Friday, 8 January 2016

Post Christmas Reviewapalooza: Quick Crappy Review - Godzilla 1985 and Classic Video Game Series Mohawk*

Oooh, this is my first NECA thing on the blog.

I only dabble in NECA products, I like pretty much everything they put out but very few licences they have are ones that I’m super passionate about, or I guess passionate enough about to use my limited money and space on them – they do have Gremlins, which is one of my favourite things ever, but some of the early (and essential) figures like Mogwai Mohawk and Gremlin Stripe are now very expensive and that’s kind of put me off buying into the line completely (I do have three or so), so I just pick up the odd figure here and there and have since the company, National Entertainment Collectibles Association (which is far too stuffy a name for a company so badass), started making Head Knockers. I think the last one I bought was the Gorilla Soldier from their Planet of the Apes line. 

This Christmas though I ended up getting two for Christmas - actually for Christmas not two weeks later from Forbidden Planet with money I got for Christmas like how I get most of my collector’s figures, I got to unwrap a Godzilla and Gremlin on Christmas Morning and MY NAN BOUGHT ME THE GREMLIN (Mum (while trying to figure out a mystery unmarked present): did I wrap the gremlin? Nan: No! I wrapped my own gremlin!).

Part of Neca’s Reel Toys output, Godzilla 1985 is simply Godzilla as he appeared in the film of same name (also known as The Return of Godzilla), Godzilla has actually had many different looks over the years beyond ‘Godzilla’ ‘that American one’ and ‘the cartoon Godzilla’ and you better believe there’s a list of them with  links on a Godzilla Wiki . Honestly ‘my Godzilla’ is probably what the wiki dubs ‘MegaroGoji’, the outfit worn in Godzilla vs Megalon and Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla but this design, (84Goji) is so nice and looked so good in the packaging that I couldn’t put it down and mum ended up getting it as one of my gifts on our bonding shopping trip we do every Christmas.

Out of the box – a state that took some achieving as Neca’s packaging remains an utter bastard – he’s, well, mostly he’s fucking heavy, he’s all solid and thus comes in weighing more than most of my larger Godzillas. I really don’t feel like I need to review the sculpt, it’s brilliant, nearly all NECA sculpts are brilliant, nearly all are spot-on, nearly all ‘just walked off the screen’; they’ve got the proportions that make this figure the 84Goji look and not one of the various other costumes down, the headsculpt is great and even comes with a hinged jaw, something that should be included as standard with any long snouted character. Articulation is a little less perfect; it’s not a case of getting your money’s worth - he’s absolutely covered in artic points that I will now attempt to run down for you, top to bottom: hinged jaw, ball jointed head, ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, bicep swivels, ball jointed elbows, ball jointed wrists, ball jointed ab crunch-waist combination, thigh articulation, knee articulation, hinged ankles and SIX joints on his tail – two ball joints and four swivels. You may have noticed the type of joints got a little bit vague in the middle there around the legs? That’s because these joints are so fucking limited and so fucking worthless than I couldn’t even figure out what type of joint they were, if you want a Godzilla who can open his legs, bend his knees or even achieve his ‘tails surfing’ pose then this isn’t the figure for you. Neca have always had a… sticky relationship with articulation, especially below the waist, their figures started out very much in the McFarlane Toys mould of being plastic statues with all the articulation of your average McDonald’s toy1 so I don’t know why I was surprised, maybe I just assumed they’d learned something since 2001? Actually they have in their own way, the articulation points are all very well hidden and the ab crunch and neck work brilliantly, it’s just under the bellybutton where things fall apart.

‘Zilla has no accessories, a blast of Atomic Fire wouldn’t have gone amiss guys, but the second half of his tail has to be attached - it had to be pushed on a fair way before it pops into place and I started to perspire more than once while trying to push it on but once on its ball joint works fine. I’m still having mixed feelings on the tail, but mostly I think they copped out half-way down and we could have done with another ball joint near the end (yes I want MORE articulation on the tail, actually no, I just want better spaced out articulation points, I think). All this articulation-based grumbling is a little redundant as all he’s going to do is stand on my unit looking awesome (and make no mistake, he looks awesome) but I’d feel like I’d’ve failed at even a quick crappy review if didn’t bring it up.

Also part of the Reel Toys, our Gremlin, who is unnamed on the packaging but is Mohawk (and named as such on the official site) is a figure I didn’t know I wanted until it was revealed, and then subsequently realised it was the Gremlins figure that I’d always wanted. I am not the biggest Gremlins 2: The New Batch fan, but I do love all the Gremlins it introduced, especially Stripe stand-in (reincarnation?) Mohawk, and I am fucking mental for the NES tie-in game; it was one of the very first video games I owned and I played the tomatoes off of it, other than some pixel-perfect jumped being required here or there it’s actually a very good game that is closest to (oddly) a top down shooter. Mohawk is a boss both in his regular and spider forms and because this is the Nintendo Entertainment System was grey and pale orange, something I never noticed as a child, in fact until this figure was released I failed to realise that I always thought of Mohawk as looking like his NES Sprite, but then I play the game a lot more than I watch bloody Gremlins 2 so I guess it makes sense.

Happily for my subconscious NECA hit upon a winning formula of combining whatever licenses they happen to have and old off-model video game sprites back in 2013 when they released a repaint of their Jason Vorhees figure done up to match the sprite from his appearance in the infamous (in video game circles) and infamously terrible NES game Friday the 13th – where Jason Vorhees was bright blue. They released this as a San Diego Comic Con exclusive, complete with a box that replicated the game’s original packaging and fans went mad for it, since then their ‘Classic Video Game Series’ of repaints has become one of the highlights of their output (and you can find a checklist here). So far I’ve been (just) able to pass up on all of them – then they revealed a figure based Gremlins 2: The New Batch for the NES.

Before I get into that figure though, I have to rave about packaging. You may notice (or may not, depending on how much of a shit you give, which I doubt is very much) that the only time I really bother to mention packaging is to complain about it when it’s hard to open; this is because I have very little interest in modern toy packaging because very little of it is interesting, the dizzying heights of Playmate’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Hasbro’s G.I. Joe: Real American Hero cards are long over and in their place are boring all-purpose graphics whipped up on a MAC, and I hate MACs. NECA’s video game releases are the exception that proves the rule, though fittingly this is mostly because they ape box art from roughly the time of those two aforementioned lines. The outside of the box replicates the Gremlins 2 NES Cartridge’s flimsy old packet; the front uses that awesome red-lit picture of the Mohawk puppet with the NECA and Reel Toys logos replacing the Nintendo and Sunsoft logos (giving us a great ‘NECA seal of quality’) while the back replicates the back-of-box but replaces game screen shots with pictures of the toy. I do wish they’d bother to line up their own copyright bumph to match the layout of the old NES boxes but other than that IT IS FUCKING SWEET. Inside is possibly even better as it’s a little more creative, the flap of the box features a screenshot of the shop from the game (which was also used on the back of the original NES box) and though you probably can’t see it in my quick crappy photos, inside are graphics to make up level 2 (where you first fight Mohawk), Gizmo’s life bar (three hearts) finishes things off, giving you the impression you’re looking right into the game. I was going to take a packaged shot with Mohawk still in it but I got all excited and took him out on Christmas Morning and then the plastic trey got thrown away and y’know.

The figure (finally) is just fucking great, it’s simply the 2013 Gremlin Mohawk figure repainted and on this they’ve done a great job of realising the sprite art and even building on it a little with some of the black markings (they are there on the sprite but the figure hosts a much more complex patterning). I could nitpick and say I don’t think the yellow on his ears and stomach match up perfectly but I’d be a bit of a cock if I did that, oh, too late, well I’m a bit of a cock but the paint job on this figure is superb, my compliments to the slave-wage Chinese woman. Sculpt is equally awesome, NECA’s Gremlins line is one of their finest, their sculpt team just seemed to naturally ‘get’ the Gremlins and Mogwai look and proportions pretty much from the start with the few Mogwai based issues they had getting ironed out very quickly, their Gremlins 2 Gremlins are the pinnacle of this ‘getting it’ for me plus the flat style of paint masks a lot of sculpted-in texture. Articulation’s more functional then exemplary and I do admit I wouldn’t mind a few extra ball-joints and especially some hinges at the ankles, he has a total of 14 joints with all bar the knee hinges hidden nicely so he can get into most poses you’d want a Gremlin to be though his lack of hinges/ball joints at the wrists and ankles hinder some, as well as getting him to stand on uneven ground. This means that he can’t be posed in the jumping stance he has in the game which was a bit of an oversight really wasn’t it? But he can stand holding his gun with both or either hand and cock his head into all manner of curious and/or evil positions. Oh yeah he comes with a machine gun; the original 2013 release also came with this and though he never uses it in the game you’d never know, it’s been given a new grey and yellow paint-job to match the figure and it looks like it came straight out of a NES title, even though it didn’t. Actually that’s my only real complaint about NECA’s video game line is that so few include items from the games as accessories, I know they’re repaints and being repaints is the probably the only way they can exist at all, but I’d have been extra chuffed if my Gremlin had come with a power-up rather than a gun he didn’t use in the game.

This Quick Crappy review is in danger of becoming a Long Crappy Review (and no one wants that) so I’ll wrap up; in conclusion: typical NECA fare, amazing looking figures that could have done with a few better choices when it came to articulation. And as an added bonus my NES Mohawk means I have no immediate need for any other version of the character so I won’t have to spend the large monies required for his previous figures on the secondary market, so with that done, remember – it is very poor manners to not wrap your own gremlin.    

"you have the best dad ever!"
1 Todd McFarlane once justified calling his wares ‘Action Figures’ by saying it was because they were in ‘action poses’, no, really. I can’t remember what his justification for helping found a company based on creator ownership and then refusing to allow creators who worked on Spawn to own their creations was, probably “at least I’m not as bad as Rob Liefeld”. 

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