NOTE: The toys in this review were provided free of charge by NECA Toys (though I also bought a second set). –PG
This has been an interesting year for me. It has seen the advent of two things that young Poe wanted more than anything: super-articulated Godzilla action figures, and Evil Dead 2 action figures.
As you may or may not be aware, my “Poe Ghostal” handle was born when I joined the Spawn message board back in 1999. And why did I join? To urge McFarlane Toys to add Ash to their Movie Maniacs line. They did, and it sucked, and also it was from Army of Darkness and not my favorite of the trilogy, Evil Dead 2, but I’ve covered this before so let’s move on.
While Army of Darkness is the film most casual fans know, my favorite has always been and always will be Evil Dead 2. I’ve seen it dozens of times on video and at least twice in special Halloween theater showings. I do somewhat miss the time when the film was still a true cult favorite; for Christmas one year, my parents had to contact a store in Canada to track down a copy of ED2 on VHS as a gift. Nowadays the Evil Dead trilogy is big business, with tons of comics, videogames, DVDs, and toys, but as with Lord of the Rings, part of me misses the time before the Internet boom when Evil Dead fandom was still the provenance of in-the-know geeks and horror hounds.
I previously reviewed the first two figures in this line, Farewell to Arms Ash and Deadite Ash. (I’ve also got the SDCC exclusive Hero from the Sky Ash, but I’ll get to that later). Today’s review, with samples provided by NECA, is of heavy hitters Hero Ash and his nemesis Henrietta.
Packaging: The packaging is the standard NECA clamshell, with graphics of the toys. I give them kudos for using the “skull with eyeballs” image from the VHS cover; I’ve always preferred that to any of the various alternative ED2 covers. I was actually aware of Evil Dead 2 before I ever knew what it was because, as a kid, I couldn’t help but notice that distinctive, creepy cover in the video store.
Design & Sculpt: Let’s start with Ash. His head and legs are re-used from the previous Ash figures; everything else is newly-sculpted by Adrienne Smith and Thomas Gwyn. Ash has the torn blue shirt, complete with straps for the gun holster. Check out the hairy chest; no stone was left unturned here. The shirt has a number of shredded bits hanging here and there.
I’m a bit disappointed they didn’t give us a new, more aggressive head sculpt. This is the same head as Farewell to Arms Ash, which means he looks a stressed out and bewildered. Evidently this line is expensive and isn’t bringing in much of a profit (which does not bode well for my getting the Evil Ed I want so much…), so I understand why we couldn’t get one; but a “let’s go” head would have really made this figure perfect.
Then there’s Henrietta. She was played by Sam Raimi’s younger brother Ted in the film; apparently whenever they took off the latex feet, sweat simply poured out of the suit. Professor Knowby’s possessed wife is Ash’s most memorable foe after Evil Ash, and still one of the most disgusting monsters ever to grace the silver screen. Raimi and his SFX artists captured pretty much every gross old lady cliche in the book and put it into the suit.
The sculpt by Jason Frailey is superb – there’s no other way to say it. I especially love the head, which is an amazing likeness of Henrietta’s awful face. The few scraps of Henrietta’s dress are made from rubbery plastic, and don’t get in the way of the articulation at all.
Oh, one thing to note: Henrietta has nipples. Gross latex-old-lady-monster nipples, but nipples nonetheless. At this time I’ll point out I haven’t seen these in Toys R Us yet…
Plastic & Paint: This has always been a tricky area for NECA, mostly because they’re trying to provide detailed sculpts, good articulation, and multiple paint applications on a mass market figure. The paint work was done by Jon and Karin Wardell.
That said, they’ve improved greatly in this area in recent years, and it shows with these figures; there aren’t any glaring paint errors, aside from the occasional bit of slop (and Ash has a bit too much eyeshadow). In any event, disgusting zombies and characters covered in blood can look a little sloppy and get away with it.
The paint work on Henrietta is great, especially on the head. The colors and texture of the skin are really well executed. My only complaint, and it’s a minor one, is that she’s a bit glossy around the front of her torso.
Articulation: Ash has similar articulation to the previous figures, with one addition. He has a ball-and-socket neck, ball-and-hinge shoulders, ball-and-hinge elbows, ball-and-socket wrists, a ball-jointed torso, swivel waist, a v-crotch, swivel thighs, ball-and-hinge knees, and ball-and-socket ankles. The torso joint is new (or it’s possible I just couldn’t see it beneath the shirts of the previous figures).
While I do wish he had H-hinge hips, and that it were possible to get him to hold the handle of the chainsaw in his left hand, you can still get him into a lot of great poses.
Henrietta’s articulation is, if you can believe it, even better. She has a ball-and-socket head, ball-and-hinge shoulders and elbows, ball-and-socket wrists, a ball-and-socket torso, what I think are ball-and-socket hips, ball-and-hinge knees, and ball-and-socket feet. It’s an incredible amount of articulation for such a blobby character.
Accessories: Finally, we get the torn-shirt Ash with the chainsaw and sawed-off shotgun. The shotgun is just what you’d expect – nothing too fancy, but it looks good. There’s a QC issue with it though, which I’ll address in the next section.
The sculpting on the chainsaw is fine, but the paint work could be better. The blade looks all right, but the main part – which was red in the film – seems to have been painted silver and then had the red painted on top of that. It’s a bit odd-looking.
Ash always comes with a rather surprising accessory: the laughing moose-head from the haunted cabin. It’s definitely weird, but very well sculpted and painted (the fabrication was done by Brad Haskins and Anthony Minichino). It even has a ball-jointed neck! NECA clearly put a lot of love into this line.
Henrietta comes with a display stand and an alternate head. The stand plugs into her back (the hole is covered by her rags when not plugged) and allows her to hover in the air.
But let’s talk about the alternate head. It’s a bendy, and despite what Mattel would have us believe, it’s evidently possible to make something a bendy and still have it be both really poseable and durable. Though often bendies don’t have a great range of motion, as you can see from the photos the neck is very poseable and holds those poses easily. NECA went with “real” hair on the head, and while I usually dislike the technique, it seems to work when said hair is stringy white corpse-hair. The head sculpt is, again, fantastic.
Oh, and while I don’t hold it against NECA, I do think the lack of an eyeball is a missed opportunity. And I’m a bit sad this line may end without giving us the awesome Kandarian dagger — which, come to think of it, seems like a pretty major oversight.
Quality Control: The trigger guard on Ash’s shotgun is very brittle and breaks off easily. It’s difficult to get him to hold the gun properly with the trigger guard present due to the way the fingers are designed, so I wasn’t too bothered when it broke.
Our dog Alfie (a.k.a. Alfred Pennyworth) chewed on Henrietta’s stand less than five minutes after I opened it, but that’s not NECA’s fault.
Overall: While I did get these samples from NECA, I also ordered one of each from BBTS. I’ve waited half my life for these figures, and I wanted some on card too (something, it should be noted, I hardly ever do). And I’ve decided I now have to create a replica of the cabin living room for these to live in.
As you can tell, I love these figures. They’re the action figures I wanted more than anything when I was fourteen. And as I said, NECA has obviously put a lot of love into this line. I only wish they can find it in their hearts and production budgets to bring us a third wave with Possessed Ed (with deleted scene chop-top head) and maybe that crazy flying Deadite from the end of the movie. The only way that will happen is if you buy these. If you are any sort of Evil Dead fan at all, you will. And then buy extras, just to help Poe get Possessed Ed. Thank you.
Where to Buy: