NECA dropped right around the celebratory day, Space Marine Drake.  We’re now four Space Marines deep in the Kenner-inspired Aliens sub-line, and much like last year’s addition of Apone, Drake’s another character whose movie incarnation we have yet to see, so this figure pulls a touch of double duty, until such time that we might actually get a proper movie figure.  Does he do alright?  Let’s find out.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

While Apone was part of a larger series, Drake seems to fall back on the pattern Ripley and Vasquez followed, being his own separate release.  However, rather than being an exclusive like those two, Drake is still available through most retailers.  I know, a non-exclusive NECA figure.  What a novel concept.  Drake stands 7 inches tall and he has 27 points of articulation.  At his core, Drake has a great majority of his pieces in common with NECA’s Jungle Patrol Dutch figure from their Predator line.  It’s a solid starting point, and one of the better base bodies.  It also looks fairly close to what Kenner’s version of Drake was wearing, so it’s sensible in that regard.  The one major downside is that it’s articulation scheme wasn’t really designed with holding the smartgun in mind, meaning he has a little difficulty on that front.  Drake gets a new head, hands, and webgear to complete his conversion into his Kenner appearance.  The head’s a nice piece, doing a solid job of adapting Kenner’s radically different Drake likeness into a realistic design.  Unlike Apone, though, I don’t feel there’s any way to pass this off as Mark Rolston.  This is definitely a much more divergent look.  It’s still a solid sculpt, though.  The webgear’s a little loose, and floats a little more at the waist than I like, but it looks pretty decent, and is again a solid recreation of the old design.  It adds up to a pretty cohesive design.  The paintwork is again a nice recreation of the Kenner paint scheme, just with a little bit more real world flair thrown in so that he isn’t wildly out of place with the movie-based figures.  Honestly, he more than the other Kenner figures can slot in without too much trouble, given his far more reserved color scheme.  As a smartgunner, Drake gets a re-use of the same smartgun included with Vasquez, though if my figure is anything to go by, it’d not quite as sturdy, as one of the handles broke off in the midst of taking the photos.  That’s not great.  There are a few attachments to make the gun a little more Kenner accurate.  The bayonet is removable like on the original figure, and can even be stored on his shoulder, which is kinda fun.  They’ve also changed up how the arm of the smartgun connects to the figure, and it’s…well, I think it wasn’t assembled right?  There’s a new piece that connects to his web gear, and there’s the part that connects to the gun, but the ends of the two parts don’t connect, and in fact appear to be the same piece.  They’re both glued in place, and neither can be removed.  The stock photos don’t show both of these end segments in place, so I think maybe the one at the end of the arm wasn’t supposed to be there?  Whatever the case, there’s no real easy fix for this, and it means the arm just kind of hangs there.  It kind of ruins the coolness of the actual articulated arm as it was on the Vasquez figure, and kind of makes posing him a bit of a pain, because it just flops around, and it also means that the broken handle is even more of an issue, because there’s not that extra support.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Drake’s been a notable missing character in the NECA Aliens set-up, and once NECA put out the Kenner Apone, I was expecting to see him show up this way first.  I was excited for him when he was announced, I was excited when he showed up, but ultimately I don’t know if I feel like he really paid off that excitement.  He’s not awful, but the breakage and that issue with the arm on the gun is annoying, and I don’t love the Dutch body as much here as I usually do.  Ultimately, he’s a passable figure, but I think he’s a bit of a step down after last year’s Apone.  I hope NECA can some day get us a movie version.  And I also really hope Kenner Hicks is next year’s figure.

I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys, who have been helping me keep my sanity with some new toys.   If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.