As a lifelong collector of horror toys, my white whale was to have an action figure of Ashley Williams from Evil Dead 2. Back in the late nineties, McFarlane Toys released a version of Ash from the third ED film, Army of Darkness, as part of their Movie Maniacs line. Though part of me figured it was close enough, deep down I was never satisfied.
Fifteen years later, NECA has finally granted my wish. Last month they released the first two of four 7-inch figures from the cult horror classic. Was it worth the wait? Hit the jump to find out.
Figure Name: Evil Dead 2 — "Farewell to Arms" Ash and Deadite Ash
The packaging for both has a cool minimalist vibe to it with the movie logo, and the skull from the poster displayed over a photo of creepy woodsiness.
The backsides of the packaging are nearly identical with the same blurb on the backs. The only difference is the photo of the figure contained within. Displayed along the bottom are both figures from the first series, as well as the soon-to-be-released second series which will include "Hero Ash" and "Deadite Henrietta". (I apologize for the banged up Deadite Ash packaging. With how poorly constructed the improvised box from internet retailer Amok Time was, I'm just happy it wasn't a whole lot worse. Seriously. Worst packing job ever.)
Once freed from his plastic shell, "Farewell to Arms" Ash shows off an impressive sculpt. Great care went into the tiniest of details, such as the stitching on his clothes and even the bulge of shotgun shells in his shirt pocket.
The paint work is similarly impressive. You can just tell that this guy has been through hell. The paint used for the black gore stains on his shirt has a bit of a sheen to it, giving it a realistic, wet appearance.
I love the stump. In the movie, Ash chainsaws off his right hand after it gets infected and goes "bad". He used a doily to wrap up the wound, and the detail on this made me smile.
Another of my favorite details is the the torn up pant leg. A torn strip hangs loosely down revealing his leg and sock underneath. While the paint job on this particular figure isn't perfect (note the top of the sock), it's an easily overlooked detail considering the rest of the quality throughout.
The hardest part to get right when sculpting a figure of a real person is always the face. Often, these toys will only bear a passing resemblance to the actor (and as was the case with McFarlane's Army of Darkness figure, it only vaguely resembled Bruce Campbell ... were he to have been hit by a bus). Other times, it will look perfect from a particular angle, but when you examine it from all sides, not so much. That said, I'm thrilled with this head sculpt. From every angle, this is undeniably Bruce Campbell in his prime. Hot Toys themselves would be proud of this sculpt.
I feel it necessary to comment again of the paint job. All the dirt and grime that one gets from burying their girlfriend in the front yard after severing her head with a shovel is right there on his face. The wounds are nice and sharp, and the blood and sweat on his brow shine realistically thanks to a perfect amount of gloss coating.
Moving on to Deadite Ash, we're mostly just looking at a repainted version of the good Ash figure, but with two important distinctions. First, obviously, is a different head-sculpt. Again, I am gaga for its artistry. From the facial expression, to the detail on the teeth, to the hollowed out eye-sockets, I have to say that they nailed it. The paint on the hair doesn't perfectly go to the edges on my figure. I feel that these imperfections are more than made up for by the rest of the details. My favorite is the eyes, but we'll get a better look at those in a bit.
The other departure from "good" Ash is Bad Ash's good hand. It's worth noting that the entire forearm is interchangeable with good Ash's stump, so buying both will enable you to make the poor, abused guy whole again. The paint jobs don't match perfectly due to different gore patterns, but it works well enough.
Let's take a look at their accessories. "Farewell to Arms" Ash comes with a decent assortment of playthings. He has an axe, a shotgun (or "boomstick", if you will), a replacement forearm with the infected "bad" hand and the severed evil hand itself. I should note that the bad hand is not capable of giving the middle finger. Check out the severed ends of his radius and ulna on the wrist of that hand. It's the little details like that which make this such an awesome figure.
I'm was a bit bummed out by the lack of the chainsaw. I mean, how's he going to sever that hand, now? I mean just try to get the leverage needed to cut through the bones in your own wrist with an ax. (Go, ahead. Try. I'll wait.)
Over on the possessed Ash front, we've got Professor Raymond Knowby's tape recorder, the Necronomicon Ex Mortis (a.k.a. The Book of the Dead) and the possessed, severed head of Ash's girlfriend, Linda. Of all the things on display with these figures, that severed head is by far my favorite. They absolutely knocked it out of the park in terms of both sculpt and paint. The way the flawless white eyes pop out from the smooth porcelain skin looks too darn cool. Then there's the awesome gore detail on the bottom of her neck. Both the trachea and esophagus are accounted for. (Reading this review, by the way, will get you extra credit in your anatomy class. Just mention it to your teacher/professor.)
My biggest complaint about the previous toy version of Ash (aside from him being beaten thoroughly with an ugly stick), was that it was basically an articulated statue. Sure, there were lots of joints and twisty bits, but it was sculpted to stand in a single position. If you twist one arm slightly, everything looked out of place. (Oh, and it absolutely refused to stand upright. Mine ultimately got it's chainsaw broken off by falling off the shelf one too many times.)
A lot of things have changed since those days. I've largely been spoiled by the range of movement offered by Japanese toymakers like Kaiyodo with all of their Revolver Joint-y goodness. When I first opened the package on NECA's Evil Dead 2 toys, I did feel a pang of disappointment. I mean, there was no way I was going to be able to recreate the scene in the kitchen where Ash's possessed hand beats the living hell out of himself in what was the greatest performance of slapstick in the past quarter century.
The range of movement offered by these toys, while vastly superior to McFarlane's offerings, was still a bit stiff and limiting. I played hell just trying to get good Ash into the position on the packaging where he rests the barrel of the gun on his stump.
However, the more time I spent posing these guys, the more I grew to appreciate them. I mean, while you'll never get them to recreate Michael Jackson's dance from Thriller (sorry, Rio. I know you were most looking forward to that), you can get them to do a wide range of poses.
I've never had less trouble getting figures to stay upright when trying to make them stand. The joints are decently tight, and everything is well balanced. In fact, I didn't need to use any support at all for any of the shots in this review (including one further down, which I still can't believe I pulled off).
So, in terms of range of movement, don't be expecting Japanese-level articulation, however they are quite competant. There are ball joints everywhere. The neck, the shoulders, the legs, the wrists. There are many swivel joints which are all well-placed. These Ashes are more than capable of getting their respectives grooves on. (However, if Kaiyodo wants to add Evil Dead toys to their Sci-Fi line, I'll immediately get to work on making minature ceramic plates to smash over tiny Revoltech Ash's head).
I really like staring at these figures. I found myself liking them more and more the longer I spent posing them. I mean, seriously. Look how friggin' awesome Deadite Ash's eyes look in that last shot! Holy frackity-mcfrackerson, is that cool! NECA, you've done great work here.
It is really rare that you will see me full-on gush over some toys, but I've just got to say in all honesty these are highlights of my horror toy collection.
To answer my previously stated question: were these figures worth the wait? Um... yeah. You could say that. (I mean, seriously, bad Ash was able to lift good Ash and hold onto him long enough for me to snap a bunch of pictures until I got the settings right. Are you not entertained?!)
(I wasn't quite done playing with the Ash twins by a longshot. For more photos, as well as some videos showing how I put the background set together, check out abandonedtheatre.com.)
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