Saturday, 31 August 2013

Action Figure Review - Jungle Encounter Dutch (NECA)

Figure: Jungle Encounter Dutch
Company: NECA
License: Predator (Series 9)
RRP: $24.95 -$29.95 AUD

The Background

Predator is a classic of the 1980s. Watching it more than a quarter-century after its release it’s easy to see that it’s not a perfect film, but it’s far more than the sum of its parts. It’s ridiculously silly, yet never falls into parody. And the Predator itself is a very frightening, yet very cool-looking Stan Winston creation.

But today, we’ll be looking at the other star of the film – Dutch, as portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Specifically, the Jungle Encounter Dutch action figure.
I’ve been spending a lot of time spent over at www.ItsAllTrue.Net, and I can’t deny that I’ve been heavily inspired by them to do this action figure review – and, I must admit, they were the inspiration for my more regular Lego reviews too. It was actually through them that I discovered NECA was releasing these 25th anniversary Predator action figures. The guys over have got their reviews down to a fine art, and if you’re remotely interested in action figures it’s well worth your time to check them out.
The NECA Predator series has been running since 2010, apparently  in tandem with the release of the film Predators (which I still haven't seen), There’s been a mix of original film, Predator 2, Predators and even a few “fanon” action figures released over this time, and the range is quite impressive for its attention to detail.
Series 8 and 9 are the most recent releases - though at least up until series 11 is planned - and they're both based on the original movie, to coincide with the film’s 25th anniversary. It's a nice touch, and it would be nice to see the second (admittedly inferior) film get some similar action figure love in the next couple of years.
The Packaging
The box (not pictured) is nice enough – it’s roughly in the shape of a Predator in profile. The copy on the back of the box does a good job of conveying the backstory , and all the photography for the figures themselves is excellent. However, I do tend to prefer NECA’s clamshell cases. This does become something of a moot point, as I’ve never been one to keep action figures in their packaging – I guess I just prefer them.  
The Figure Itself
The figure's front and back views  
I am yet to see a NECA figure that didn’t deliver the goods in terms of attention to detail, even if I didn’t particularly like the property it was based on, and this figure is no exception.
Across series 8-9 there are four different variations of Dutch, all of them good in their own way. But I chose this particular variant of him as it also looks quite a bit like Arnie’s character from Commando – Colonel John Matrix. I doubt we’ll see a Commando line anytime soon – but the idea of a matching Bennett figurine is certainly an entertaining one.
The likeness on the face sculpt is quite good overall. The original review I read over at noted the impressive detail on the stubble, and I’m inclined to agree. This is a level of detail that’s I’ve rarely seen on toys in this price range, and I’m also particularly impressed with the fact that they’ve managed to make him look sweaty, as though he’s actually been spending time in the jungle.
The only real problem with the likeness stems from a small paint issue on the lips. I ordered my figure online, so I wasn’t able to check the paint job before purchase. Not anything worth getting too upset about, but if you get yours in-store I’d suggest checking a couple of different figures first.
Dutch comes with three accessories – a rifle with grenade launcher attachment, a pistol and a knife. Nothing too complex, but I’ve never been a fan of toylines that give movie or TV-based characters a zillion different accessories that are never seen or mentioned in the original property.
The articulation is good, as well. You can get Dutch into a lot of different poses, and combined with the great sculpt, it’s pretty easy to get some good photos. I want to take him out to some bushland and do some location photos with him and the Predator, though that may have to wait for another day.
However, the figure isn’t perfect. The knife can’t really be held by either of its hands, so stick it in the holster if you don’t want to lose it. The pistol can also be a bit tricky to get into the right hand as well, as it’s made from somewhat harder plastic than you might normally expect. Additionally, the pistol holster does not seem to want to close properly – you can see it dangling in the photos.  
Still, these are relatively minor issues, and don’t spoil my enjoyment of the figure at all. I ordered the series 8 Jungle Hunter Predator too, and they work quite well together...but more on him in a future review, hopefully.
I am very, very pleased with this figure of Dutch. Though he’s quite basic, it works to his benefit, not his detriment. The great likeness of Arnie really elevates it above your average “adult collector” movie tie-in.
With that said, I’m not super-keen on the other figures in series 9. Though I might be sold on the Water Emergence Predator if he glowed in the dark (and the same goes for the upcoming Heat Vision Dutch from series 10), I don’t think there’s enough reason to purchase it if you’ve already got the Jungle Hunter Predator (i.e. the standard or “Classic Predator” from series 8).
Jungle Disguise Dutch looks kind of cool – and it’s a very cool part of the movie – but he does also look a bit like he’s a regular Dutch action figure who’s fallen into the toilet. So I’ll probably pass on that one too...
What I would have liked to have seen – and I know I’m not alone in this – is the other squad members from the film. I have read elsewhere that NECA have said that they will not be doing this, and I suppose I can understand why. I would imagine getting all of the likeness rights would be expensive, and I daresay that none of them would sell as well as Dutch. Nonetheless, the thought of a screaming one-armed Carl Weathers variant action figure is an intriguing one.
Still, the fact that NECA now have such a good sculpt of Arnie makes me hopeful that we’ll also see some other Arnie properties released by NECA. Conan the Barbarian had a small series few years ago – which is now reselling for a pretty penny on eBay – but they were more akin to statues than action figures. Time for a new one? Hopefully!
And of course, having Dutch means that you can have awesome  1980s team-ups which never happened, but would have been great. Here we see Nightfighter Robocop and Dutch teaming up to take on crime!

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