Review by JoshB
Knifehead is a Kaiju from the 2013 film Pacific Rim and the best of the line released so far. Still, there are some significant issues.
Knifehead is the first Kaiju you see in the film, and probably the most iconic looking. Taking cue from the old Gamera kaiju Guiron, Knifehead’s head is long and pointy, hence the name.
The toy looks fantastic. Unlike the soft sculpting of the Jagers, Knifehead has an extremely detailed and sharp sculpt. It looks like it would be right at home alongside any of the more recent Kaiju toys from Bandai. The surface texture has varied details from smooth to scaly, and the paint applications are great.
Articulation is simple but that’s the norm for monsters (aside from the recent SH Monsterarts line).
The shoulders are swivel joints and the elbows are hinge joints. The toy clearly has a case of “I was a statue and was cut up to become an action figure”-itis that NECA is known for. This is most evident when you rotate the shoulders and have the odd edges revealed in the upper arms.
One big omission is the lack of joints of the small arms. They are very rigid and stuck in that one position.
NECA went the extra mile with the tail, making it able to bend into whatever shape you want. Great choice, and the materials are seamless.
The legs are simple ball joints that only swivel, and the knees bend. However without an ankle joint you can only pose this so much.
The head has fantastic tiny paint detail around the mouth and eyes, and the jaw is movable. I would have like to have seen some rudimentary neck articulation but you get what you get.
My biggest complaint with Knifehead is the quality control. My figure had two glaring flaws that I would have been able to spot in the package had I been paying attention. The first issue is the separation in the right shoulder. There’s a big gap between the body as opposed to the flush fit of the left side. The other issue is the deformed joint in the right elbow. Something went wrong at the factory and this was not caught. Is it because NECA has less strict QC guidelines, or does their factory just suck?
Still, despite the flaws it’s very cool looking and I’m willing to give it a pass because it’s a Kaiju, and I'm perfectly content with Sofubi with 5 points of articulation. NECA has to up their game with their quality control if I’m going to keep buying their releases.
Comments17 comments posted
It's interesting that you brought up how this toy is basically a statue with cut joints.
That seems to be a big difference in the way toys are designed in the west versus Japan.
In Japan, they seem to understand when the consumer would want an articulated figured versus a fixed posed statue Hence why you tend to see two to three versions of the same character being made in different lines because they serve a different purpose such a figma, nendoroid or fixed pose 1/8 statue.
Here it seems they're trying to satisfy as many consumer wants onto a single toy which is why it's the way it is.
And no, I'm not turning this into an east vs west toys topic. It's just an observation.
Yeah, I can see that, and I've BEEN able to see that for a long time...there always seemed to be 2 kinds of toys
"sliced statues", which had limited joints that looked like they were cutting a fix-pose figure just so they could say it posed
"Posability figures" which had actual engineering time put into them to give the figures multiple joints of usable articulation without the figure looking awkward...
Compare: http://thumbs1.ebaystatic.com/d/l225/m/mzvkxbKI5I2-5WhFz7N8_7Q.jpg to http://www.gundammodelkits.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/IMG_6865.jpg
Easily the weakest item of the first Pacific Rim wave.
Knifehead's design, paint and sculpt are excellent. However, like you said, this is basically a chopped up statue.
Going by what little articulation the figure does have ; even IF they tried to give the small arms some articulation,
one shouldn't expect much from it. Imo, they could still have sculpted them with a somewhat asymmetric pose....
now they're posed exactly symmetrical, and given the fact they're such small arms, I doubt an asymmetric pose would interfere with the figure's balance. The wire in the tail is a nice touch. However, this is a potential weakness since these wires are prone to break.
Anyway, ranking wave 1 is easy now :
1. Crimson Typhoon : a percentage of his wave 1 run, suffers from the glued balljoint in his right front shoulder ; as evident from MANY online reviews, this can be fixed pretty easily. Other than that, he only lacks balljoint ankles to make his feet sit flush with the surface. For the rest, his sculpt and paintjob are fantastic and his CGi design doesn't hinder the points of articulation he does have. Easily the best of the 3.
2. Gipsy Danger : Like Crimson Typhoon, Gipsy Danger's sculpt is spot on. However, Gipsy Danger's design inhibits his own points of articulation ;
- The thigh armor severely limits outward rotation of the legs.
- The sculpt around his neck limits his head movement way more than Crimson Typhoon's head.
- The elbow joints are again severely limited in rotation by the design.
Gipsy Danger's paintjob is pretty good, but somehow its weathering effect doesn't look as good as it does on Crimson Typhoon.
3. Knife Head : Staiju ( statue ) Kaiju. And for all reasons posted above.
Nonetheless, despite some quality control issues in these wave 1 runs, I think these Pacific Rim figures are fantastic for bringing great sculpt accuracy & detailed paint deco's and decent articulation ( Crimson Typhoon & Gipsy Danger), to a really wide movie going audience at a really decent price point.
Imo, it's obvious one shouldn't meassure these up to the standards of $100 collectibles ( which are imo, usually just slight variations of a variant of a variant ... so they had long runs and development time to perfect basically the same design & mold )
"Imo, it's obvious one shouldn't meassure these up to the standards of $100 collectibles ( which are imo, usually just slight variations of a variant of a variant ... so they had long runs and development time to perfect basically the same design & mold )"
I am not sure what you are implying here. If you want to talk about Japanese toys (not just expensive ones), there has been over four decades of companies seeking to improve toy design across hundreds of properties. Even successive iterations of the same character are often wildly different in terms engineering and build quality.
The issue with NECA is not in how they compare to high end Japanese toys, it's how they compare to toy makers in general. Their consistently inconsistent quality that ranges from rock solid Predator figures to a giant Iron Man that can't even stand up is just frustrating to deal with. I really seems like NECA is just trying to reinvent the wheel with every figure they do and aren't remembering any of the things they did right the first time. What I see from my fellow reviewers here is not demanding high end Bandai level quality, but something that is at least competitive with Hasbro's own Star Wars or GI Joe figures.
In terms of engineering, this seems about on par with the Ben 10 alien figures, which pack as much articulation into a much smaller package.
What I see from my fellow reviewers here is not demanding high end Bandai level quality, but something that is at least competitive with Hasbro's own Star Wars or GI Joe figures. so much is clear indeed, and I can understand that.
However, imo ... I still think these PR figures shouldn't be compared directly to such mainlines, such as the examples you mentioned ( Star Wars, GI Joe etc etc. ). And.. people, including Josh, have indeed stated they'd wish manufacturers such as Bandai would pick up the IP in the hopes it would turn out an exponentially better product ( yeah but at what price & exclusivity ? )
All those toylines have a strong and well developed history, coming from manufacturers who have a strong trackrecord in everyday toys. I mean, how many Luke Skywalker figs have been made and refined over the years since the early 80's ?
Imo, this isn't really the case with Pacific Rim merchandise ; usually one wouldn't expect much from movie stuff, especially from a movie which' genre was still unproven in the western markets.
So here we got Pacific Rim, a fresh and unproven IP. As Neca has stated ( afaik ) , ; pretty much every part of these PR figures is unique, so they can't really 'recycle or re-use' many parts for other jaegers or kaiju. And of course, they had to deliver this within the movie release timeframe.
Remember the first Transformers movie figures - regardless of whether one likes the aesthetic or not - it took Hasbro, the experienced manufacturer some time to improve these figures ; compare voyager TFTM Optimus Prime to voyager ROTF Optimus Prime.
Considering the conditions and restraints which within Neca had to deliver, I don't think they did a bad job. Especially considering the fact we see QC issues all over the board ; from cheap toys you can find at TRU / Walmart to high end collectibles one can only order online ; threads everywhere of people complaining about broken this or that or delay or development problems that....
Imo, the lemon is extra sour if it cost a $100 as opposed to a little $ 15 lemon.
So, I highly agree with Josh on the point of this Knifehead figure being a chopped up statue, as fantastic as the sculpt may be, ; but....... then it should also be pretty clear Knifehead's the weakest of the bunch, by those review standards as seen in his other Pacific Rim reviews.
Either way, I can look around on the net and I see the line is pretty much doing what it's supposed to do ; reaching a wide movie going audience, which even includes people who usually don't buy toys at all. And despite some QC issues here and there, I see people stating they're having a blast with these figs. And thanks to the fact, my wave 1 figs don't feature any horrible problems or at least nothing I can't solve easily, I'm having a blast with these figs too.
So if we can't compare them to mass-market lines that do more for less money, and we can't compare them to high-end $100 collectibles, and we can't compare them to Bandai toys that are superlatively better, often as cheap as $25... what WOULD you compare them to? Who is NECA competing with evenly in the market, if all these other toys are critically off-limits?
That's taking it rather literally , no ?
The main point of it all is to adjust expectations and to look at these PR merchandise products within the constraints they were made. Sure, one can still use another established toy mainline as reference, but I would suggest to judge them on their own merits within the context of them being new movie IP stuff.
Reasonable comparison examples perhaps :
Avatar AMP suit : http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=MAT11907&mode=retail
The Matrix Sentinel : http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=N2T10012&mode=retail
Tron figurine : http://www.bigbadtoystore.com/bbts/product.aspx?product=SPM10086&mode=retail
The point of what? I'm not sure what you're getting at here. I have no interest in the creative limitations that NECA is subject to. I'm looking for well-engineered toys, which these are not. "Adjusting my expectations" to have sympathy for a manufacturer putting out substandard toys is not an activity I plan to engage in any time soon; instead, I won't support that company at all.
By the way, that AMP Suit is a fantastic toy by comparison to NECA's Jaegers. It's HUGE for the price, very good articulation on what could have been a clunky and awkward design, use of soft PVC parts for safety without any fragility, high level of detail, more or less screen-accurate except for the cockpit (disappointing, but not surprising in a vehicle toy from a 3 3/4" figure line), and it even has a dang firing missile.
The Tron figures were also pretty damn decent - they had a much more functional articulation then these Jaegers - and the wonderful light-up stripes + animated backlit face + voice chip gimmick. That was something that really hadn't been on the market at all before that... totally groundbreaking. Spin Master, usually a substandard company, could afford to give us some of the most elaborate electronic gimmicks I've ever seen in a toy at this price point. I don't see anything similar to that in the Pacific Rim line.
I'm looking for well-engineered toys, which these are not. "Adjusting my expectations" to have sympathy for a manufacturer putting out substandard toys is not an activity I plan to engage in any time soon; instead, I won't support that company at all. The point being that, if this statement emphasizes your pov, you might want to simply stay away from these Pacific Rim toys altogether.
No review will change your mind about them, simply re-affirming your initial point of view...which already means you don't have interest in these figs nor their reviews.
I think the point is there's giving leeway and then there's just accepting terrible toys for the sake of promoting a new property you believe in. You keep shifting goal posts but the P-Rimmy toys keep coming up short. Before Recognizer has expressed interest in these figures and doesn't like what he sees in Josh's reviews. I know a lot people who want Pacific Rim to do well in terms of merchandise but we can't make up a Mako Mori Test just to review these figures in a vacuum.
No idea what you're talking about, dude. If I didn't have interest in Pac Rim figs, I wouldn't even be reading the reviews. If NECA puts out a toy of Coyote Tango or Onibaba that isn't as clumsily engineered as the figures from this first wave, I'd be delighted, and I'd buy it.
This is not just dumping on Pacific Rim to score some kind of nerd points. These would be disappointing toys coming from *any* property, and it's only valid for reviewers to point that out. I know that for PRim these are the only game in town but that doesn't mean that the toys should not be reviewed as toys first and "brand representatives" second.
NECA has always had some of the best sculpting next to McFarlane Toys, but like them, NECA always aims for the adult audiences who DON"T play with their toys. When Josh posted the video review for Gipsy and he talked about the way his son played with it. you can see how NECA was playing it safe and went for something that was aimed at both young fans with simple articulation and older fans for the sculpting quality.
They've always made statues/semi-poseable figures and based on what I have seen on the shelves, NECA hasn't really produced a decent 'action' figure since their Player Select series' href="http://collectiondx.com/toy_review/nanosuit_2"> Nanosuit 2 from Crysis.
I'm happy NECA's making an effort to try and expand on the collection (Twitter rumor wave 3 Coyote Tango), but that depends on the overall sales, and the promise of the 18 inch figures might just help.
As far as another company is concerned, Warner Bros has Mattel to contend with and we've all seen how their work on giant robots has... um... paid off?
If anything, I'm curious to see if any of the asian model makers will take a shot at this. Bandai, Kotobukiya, bring it on!
Rob, the problem, and the reason why we call NECA out is that this statement right here is just not true:
"They've always made statues/semi-poseable figures and based on what I have seen on the shelves, NECA hasn't really produced a decent 'action' figure since their Player Select series' href="http://collectiondx.com/toy_review/nanosuit_2"> Nanosuit 2 from Crysis."
NECA's Predator, Aliens, Rambo, Robocop, Prometheus, Valve (besides TF2), and Rocky lines are currently setting the standard for licensed 'realistic' mass market high detail action figures that still hold up as fully posable toys. These lines are leaps and bounds above most offerings on the shelves today. The problem is that the same company ships half-posable Terminator semi statues, 18" Iron Mans that cannot stand, and jacked up Pacific Rim figures that feel like they were designed by the B-team. Their new Xenomorph figure from Aliens is a masterpiece of modern action figuring, and their recent Dutch figures from Predator are awesome fully posable figures that also happen to feature THE BEST Arnold likeness released on a toy to date, including Hot Toys. NECA CAN do better, but for some reason they don't do it consistently, and that is why they are such a frustrating company, because you don't know which team designed the figures until you crack open that blister. We should hold them to a higher standard because they've already shown they can hang there, and we shouldn't be satisfied with their products that don't pass their own muster.
I stand corrected. Thanks, but I still haven't seen anything with articulated pecks as the Nanosuit has (this is a joke!).