Like many males my age, from the mid-’80s to the early ’90s, my #1 hero* was Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Arnold went right alongside a lot of boys’ pop culture during that time because he was a living and breathing superhero, at least onscreen. At a time when the most popular toy line starred a massively muscular barbarian and the WWF was enjoying its golden age, Arnold fit right in. The fact that many of his films were rated R didn’t seem to matter, though for me that was due mostly to edited versions of his films popping up on TV.** In retrospect, anyone can recognize some of the more risible aspects of the era (check out Ruthless Reviews’ take on Predator or, even better, Commando for an…interesting perspective), but Predator remains one of my favorite films of all time.
While there have been plenty of Predator figures since the first ones by Kenner in the early 1990s, I we’ve all wanted a figure of Alan “Dutch” Schaefer, Schwarzenegger’s character in the film. We’ve usually been told the likeness rights were too expensive and/or there wasn’t enough demand. Well, NECA seems to have decided there is enough demand (or perhaps, like Evil Dead II, they’re sacrificing some profits to make the figures we’ve always wanted).
- Stage 1: He starts out with a full-sleeved tan shirt with the camouflage tank top beneath.
- Stage 2: Eventually the tan shirt comes off and a combat vest is thrown over the camouflage tank top.
- Stage 3: The tank top comes off, leaving just the combat vest.
- Stage 4: And then, of course, off comes the combat vest, on goes the mud.
Jungle Patrol Dutch depicts him at Stage 2, when he and his ill-fated teammates are in the early stages of their mission. The sculpt (by Kyle “Tankman” Windrix, David Silva, and Alex Heinke) is superb, with incredible detail for this scale of action figure. The facial likeness is remarkable, right down to the cautious, vaguely perplexed expression, as if he’s just sighted something odd out in the jungle. And the fabrication (Brad Haskins, Anthony Minichino, Thomas Gwyn) on the vest and belt is also well-executed.
The only complaint I’ve heard about the sculpt is that some Schwarzenegger fans seem to think his arms are too slender. I must confess to a certain blind spot when judging the anatomical accuracy of most action figures – if it’s not obviously ludicrous, it looks okay to me. It may also depend on whether or not the arms were sculpted in a flexing position – here they’re not.
The figure stands just over 7″ tall, so be aware, this isn’t a 6″-scale figure. He’s going to tower over your Batmen, Iron Men and Ultramen.
NECA’s paint work is often hit-or-miss, but I’m glad to see we seem to have a hit here. They’ve finally created a decent flesh tone, for one thing. The skin is a bit glossy, but that’s arguably film-accurate since Arnold and the rest of the cast were either sweating or oiled up to look as if they were sweating in every scene. The work on the camouflage clothing is one of those amazing touches that I think many tend to overlook. The paint work was done by NECA stalwarts Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp.
NECA has worked hard on improving their articulation on most of their figures, and Dutch is no exception. He has a ball-jointed neck with an excellent range of motion. It’s also worth noting that care was taken to sculpt the neck such that when the head is tilted in one direction or another, the neck itself still looks accurate, as if it’s curving with the head tilt.
He has ball-jointed shoulders, ball-jointed elbows, ball-jointed wrists, a ball-jointed upper torso as well as a ball-jointed waist, ball-jointed hips, ball-jointed knees and ball-jointed ankles. That’s right – there isn’t a single swivel joint on this figure!
I have two relatively minor criticisms of the articulation. The first is the range on the elbows and knees; they’re somewhat limited, and double-jointed elbows and knees would have been ideal. Second, I dislike this growing tendency of companies to drop biceps swivels in favor of ball-jointed elbows, but I suppose there are sound design or financial reasons for it. The articulation here is good enough that I’m not deducting anything for my wishful thinking (although it doesn’t really leave me with anywhere to go if NECA does add those joints to a later version of Dutch).
Dutch comes with three accessories: his AR-15/SP1 rifle, his IMI Desert Eagle, and a knife. They sculpts are great, but the rifle seems to be just a tad undersized to me – however, that might just be my perception. Also, Dutch’s trigger finger on his right hand is just a tad too big for the trigger guard of either gun, and neither hand can hold the knife properly.
The knife and pistol can be stored in the sheath and holsters on the belt, which is always a nice touch.
NOTE: The rifle seen in my third-to-last and final photos at left are from Resaurus’s Special Forces “Small Arms” accessory set. While it lacks a strap, it’s a tad larger (compare the size of the clips to his right hand and you’ll see the difference) and more detailed than NECA’s gun and I think it looks better. Even if the larger size isn’t accurate to real life, it looks more badass.
NECA still has occasional issues with quality control – I’ve read reports of the new Jungle Predator’s gauntlet-knives breaking off (I haven’t opened mine yet), but Dutch seems pretty solid. There aren’t a lot of potential break points here, except maybe the rubber bits holding the holsters to the belt.
While there seem to be varying degrees of tender loving care paid to NECA’s various lines, when they put everything they can into a figure – as in this case – they are arguably the Hot Toys of the 6″-7″ scale. Minor wishes for the articulation aside, NECA has produced the Dutch figure I’ve always wanted. I commend them for going with the improved articulation while maintaining the same excellent standard of sculpting, all at a great mass market value. What we’ve got here is Arnold Schwarzenegger as a Special Forces soldier, with great articulation and accessories. This may be the definitive “action figure.”
Here’s hoping they’re successful in their campaign to get us a Dillon figure (with removable arm, of course – hey, the guy seems to have a good sense of humor).
Where to Buy:
*Human hero, that is. Godzilla is my #1 hero across all lifeforms.
**I’m fairly certain I became aware of Predator through Starlog magazine, which I was reading at the time for its Star Trek: The Next Generation coverage.
Product Development: Randy Falk
Sculpt: Kyle Windrix, David Silva, Alex Heinke
Fabrication: Brad Haskins, Anthony Minichino, Thomas Gwyn
Paint: Jon Wardell, Geoffrey Trapp
Prototypes: Adam Smith
Photography: Stephen Mazurek
Packaging: Chris Longo