REVIEW: NECA's Pacific Rim Series 3 Action Figures
NECA's Biggest (And Best) Assortment To Date...
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NECA's latest batch of 7-inch scale Pacific Rim action figures have been released... and it's NECA's biggest (and best) assortment to date. Series 3 is bigger not only because it contains four figures (opposed to three), but the Kaiju in this wave - Trespasser and Battle Damaged Knifehead - are absolutely gigantic! The success of this line has allowed NECA the freedom to make their Pacific Rim figures more accurate to scale and to create more B-list characters - such as Coyote Tango - that otherwise might not have seen release. Last but not least, Pacific Rim Series 3 stars the much requested Cherno Alpha, my personal favorite mech in the movie. As announced at Toy Fair, this amazing Jaeger design will receive the 18" quarter scale treatment later this year. This assortment is in stores now, each Jaeger retailing for about $20, while the much larger Kaiju (they're HUGE!) cost closer to $30 each. For those looking to get all four figures, many retailers are offering the Jaegers and Kaiju as sets (NOT packaged 2-packs), which will save you a few bucks.
Let's start with my favorite figure of the bunch, Russia's Jaeger brute, Cherno Alpha. Where other Jaegers in the movie invoke images of preexisting mecha designs, the Cherno Alpha stands unique. There's nothing quite like it out there. A "tank class" robot if there ever was one, the Cherno Alpha pummels its way to victory with pneumatic fists. In battle, each claw-like hand closes to grip what can be best described in hand-to-hand melee as a roll of coins, in this case a steel rod. Like a pair of brass knuckles, this allows the Cherno to inflict much greater damage. Combined with the extending power fist feature and you have yourself a Kaiju knockout. The Cherno Alpha went out like a chump in Pacific Rim, but at least it got in a few good hits.
NECA captures the Cherno Alpha's awesome good looks and special attack flawlessly. Each hand is hinged to open and close, reminding me greatly of a retro tin robot's pincher claws. The power punch is also there with the ability to slide and extend each forearm, the action revealing strong "metal" pistons inside. Such a cool effect. Other points of articulation include a slight rotation of the "head" (actually the Cherno's power reactor, the real head is in the chest), extreme ball-socketed shoulders, hinged/swivel elbows, a sweet ball-jointed waist, ball-swivel thighs, hinged knees, and tight ball-jointed feet. The Cherno Alpha was a stiff lumbering ogre in the film, but NECA's action figure lets you reimagine the robot as a nimble boxer (but not overly nimble, all the joints on my Cherno Alpha are nice and solid).
Topping off the Cherno's incredible construction is a stellar paint job. Capturing Russia's military might, the Cherno Alpha stars an olive green and dull red color scheme. Black washed steel breaks up the color palette at all the appropriate joints, while pops of red livery and insignia really draw your eye all over the design. A realistic layer of worn and weathered dry brushing pulls it all together. It's amazing how small and realistic NECA can get with their tampo stamps - micro logos like "Cherno Alpha" on the head are clear and readable. Stunning. The 18" version of the Cherno Alpha is going to rock so hard!
Moving on to the next robot in the series, we come to the briefly seen Jaeger piloted by Stacker "Cancel the Apocalypse" Pentecost: Coyote Tango. Shown in Mako Mori's "Drifting" flashback, this vintage Mark-1 Jaeger is made cool by two shoulder-mounted long-range ballistic mortar cannons. At first the Coyote reminded me of a Robotech Destroid, but after looking into the Coyote Tango's design inspirations, I see the Gundam Guncannon is clearly what the creators had in mind. Regardless, it's a powerful look thanks to those two big guns. By now I think most fans have heard the good news: the cannons on the figure are poseable! Mounted on swivel joints, each individual cannon can be raised and lowered to your liking. I'm really diggin' a slightly raised anti-aircraft position (see photo below), as if the Coyote Tango is lobbing shells at a Kaiju from a distance.
Other articulation points include a slightly restricted ball-jointed head (left and right, with some up and down movement), ball-jointed shoulders (again, slightly hindered because of the Coyote's large round shoulder armor plates), hinged elbows (sadly no swivel this time around), ball-jointed wrists (I never noticed it only has three fingers!) and waist (360 degrees), ball-jointed thighs, hinged knees and ball-jointed feet (they look like skis). The combination of waist and leg articulation allows for some nice splayed attack poses. About the only limitation is in the Coyote Tango's arms, the limbs pretty much left serving as props to his prime weapons, the shoulder cannons. Swing Coyote's arms back in anticipation of a mortar launch or posed heroically in the air in celebration of a successful strike.
The Coyote Tango shares a similar color scheme to the Striker Eureka and Gipsy Danger; an almost naval warship vibe. However, where the Striker was a destroyer grey and the Gipsy an almost battleship blue, the Coyote appears the most metallic of the bunch painted (or not?) a battle-hardened burnished steel. NECA applied some nice weathering on this figure by using a dirty brown. It gives the Jaeger an almost rusty look, as if the raw metal was left exposed to the elements for too long. Like the Cherno, the use of red livery and tiny tamp stamps ("USAF", "34") really go a long way in making the Coyote Tango look like a real war machine.
As if two all-new Jaeger designs weren't exciting enough, NECA pulled out all the stops on their new Kaiju. Series 2's Leatherback shocked fans with its large size, but even that great ape pales in comparison to Trespasser and the new Battle Damaged Knifehead. You'll immediately notice just how large these new Kaiju are when you get your hands on the ginourmous blister cards. While a bit of a bummer for those that purchased the original (and much smaller) Knifehead last summer, you have to hand it to NECA for going back and getting it right. As mentioned at the beginning of this review, it is the massive success of the Pacific Rim series that has allowed NECA to do this. It's the very definition of fan service.
Larger size aside, NECA's new Knifehead comes loaded with new articulation points. Most notably is the addition of ball-joints on the smaller pair of arms jutting out of the chest. Where the previous version's small arms were static, fans can now pose them all around for added display power. Other new joints include ball-sockets at the shoulders (as opposed to cut), elbows (as opposed to just being hinged), ball wrists (as opposed to nothing), ball-jointed head (again, opposed to nothing), ball thighs (opposed to swivel) AND ball-jointed feet (opposed to nada). That is a TON of new articulation, all ball-jointed, on a figure that previously featured none. Returning articulation points include the bendy tail and opening and closing jaw. It's all wrapped up with a new "battle damaged" deco, Knifehead splattered with his glowing blue blood. I'm not a huge fan of battle damaged variants, but the pros of owning this Knifehead over the previous version are simply ridiculous. It's like comparing apples and oranges.
Taking EVERYTHING great about the new Knifehead figure's redesign, Trespasser one-ups it with a rad new creature head, back plate and color scheme. Trespasser is all about his wedge, axe-like head. This figure is not to be confused with "Axehead" - the concept for what became Trespasser in the final film. Once you see the Axehead figure that is coming (Series 4) you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. This Kaiju is best remembered in the movie for laying waste to the Golden Gate Bridge (and some military jets for good measure).
Articulation on this beast is identical to the new Battle Damaged Knifehead, which lets face it, is ALOT. These are the most articulated Kaiju NECA has created so far. What makes this figure a must-have is that cool chopping portrait and curved crest plate on Trespasser's back. Unlike Knifehead's flat tortoise shell, Trespasser features a new design that looks as lethal as his bladed head. It creates an awesome silhouette and is my favorite Kaiju design in Pacific Rim. Another thing I like about Trespasser more than Knifehead is his color scheme. Where Knifehead is tar black, Trespasser has this nice charcoal grey color. The lighter hue really allows the figure's scaly sculpted detail to shine through. The glossy black talons and swirling yellow tribal markings (which, by the way, are different than Knifehead's) truly accent the creature's grey body and a realistic coating of dusty browns brings it all home. I almost forgot the eyes! Knifehead's shark-like blue eyes were cool, but Trespasser's eyes - all four of them - pierce with a yellow and red lizard-like quality. So cool. Like Knifehead, the figure features a snapping jaw, the protruding teeth and inner tongue giving even more character to the figure. I honestly don't know how anyone could buy just one figure in this assortment. They are all so cool and unique.
I don't know about you, but when Pacific Rim didn't do gangbusters in the theaters I feared we wouldn't see any new figures beyond Series 2. My beloved Cherno Alpha never to be. Yet here we are at Series 3, with two all-new Jaeger designs (Cherno Alpha, yes!) and two hulking, super poseable Kaiju creatures. It's all because passionate Pacific Rim fans and collectors have spoken - supporting the toy line with their hard purchases. Supply and demand. The future for NECA's Pacific Rim action figure series looks bright. Already Series 4 has been announced to include Axehead (concept art for Trespasser) and Scunner! I saw both behind closed doors at Toy Fair and they look killer. We've also received a taste of Series 5, confirmed to include a Gipsy Danger 2.0, the starring robot new and improved (see our story HERE). And lets not forget about the 18" figures - Knifehead hitting retail soon and Cherno Alpha (YES!!) a go by year's end! NECA's even stated that concept Jaegers (such as Romeo Blue) are a possibility! Hey Guillermo del Toro, you may want to put Pacific Rim 2 on the fast track. NECA has some more figures to make...
Miss my past NECA Pacific Rim figure reviews?
All Photos by Jeff Saylor
Review Samples Courtesy of NECA