NECA has been on a roll this year with their line of “Ultimate” horror figures.
Rather than releasing the same figure three of four times with different accessories, they’ve embraced one that includes everything – extra heads, hands, hatchets, noisemakers; whatever.
Because of this, I’ve been a little more liberal with which characters I buy because I know it’s much less likely I’m going to have to buy a new version of a character I love just to get a specific head or whatever. Of course, there are still the two-packs that come with one new character and one that I already own five of, but that’s just the toy biz.
Today’s figure is Pennywise the Dancing Clown from the 1990 television adaptation of Stephen King’s IT – one of my all-time favorite novels. I read the book when I was around twelve, so I connected with the Loser’s Club in a way that I never had with any other characters from King’s books. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, but I’ve owned at least four different editions that have fallen apart from use.
I did not love this adaptation. Even at the age of fourteen I found it to be very pedestrian and artless, even though I probably wouldn’t have described it that way back then. I even took issue with Pennywise’s clown suit, as it was much more modern than what was described in the book.
Tim Curry, though, was fantastic. He was menacing and brutally gleeful and on screen appeared to be literally eating the pain of his victims. His performance was the one saving grace of that production.
I had a bit more to say in the first installment of Horror at Home.
Anyway, I had to have this Pennywise. He’s an icon of horror and deserves a place on my shelves. The Bill Skarsgård version came out before I got back into the groove of reviewing toys, but I do have that figure and it’s mostly great. I have not picked up the GameStop exclusive because it seems a little pricey.
NECA’s Ultimate figures come in front panel window boxes of various sizes. Pennywise is in a particularly thick one thanks to all of the balloons.
When you open the panel you get a great look at the figure and all of the accessories. The back features the various possible looks in action.
I think it would have been cooler if the front of the box mimicked the original cover for IT, but I get that it was important to make it clear this was the older version of Pennywise.
While I prefer Skarsgård’s Pennywise, I have to admit that this is the better action figure.
If we’re just talking straight-up scary clowns and removing the backstory, a regular Bozo-inspired clown is way scarier than the Victorian-era look. I’m not saying I want to find either variety under my bed, but there’s something more upsetting about the vulgar mundanity of this one. Sometimes the things that don’t look evil can be much more unsettling.
All four heads are amazing and each face conveys a clear, different emotion. The sculpt and paint on these is impeccable – a far cry from the NECA of just a couple of years ago. I’ve looked at four samples in stores and the paint was spot-on on all of them. The pure whiteness on these is particularly striking. As someone who has been through four decades of action figures where the color white ranged anywhere from sort of white to yellow, I appreciate a nice, clean, bright white.
Those heads are a pain to get on, though. I struggled big time switching them out for these photos. If I’d just used my heat gun (remember – that’s a more manly way of saying “hairdryer”) it would have been easy, but I’m stubborn and dumb sometimes.
Out of all four the default head that could pass for sad/angry/disgusted depending upon what you project onto it is my favorite. Not necessarily my favorite for representing my idea of Pennywise (that would be the laughing toothy head), but the one I find most amusing.
Pennywise’s outrageous costume is replicated in amazing detail. From the orange pompoms to the brocade vest, it’s all accurate to the adaptation. It’s funny how ugly that vest is when you get to really look at it. One of my favorite things about toy collecting is seeing details like this that I don’t necessarily catch while I’m in the moment of the films/TV shows. Most of the Star Wars minutiae I’m aware of comes from the toys.
I love the different glosses that were used for the clown suit. The pompoms are flat while the yellow suit is slightly shiny, with the vest and sleeves are metallic with a much more noticeable sheen. It gives the figure a ton of texture and really bring it (IT) to life.
I mean, hopefully not literally. Ugh.
NECA seems to improve the aesthetics and functionality of articulation with each release. Their double-jointed elbows keep getting better, as do their hips and knees. Their figures’ hands now feature hinges at the wrist, which is huge. The one thing they can’t seem to nail down is ankles. The Skarsgård Pennywise has some great, modern ankles with pivots and a hinge and everything a Marvel Legends figure has. This one has pegs with rubber feet, an old NECA design that I despise to this day.
It’s probably okay, though, because these big, thick legs should be much more stable than the Tall Man or Bubba Ho-Tep’s spindly stems.
Pennywise looks excellent and can do mostly anything you might feel like a murderous clown action figure should be able to do.
Pennywise comes with the aforementioned three extra heads, three additional gloved hands, two creature hands, a noisemaker, Georgie’s boat, and seven balloons.
Dammit, NECA – you were one accessory away from there being nineteen items in this box.
The hands are much easier to switch out than the heads, although the joint on the one meant to hold the balloons pulled out of place. This means that the hand that holds the heaviest items in the box droops.
The noisemaker is plain, but looks like it should look.
I’m not sure why NECA went with actual paper for this boat and not plastic like the modern version. It’s fine and it looks like a little folded-up newspaper, but it’s fragile.
The balloons are the main event. Each translucent plastic globe has a little balloon nipple and a “string” made of wire with a white coating. They stand up well and can be “posed” in different ways that a bunch of balloons might look.
I first saw this Pennywise at GameStop for $30, but waited until I found one at Target for $28. Then I took that two dollars I saved and put it in the huge cash bag under my bed.
Obviously I’m kidding. I’m sure I out it towards some other irresponsible purchase.
This is an excellent figure and certainly something NECA should be proud of. For fans of Stephen King or just of scary clowns, it’s a must-have.
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