Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Toy Review – “Weird Al” Yankovic Retro Action Figure from NECA


NECA has been killing it with their selection of these Mego-style action figures. They’ve hit so many HUGE pop culture icons – Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, Snake Plissken, Ashley J. Williams, and even the Crimson Ghost. They also produced extremely limited runs of figures in this style for Django Unchained and The Hateful Eight. Now NECA is stepping into new territory with franchises like Bill & Ted and this new Weird Al figure.

I own a number of prior releases in this style. They look fantastic. The clothing is immaculately tailored to work at this scale and the sculpts are on par with everything else NECA produces. The paint tends to be slightly better. Up until recently I had no idea what sort of construction these figures had because most of them were on clamshells and I didn’t want to open them in case they were shoddy. They look great on the wall and I already have all-plastic versions of most of the characters, so I didn’t want to chance being disappointed in the actual build of the toys.

But then my Hateful Eight figures came in. They were in resealable boxes, so I opened each and every one.

I’ll get into more detail later, but I was pleased.

As you all know by now, Weird Al is one of my personal heroes. I’ve written about him a lot, including this piece from when I sort of rediscovered him a few years ago. I mean, I never stopped loving him, but… just read the thing.

In that post, I got pretty worked up about the lack of Weird Al action figures. To me it was an outrage. I am happy to say that I now own two figures of Al – both by NECA – and will buy any more that any company cares to put out.

Side Note: I am aware that Hasbro released Wreck-Gar from Transformers: Animated and that he was voiced by Al. That doesn’t count. Or at least, not as an actual Weird Al action figure.

I’m talking Funko Pop and ReAction Weird Al. Heck, do the entire cast of UHF. Do an Al for each album. I’ll buy ‘em.

I’m talking a super-articulated Mafex or Figurarts release with eighteen interchangeable hands, an accordion, four heads, and Jedi robes.

I’m talking – and Hasbro you can have this for free – a Transformer with Al’s likeness that is an accordion that changes into a robot and that is called “Alvatron” and has a sound chip that plays “Dare to Be Stupid” in its entirety and is released to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of The Transformers: The Movie.

My point here is that I want Al’s likeness to be reproduced in plastic so much that someday I will look at the Previews toy section and think, “UGH. Another Weird Al figure?” the same way I do about Dragon Ball Z figures.

FIRST GLANCE

The sculpted parts look to be a notch above NECA’s all-plastic releases. The fabric clothes look excellent.

I can’t get over the detail on the accordion. It would be so great if you could actually squeeze the bellows, but that would also be ridiculous and needless. And it would probably break.

PACKAGING

I can’t even tell you how delighted I was to open the shipping carton and see this beautiful window box inside. I assumed Al would come in a clamshell like most of the other NECA releases in this style. The Hateful Eight figures came in boxes, but they weren’t released to the mass market.

What this means is that I don’t have to buy two of these. I had fully intended to open this one and buy another one at a later date to hang on the wall with the rest of my retro cloth NECA figures. Now I can put Al back in the box or whatever.

The box itself is a work of 80s-infused wonder. The graphics are fantastic. Just look:



As always NECA has credited the artists involved, but I couldn’t get a very good picture of it. It just makes me happy that they do this.

Al is tied into a tray that slides out of the box easily.

LOOKS

The default head is perfection. This is modern Al, complete with long hair and free of facial encumberments like glasses and mustaches. He looks quite pleased with himself, as he should because the sculpt and paint are excellent. I feel like this is a slight caricature of Al, as it looks just a bit exaggerated, but it’s hard to tell because Al himself is a bit of an exaggerated caricature. And I mean that in the best possible way. Unlike Al, the figure’s head is a firm but soft plastic so that it is easily removable.


I didn’t bother taking the clothes off because I really don’t care what’s under there, but it certainly appears to be the same standard base body that NECA uses for most of these figures. It’s a good frame for Weird Al. He doesn’t look like a superhero or anything crazy.


The hands are a bit large and monstrous. There’s some weird coloration in this picture that isn’t really visible in person. I don’t know what’s up with that. There are some issues with matching the skin tone between the head, hands, body and arms. It’s not terrible, but the textures, color, and detail level are all slightly off between parts.


The shirt is a very light material that hangs well and looks like it has weight. It moves well with the figure as you pose it. The colors are vibrant and the printing is clear and distinct. The stitching is tight and clean and doesn’t look as much like a giant stitched it as some stuff in this scale looks. I’m most impressed by the effort put into making the collar look like a collar and not some weird flap of fabric that doesn’t lie down correctly.

Al’s trousers are also a light fabric that moves well. They remind me of the material used for tuxedo pants. Unlike many releases in this style, they are tailored perfectly. The waist and inseam allow for movement of the figure without too much pulling up or displacement.


Al’s shoes are perfection. They look just like the slip-on Vans that he’s been wearing since the 80s. They aren’t removable, but are his actual sculpted feet and that’s just fine.

ACCESSORIES

Weird Al comes with an extra hand, a microphone, an accordion, and an extra head.


The accordion is magnificent. The level of detail makes it one of those special accessories that you have to just sit and look at for a few minutes. The accordion itself is a hard plastic and the straps are soft so that they easily fit over the figure. It’s a bit tricky to slide the straps through the loop on the bottom of the instrument, but once they’re through it they stay put. The paint is immaculate.


The microphone isn’t exactly exciting, but it looks great and I’m glad it was included. Despite the incorrect costume, all I’m picturing is Al singing “Wanna B Ur Lovr” to some uncomfortable lady. The extra hand is to hold the microphone. It switches out easily.


The other head looks like a UHF-era Al. It’s amazing and is definitely the one I’ll be displaying. Nothing against modern, handsome Al, but this is the Weird Al Yankovic I grew up with. The hair sculpt and paint are incredible. The glasses are clean and clear and extremely shiny, which made it hard to get a picture of the eyes. Trust me – everything looks great.

The heads swap out easily, which is great. Be careful around the glasses, though.

Side Note: Phantom Jr. was very impressed with this figure. He is not always impressed with the ones in this style. His eyes got all wide and he said, “Wow. That is cool.” I need to ask him which head he prefers since he’s had more exposure to modern Al.

FUN

NECA’s figures are far superior to Mego’s, articulation-wise. The shoulders and hips are proper ball joints with swivels at the thighs and biceps. This figure can achieve and hold far more poses than most Mego-style releases.

That being said, I was disappointed by a couple of things. His right hand can’t bend at an angle sufficient for it to look like he’s playing the accordion. You can kind of fake it by swiveling it down, but if it bent just a bit more it would have been nice.


The knees don’t bend deeply enough. I wanted to get a shot of Al kneeling over his accordion like he was getting ready to set it on fire, but they don’t bend nearly enough.
The left elbow on mine was stuck. I used a hairdryer to loosen it up and it’s fine now, but the way the joint was expanded made me very nervous. If you buy Weird Al – or any of these NECA releases – use hairdryers on those joints. Don’t force them. I could tell this one would snap if I’d messed with it much without heating it.

All in all this figure is very posable and is much more satisfying than I expected it to be, play-wise. The accessories are excellent and add a lot of fun.

OVERALL

All of the stuff I said up there about the joints? That’s just me being a judgy toy jerk. Aside from the stuck elbow none of it is any kind of big deal considering the style and the look of this action figure. The only real issue is the difference in skin tones across the parts, and even that isn’t super noticeable. It certainly won’t be catching your eye every time you walk past the shelf or anything.

This is a fantastic Weird Al Yankovic action figure. If you are a Weird Al fan, you have to have it. It isn’t totally, completely perfect, but it still gets my highest recommendation.

4 out of 5

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