There is now an Alien arms race between NECA and Bandai

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NECA has been hitting on all cylinders with their Aliens figures recently, offering super-articulated versions of everyone’s favorite xenomorphs. But this month also sees the release of the S.H.MonsterArts Alien from Alien vs. Predator, courtesy of Bandai’s collector-oriented division, Tamashii Nations. I’m hoping to get my hands on one to review in the near future.

There is one thing that’s always bugged me a bit about NECA figures: the 7″ scale. Why don’t they produce figures in the more popular 6″ scale? I don’t know for sure, but NECA started their Reel Toys line in the early 2000s as both a competitor and a complement to McFarlane Toys’ Movie Maniacs (which had started closer to a 6″ scale but then soon crept up to a 7″ scale, probably to allow for a bit more detail). In those early days, NECA wanted to appeal to Movie Maniacs collectors, so they went with the 7″ scale to make sure those collectors would feel comfortable placing their Reel Toys figures alongside their Movie Maniacs. Eventually NECA had produced so much of their own product in the 7″ scale that switching to a 6″ scale would risk alienating their own fan base.

To get back to Bandai, I was initially intrigued by the prospect of S.H.MonsterArts Aliens and Predator figures. I knew they would likely be in an actual 6″ scale, and would conceivably offer even better articulation than NECA (albeit at three times the price). But I was disappointed when the first two S.H.MonsterArts Alien and Predator figures were based on the two worst films of either franchise – Alien vs. Predator (the Alien) and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (the Predator). While I still plan to get both figures – mostly to sate my curiosity more than  anything else – I’m not particularly fond of those designs. So it seemed that NECA would remain my one and only place for figures from my favorite Alien films.

But then Tamashii goes and announces this – an S.H.MonsterArts “Big Chap” from the original Alien. Continue reading “There is now an Alien arms race between NECA and Bandai”

Poest Office > NECA’s Godzilla figures

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Not sure if you have seen this, but I’m pretty excited. BBTS has a new listing for a “Godzilla 12″ Head To Tail Action Figure.”

From one of the most anticipated movie releases this year, the relaunch of the classic Godzilla franchise. This 6″ tall figure is highly detailed and fully articulated, and over 12″ long from head to tail! Over 25 points of articulation and a bendable tail. This classic movie monster has never looked so good in toy form.

I like the idea of having a NECA Godzilla to put with my NECA Pacific Rim figures. I had thought NECA only had the license to do large scale figures (as they do for Marvel, DC, and others). A 6″-7″ figure seems like it might be stepping on the toes of Bandai and Jakks, who are also making toys. I have a suspicion that these figures are labeled 12″ Head to Tail (for the 6″) and 24″ Head to Tail (for the 12″) in order to skirt around this issue. I hope we get a look at these and the other Godzilla offerings next month at Toy Fair.

–PresidentJuggernaut

I did see that, and found it very interesting. You’re right that the clarification about the height versus the length is intriguing. I actually went ahead and pre-ordered the 24″ long (12″ tall) version. I grew up with Bandai’s 8″ vinyls, and while I collected a number of the 6″ vinyls in the early 2000s, I’ve always felt like Godzilla toys should be bigger – which may be one reason why I was never really able to commit to S.H.MonsterArts.

So, long story short, I’m excited about NECA’s figures. I don’t expect S.H.MonsterArts-level articulation, but I do expect more than the “swivel arms, legs, and tail” of the Bandai vinyls. It may actually hit the perfect sweet spot between those two extremes. Here’s hoping!

It is curious that NECA’s making these when Bandai USA is producing their own 6″ figures (and JAKKS is producing oversize figures). Bandai USA is the master toy licensee, but obviously that doesn’t preclude either the JAKKS or NECA figures, begging the question, what exactly does being the master toy licensee get you? According to this source (whose veracity I can’t speak to, but it’s the only one I could find on a quick search), “the [master] toy licensee receives the right to control virtually all licensed products in the toy and game category.” If true, does that mean Bandai USA had to sign off on – or perhaps even arranged – the NECA and JAKKS deals?

I don’t know the truth behind it all, but I think the NECA products represent a promising (if somewhat more expensive) option for adult collectors. I agree the specific “head to tail” phrasing by NECA is weird, but I’m skeptical it’s a semantic workaround for the potential legal complications of making an official 6″ or 12″ figure – I can’t see that holding up in court. Of course, it’s always possible it’s something Bandai USA and NECA worked out ahead of time. Or maybe NECA just wanted to be really clear on what the figure was going to look like.

Battle Armor Lost Predator Review Addendum – Chest Armor Paint

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Update on my review of NECA’s Battle Armor Lost Predator: I was at my local Toys ‘R Us and found two Battle Armor Lost Predators. One looked more or less like mine, above – missing the blue paint on the torso armor – but the other one looked much better. Not as good as the earlier figure (above right), but much better than mine. So it does appear to be a quality control error.

Odds ‘n Ends > Star Wars Rebels, NES Predator, Funko ReAction, & more

Commentary on a few bits of toy- and geek-related news that interested Poe over the last few days.

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  • Starwars.com revealed a new character from Star Wars Rebels, C1-10P, a.k.a. “Chopper,” a “grumpy” astromech droid. He reminds me a bit of Claptrap from Borderlands, although it should be noted that Claptrap probably doesn’t exist without R2-D2. Chopper is directly inspired by early McQuarrie concept art for Artoo himself (particularly the arms on the head). The video on Starwars.com includes a quick look at Chopper’s 3.75″ figure as part of Hasbro’s Rebels line (static photo here). I’m really everything I’m seeing and hearing about Rebels, and I find myself hoping we see Chopper or the Grand Inquisitor in the SWB 6″ line. Given Hasbro’s tendency toward media synergy, it’s more likely than, say, Kyle Katarn in SWB. On a side note, I love the whole Inquisitor concept, which originated in the Expanded Universe, I believe.
  • Speaking of, I also hope the rumors of strong synergy between Rebels and Episode 7 are true, and to a lesser extent I hope the Mara Jade rumors are true, because if any EU character deserves to be enshrined in the film canon it’s Mara Jade. I mean yeesh, Dash Rendar is (indirectly through the Outrider) canon.
  • And finally on the Star Wars topic, here’s the latest leaked list of Star Wars figures for 2014, including Star Wars Black. The list doesn’t differ much from what we’ve seen in previous rumors; at this point, Chewbacca, Jedi Luke, Darth Vader, a Clone Trooper, and a redeco of the Sandtrooper all look like a lock. The upcoming wave with Bespin Luke, Prequel Kenobi, the Stormtrooper and the Han Solo carry-over is listed for February-May, while the June assortment is Anakin, Prequel Kenobi carry-over, Chewie and the Clone Trooper, and a mere month later is Vader, Jedi Luke, Sandtrooper redeco and Chewbacca (carry-over). I’m guessing the Sandtrooper redeco will be white, since black would be pretty boring. Here’s hoping the figure gets a new left hand that can actually hold the blaster cannon. Look, I understand re-use is necessary to keep a line like this going – NECA re-uses its molds more per wave than this line does – but couldn’t Hasbro at least replace the carry-over figures with some redecos? It sucks we get the Sandtrooper redeco and the Chewie carry-over in the same wave, particularly when the carry-over figure counts as part of the case. Why do they even bother with four-figure waves/cases? I’d rather get less frequent waves with four new figures, or more frequent waves of three figures, than this four-figures-including-a-carry-over thing we’ve got going now. I’ve got a few friends’ kids who are going to be getting a Prequel Kenobi and a Chewbacca in the near future.
  • Okay I lied, one more Star Wars thing:  here’s some neat fan art by Li Jia Tan (who did some concept art work for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II) of Han & Chewie working on a mech. Love the crotch-cockpit that looks like a 1930s sedan. It’s interesting to see a mech cockpit there, instead of the head or the torso.
  • The Four Horsemen have announced their annual Toypocalypse show at Tokyo Kid during Toy Fair next month. They’ll have factory paint masters of some of the Power Lords figures, as well as the “rebirth” of the FANtastic Exclusive project.
  • The Horsemen also released a ton of in-progress production photos of the Gothitropolis Ravens, along with the news that the Ravens will probably be delayed about two months, but they’ll be produced by the same folks who did such a great job on Scarabus.
  • NECA posted a photo of their next NES figure, the Predator. At this point they really need an unofficial name for this sub-line…
  • NECA also released a photo of in-progress classic Planet of the Apes Dr. Zaius. Seeing that name should immediately make you think of this.
  • A friend of a friend is looking for an experienced customizer to make a Doctor Who custom. Anyone have a rec/referral?
  • Jeff Cope has a revealing interview with Brian Mariotti of Funko regarding their plans for the ReAction brand. Definitely worth reading if you’re interested in the line. I need to do a write-up on ReAction. I have really mixed feelings about the line.

NECA posts paintmaster pics of Pacific Rim’s Cherno Alpha

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Most fans of Pacific Rim and NECA’s toy line of said movie know the story – when NECA was developing their Pacific Rim line, Walmart at one point expressed interest in it, which resulted in some cost-cutting measures to keep the price point down to presumably make it easier for Walmart to sell the line in stores.

But that was only the case for the first two waves. Now, with wave three, NECA has promised the same quality seen in their other figure lines. And so it’s with cautious excitement I present these paintmaster pics of fan favorite Cherno Alpha, posted on Twitter by NECA yesterday.

Personally I can’t wait to get this thing in my hands.

Review > Battle Armor Lost Predator (Predator 2, NECA) – w/ Sculptors’ Commentary!

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Click on any photo for a larger version

Please note: NECA provided me with the figure for this review. -PG

For a film that grew out of a Rocky sequel jokePredator and its sequels have proven to have some serious pop culture legs. Matching it with the Alien franchise was – let’s face it – a step up for Predator and a step down for Alien, but it arguably increased the popularity of both franchises. (I still maintain the best AvP media to date was the original Dark Horse miniseries.)

In order to produce as many different Predators as possible, NECA has spent some time mining the “Lost Predators” at the end of Predator 2. Played by Los Angeles Lakers players (who had a little fun with it offscreen), the designs for these characters were mostly variations on the designs from the first two films.

One, however, had a look that was radically different from the rest – the so-called Borg Predator. His armor was more intricate and lacked the tribal look of most Predator armor, more technological. He’s the Yautja Boba Fett. [Ed’s note: That is the nerdiest sentence ever written.] Continue reading “Review > Battle Armor Lost Predator (Predator 2, NECA) – w/ Sculptors’ Commentary!”