Friday, May 2, 2014

Toy Review – Pacific Rim Kaiju: Battle Damaged Knifehead from NECA

Let’s just be honest – that first Knifehead that NECA put out was not great. I gave it a 4 out of 5 when I reviewed it ten months ago, but I hadn’t seen Pacific Rim yet and didn’t know how badly the scale was off.

Of course, I did know that the articulation was bad. But I excused that due to the price point. What I didn’t know at the time was that Walmart had shown interest in carrying the Pacific Rim line, but only if NECA could deliver it at a low price point. That’s why this first Kaiju was so small. Surprising absolutely nobody, Walmart decided not to take up valuable space in its four square feet of action figures and backed out of the potential deal.

Now NECA is making things better with properly-scaled Kaiju for our Jaeger figures to fight.
Knifehead isn’t my favorite of the Kaiju – that would be Otachi. But I have developed a fondness for Knifehead since watching Gamera vs. Guiron and realizing the inspiration for this guy. Here’s a picture of Guiron:
Yeah. Pretty awesome.

There was a point where I considered stopping my Pacific Rim toy collection. I just didn’t need another line. But I reasoned that there are only so many Jaegers and Kaiju and (as I mentioned in my first Knifehead review) four or so series should take care of them. As is typical of me, as soon as I made this decision I ordered everything BigBad had in stock. Some of it came right away and a couple of things were preorders, but I was thrilled when each of them showed up; totally confident in my decision.

Even if I hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have been able to resist when I saw them at Toys R Us. And that would have sucked because everything was way more expensive, even including shipping from BigBad. Why is TRU so damned expensive?

This thing is SO GIANT. I knew that these new Kaiju were being considered “Deluxe” figures and had a higher price point, but I really didn’t know just how much bigger than the original Knifehead this one would be. It’s about 1.5 times the size:
It makes a huge difference. Overall this one is very similar, but a more detailed paint job and a load more articulation make the extra money feel completely worth it. There’s a slightly different color scheme on the newer version that I think looks much nicer. It’s more grey and less brown. It contrasts the yellow markings in a much better way.
This is the biggest clamshell I can remember buying. But that doesn’t make it better. It’s still a clamshell and you guys know how I feel about those. Of course, NECA couldn’t very well have put this monster on a cardback and a box probably would have cost more. So this is the best option. I guess.

The graphics are nice and I like the “Kaiju” designation.

First of all – keep Knifehead away from the kids. He is chock full of sharp edges and pointy bits and is heavy enough to incapacitate a mule. This is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, the most deadly toy I own. NECA was not fucking around.
The head sculpt is all ridges and sharp edges. You could literally use this toy as a dagger to murder somebody. The folds of flesh around the face almost as grotesque as the fleshy red lips surrounding Knifehead’s mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. You could almost miss the beady, vicious little eyes on the original figure. On this one they stand out much more clearly and are pretty freaky. I love the shape of the underside of the snout or whatever. It looks like an ancient thing that has been worn and damaged over time. Very much a natural creation.
The mouth opens to reveal something that probably excited me a lot more than it should have. A retractable tongue:
This is both gross and delightful. It can be pulled entirely out of the head for no good reason other than that you know that lots of people probably would have yanked too hard on it and broken it out anyway. It’s tough to get out of there; what with it being surrounded by those sharp teeth. I had to use my trusty duct tape-wrapped needlenose pliers. Once I had pulled it out it was easier to work with.
Knifehead’s torso is a long, thick wedge shape with a massive neck piece stuck on top. The tail is rubber over a wire armature. There is a ton of detail sculpted into this thing. The folds and wrinkles running down the body hide the various seams and joints quite well.
The weird and somewhat disturbing thing on Knifehead’s back almost looks like some kind of secondary growth. The definitive separation of the sculpt and the different coloration are clearly meant to set it apart. The choice to give this piece an entirely different color scheme – from skin to wash – was utterly bizarre; but so is Knifehead. Like all of the claws on this figure, the talons on the back piece are glossy black.
The two sets of arms are quite different, which I appreciate over the lower set simply being smaller versions of the main arms. I love the separation of the ulna and radius. It’s creepy and weird and the more creepy and weird you can pack into these, the better. The smaller arms are much stumpier and more brutal. I can imagine something being grasped by the large arms while those evil little arms reach up and disembowel it.
Knifehead has thick, substantial legs that support it surprisingly well. Even with the tail elevated off the ground it’s fairly easy to stand this guy up. The scaling on the thighs is very interesting, as it’s very alligator-like and different from any other texture on the figure. And this is a figure with lots of textures. Every inch is covered with wrinkles, folds, and scales and they vary across the entire surface of the skin.
This is one of the best paint jobs I have seen from NECA. While I would have preferred an undamaged version of Knifehead, I get that they needed to distinguish it in some way from the original release. And the blood does look excellent. It’s all standard paint, but it almost looks fluid and shimmery. The rest of the figure has wonderful washes over the various textures. The yellow markings – like the blood – seem almost to be fluid and iridescent. But they’re just bright yellow paint. The rest of the detailing – eyes, teeth, tongue, claws – is all precisely applied and looks great.
I guess these Kaiju could have come with little ships or something, but they really don’t need accessories. I will say this, though – if a future Gipsy Danger doesn’t come with a battleship sword I’m going to be very disappointed.
This larger figure has a lot more articulation than the original:
Head – swivel
Mouth – hinge
Tongue – I don’t know how to describe this
Shoulders – ball joints
Elbows – pivots
Wrists – all four are basically swivels
Hips – ball joints
Knees – pivots
Ankles – ball joints
Tail – wire armature
Because of the bulk and design of the figure, a lot of these joints are somewhat limited. The large arms move around fairly well. The smaller arms can only do so much. The legs are a bit restricted just because of how Knifehead is built. And the tail’s thickness keeps it from being too bendy, but it still moves a decent amount.
Basically, there’s not a whole heck of a lot of posing you can do. But this is still a great looking figure that is fun to play with. If you’re careful.
Heck, the mouth alone had me messing with it for a good ten minutes or so.
Knifehead is a fan-fucking-tastic monster. If you collect monsters, you want this. If you collect Pacific Rim stuff, this is the Kaiju you’ve been waiting for. It’s a massive improvement over the original and well worth the difference in price. I’m not a fan of the battle damage, but at least the battle damage looks great. If they produce a non-damaged version I’ll buy that and sell this one.

5 out of 5

Be prepared – Scudder and Trespasser have the same body as Knifehead. It’s accurate to the movie and NECA has certainly stayed true to that. But I will say this – I have Trespasser and it was not immediately obvious that aside from the head it was the same sculpt. As we’ve seen time and again in the Masters of the Universe Classics line, paint can go a long way.
Buy this guy from Amazon and help out Needless Things!:

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