NECA’s Ultimate Striker Eureka

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Guillermo Del Toro’s 2013 film Pacific Rim was a movie-going experience unlike any before: A story about gigantic creatures of unprecedented size coming through an inter-dimensional portal at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and the equally huge robotic machines built by humanity to destroy them. Kaijus and Jaegers. Del Toro is by his own admission a massive kaiju and giant creature film fan and Pacific Rim reeks of it. The film is responsible for introducing the word kaiju into the modern, popular culture.

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I have very fond memories of watching Godzilla films with my little brother in our basement as kids, specifically King Kong vs. Godzilla and Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster. If Pacific Rim had been around when we were children, we would have lost our minds! Especially about the toys. NECA Toys has produced an amazing line of figures of both the kaijus and Jaegers that are some of the biggest and best pieces in my collection. One of those figures just got an upgrade that is beyond fantastic and is certain to make many collectors rebuy it: Ultimate Striker Eureka, the fastest and only Mark 5 Jaeger in existence. NECA had previously released a version of Striker for the second series of Pacific Rim figures. I’ll be comparing this figure to the Ultimate version, as the differences are vast.

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The figure comes in the now standard Ultimate packaging of a window box with a Velcro disc to secure it. This particular box was made of poster art of Striker from the film’s release and decorated with battle stats and a kaiju kill count.

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The inside of the package is great; it contains an awesome blueprint of Striker and even has small references to the scale of the Jaeger in the form of people and a small, cargo vehicle. Striker’s logo was even thrown in.

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The cardboard insert is a launch bay of the Shatterdome, the massive Jaeger station in Hong Kong used as base of operations in the film. The open doors reveal a city scape in the background beyond a harbor.

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This particular Ultimate figure comes with its rear fins disconnected for safe packing.

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An alternate open chest that exposes Striker’s Air Missile system with attachable, mid firing missiles.

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And finally, the massive 2,400 pound thermonuclear warhead that is attached to Striker’s back at the film’s climax.

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The figure itself is gorgeous. It is loaded with detail from the plating to the logos to even the small, transport cable attachments on its shoulders.

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The back shows the holes for both the rear fins and for the warhead in between them.

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This is the chest without its pieces, showing how they connect.

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Now, we can take a look at both this Ultimate and the original released Striker from Series 2.

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As you can see, the difference is night and day. Ultimate Striker contains infinitely more sculpt detail, brighter color, more accurate chest logos and the previously mentioned transport cable attachments.

Ultimate Striker also features more accurate arm blade slots. The Series 2 Striker had the blades rest on top, where this new version allows the blades to slide into the arm in a much more screen accurate fashion.

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And then we come to the best part of the figure, the missile firing chest!

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This is an amazing figure from top to bottom. The packaging is great, every aspect of the figure is an improvement from previous seven inch versions, and it’s just a taste of things to come. This past weekend at the 2016 International Toy Fair in New York City, NECA revealed many of their new, upcoming figures and items going to retail this year, one of which was the second Ultimate figure from Pacific Rim, Ultimate Gispy Danger. Even though this figure is probably between six and nine months from being ready, fans are excited that this second announcement may indicate Ultimate version of more Jaegers are coming. I certainly hope so. I already have Ultimate Gipsy preordered and cannot wait to bring you that review.

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And before that, something I am very excited for. The best part of Pacific Rim, in my opinion, is the kaiju, and coming very soon from NECA Toys is the huge Category 4 kaiju, Mutavore. This is the creature that attacks Sydney, Australia early in the film and is defeated by Striker Eureka using its Air Missile system. Which means that thanks to Ultimate Striker, fans will soon be able to recreate this short, but awesome, battle from this movie! Again, Mutavore is another review I can’t wait to do!

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Until then, if you haven’t already, go see Pacific Rim. There have been many animated films and live action shows from Japan that feature giant monsters fighting giant robots, but nothing like this. Pacific Rim takes those childhood Saturday afternoon creature feature memories and transforms them into amazing spectacles that will have anyone’s inner child grinning.

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Ultimate Striker Eureka is available now in stores and online for around $24.99. Deluxe Mutavore kaiju is coming very soon and is available for preorder for about $59.99 and Ultimate Gipsy is up for preorder for around $21.99.

Follow @NECA_TOYS on Twitter for constant news updates by the company’s director of production, Randy Falk. Or check them out at www.necaonline.com

If you would like to preorder or purchase any of these items, I recommend www.bigbadtoystore.com

Thanks so much for reading, I’m Ash and you can follow me on Twitter @Ode2Ash

NECA’s Predators Series 14

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AVP: Alien Vs. Predator was finally released in 2004, a film that fans dreamed of since Dark Horse Comics first started bringing them these two epic extraterrestrials’ battles in 1989. The comics grew in popularity, multiple video games titled Aliens Vs. Predator were released in arcades and on home consoles. So, fans and nerds alike waited for the eventual film adaptation.

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The plot of the original Aliens Vs. Predator comic involved a Predator elder named Broken Tusk partnering with a woman named Machiko Noguchi, the administrator of a planet colony, to defend themselves against Aliens after a hunt goes wrong.

 

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Some of these elements were brought into the film adaptation, but not many. When you read the original story and then watch the film, you can see how the character of Machiko turned into Alexa Woods played by Sanaa Lathan.

 

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The budget necessary to bring the original story set in far space would have been huge. So, it was changed to Antarctica. Previous films established that the Aliens spread and multiply very quickly, so if it was going to be set on Earth, an extremely isolated environment would be needed.

 

Fans reacted generally positively to the film, however the Predator designs garnered some criticism. I’m one of those who were a little put off by some of the costume choices. The Predators were huge, taller and much thicker stuntmen were used than in the previous films. The armor looked more like plastic than metal. The colors of the Predator’s skin were much more muted than previous versions of the creature.

 

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So, when NECA Toys announced they were going to make figures of the Predators in this film as the lineup for the fourteenth Series of their number one selling Predator line, fans asked about these design issues. Randy Falk, NECA Toys’ director of production, responded on Twitter by saying that NECA’s artists would be taking slight artistic liberties in fine tuning the details of the Predators.

Well, they’ve been released and those artistic liberties are making fans rave online. And I completely agree. The attention to detail, the quality, the variety of accessories and the interchangeability of the weapons and hands make each one of these figures a bargain at less than $25.

 

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We’ll start with Chopper Predator.

 

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Chopper features the most intricate trophy accessory ever seen in a Predator film or figure, two totems with skulls and beads attached to his back. Many fans, including myself, were surprised to hear that these trophies would not be attached to the molded figure, but loose.

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One of these totems is attached to Chopper’s plasma caster backpack while the other is attached to a “C” clamp on Chopper’s back.

 

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Each of the Predators in this series comes with one of these clamps that can also be used to attach their spears.

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Chopper also features a brand new feature in this series, wires running from the side of the mask to the plasma caster backpack. They slide into two, small holes near where the backpack meets the shoulder.

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I found the best method to attach these wires is to remove the Predator’s head, attach the backpack, connect the wires and reattach the head.

 

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Chopper has the most accessories in this series with three sets of blades, plasma caster, collapsed spear, shuriken and previously mentioned totems. He also features rear, extended blade holders.

 

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The next figure is Scar Predator, the main protagonist Predator of the film who partners with Alexa.

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Now, I’ll be honest, this Predator’s face is horrible in my opinion and I’ve found that sentiment is shared fairly consistently among fans in my experience. This was my primary concern when I heard about this figure. NECA rightfully prides itself with capturing creature’s likenesses very well and I was concerned they would do so with this face…

 

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This is the face created by Amalgamated Dynamics Incorporated or ADI for AVP: Alien Vs. Predator. Compare this to the original Predator animatronic face created by Stan Winston Studios in 1987.

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This was the one feature of the Predators in AVP that fans wanted changed the most and NECA delivered. The face was vastly improved.

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Scar comes with a collapsed spear, plasma caster backpack, removable, extended wrist blades and shuriken. Each figure in this series comes with one of these throwing shuriken.

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The last figure is Celtic Predator.

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Celtic quickly became a fan favorite due to his unique mask and the fact that he is the first Predator in the film to battle an Alien, finally giving fans the cinematic duel they had imagined for fifteen years. Celtic comes with wrist blades, extended spear, shuriken and plasma caster.

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Celtic also features the mask wires that come with Chopper. A ceremonial dagger sheath is attached to Celtic’s right leg and he comes with a removable dagger. Each figure in this series comes with one of these ceremonial daggers.

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Every figure in this series features at least one pair of wrist blades, plasma caster, shuriken, spear, bone necklace, back “C” clamp and ceremonial dagger. Scar and Chopper come with flip open wrist computers. This is a first for NECA Predators at this scale.

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Each Predator has a unique plasma cannon and unique wrist blades.

 

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The tabs connecting the backpacks to the Predators have moved from one going up and one going down to two going directly into the back.

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They are meant to be purchased as a set of three to give you access to all the accessories options. Meaning that if you buy Scar, you get a collapsed spear. If you buy Celtic, you get the extended spear. The same applies to the Predator’s hands. Buying the set gives you access to all hand options. For example, Chopper comes with two closed fists, yet also accessories that would require different hands to hold. Buying one of the other figures would give you access to an open hand and an object holding hand. Some people have complained about this being a problem for people only buying one figure, but I think it’s a fair trade off to have the hands packed separately in exchange for many more accessories being included.

Now, as I mentioned, these figures are meant to be purchased as a trio and I can now say it is absolutely worth it. The poses you can create by being able to switch between the three sets of hands and accessories is worth it for a collector. NECA really took these Predators to the next level in terms of quality and detail and with Series 15 already being announced as having three more Predators from AVP, I very much look forward to this line’s future!

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Predators Series 14 is available in stores and online now retailing from between $22 and $25.

Check out NECA’s website at www.necaonline.com and on Twitter @NECA_TOYS

I’m Ash and you can follow me on Twitter @Ode2Ash

NECA’s Video Game Appearance Jason Voorhees

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I’ll explain.

After it was clear in the 1980s that video game home consoles were the wave of the future, everyone wanted their own game. And I do mean everybody. There were video games from all sorts of companies and about products that people would never think of. From 7-Up, to Domino’s Pizza to homemade games featuring characters and stories from the Bible. As the horror sequel boom of the 1980s continued to gain strength at the time that video game consoles did the same, it was inevitable that the two would cross over. Atari already had released games of John Carpenter’s Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the early 80s, so games based on horror films were not unheard of. They would return in 1989’s Friday The 13th for the Nintendo Entertainment System, based on the film series of the same name.

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The game would soon become known as one of the most difficult and tedious games to beat in the Nintendo library. Some think it’s the worst game ever released on the system. Most thought it was just…odd. Jason in a pinkish jumpsuit, his mother’s floating head, throwing stones at furry, zombie-like creatures. People didn’t know what to make of it. It certainly wasn’t what people were thinking of when they thought Friday the 13th, the video game. It was hated. But, it developed a cult following.

 

Flash forward to San Diego Comic-Con 2013. The cult following of game was still strong. So much so that NECA revealed a convention exclusive, retro Jason figure in a video game style box, the first of their highly successful video game appearance line. It easily goes for $100 on secondary markets. Fans have been asking for a re-issue of it since it first sold out. Well, NECA listened and gave us this.

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But, it isn’t quite the same figure.

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NECA made it just different enough that even collectors who already owned the first VGA Jason preordered this. First and foremost, there’s this:

That is one of the many music pieces from the game that fans remember so well. The device is actually activated by light as opposed to the box flap opening and closing.

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The tiny hole above and to the right of the speaker is the light sensor.

 

The backdrop captures the inside of the cabins in the game.

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The figure comes with all the accessories that the 2013 Jason did, but NECA included an extra Mrs. Voorhees’s floating head with a clear, flight stand. It was another memorable moment from the game and perfect to be included.

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This figure also differs from the original in that it does not glow. The mask, face, hands, feet and weapons all glowed in the dark. So, you get the same figure minus the glow ability, an extra accessory with stand and a music version of the same VGA packaging from 2013.

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I really like how NECA didn’t just put out the same figure again. The changes are added references towards the game and that is exactly what the point of these retro products are. The music is a grin inducing trip down memory lane. I’m glad I wasn’t able to get the first one. Because, as NECA has shown me themselves with things I cannot yet discuss from my studio tour, patience pays off with this company. This figure retails for around $24.99 and is available online and in stores now.

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Please follow me on Twitter for cool NECA and other toy related news @Ode2Ash

Check out NECA Toys at http://www.necaonline.com or on Twitter @NECA_TOYS

NECA’s P-5000 Power Loader Vehicle

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NECA Toys’ Aliens line is one of their fastest growing and features some of the company’s largest and most impressive pieces. In particular the P-5000 Power Loader and the massive Alien Queen which is thirty inches long from tooth to tail!  As soon as NECA announced a few years ago that a Queen was in production, fans immediately began to ask NECA’s director of production, Randy Falk, on Twitter and during interviews if a Power Loader was to follow.

Since you are reading this, it obviously did.

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The box is a simple and comes with photography recreating the moment Ripley emerges from the hanger of the U.S.S. Sulaco in the Power Loader. The Loader comes in a plastic shell meant to protect it during shipping. The two antenna along with alternate, gripping hands for the Ripley action figure (sold separately) are in a small bag taped to the plastic shell.

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Once I got all the packaging off, put the antenna in and placed it down could I see just how much work went into the detail on this vehicle. Beyond just the fine tooling that went into the details of the vehicle, additional aging and worn down effects were added to show that these Loaders have been well loved.

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The tubing on the back looks great. These aren’t something that is shown very clearly in the film, so they add a nice touch of authenticity to the vehicle when you see it entirely.

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The Loader features a wide variety of moving parts. The legs move and can be bent at the knee and ankle. The arms move and can be bent at the elbow and wrist. The shoulders are pistons as are the back of the legs and arms and the front of the boots. Each of these pistons moves in correspondence to the Loader’s movement.

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Most 6 to 7 inch figures should fit the Loader, not just the Ripley figure it was designed for. The seatbelt is three separate pieces that clip together over the figure’s chest.

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The harness closes down around the figure.

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And the feet secure into the Loader’s boots.

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The control sticks slide back and forth in their sockets.

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The harness features a blow torch that was also seen in the film,

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Once Ripley is in the Loader, the pose options are vast. Her hands have some difficulty staying connected when moving the Loader’s arms. My suggestion is to remove the hands, pose the Loader arm where you’d like it, pose Ripley’s arm, attach the hand to the control stick and slide it back to Ripley’s wrist.

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Now that you have Ripley secured into the Loader, there’s only one thing left to do…

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Pose her alongside the Alien Queen! This is where you can show off the main feature of the Power Loader, it’s posable clamps.

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This figure retails for around one hundred dollars depending on where you purchase it. That is a lot, but I honestly feel it is worth it. This is not a cheap collectible by any means. With multiple moving parts and joints, standing nearly a foot in height and twenty cables for detail, this is a piece that has people talking. I’ve seen more than one person on social media post how they only planned on getting either Ripley, the Loader or the Queen, not all. Then, upon seeing this vehicle, they broke down and bought all three. I don’t blame them, All three are beautiful and I’ll be doing a separate piece on the Alien Queen sometime in the future.

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Check out NECA Toys at their website http://www.necaonline.com and on Twitter @NECA_TOYS  I’m @Ode2Ash

Amok Time’s Crite from “Critters”

Critters is one of those movies that even if someone hasn’t seen it, they can recall the creature.  Example:

Me: Hey, have you ever seen Critters?

Normal Person: Ummm…is that the one where the little fur balls form into a giant ball?

Me: Bingo.

I’ve actually had that exchange a few times when discussing films with people and creature films like Critters is mentioned. More than one person can recall vague childhood memories of seeing these vicious little bastards simply by their unique design. Which was why I was so thrilled to see this promotional photo by Amok Time Toys…

 

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Critters is one of those movies that horror fans love! It earned three sequels, two direct to home video. The third film in the franchise was actually the first film to star a child actor named Leonardo DiCaprio. I can recall fans on toy message boards back when I was in college always including a Crite, the species’ name, on their lists. I was really surprised to see one finally get made and it was well worth the wait.

 

Crite in package

The package is small and great!  Lined with art from the film’s poster, the Crite’s window box package is the type you want to keep even if you plan on opening the figure.  But, once you get him out…

Crite head on

 

He’s a solid piece of vinyl about five inches tall with realistic hair. Being solid, he is limited in poses he can be placed in, but it really isn’t an issue, in my opinion. He’s simple, but exactly what fans have wanted for many years! I wish there could have been a tad more articulation in the mouth, but I was pleasantly surprised to see this when I opened him..

 

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The grey hair seemed to pop much more in person than in Amok Time’s promotional stills, making him even better. As part of their Monstarz line, this guy is just the latest in a series of horror themed collectibles available by Amok Time! I know I will be featuring some in the future. Amok Time has really tapped into core fandoms and delivered some figures that I love.

This guy is only $19.99 and for a toy that long-awaited with a cool display box and realistic hair, that’s a great price. Please follow the link below to grab a Crite to place somewhere in your house to frighten a family member!

http://www.amoktime.com/monstarz-critters-space-crite-collectors-vinyl-figure.html

For toys and other cool things follow me on Twitter @Ode2Ash