Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Import Monsters Review: NECA Evil Dead 2 Retro Style Ash and Deadite Ash

I'm not sure if I'd characterize myself as a NECA fan.  I mean sure, I own a decent amount of their figures.  And sure, their figures occasionally border on incredible for the 20-30 dollar price point.  But, MAN, do they have the ability to frustrate their consumers.  Flimsy materials, awful quality control, odd handling of character rosters, and cheap shortcuts are just some of the common issues people have with NECA products.  And that's just scratching the surface.  I've personally lost count of the amount of times I've had to return a Xenomorph with a busted hip (God bless Toys R' Us and their flexible return policy!!).  But despite their...  questionable quality, NECA has many people coming back for more.  Why?  It's simple.  NECA has a wide variety of licenses to a huge variety of collector friendly properties, some of which could very well never have seen figures based upon them.

One such property is Sam Raimi's Evil Dead Trilogy.  For it's 25th Anniversary, NECA released a quartet of 7' Evil Dead 2 action figures.  While the character lineup wasn't exactly what you could call "comprehensive" fans received what is considered by many (myself included) to be the first "good" mass market action figure of the film's hero, Ashley "Ash" Williams with his chainsaw hand.  Not only that, but NECA surprised everyone by releasing his demonic nemesis, Henrietta, for the first time ever in figure form!  It seemed possible that other long awaited/requested deadites such as Evil Ed and the Winged Demon were now possible as well!

Unfortunately that was not to be the case, as it seemed that NECA had no other Evil Dead 2 figures planned in the standard line.  However, there was one more surprise to follow in the format of NECA's 8" Retro Style series.  Ash was announced for an April release, with Deadite Ash following soon on his heels.  These weren't exactly the continuation we were waiting for, but it meant that NECA wasn't finished with the film at least.

After numerous (admittedly frustrating) delays, the two figures ended up being released simultaneously.  So were they worth the wait?  Read on and find out:


NECA went all out with the packaging on these, going the extra mile to give them that "retro" look.  Not only is the overly wide clamshell a throwback, but NECA has created original painted artwork for the cardback.  Yep, I said cardback.  Instead of their usual insert, a heavier stock card backing is included with character specific art.

Ash (4/5):  Ash's art depicts our hero facing off against the demonic Henrietta in the film's climactic showdown.  It's not a horrible painting, but the portrait doesn't resemble Bruce Campbell a whole lot.  Henrietta looks suitably terrifying swooping out of the shadows, and the warped look of the surrounding cabin reflects the film's insane imagery perfectly.

Deadite Ash (5/5):  Ash's Deadite form comes with a cardback depicting Ash's, um... possession by the Dark Sprit in a way we never actually saw in the film.  Possessed tree roots are wound all around his body, with the sharp tips piercing his flesh.  In the distance an ominous, eerie light pours from the cabin.  It's an excellent piece, and my favorite of the two.
Overall, the packaging for these figures is really nice, and you can tell that NECA went above and beyond their normal efforts.  I wouldn't blame people for wanting to display them mint in their clamshells.

Ash (4.5/5):  For a supposed "retro" figure, NECA just NAILED the likeness here.  This really is a slightly caricatured Bruce Campbell circa 1987. The facial expression is fantastic, somehow managing conveying fear, bewilderment, and determination all at once.  Ash's mouth hang's slightly agape, and his teeth protrude a bit.  If done incorrectly, this could look goofy.  Instead it adds a nice touch of character to the sculpt.  The one thing I can say I dislike about the face is the blatant mold line running along the right jawline.  Depending on the angle you're looking at, it can be quite distracting.

Ash's chainsaw looks great, with painstakingly film accurate details.  Everything from the intricately sculpted teeth in the chain to the rivets holding it together are just perfect.  It looks ready to roar to life and carve itself a witch!

One thing that's unfortunately less than perfect is Ash's waxy, phony-looking left hand.  The fingers don't give the illusion of being individual, and the trigger finger is actually fused.  This makes holding the shotgun accessory look unnatural.

Both characters' boots are the same exact sculpt, but they look amazing.  The sculptors somehow managed to emulate the look of leather, even going as far as to add wrinkles near the toes.

Deadite Ash (4.75/5):  Wow. Just like Ash, Deadite Ash is rendered extremely faithfully. His face has a very bony, skull-like structure, complete with guant cheeks and sunken eye sockets. His mouth is open wide, baring his upper and lower rows of teeth. 

Deadite Ash almost seems to be screaming "Join Us!"  Though he shares the same rather uninspired left hand with the other Ash, he also has a unique intact right hand.  This hand is open and has individually sculpted fingers.  It's just perfect for posing Deadite Ash as if he's reaching for a hapless victim.

The sculpts on these two figures are definitely a highlight overall, but they aren't without their issues.  Blatant mold lines and less detailed hands mar what would easily  have been a perfect score.


 This is a odd category for me, as all of the figures I've collected in the past have had sculpted clothing.  The overall look is pretty cool, though the outfits fit oddly and seem a bit baggy in places.  I'm not sure if this is part of the "retro" aesthetic, so I'll merely judge the outfit on the way they look overall.

Ash (4/5):  Ash's outfit is the more complicated of the two, with a ripped sections and an intricate series of faux leather straps all over his torso.  These straps look great, and they are attached to a large holster for Ash's sawed-off shotgun.  His shirt is stained and damaged, with one sleeve ripped off as well as a large section of the front, exposing left arm and chest.  There are various stains all over the fabric, a testament to the abuse Ash has taken in his battle against the forces of darkness.

As stated before, the overall look of the clothes is a both baggy and unnatural.  Ash's collar is HUGE, and his pants sit too high on his pelvis.  Notably absent is a belt, which Ash definitely wore.  A large, film accurate rip is present on the lower left leg.

Deadite Ash (3.5/5):  Deadite Ash's outfit is similar to Ash's, only without the faux leather additions and less wear and tear.  This makes it harder to overlook the overall bagginess and the lack of a belt.  Still, there is some nice stain work on there.  And unlike normal Ash, Deadite Ash's outfit can be removed/adjusted.

Overall, while it's nice to have something a bit different, I prefer sculpted clothing to cloth.  Cloth clothing almost never ends up looking natural, especially at smaller scales. 

Ash (3.5/5):  Good God! Something went horribly wrong with the paint apps on Ash's head. They turned what could've been The Best Ash portrait ever into a lazy eyed nightmare. The eyeliner is applied a bit too liberally, and it isn't exactly on the mark. There are some spots misapplied on the eyebrows, too.
The hair by Ash's ear has a noticeable unpainted patch, too. 

Deadite Ash (4.5/5):  The paint work on Deaedite Ash is excellent, far eclipsing the 7" version.  With just the perfect blend of pale, corpselike skin, sunken purplish eye sockets, featureless white eyes, and red gory scars he looks like he jumped straight out of the film.  His hands are covered in mud from the forest floor.  Even the paint on his boots is more detailed, with mud in the creases and crevices.  Of course not everything is perfect, as there is a bit of slop here and there.

Overall the paint between these guys is pretty good, though Ash definitely has some issues with the black lining around his eyes.  This issue was prevalent with the 7" figures as well.  I don't understand NECA's obsession with piling too much eyeliner on this character.
Articulation (2.5/5):

I'm not sure if all the Retro Style figures share this body, but it's unfortunately missing some very important and basic points of articulation.

The neck is on a typical ball joint, and both figures have an excellent range of motion there. Both sport swivel/hinge combo wrists, except where Ash has the chainsaw hand. That's a mere swivel. The last swivel joint is the waist joint. After that?
Hinges.  Hinges, hinges, hinges, hinges.
Hinged shoulders.  Hinged elbows.  Hinged hips.  Hinged knees.  Hinged ankes.  Believe it or not, this severely limits the articulation.  Simple things like stepping forward or positioning legs a certain way become nearly impossible without some odd twisting.  It's a baffling and disappointing decision.   


Honestly, a lot of the poses you see in these photos were an absolute chore to pull off due to the swivel-less hinges and the overall floppy nature of the joints on this body.  I must say that the joints were floppier on Ash, though Deadite Ash wasn't much better.

Accessories (3/5):
Both figures come with a single essential accessory. 
Ash comes with his sawed off double barreled shotgun.  It looks nice, if a bit underwhelming and gummy.  The shotgun fits nicely into the oversized holster on Ash's back.

Deadite Ash comes with the Necronomicon Ex Mortis, or The Book of the Dead.  Unlike NECA's previous Necronomicon, this one is accurate to the second film.  It almost looks as if it's gonna sprout teeth and attack!

While it would have been nice to get more accessories with these guys (The Knowby's tape recorder, Linda's head, Ash's evil hand), what we did get was essential, and I love that Necronomicon. 

Take extra care with Ash's faux leather straps, as they are fragile.  Look what happened straight out of the package:

 Other than the straps, there shouldn't be too much to worry about as far as breakage goes.
Overall (3/5):

I really wanted to love these.  I'm a huge fan of the film, the franchise, and the Ash Williams character, and I loved the previous 7" ED2 figures.  While I do like these figures, there are just too many issues working against them.  Weird articulation choices (seriously?  Hinges only?), less than stellar paint applications, and balance issues are among the many problems keeping these from being truly great figures.  I still recommend these to Evil Dead 2 die hards and horror fans that collect figures mint on card.  As I said before, NECA went all out on the packaging and they look great inside.
Casual fans looking for something different might want to keep looking however.

Coming up next for IM's NECA Week 2014: 


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