Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Toy Review – Pacific Rim Knifehead By NECA

I’ve been super-stoked about Pacific Rim ever since I first heard Guillermo del Toro mention it. I don’t have the Godzilla fetish that some do, but I certainly love giant monsters. Same thing with robots. But the main draw for me was del Toro himself. I have yet to see a project of his that I thought was anything short of magnificent, so the idea of this guy making a big-budget movie about giant robots beating the mess out of giant monsters was awesomely appealing.
When I first saw NECA’s Pacific Rim figures back during Toy Fair, I thought they looked great. But they were just robots. Great-looking robots, but nothing really all that different from the hundreds of Anime-related figures that come out every year. At the time I didn’t plan on collecting the line.
That was before NECA (or Guillermo del Toro, for that matter) had shown us any monsters.
Once I saw the full trailer for the movie:

I knew I was going to be blowing money on yet another of NECA’s lines.
Finding the initial series of figures was both exciting and disappointing because I wasn’t expecting them so early and because the store also had the first series of NECA’s new Aliens figures. That’s a pricey day. I resisted the urge to buy all three Pacific Rim figures and every Xenomorph they had. Instead I got one set of the Aliens and two of the Pacific Rim figures – the Kaiju, Knifehead and Crimson Typhoon, one of the robots the movie refers to as “Jaegers”.
First Glance: I love the design of this monster. Like all of the Pacific Rim Kaiju I have seen so far it is familiar without being overly derivative. The figure is a big, chunky piece that is satisfyingly large compared to the Jaegers.
Articulation: I don’t envy the designers at NECA for having to figure out how to articulate this guy. He has a bizarre shape that all has to work together and be able to stand up. I’m honestly not sure how satisfied I am with the end result, but I do understand it.
Jaw – pivot
Shoulders – swivel
Elbows –pivot
Hips – swivel
Knees – pivot
Tail - bendy
It drives me kind of nuts that the head doesn’t move. But I am glad that the jaw does.
The shoulders are where it becomes clear that this figure is really more of a statue than an action figure. While they do swivel, the way they are cut means they look crappy when they are moved. The sculpt of the musculature creates a very specific seam. The elbow pivot is slightly more forgiving.
It drives me a nuts that the little arms don’t move.
The hips are sculpted differently from the shoulders, as more traditional action figure swivels. They aren’t as dependant on the surrounding musculature and look more natural when posed. The knee pivots look fine, but the ones on my figure are loose. Not terribly so, but there are certain stances they won’t support.
The bendy tail is sturdy and flexible. It looks great and doesn’t have the cheap feel of some other bendy material. There’s a good range of motion and it holds poses. I’m not too worried about the interior wire breaking, either. It feels solid.
Sculpt: The sculpt on this figure is absolutely fantastic, which is part of the reason why the articulation is lacking.
The head is pretty much terrifying. The sharpness of the beak or whatever is menacing and awesome. The articulated mouth looks great, with actual depth and layers rather than just a flat sculpt. I do kind of wish the tongue was removable.
The tusks on either side of the neck are solid and give the creature an even more menacing look. They are attached to a sort of carapace on the creature's back that has a slicker texture than the rest of the figure and just adds a lot more dimension. It's kind of weird and out of place, but not in a bad way. In a monster-y way.
Knifehead has wonderfully textured skin. It’s somewhat reptilian, but reminds me a lot of sharks. I think that’s because the overall look of the creature is very shark-like (which, of course, makes me think of Sharktopus and how much of a crime it is that we do not have a Sharktopus action figure). Every inch of the figure’s body is covered with sculpted detail. The most impressive thing about it is that it is very hard to detect the seam between the hard plastic body and the bendy tail, even once you know it is there. I’m not usually in favor of mixing mediums, but if you’re going to do it this well it’s okay.
The articulated arms and legs look very good. The shoulder joints aren’t great, but the elbows and knees are very tightly seamed and look good. I particularly like the way the knee joints were done. The limbs all terminate in nasty-looking claws that are very distinct from the digits and have a smooth texture.
The most noticeable seams on this figure are the ones between the smaller, non-articulated arms and the body. I don’t think they’re as bad as they seem, it’s just that you would expect static limbs to be much more tightly joined.
Coloring: The paint job reminds me an awful lot of the toys from the American Godzilla. That’s no knock. While the movie was total garbage, the toys were actually quite good. I’ve managed to hang on to the 24” Godzilla for years now. Granted, the tail and one of the arms are in need of gluing, but that’s from four or five moves and the recent attention of Lil’ Troublemaker (who has seen several of the real Godzilla flicks but will never see Amerizilla if I have anything to say about it). The thing still roars and is just a nice-looking big toy.
Anyway, Knifehead’s skin is very similar to Amerizilla’s. There is a lighter, flat basecoat with a darker, glossier, more vibrant coat on top to resemble scales. It looks very good and manages to evoke a feeling of mass despite the figure’s relatively small size. Also, there is no discernible difference between the paint on the hard plastic body and the bendy tail.
The detailing is all tightly done, with no bleeding or splotching. The claws are a glossy black that stands out very nicely against the skin. The tusks and teeth are a bright white that comes off as very menacing and the pink of the maw and tongue looks great. Obviously I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I don’t know the function (if any) of the yellow markings or how accurately the toy represents them. They’re a bit too bright for me and make Knifehead look too video game-y. But they also present a nice contrast to the claws and skin, so I don’t hate them.
Oh – almost forgot Knifehead’s beady little eyes. They’re under the crosspiece, hammerhead-looking thing on his noggin. They’re well-placed, baby blue, and extra creepy.
Accessories: Knifehead comes with a pair of little, plastic mittens.
Just kidding. Those are to protect his smaller arms during shipping. He has no accessories, which is fine because what does a monster need? Of course, if I see the movie and find out he breathes fire or shoots lightning out of his ass or something I’m gonna be mad that he didn’t come with a little attachment. But I think when you have a gigantic knife for a head and a mouth full of razors you might not need any of that junk.
Packaging: Ugh it’s a clamshell. But that’s how NECA rolls most of the time, so whatever. I will say this for the clamshell – it seems to preserve that treasured New Toy Smell better than a regular blister card.
One extremely odd thing about the packaging for this series is that – unlike NECA’s other releases – the artists that worked on the figure are not credited. It’s an odd omission. That’s one of the things I have always respected about NECA.
Value: $14.99 is a steal for the figures in this line.
Overall: Yeah – the articulation isn’t great. Except that for fifteen bucks, it’s fine. Look at comparably sized Japanese releases – most notably the Monster Arts stuff. They are absolutely loaded with joints, but cost eighty to ninety bucks. It’s crazy. I mean, I still want at least one really badly, but when you look at those and then look at this guy for fifteen bucks it’s a no-brainer.

4 out of 5

This is a very solid figure of a kickass monster. It gets me stoked about the future of this line.
I was talking to the Oncoming Josh about this the other day and I made what I think is a pretty solid point. He said that he hoped NECA would get to make all of the Jaegers – the robots. I pointed out that the Prometheus line got a lot further than I thought it would considering how poorly the movie did and was received. I mean, it didn’t tank, but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire. I think Pacific Rim will at the very least do better than Prometheus, even if it isn’t a mega-blockbuster success (which I hope it is). I don’t think there are more than five or six Jaegers and Kaiju, so three or four series or maybe a two-pack (which Toys R Us always seem willing to take from NECA) should get the job done.


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