REVIEW: NECA's Conan Action Figures - SERIES 1 and SDCC08 Exclusive

Arnold captured in all his pumped-up prime...

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My fondest childhood memories stem from the early 1980s: Power Lords, Atari, Tron, Dungeons & Dragons, and the Commodore 64. It was a time dominated by fantasy and make-believe; blasters and flying saucers, swords and sorcery... especially swords and sorcery.

In between my ZORK computer explorations and D&D dungeon paper crawls, Conan was capturing my attention on the big screen. Fantasy films were exploding during the era - Krull, The Sword and the Sorcerer and Excalibur - but none kicked as much butt as Arnold. 1982's Conan the Barbarian was, at the time, the celluloid definition of fantasy, just as Star Wars was the epitome of sci-fi. Heck, the two movies actually share something else in common: James Earl Jones.

Needless to say, I was foaming at the mouth in anticipation when NECA announced Conan the Barbarian MOVIE action figures. Not some toys based on the books, mind you, actual plastic replicas of the one and only Conan, Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is Arnold in his pumped-up prime, the awesome Austrian giant ready to lay the smack down on Thulsa Doom and his evil Snake Cult minions.

Series 1, now at retail, includes two iconic versions of the mighty warrior as seen in the film: Pit Fighter Conan and War Paint Conan. A third figure, Bronze Conan, kicked off the assortment as a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive. The standard series figures run around $14 each, with better deals to be had if buying both together, while the SDCC08 exclusive retailed for $20 at the event.

PACKAGING: Tried and true, the ever popular clamshell is used effectively on all three Conan figures. Predominately black, the packaging design lures in potential buyers with an image of the striking Conan the Barbarian movie poster (illustrated by Renato Casaro). It is an effective bare bones approach, letting the toy do most of the talking. The back of each figure's packaging insert shows an incredibly realistic photo of the figure (you'd think it was a still from the movie!) and brief, informative text about the scene the figure is pulled from. Example from War Paint Conan:

"Nursed back to health by the wizard Akiro, Conan camouflaged himself and ventured to the Mountain of Power to rescue the daughter of King Osric. Accompanied by his friends, Subotai and Valeria, the warrior thieves battled the members of the Snake Cult and freed the princess."

Ah, brings back great memories. Also pictured is the other figure in the Conan series, as well as a rundown of the NECA staff involved on the project.

WAR PAINT CONAN: Let's start with War Paint Conan. It's the figure fans are snapping up first, and rightfully so, this is arguably the most iconic portrayal of the thief, warrior, gladiator, king,... Ahhhhhnold.

Sculpt here is dead on, Kyle "Tankman" Windrix nailing Arnold's wide-eyed stare and chiseled expression of rock solid determination. Tankman's work continues on strong with Arnold's anatomy; each muscle fully defined and flexed. A fur loin cloth adorns Conan's waist, while animal hide pants and leather laced boots make up the rest of his attire. Each piece of clothing is executed in plastic flawlessly.

Accessories are another highlight of this figure, in particular his trusty Atlantean Sword. The sword is cast in durable plastic (no flimsy or brittle weapon here), the blade shining bright with an incredible sculpt and realistic paint applications. The thing looks like metal, the hint of green lending a nice corroded look to the bronze handle. Also included is a "marble" display base depicting the temple Conan and his buddies raid. Conan plugs into one spot for that classic scene pose and two severed body parts are provided to scatter anywhere one desires; a very nice personalized touch.

Paint, for the most part, is good. Unlike the extremely "tan" Pit Fighter Conan, the large swaths of black war paint help conceal Conan's true skin tone. Splashes of blood red further the intensity of the figure, though the gore is sadly absent on his sword blade.

Articulation for this entire series is minimal, but the stances NECA selected are so dynamic, it does not matter. These plastic statues ooze raw power and motion, amazing me every time I look at them. Points of articulation on War Paint Conan include a ball-jointed head for looking to the side or straight ahead, his ankles for aligning with the base, and his wrists. The pegged joint on his open hand is the most useful, allowing for the famous movie look and slight variations of it, or for holding a severed limb.

War Paint Conan is classic Conan and a must-have, but my favorite figure of the series is the raging Pit Fighter...


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Jeff Saylor (Editor)
on 09/03/2008
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