Sometimes life just isn’t fair.
When I was fifteen years old, I discovered the wonders of the Evil Dead trilogy. I can’t remember how it all started, though I know I saw Army of Darkness first. I loved it, but when I saw Evil Dead II (Amazon) I knew I’d found what was destined to be one of my all-time favorite films. I’ve seen it dozens of times, including twice in a movie theater (the Brattle in Cambridge, MA). But back when I first discovered the movies – this was around 1994 or so – they weren’t easily available on VHS aside from Army of Darkess. But for Christmas that year, my parents tracked down some used videostore copies of Evil Dead and Evil Dead II from Canada. (Of course, just a few scant years later the Evil Dead boom began and suddenly it was everywhere, available on every format.)
Some of you may not know this, but the reason I joined the McFarlane Toys forums – where I invented the handle “Poe Ghostal” – was to push for Ash in the Movie Maniacs line. I’ve told that story before, so I won’t rehash it here, but suffice to say I am a very big Evil Dead fan (as a teen I even started a huge ED-themed fanfic that can be summed up as “Ash Goes to Hell” with multiple versions of Ash from different universes…but that will never see the light of day).
Man, did I try hard to like the McFarlane Ash figure. And man, did it truly suck. A terrible likeness, an awful fixed pose…McFarlane managed to make one of their most requested figures ever one of their worst products of all time. That hit stores in 2000, and it’s been a long twelve-year wait for better Ash figures to come along. Given the rights issues that evidently surrounded ED2, I’d more or less given up hope.
Enter NECA, who somehow managed to score the Evil Dead II rights (which are fairly complicated, I’ve heard). I was cautiously optimistic when the announcement was made, but I worried NECA would go the Terminator route and give him immobile legs. Thankfully, they didn’t.
Back in the McFarlane days when I would imagine my dream Evil Dead II line, it included an Ash from the end of Evil Dead II, when he’s got the chainsaw and sawed-off shotgun, as well as Henrietta and a Deadite Ash. NECA is giving us them all. I’ve been even more keen on a Deadite Ash since playing Evil Dead: Regeneration, which featured the ability to “hulk out” into Deadite Ash and slice and dice through dozens of enemies.
Packaging: As someone who opens his toys, I don’t give packaging much consideration, but NECA scores points with me simply by using the classic eyeballs-in-skull poster from the original film. Years before I saw Evil Dead II, that unique design was etched in my childhood memory from the VHS box in the horror section of my local video store (Max Movies in Carver, MA, now long gone).
The packaging also includes some classic quotes from the film on the sides and a brief explanation of the film on the back. And as always, I appreciate the fact that NECA includes credits for each figure on the bottom of the packaging.
Design & Sculpt: Despite his classic, chiseled-chin superhero good looks, sculptors have had a notoriously difficult time capturing his likeness in plastic (examples here, here, and here). The best I’ve ever seen on an action figure until now was McFarlane’s 18″ Ash, though NECA got pretty close with their Medieval Ash and S-Mart Ash. But sculptor Adrienne Smith may have come the closest in capturing the young EDII-era Bruce on the Farewell to Arms Ash. It’s a strong likeness that captures Ash’s usual expression during the early parts of the film. The monstrous Deadite Ash was probably a lot easier to sculpt, yet I think it’s even better than the FTA portrait.
The body (identical for both figures) is well-sculpted and highly detailed as well. There’s some excellent texturing on the pants and even on the bandages on FTA Ash’s left stump. The figure seems to have come through the production process fairly intact, making this one of NECA’s best efforts to date.
Plastic & Paint: This is often NECA’s Achilles’ Heel, but both versions of Ash come through fairly well this time. There are two fairly tricky things to pull off here: the smeared blood on both portraits and the dirty, wet, sweaty shirt. The paint on Deadite Ash’s face is nearly flawless, but it looks a bit odd that none of that dirt and blood make it down to the neck (this may have been done to facilitate head-swappage, as this figure was supposed to come with an alternate regular Ash head). FTA Ash’s face suffers from too-thick eyebrows and a bit too much black around the eyes, making it look like he’s wearing guyliner.
On both figures, the shirt effect is done by molding it in light blue plastic and then applying a heavy dark wash. It works well, though the wash is a bit too thick and smeared in some places (i.e., it looks like paint on a flat surface and not wet fabric). It’s also worth noting the elbow joints and shoulder joints are cast in light blue and the dark wash quickly peels off, leaving bright exposed joints – though only on the inside of the shoulders and the back of the elbows, so it’s not too noticeable. The shirt on the torso is made from a pliable material that allows the ball joint underneath the shirt to operate.
The paint on the pants is very well done, with an excellent dry wash over the dark brown plastic. The paint work was done by Jon and Karin Wardell.
Articulation: Both Ash figures include a ball jointed head, ball and hinge shoulders, ball jointed wrists (except for the bandaged arm, of course), hinged elbows, what appears to be a ball jointed upper torso beneath the shirt, a swivel waist, V-cuts at the crotch, swivels at the thighs, hinges at the knees, and ball joints at the feet. The hands, especially the left hand (oddly enough) tend to pop off easily, but they’ll pop right back on.
The arm articulation is mildly disappointing in that the arms can’t quite come close enough together on Farewell to Arms Ash to balance the shotgun on his bandaged stump. And I would have preferred Ash had H-hinges at the hips instead of the V-crotch, but compared to completely immobile legs I’ll take it, and happily.
Accessories: Farewell to Arms Ash comes with an axe, a shotgun, a stump arm, a possessed-hand arm, and a separate possessed hand. The axe is the one he used to kill “Evil Ed” (whom I sincerely hope we get as a figure…) and is smeared with his green blood. The possessed and stump arms are easily interchangeable at the elbow between both figures (along with the “normal” arm on Deadite Ash).
Two minor complaints: The shotgun doesn’t sit in his hand very well, and the hand doesn’t fit the trigger guard quite right; the trigger guard is brittle and broke on mine. I also wish the possessed hand were sculpted more spider-like so that it could stand up on all five fingers, rather than resting on the wrist.
Deadite Ash comes with the Necronomicon ex Mortis, Professor Knowby’s tape recorder, and the severed head of Ash’s girlfriend Linda. The paint work on Linda’s head is excellent; check out the filmy eyes! And the blood spatter is done very well too. The tape recorder is fine, if a bit uninteresting, but the Necronomicon seems much too small – closer to the size of the book in the original Evil Dead.
The accessories were fabricated by Brad Haskins and Anthony Minichino.
Quality Control: As mentioned, the trigger guard on my FTA’s shotgun broke. Other than that, no problems.
Overall: These are the Evil Dead II figures I’ve been waiting for all my life. They are a few things I might have wished for – H-hinge hips, double-jointed elbows perhaps – but with all the accessories and interchangeable parts, NECA has more than made up for that. And yet, these two are only the appetizer for the main course of Hero Ash and Henrietta (due out sometime over the summer).
Unfortunately, it appears that the four figures we’re getting in this line are going to be it (along with what looks like an SDCC or TRU exclusive sepia-toned “Hero Ash”). NECA has said these figures are “a labor of love, not profit.” So I encourage you to buy these – otherwise we may never get an Evil Ed or figures from the first film.
I don’t often say this, but go buy these. Now.
Where to Buy: