Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Toy Review – “A Farewell to Arms” Ash & Deadite Ash from Evil Dead 2 By NECA

First of all, I’m covering both of these in one review because they are basically the same figure. NECA certainly could have gotten away with doing the same thing Mattel did with their Green Lantern Classics figures of NiteLik/Skallox and Medphyll/NautKei Loi. But they didn’t. Instead, they added a bunch of accessories to each figure and applied significantly differing paint schemes. The figures do use the same body except for the head, though, so I’m not going to try and wring two reviews out of them.
Believe it or not, these are the first-ever figures from Evil Dead 2. There have been plenty (more than enough if you ask some people) of figures from Army of Darkness, but it was only recently that certain licensing issues regarding the first two movies starring Ashley Williams got cleared up.

Side Note: I passed on buying one of Sideshow Toys’ 1/6th scale Ash figures when I saw it at Tower Records years ago. I thought the face looked like shit. I did buy Evil Ash because he looked great. I totally missed out on the S-Mart Ash – who seems to have a much-improved face sculpt – whenever they offered that one. But from time to time I regret not buying that first 12” Ash.
I ran across one at Joelanta a couple of weeks ago and was very excited, thinking that I needed it and certain the face couldn’t be as bad as I remembered it being. This was Sideshow, after all. So I grabbed it off the shelf and opened up the front panel and immediately put it right the fuck back. The face was horrible. Not just the likeness, but the expression they chose. Just awful. I suppose I’ll need to just be happy with the My Name Is Bruce figure I have.
I don’t buy too many NECA toys anymore. Partially because I already own perfectly good versions of most of the characters they have licensed; and partially because while their figures almost always look nothing short of excellent, their choice of materials is often suspect. I own several figures that require some sort of support due to NECA’s bizarre choice to give them rubber feet. It’s sheer idiocy from a company that seems to get everything else so right.
But I knew I was going to have to buy both of these Ash figures, despite their similarities. Evil Dead 2 is one of my favorite movies of all time:
And I still don’t own a great Ash figure. I’ve got McFarlane Toys’ version from the Movie Maniacs line, and while that one isn’t bad, the face is off. I also have the 18” version with sound. It’s slightly better but still just isn’t quite Bruce enough. Apparently MR. Campbell’s likeness is a tough one to capture. I even bought Palisades Toys’ 3 ¾” Army of Darkness figures a couple of years ago on clearance, and while that Ash is my favorite out of the ones I own, it’s more because the faulty face sculpt isn’t quite as noticeable at that scale.
But now we’ve got all-new Ash figures, with sculpts produced with full knowledge of the faults of past figures. Of course, Deadite Ash doesn’t have quite as much riding on him, but NECA really needed to knock it out of the park with the standard version. Did they? Let’s find out.
First Glance: WATCH OUT FOR THE EYES ON THE STANDARD ASH. I had to hunt through the four or so figures on the shelf at Toys R Us to find one that didn’t suffer from derp eyes. There didn’t seem to be any other paint issues, but the one I bought was the only one that didn’t have serious derp-age going on. 
The Deadite Ash figures, on the other hand (or lack thereof), didn’t seem to have any issues. And believe me, I checked after seeing those eyes. There were other minor paint variations, but nothing that could be considered an error so much as just slight differences in application. So if there are multiples where you find yours compare them to find your favorite deco.
Otherwise, these are exciting figures to see and very different in appearance despite their shared parts.
Sculpt: Both figures are the same from the neck down, so we’ll start with the bodies.
The head sits on a ball joint, but only has a minor range of motion in any direction. Don’t get me wrong – it’s still better than a swivel, just don’t expect Ash to be looking at his feet or up in the sky. There are also ball joints at the shoulders, elbows, and knees. These are much more functional than the neck joint. There are swivels at the wrists and ankles (under his pants), and the hips are angled cut joints. Because of this, the knee and ankle joints are kind of unnecessary, but I appreciate NECA making the effort. The elbow and shoulder joints are great, though. There is also a rocker joint somewhere in his abdomen. I couldn’t quite tell because of the shirt.
The shirt is actually a separate piece rather than being molded onto the body, presumably to facilitate future variations. A separate piece like that is often a tricky proposition, leaving gaps at the shoulders or waist depending on how the figure is positioned. I didn’t have this problem with these figures. The shoulders look great, with no skin showing through, and keeping Mr. Williams’ midriff covered required minimal adjustments while posing.
The actual sculpting of this figure’s body is fantastic. The shirt looks very, very good; and like I said doesn’t expose skin where it isn’t supposed to. The folds and wrinkles look tremendous and are finer than you would expect at this scale. Ash’s pants are just as well done. The seams and pockets look good. There’s a tear on the left leg that adds a lot to the figure’s personality. The figures both have the same left hand and it looks solid, pose-wise and as far as the details – skin folds and fingernails.
Here’s where NECA kills me – their shoes always look amazing. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but it’s true. Every NECA figure I own has outstanding feet. The problem is that most of them are sculpted out a soft plastic that does not support weight or hold the shape of the connecting joint. This causes the figure to lean in an unappealing way. Ash’s shoes are made from a slightly firmer plastic than others, so I’m hoping he won’t have any issues. NECA’s last Freddy figure had feet made of the same material and I haven’t had any issues yet.
Now for the differences.
A Farewell To Arms” Ash has a human Bruce Campbell likeness and two interchangeable right forearms. One forearms has a bandaged stump on the end and the other sports the possessed hand. The parts switch out easily and both look very good. The bandages are sculpted and look very nice, and unless I’m mistaken the part is even sculpted so that the arm is a bit longer than it should be – to recreate the look in the movie. The possessed hand looks awesome. It’s on a swivel joint, but has a very small degree of mobility in other directions due to the shape of the peg it’s mounted on and the softer material of the hand. Honestly, this hand really should have been on a ball joint. That thing needs to be able to pose like crazy, and it just doesn’t. It looks great, but isn’t as mobile as I’d like.
The head sculpt is not the be-all, end-all Bruce Campbell likeness I wanted it to be. But it is very good. I think the problem lies more in the paint than in the sculpt. This is definitely an easily recognizable young Bruce, as opposed to the McFarlane figures that almost look as though they were produced without a license to use Campbell’s likeness. The right expression is captured, as NECA went with the wide-eyed, “What the heck is going on with my hand!?!” look. It is very nice and the detailing of the hair and face is excellent. The likeness just isn’t quite perfect. Great, but not perfect. But I’ll get to that in Design.
Deadite Ash is, however, perfect. That head is just fantastic. It looks exactly like what you see in the movie. From the sunken, vacuous eyes to the hollow cheeks to the crazy hair. I couldn’t be happier with the look of this one. The right forearm is the same as regular Ash’s possessed hand, except that this one has a normal hand. It looks great, like a hand should.
Design: From the waist down the two figures are basically the same. The pants and shoes have a nice amount of wear and crud on them, but are fairly plain. They look good and match the amount of detail on the rest of the figure.
Otherwise the two figures are significantly different.
Deadite Ash’s head is painted just as skillfully as it was sculpted. The eyes are shiny and sickly and there is a great amount of hideous shading and nasty smudging. It really does look fantastic.
The shirt is amazing as well. The sweat/gore nastiness looks so incredibly real that I wonder how they did it. I mean, it’s just paint, but it looks so good and matches the movie so well. It’s astonishing to see in person. No pictures will quite do it justice. His hands are all dirty and nasty as well.
Regular Ash has really big, really white eyes. As I mentioned above, you’re going to want to be really choosy with this guy. Judging by what I experienced only about 1/5th of the figures look good. The rest look awful. Once I did find one with properly centered eyes, I still thought they looked too big and white and cartoony; but looking back at the movie, Bruce Campbell’s eyes really are impossibly big and white and cartoony in the hand scene. It’s crazy.
Regular Ash’s shirt is a progression from Deadite Ash’s shirt (who is from earlier in the movie). It has a lot more sweat/gore/whatever on it, but it perfectly matches Deadite Ash in coloring and consistency. It looks awesome.
The paint on both of these figures is absolutely amazing. Deadite Ash should easily be considered for a Best of 2012 later in the year.
Accessories: Regular Ash comes with the alternate forearms, a shotgun (it had not yet been referred to as a “Boomstick”), and the severed possessed hand.
The shotgun looks good and is sculpted out of a sturdy plastic. Ash’s left hand isn’t sculpted to hold it as well as I’d like, but it works okay. You can pose him to rest the barrel across his stumpy arm, so that’s good.
The severed hand looks great with all kinds of veiny, nasty detail and gross parts jutting out of the wrist.
Deadite Ash comes with the Necronomicon, Linda’s head, and the reel-to-reel tape recorder.
The Necronomicon looks good, with the little faces on either side and a wrinkly “made of skin” look. Most importantly it is scaled properly. The McFarlane version is too large.
The reel-to-reel looks amazing. The buttons and switches look great and there is even a handle and battery cover sculpted on. This accessory is just crazy good for a random piece of equipment. I mean, I know it’s vital to the plot and all, but it’s just a tape recorder.
Linda’s head is creepy as heck. The sculpt is dead-on (pun intended) and the paint is great, particularly the hair and the nasty bits in the neck.





Packaging: Clamshells. Blech. The inserts do look great, though.
Overall: These are both must-haves for me. The only issue is finding “A Farewell to Arms” Ash with straight eyes. That and the possessed hand should be better articulated. Minus a point.
A Farewell to Arms” Ash - 4 out of 5
The other version is, however, pretty much perfect.
Deadite Ash - 5 out of 5
You need them both, but I wouldn’t buy regular Ash without being able to see him in person. Unless you happen to collect toys with derp-age.
Also, these movies are about demons, not zombies. Stop putting them on zombie lists.
-Phantom

3 comments:

  1. I like it better when you post about getting wasted. I'm not into toys. Perhaps you could get wasted and write about toys? That might be a nice middle ground for us both.

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    Replies
    1. Ooh. Bad news, I'm afraid. Not only have I accepted the power of straight edge into my heart, I'm also only writing about toys from now on. And only organic, animal-free toys. From Norway.

      Delete
  2. At least they are organic and animal free. I only write about trash. and goodwill donations. And these items are also all from Norway.

    ReplyDelete