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Thursday, March 12, 2015
Action Figure Review: Snake Plissken from Escape from New York by NECA
said it before and I'll say it again: If someone told me I could only watch the films of one director for the rest of my life, I'd ultimately choose the films of John Carpenter. While everyone with any shred of taste or dignity will readily praise Halloween, Big Trouble in Little China, The Thing, They Live, and The Fog, even some of his less renowned films, such as Prince of Darkness, In The Mouth of Madness, Vampires, and Cigarette Burns resonate with me. Since today I'm reviewing NECA's recently released 8-inch Snake Plissken action figure, I wanted to write just a little bit about my introduction to the films of Carpenter through watching Escape From New York with my dad. One of the absolute best weeks of my life occurred during the summer of 1997. If you want to hear about it, keep reading after the break. Otherwise, if you'd rather just read about the toy, skip to "The Facts" after the break...
Anyways, in early June of 1997 my dad had dropped my mom and I off at my grandparent's house in another state so we could spend some time visiting with them. A couple of weeks later my dad came to visit for a few more days as well as to pick my mom and I back up, but when it was time for us to drive back home my mom decided she wanted to stay for another week or so. I guess my parents decided that since I was 13 (about to turn 14) there was no harm in me being at home by myself during the day while my dad worked- we knew the neighbors and I had a few friends in our neighborhood to spend time with during the day. I've always had a great relationship with my dad but this was really the first time I'd ever been home with just my dad for an extended period of time. If you're reading this mom, no offense, but it was awesome! On the way home we stopped at a store and bought lots of gourmet flavored licorice. We also ate out a ton and my dad kept the freezer stocked with frozen egg rolls and little deep dish pizzas for me to eat during the day. To the best of my calculations, this story starts around June 19th of 1997, by the way. That was the day we got back home and I told my dad that I really wanted to see Con Air. I mean, I really wanted to see Con Air. So, going to my first R-rated movie in a theater (I had seen Alien 3 and Terminator 2: Judgment Day with friends or cousins at some point, but it was on video), my dad took me to see Con Air. (I'm still a fan, by the way.)
The next day, June 20th, 1997, was the day Batman & Robin came out and I remember us going to see a late showing of it. While as an adult I now despise Batman & Robin (aka the Batman movie that killed the franchise for 8 years), as a kid I guess I thought it was all right. The main event was about to happen, though: After Batman & Robin my dad and I hit up Blockbuster (if you're a kid reading this, that's what was called a video store. We went there to rent plastic VHS cassette tapes that had movies on them) and I was drawn to a copy of Escape from L.A.. Since the barrier of being able to watch R-rated movies (for the most part) had been torn down, I asked my dad if we could rent it. Wisely, my dad basically said, "You need to watch the original one first."
Height: 8 inches
Articulation: Hinged ankles, swivel/ hinge knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, swivel waist, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, and a ball jointed head.
Accessories: Jacket, t-shirt, throwing star, tracer bracelet, countdown timer, extra swappable right hand, Ingram Mac-10 machine pistol, detachable silencer/scope combo, and Smith & Wesson Model 67 revolver w/ scope. He also has a non-removable belt, and non-removable cloth pants.
Non-scalper price: $28-$30 dollars
While NECA has almost solely dominated the 7 inch action figure market for movie based action figures under their Reel Toys banner for quite a few years now, Snake Plissken is different in that he's 8 inches and features a soft goods outfit. NECA seems to be marketing these as updates to 1970's Mego styled figures but I'm really not seeing it. I'm not much of a fan of Mego figures, and fortunately these are a far cry from the Mego styled efforts from companies like Bif Bang Pow!, Mattel, and others. NECA's figures feature solid articulated bodies, properly scaled clothing, and some excellent paint jobs. If anything, Snake Plissken feels to me more like a smaller high 1/6th scale figure from a company like Sideshow or Hot Toys. Seriously, compare photos of Sideshow's 1/6th scale Snake that sells for around $150-$160 dollars to NECA's 8 inch Snake that sells for $30. I think this guy owes more to those larger figures than Mego, wouldn't you agree? Personally, I would like to own both.
One of the improvements NECA has made over the more traditional Mego body is that Snake uses more modern action figure articulation than the elastic cords and hooks of Megos. Snake feels very solid and sturdy. He's not the least bit fragile and you can git him into some great poses. I do wish his ankles were swivel/hinge joints instead of just hinges, but that's about the only real complaint I have here.
One of the coolest parts of Snake is that he actually has cloth clothing and it looks really good. Many times Mego inspired figures look like they're wearing an off the shelf Halloween costume but Snake looks quite a bit like Kurt Russell's uniform in the film (or at the least a very, very good Snake Plissken cosplayer). While his pants are actual material, they're not removable. Well, not all the way anyways. They're permanently attached at the top of the boots. They're fastened with a strip of Velcro and can be undone to tuck in Snake's t-shirt or to reveal the lower half of the snake tattoo on his abdomen.
Snake's t-shirt is a really simple piece of fabric that looks quite good when he's wearing it. It's made from a shiny, stretchy material that is thin enough to work under his jacket but, unfortunately, the dye in the material has rubbed off on the figure's torso. Upon removing Snake's t-shirt for the first time I noticed a number of black stains on his torso where the dye had stained the plastic. Can this be removed with something? I'm not sure yet but it is a bit concerning, particularly since the fact that Snake has a tattoo on his abdomen means that he's intended to be displayed without shirt from time to time. The tattoo looks good, but I hate that paint rub. Ick.
For the final piece of his actual cloth outfit, Snake comes with his leather jacket. It's not a perfect match for the onscreen model but, for a cloth accessory on a 1/9th scale figure, it's not bad. It looks good on the figure and features some dirt and "wear and tear" effects. One of the best things about the cloth accessories is that, in theory, you're getting three variations of Snake. In a more traditional 7-inch line NECA could have easily released a figure of Snake in his jacket, Snake in the t-shirt, and Snake without his shirt on. I wouldn't be opposed to them releasing Seven inch figures by any means (I want a Snake to stand with my Dutch, Robocop, and Rambo) but I applaud NECA for giving us a number of display options here.
Let's talk about one of the coolest parts about this figure: The small arsenal of gear Snake comes packed with to aid him in tracking down the President. First things first, Snake comes with the tracker bracelet and the wrist timer. The tracker bracelet is almost overly simple but the wrist timer is quite impressive. The small digital readout on the face displays "22:59:58" and there are quite a few extra paint apps on the face place and wrist band. Since Snake's hands are easily removable, the wrist timer is a synch to put on and take off.
Speaking of removable hands, Snake comes with an additional right to better hold the included throwing star. This is a small little item molded in silver plastic but it does look rather nasty when Snake's wielding it. The hands are easily removable if you hold them firmly and use gentle, even pressure to remove them from the body.
Snake comes with two firearms: An Ingram Mac-10 machine pistol with a detachable silencer/scope combo and a Smith & Wesson Model 67 revolver with mounted scope. These are some nice looking accessories that feature fairly detailed sculpts and a few paint apps of their own. The Mac-10 has an attached sling on it that looks good when the gun is being held but looks less impressive when being carried in the included holster. Still, these are both nice, quality accessories.
Last, but not least, it Snake's belt. Snake travels fairly light and keeps everything attached to his belt where it's all close at hand. The belt doesn't seem to be removable but it is a separate piece. There are spots to hold the revolver and the Mac 10, along with the scope and silencer. There are some nice details on the belt and Snake looks great all geared up. I just wish he came with a cigarette to complete his classic look!
Despite having the weird paint rub/ staining from the t-shirt and a few small issues with the portrait, I'm really impressed by how well this figure turned out. The outfit is quite impressive, the accessories are abundant and well designed, and the body is nicely sculpted and quite sturdy. While the drawbacks hurt things a bit, I think I'm still giving Snake a Great rating. I'm also really interested in seeing if NECA continues to release more figures in this scale and style because here's what I see: This 8 inch scale could potentially be a perfect meeting place for collectors who love traditional action figures (like me) but who really appreciate the detail, accessories, and outfits of the high end 1/6th scale market from the likes of Hot Toys and Sideshow. While 8 inch figures have traditionally been seen as retro throwback toys, I think NECA is really carving out a new market here. Could they be on the trail towards the next big thing in collecting? Only time will tell. I think if they focus on improving the headsculpts on their work in this scale and iron out the kinks, they could find a new market to dominate. Due to the rising costs of 1/6th action figures, I'd love to see NECA try something new by creating a high end 1/9th market for collectors to dive into. They're an innovative company, so anything is possible!
They're not related to Escape from New York in any way, but I have reviewed two figures from Figures Toy Company that give you an ideas as to what true retro inspired 8 inch figures look like:
Mad Clowns by Figures Toy Company
Mad Monsters by Figures Toy Company
The Gruesome Ghost