REVIEW: NECA's 7" Pacific Rim Series 1 Action Figures
Awesome Kaiju vs. Jaeger Action In The Comfort Of Your Home...
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I can't wait to see Pacific Rim, Guillermo del Toro's epic vision of towering robots (Jaegers) fighting off a monster menace (Kaiju). Opening in theaters July 12th, this big budget nod to Japanese giant monster movies such as Godzilla and Ultraman is the type of film I've waited my whole life for. Watch the trailer below and come back after you've wiped away the drool...
Along for the sure-to-be-successful ride is NECA. In addition to customer created Pacific Rim-themed novelty items and apparel through their newly opened Mock.com store, NECA is releasing detailed 7-inch scale action figures, as well as a massive 18-inch Jaeger. The former are in stores now, Series 1 consisting of the toxic Kaiju threat Knifehead, as well as two Jaeger fighting machines: China's multi-armed Crimson Typhoon and the USA's heroic Gipsy Danger. This wave is available for order now priced at $18.99 each through many fine retailers, including BigBadToyStore.com, ToyWiz.com and AlterEgoComics.com. Look for the 18" Gipsy Danger this August (SRP $84.99) along with a second assortment of 7-inch figures later this year.
NECA is known for making many popular movie and video game character figures, but robots don't rank high on that list. In fact I can only think of a few: The Terminator and Robocop (technically both cyborgs), the upcoming ED-209 and Marvin from the disappointing Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (stick with the books, kids). Seeing NECA work in the same figure field as "mecha masters" Bandai and Kotobukiya is both exciting... and a little daunting. Do they have the chops to pull off a cool robot collectible? As a passionate robot collector, I'm happy to report that's a big YES. For an $18.99 toy, the Pacific Rim figures hold their own against many Japanese mecha of similar size and construction, most which sell for twice that amount. Each Pacific Rim figure is made of some very dense and durable plastic, but are elevated in awesomeness by NECA's renown detailed sculpting and generous points of articulation. Let's take a closer look at each figure...
The main hero mech of the movie (go U.S.A.!), the Gipsy Danger sports a humanoid profile made famous by classic Super Robots such as Mazinger, Gundam, even the Iron Giant. While not the most exciting look, it is a very familiar (comforting?) appearance - like an avenging metal titan made in mankind's image. Standing 7 1/2 inches tall to the top of its armored neck collar, the Gipsy Danger strides into battle with a patriotic color scheme of red, white and blue. The bluish grey is the predominate color, lending the robot an almost WWII naval warship vibe. Red and white armor trim and insignia continues that American battleship feel, while yellow is used as a color pop on the visor and knees. A rusty orange radiates from the Gipsy Danger's whirling chest cavity - a power source or mega beam weapon? Lastly, a dark gunmetal grey is used on all of the Gipsy Danger's exposed machinery, the use of brushed silver giving the components the appearance of real metal.
Articulation is what you'd expect on a NECA human action figure, albeit more limited due to the Gipsy Danger's armored design. There's a slight forward tilt to the head, though I was sadly unable to turn it left or right. I'm not sure if this is because of the robot's armored collar or if the head simply isn't mounted on a ball-joint. It's not a deal breaker, but some variety in where the Gipsy Danger can "look" would be nice. Shoulders are a nice rotating ball-joint allowing for some fluid flexing and pummeling poses. There are hinged elbows, though once again the armored forearms prevent too much bending. Ball-joints appear again at the wrists and waist, the latter letting you achieve some dynamic fighting stances (and slightly making up for the lack of head movement). The thighs are a swivel/ hinged affair - practically tailor-made for the Gipsy Danger's existing robotic joint design. Knees are hinged for deep squats, while lastly the broad splayed feet rest on ball-joints for some solid display. There are no worries of this figure ever falling over.
Overall, the Gipsy Danger is not the most radical robot design, but I really appreciate it for its honest sleek simplicity. As the star of Pacific Rim, I'm sure the Gipsy Danger's appeal will be even greater after I see movie. However, I do have to ask: where are the cool arm-mounted chain-blades? A future figure release? I know the 18-inch Gipsy Danger will have them... which makes my anticipation for that figure incredibly high.
If Pacific Rim was about giant robots fighting giant robots, the Crimson Typhoon would easily be classified as an enemy mech. The robot has this very alien appearance to it. It's all about the mono-eye and three arms. Decked out in Communist red, this Chinese mech is the boldest figure in the series - both in color and design. Golden yellow and stark white contrasts nicely against the predominate crimson color scheme, the two colors used for a variety of logos and insignia, including some kanji script and very cool "kill marks" on its chest. From my understanding of the film, there are only so many large Kaiju to fight, so the 14 kill marks branded on the Crimson Typhoon having me wondering if there aren't some smaller (baby?) Kaiju menaces to deal with as well. Similar to the Gipsy Danger, all the exposed mechanical bits are colored black and brushed with steely silver for a realistic metal look.
When it comes to articulation, the Crimson Typhoon makes the Gipsy Danger look stiff in comparison. The Crimson Typhoon comes LOADED with points of articulation, including a ball-jointed head for all sorts of nice peeking around poses, ball-jointed shoulders on all three arms, hinged elbows, a ball-joint on the main claw, hinged joints on the smaller claws (a shame there is no swivel here, as it appears they spin in the film), ball-jointed waist and thighs, double-hinged knees and hinged feet. The hinged knees are neat in that they allow the mech's "chicken legs" to fully extend, letting the Crimson Typhoon stand erect. Squatting down the Crimson Typhoon stands 7 inches tall, while the mech measures in at 8 inches when posed fully upright. The Crimson Typhoon's multiple arms are also a show stopper, the twin right arms able to be positioned in a myriad of possible attack poses. Collectors are going to have a blast playing with this figure.
If I was forced to pick a favorite Pacific Rim figure in this assortment, it'd be the Crimson Typhoon. Incredibly unique visually combined with just tons of fun articulation makes this the must-have figure of Series 1.
Of course many collectors are sure to disagree with me on which figure is the coolest. There has been A LOT of love for the Kaiju, the crazy creatures in Pacific Rim. Heck, I'm one of them. While the trailers have only given us glimpses of a few Kaiju in the movie, NECA's Knifehead action figure provides fans with a full body reveal. And what a reveal it is! Knifehead is one of the most unique monster designs I've seen in some time, the creature truly living up to its Kaiju namesake - a Japanese word that literally translates to "strange beast". Knifehead stands only 6 1/2 inches tall - the smallest figure of the series, but it makes up for height with bulk and the creature's long titular knife-like head (HERE IS a side-by-side packaging comparison with the Gipsy Danger). The bladed snout gives the monster an almost shark-like appearance, with two beady blue eyes staring out from underneath the front, and four smaller eyes - two peering out on each side - similar to a hammerhead shark.
I should note here that Knifehead's knife head is EXTREMELEY sharp and pointy (like a knife). I kid you not, you could stab someone and cause serious bodily harm with this figure. I can see the headline now: "Nerd Needs Hospital After Pacific Rim Toy Mishap". All kidding aside, do be careful pulling this guy out of the blister. Another awesome feature of the head is the opening and closing jaw. Using a cleverly concealed hinged joint, NECA allows Knifehead to let out a bellowing roar, or snap his jaws down for an attack. A snapping turtle-like tongue and shark-like teeth round off Knifehead's fearsome portrait.
Moving on down we come to another sea creature trait: a horned shell. NECA cast this piece in a different type of plastic, giving it a hard, bone-like quality. The glossy black and grey paint also works well in making it stand out. Knifehead also has a tail (but of course!), a bendy appendage that ends in a pointy paddle, or the tip of tentacle, sans the suckers. Lastly we come to Knifehead's other calling card, the creature's four arms and two stubby legs. The legs feature swivel thighs and hinged knees for basic (and appropriate) posing. Knifehead stands very well, his tail greatly aiding in display. Knifehead's arms consist of two smaller limbs that jut out from the sides of his chest and two massive appendages that end in lethal talons. The smaller arms do not move, but look slick just sticking out. The larger arms, however, feature a broad range of movement with swivel shoulders and hinged elbows. It doesn't sound like much, but trust me, you can get some sweet attack poses with these joints. These big limbs star an incredible sculpt where the ulna and radius arm bones are "exposed" - creating this gaping hole in the arm. The talons, like Knifehead's deadly head, are also extremely sharp and pointy. It's all so appropriate: a deadly toy of a deadly monster! Bringing this funky fiend together is a matte black color scheme highlighted with swirly yellow tribal designs. From the trailers I've seen it appears that the Kaiju have this alien energy coursing through them - the yellow tribal swirls replicating that effect on the figures. It looks really cool and I can already see the potential for some "powered up" variants down the road using glow-in-the-dark/ day-glo paint. Or a light-up feature... how cool would that be?
Alright, perhaps Crimson Typhoon is the coolest JAEGER in the series, because Knifehead is seriously a cool action figure too. All three figures in this assortment are awesome - each character bringing a unique look to the series. It's one of NECA's most varied waves of action figures in recent memory. And they are (mostly) robots! I can't tell you how excited I am to see NECA produce mecha action figures... and excel at it. Don't get me wrong, the Kaiju in this wave is equally amazing, but we all knew NECA could deliver a monster. They've had years of experience making them. Robots, on the other hand, are something fresh and new. I can't wait to get my hands on more Pacific Rim Jaegers including the Australian Striker Eureka confirmed for Series 2. Let's hope NECA makes them all - Jaegers (Russia's Cherno Alpha is cool) AND Kaiju alike. I was already pretty psyched to see Pacific Rim, but having these NECA action figures in hand has me exploding with anticipation. July 12th can't get here soon enough.
All Photos by Jeff Saylor
Review Samples Courtesy of NECA