Toy Review – Halloween II Ultimate Michael Myers from NECA

What better way to kick off the spooky season than with the godfather of slash himself, Michael Myers?

Slashers as action figures are a funny proposition.

Due to their iconic nature, their looks typically do not change a whole heck of a lot from movie to movie. Back in the olden days toy manufacturers could get away with releasing a sort of generic amalgamation of a character’s appearances across several films. Take McFarlane’s early efforts, which are ostensibly based on specific entries in their respective franchises but do not precisely represent any versions of Freddy, Jason, Leatherface, or whomever.

We ate it up because it was the best we had at the time. And while those figures still have their charms, in this day and age of intense detail and strict screen-accuracy, we as consumers demand more. And have sort of shot ourselves in the foot as a result.

Thanks to our demand for accuracy, we now have approximately fifty-eight Freddy Kruegers that are barely different.

Michael Myers might seem to be the least changing of the slashers, but of course we insane-o fans know that there are more variations to his mask than there are actual movies in the franchise. So while his blue coveralls barely change from film to film, there are plenty of changes to be made to that iconic, but eminently variable, mask.

Fortunately for us a few years ago NECA saw fit to launch their “Ultimate” line of action figures. Each release in this range includes basically all of the parts needed to represent multiple looks from a single film. Today’s review subject includes three different heads, whereas previously we would have had to buy three separate figures to represent these looks.

Of course, the clever part is that NECA charges between twenty-five and thirty bucks for these, so if you want to display all three looks you’re actually paying more per figure than you used to. Granted, you’re getting tons of accessories, but I feel pretty sure NECA is reaping some benefits here. Which is fine by me. They’re a pretty great toy company.

As far as this Michael Myers figure goes, it represents various scenes from 1981’s Halloween II.

I’m a huge fan of this sequel and will almost always watch it immediately following the original. They’re inseparable to me. This isn’t the place to get into how the most recent Halloween affects the legacy of that film, but to me it doesn’t change things.

Back when NECA revealed this figure I was most excited for the Ben Tramer mask that’s included. It’s only in the movie for a couple of minutes, but to me it’s a crucial piece of Halloween lore. Tramer is a victim of Loomis’ obsession. It’s important to remember that Halloween II takes place on the same night as the prior movie, so it’s not like Tramer is knowingly wearing a costume that is lethally similar to a serial killer’s. He’s simply a victim of tragic circumstance, which is something I would love to see explored in the forthcoming films.

Michael’s mask from the finale of Halloween II is also included in this set, complete with the striking “bloody tears”. It’s a look that is absolutely essential, though I honestly hadn’t planned to display the figure that way; this was going to be Tramer on my shelf.

Is this figure an essential addition or an extravagance? And who won out for my shelf space – Myers or Tramer? Read on and find out!

THE BOX

NECA’s Ultimate releases all come in nice window boxes with a front flap that opens to reveal the figure and accessories. The graphics on the front always represent the aesthetics of the subject well. In this case, the familiar skull-o-lantern adorns the front with clean, simple verbiage in the appropriate fonts denoting the source film and character.

The back of the box features product shots arranged in a pleasingly retro manner.

I’ve overlooked this on my last few NECA reviews, but I always appreciate the credits printed on the packaging. More toy manufacturers should recognize the artists that work for them.

Inside the box the figure and accessories are secured in a plastic tray with a minimum of twist ties – just two, to be exact. Apparently I was so excited to get to this figure I completely forgot to get a picture!

DSC_0821THE TOY

The default head is basically the same mask we’ve seen before, but with hair that’s just a bit more messed up. There’s a lot of fine detail in the paint on the mask – washes on the features, as well as hints of blood and grime. The hair also features a few different shades. I particularly like the black around the eye holes, as it gives a much-needed appearance of depth.

The sculpt alone, however, has a surprising amount of that. The (in)human eyes behind the mask are fantastically detailed. You could almost believe that there’s a full human face underneath the mask despite the head being a single piece. The eyes have a glossy paint job, with centered irises and cornea.

Thanks to Michael’s snazzy coveralls there are some parts here we’ve seen before, but the body covering is a new piece. NECA has gotten pretty good at blending hard plastic limbs with rubber-covered torsos. Obviously there’s no way to eliminate the joints and the resulting gaps, but recent figures have looked pretty darn good.

This version of Haddonfield’s most wanted needed a new torso cover because of the bullet holes from the first film that are, obviously, still there throughout the sequel. Each entry hole has a corresponding exit and they are all sculpted and painted with precision. They’re small but critical details that make this Michael stand out.

Okay, well – he doesn’t actually stand out until you get up really close because it’s dark blood in dark holes on dark coveralls, but you get what I’m saying.

NECA is continually improving the articulation on these figures, as well as developing new ways to keep it low profile. This figure’s double-jointed elbows get nice, deep bends but are worked into the sculpt quite well. There are poses that are necessary for this Michael that would have been unthinkable from a NECA figure just a couple of years ago.

My favorite NECA improvement has to be the ankles, though. Now, rather than rubber feet stuck on pegs – which would invariably result in the “NECA Lean” over time – these figures actually have articulated ankles that allow for a reasonable degree of poseability and a massive improvement in stability.

DSC_0837THE STUFF

Michael comes with two alternate heads, a jack-o-lantern, three alternate hands, a hammer, a knife, a scalpel, and a syringe.

One of the heads is from the end of the film after Michael has been shot in the eyes(!). This leaves him blinded, with bloody “tears” running down the front of the mask. I have to wonder if the filmmakers had any idea how iconic that look would end up being; to the point where we have this figure and costume masks specifically replicating this look.

The blood is a glossy paint that actually starts inside the mask where the eyes are. The mask has slightly different pant from the default to represent what Michael has been through over the course of the movie

The other mask is the tragic Ben Tramer “knockoff” mask. It’s cleaner than Michael’s and obviously has that bright blonde hair. Much like the Michael heads, you can see Tramer’s poor, innocent baby blues through these eyeholes.

I don’t know what’s more unfortunate – what happened to this kid or the fact that when he died he looked like he was on his way to Flavortown.

At first glance the jack-o-lantern is an update of the one from the original movie poster, but upon closer inspection there is a seam running across the front. This opens up courtesy of a hinge on the back and reveals a skull, which is also mounted on a hinged piece. The effect recreates the title sequence of the movie and the accessory looks great. I’m not usually a fan of accessories that aren’t “in-universe”, but this one is so well-executed that I can’t help but love it. The exterior pumpkin shell has a wonderfully realistic sculpt and paint job. The carved “holes” are painted with a bright color that gives them the illusion of luminescence.

Michael’s hands are unusually noteworthy. Including the default hands there are three left hands and two right. Three shaped to grip various weapons and two splayed out to indicate action. They’re all painted to look grimy and intimidating.

The hands have holes that mount onto pegs in the wrists. Those pegs are on hinges, which allow for a nice range of movement as opposed to NECA’s old system of non-hinged pegs – another major improvement.

Michael’s instruments of plunder are some of the best-looking pieces NECA has produced. The syringe is clear with a painted needle and meniscus, the scalpel is finely sculpted out of shiny silver plastic, and the hammer has a nice wooden handle with a silver head. It’s a bit larger than other hammers NECA has released (there have been several, believe it or not) and I like it for that.

The knife is also a new piece for NECA. A lot of butcher knives have been made, but this one has a longer, serrated blade. It’s accurate to one used in the movie and is a fresh piece for the toy line.

The hands are all made from a sturdy plastic that has a bit of give. Some of the weapons require a little more finesse than others to get into place, but they all work and look great. I think my favorite is the syringe.

DSC_0862THE VERDICT

If you’re a casual collector and you already own NECA’s Ultimate Michael Myers from Halloween, then you might not need this one. But if you’re a nut like me, you must own this figure. It’s a fantastic follow-up that delivers the unique flavor of the sequel in a very satisfying way.

My original intent had been to display this one as Ben Tramer since it would be very different from the other Halloween figures on my shelf, but the bloody tears mask  combined with the scalpel and the open hand looks so damn good I think I have to display it that way. I don’t particularly want to buy a second figure, but it’s possible I will.

And that’s how they get you.

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