Monday, July 8, 2013

Toy Review – Pacific Rim Crimson Typhoon By NECA

Once I saw some of the Kaiju being featured in Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim I was a little more curious about the toy line. The robots still didn’t interest me that much, though. As I said on Episode 2 of the NeedlessThings Podcast, they all just kind of looked like standard anime robots. Nothing I hadn’t seen before.

That was before I saw a robot with two right arms.
And before any of you anime nerds start listing off robots or mechs or whatever with multiple and asymmetrical offset limbs, understand that I am not a fan of anime. I went through that phase back in high school. And while I still think that Akira is pretty neat and hold Battle Angel Alita in the same regard as some of my favorite American live-action movies, Urutsokidoji pretty much represented my limit break. Ever since then I’ve had a hard time dealing with anime as any kind of serious medium.

So I saw Crimson Typhoon and I thought, “Ooh – I want that.”

On a recent trip to Toys R Us I found that. Along with a set of Aliens figures and Knifehead – which I reviewed the other day – I picked up this rad red robot.

I had no idea what to expect from this figure. NECA’s sculpting is almost always top-notch. Their articulation has been improving by leaps and bounds, but I wasn’t sure how they would handle this sort of figure. The company’s paint apps range from astonishing to mistake-laden. There was no telling where this figure would fall on the scales of quality, accuracy, and playability.

That’s the main reason why I had to buy it.
First Glance: I could immediately tell that the paint app was better than I was expecting. This guy also appeared to have more articulation than I thought he would.
Articulation: Crimson typhoon is absolutely loaded with articulation. Not like a Japanese toy, but as much as I could have wanted. And apparently NECA have been watching Hasbro’s Transformers lines because many of these limbs are of the ball-jointed variety that can be removed and replaced without damaging the figure. 

Head – ball joint
Neck - pivot
Shoulders – ball joint
Right Bicep - swivel
Elbows –pivot
Right Wrist – ball joint
Left Wrists – pivot
Abdomen – ball joint
Hips – ball joint
Knees – pivot
Reverse Articulated Knees - pivot
Ankles - pivot

The first thing that happened when I opened Crimson Typhoon was one of its legs popped off. I was mortified until I realized that it could pop right back on, as could the other arms and leg. The ball joints on all of the limbs work very well, though the front left arm has a somewhat more limited range of motion than the other arms. You will likely pull a couple of limbs off while posing the figure for the first time, but they don’t just fall off.

All of the joints are tight and hold poses extremely well, even the ball joints. 

Ideally Crimson Typhoon would have had just a few more joints – the right hands and biceps could have had swivels, and maybe the knees and ankles. But that’s just being picky. 

Overall I’ve got to say I am hugely impressed with what NECA put into this one. I spent a lot longer playing with and posing this figure than I do for most releases.
Sculpt: One of the things I think Pacific Rim has going against it is how similar the robots look to the ones in Transformers and Battleship. Your average viewing audience likely doesn’t have the awareness or mental capacity to separate those things entirely. Clearly they were smart enough to see Battleship as a dumb Transformers knock-off, but I’m not sure Pacific Rim will be recognized as more than that. While I love Guillermo del Toro and recognize him as a unique and amazing director, I’m not sure the General Public does. I guess we’ll find out in about a week.
Having said all of that, I think Crimson Typhoon looks awesome. The design is more practical and armored than those of the Transformers, though these robots don’t have to transform, so there’s a lot more freedom. Actually, this design in particular reminds me more of the Manga Spawn series than anything else. That was an amazing looking line of well designed and absurdly fragile action figures. Now that I think about it, one of the figures from that line had an uneven number of arms.
Crimson Typhoon is much sturdier than any of the McFarlane releases. I’m not going to try it, but I’d say it would survive a drop from the shelf. The robot is made from sturdy plastic and doesn’t have a whole lot of small parts sticking out. The fingers and vanes and little bits around the neck are all flexible plastic that you don’t have to worry about snapping off.
The lines of the figure are very nice and the articulation blends in perfectly. Obviously this is an easy thing to do on a robot figure, but NECA really nailed it. The armored parts are smooth and rounded and really have a different appearance from the main body. While each piece is all one mold, there is a definite feeling of armored pieces on top of functional, moving parts. On top of that, everything does look functional. Closer examination does not reveal any nonsensical widgets or things that seem to be there just to look cool. Granted, that’s more the designers of the original robot than NECA, but the NECA team did a great job of capturing the look.
Coloring: Sometimes NECA’s paint jobs can be a little dodgy, but they have nailed it here. The moving parts are a gunmetal grey with a dark wash and look perfect. The armored portions are tightly done and don’t bleed over into the mechanics at all. There is some wear painted on, but with minimal use so the figure doesn’t look all crappy. Sometimes I feel like toy manufacturers get carried away with wear and battle damage.
The detailing is where Crimson Typhoon really stands out from some of NECA’s other releases. They must have used a different process to achieve all of the logos and insignias because these are all very clean and well-placed. The decorative striping and tiny markings on the upper portion of the robot are all eye-catching and precise.
The illumination of the eye is also well done. It’s a slightly pale yellow that suggests a light.

Packaging: Ugh it’s a clamshell. But that’s how NECA rolls most of the time, so whatever. I will say this for the clamshell – it seems to preserve that treasured New Toy Smell better than a regular blister card.
I mentioned in the Knifehead review that I found it odd and disappointing that NECA had not included their usual credits on this line. I now know that it’s because an entirely different process was used to make the Pacific Rim figures. NECA had access to the actual 3D renderings used in the movie and was able to scan those into plastic form (I’m sure I’m mangling the description of the process). Therefore minimal work was needed on fine-tuning the actual sculpts. Most of the actual design was done in computers.
Value: $14.99 is a steal for the figures in this line, particularly one this well done and thoroughly articulated.
Overall: Crimson Typhoon is an awesome figure and one of those rare releases that I would recommend to any toy collector, regardless of their interest in the movie. It’s well put-together and fun to play with – a great example of an American toy.

5 out of 5

This figure is so good, in fact, that I am compelled to purchase the less visually interesting - but seemingly more integral to the plot – robot, Gipsy Danger. This first series of Pacific Rim figures from NECA consists of Knifehead, Crimson Typhoon, and Gipsy Danger. I passed on Danger because I was already spending a bunch of money that day, but now I want one. I’m curious to see how NECA handled a more straightforward, humanoid robot.

-Phantom

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