Toy Review – Friday the 13th 2009 Jason Voorhees Action Figure from NECA

Last week I got some flak for stating that nobody likes Alien Resurrection, so I will amend that today by saying that four people like Alien Resurrection.

Honestly I thought the whole vagina thing would be more controversial.

This week I definitely don’t want to alienate anyone (see what I did there?), so I don’t want to say that nobody likes the 2009 Friday the 13th remake.

Fortunately I don’t have to say that because the 2009 Friday the 13th remake is pretty darn good and definitely far better than Alien Resurrection.

The remake incorporates elements of the first three films and streamlines the mythology in a pretty logical way. It basically takes Marvel’s Ultimate approach to Jason and in my opinion does it very well. It doesn’t replace any of the originals, but to me it stands as a worthy update to the franchise.

Jason himself is, of course, updated as well. Lots of extremely dumb things could have been done with Jason’s design. Heck, some of them have happened in past movies. But this design gets back to basics, in a way, while bringing his signature look into modern times. Let’s face it – the khakis and olive button-down are classic, but not very visually interesting.

This time around the Crystal Lake Killer is wearing a strangely unique jacket over a ripped up t-shirt and some old, beat-up trousers. His face is more Wrong Turn mutant than the Madball we saw in a few of the original films. And both the head sack and hockey mask are used.

Jason was played by the 6’5” Derek Mears, making him one of the taller actors to take the role. The movie emphasizes and even enhances his size, making Jason seem bigger and more powerful than ever before.

Okay, maybe not more powerful. This Jason doesn’t turn doors into clouds of splinters. But his raw strength is almost supernatural.

This is not the first action figure of the 2009 Jason by a long shot. In what is a very unusual occurrence, both NECA and Mezco released figures back when the movie came out. Mezco’s was part of their slightly exaggerated, almost caricature-ish Cinema of Fear line while NECA’s was part of its more realistic Reel Toys range.

Looking at them now I’m surprised by the fact that I prefer the Mezco release. The NECA one is fine, but not totally accurate and kind of dull. Mezco’s at least has some personality.

Now, of course, we have this new Ultimate release from NECA. Is it truly “Ultimate” or even necessary? Read on and find out!

THE BOX

Perhaps the most surprising thing about this figure is that I remembered to take a picture with the front panel open.

I’m kidding, obviously. The most surprising thing is that NECA chose to update this instead of releasing Jason from Parts VII or VIII or Jason Goes to Hell or Jason X or Uber Jason.

Of course, NECA probably had plans for all of those, but overly litigious Hollywood goofballs have ground Friday the 13th licensing to a halt. No more toys for possibly a very long time. You can hear more about that on episode 287 of the Needless Things Podcast.

Like most Ultimate releases the front of the box is the movie poster. I like that they let the imagery be rather than slapping a “2009” somewhere on it. Fans will know and anybody else should be able to open that front flap and see that the Jason inside looks different from the 80s Jason.

Then again, I don’t know that the casual fan would really even notice. It’s not like my mom would look at this and go, “Wait – why isn’t he wearing khaki pants?”

The back of the box sports some nice, framed pictures of the figure in action. I always enjoy seeing how NECA themes these. There’s also a synopsis at the top, in case anyone doesn’t know what Friday the 13th is about.

The pictures are useful because they sometimes point out features of the figure that you might not otherwise notice, such as the fact that the weird pouch hanging off of Jason’s belt is actually a sheath for his machete. I sure wish I’d looked at the back of the box before now because I definitely would have taken a picture like that if I had realized it. Since I didn’t, uh… just look at the one NECA took. Mine would have been the same, but less artsy.

NECA also prints the credits for the sculptors, designers, photographers, and packaging artists on the bottom of the box, but since I remembered that panel picture this time, I forgot that one.

I need to make a checklist.

The box looks good and conveys to me, a fan, that this is a different Jason Voorhees figure and one that I need.

DSC_0530THE TOY

This Jason practically towers over my other Jasons, which isn’t entirely accurate considering that Derek Mears is only an inch taller than most other Jasons. But I do believe that within the film Voorhees is supposed to be closer to seven feet. Like, if he was in WWE he would absolutely be announced as

Hailing from Camp Crystal Lake, USA – standing seven feet tall and weighing in at three hundred and fifty-three pounds, the Crystal Lake Killer, the Demon of Camp Blood, through campfire and whetstones, IT’S JAAAAAAAASON VOOOOORHEEEES!

Rather than the hockey mask, the first thing that jumps out at me about this Jason is his hilariously overdone jacket. They really let the wardrobe department go overboard with this thing. Don’t get me wrong – it looks awesome. I want one. But it’s too much. When a piece of Jason’s wardrobe overtakes the hockey mask as the focal point of the character, you’ve gone too far.

But also I don’t really care. I’m only pointing this out because it occurred to me as I was reviewing the figure. As far as my enjoyment of the film or the character design it doesn’t matter.

NECA has done a far better job of recreating the jacket this time around. It consists of two distinct layers – a base piece that has an unadorned leather-like look and something that I can only describe as a shoulder flap. The shoulder flap is a separately sculpted piece that moves freely around the arms. It’s a lighter, more flexible material than the rest of the jacket. The front is plain to match the bottom layer and the back is sculpted to appear quilted, which matches the sleeves. There are plenty of interesting textures here, which is why it’s such an interesting garment and also why I said it’s a bit too much.

There’s paint on top of the sculpted detail – splashes here and there that could be rain or blood. The zipper is a nice, metallic silver that creates a highlight amidst mostly drab colors.

The jacket seems like something that might be too bulky to allow much range of movement, regardless of how well-articulated the figure is, but between the flexibility of the materials and the well-designed joints in the shoulders and elbows, this Jason can achieve pretty much any pose that his onscreen counterpart manages.

The figure comes wearing the signature hockey mask, so I’m considering that the default look. This mask is a little more detailed, but not so much that it loses its iconic power. What makes this 2009 version stand out is the weathering. Some of the other Jasons have specific looks of grime and damage on their masks, but this one has a very organic “stored in the garage for twenty years” look. The red markings are chipped around the edges and the stains look natural. The snaps on the mask and the straps are painted silver and stand out as little highlights.

The mask sits perfectly on Jason’s malformed head, and you’re going to want to leave it there; I’ll get to that right now.

Jason’s face is a more “realistic” take on his classic appearance – sort of old school Jason by way of Wrong Turn aesthetics. The sculpt and paint are top-notch, capturing Voorhees’ mangled visage perfectly.

Then there’s the back of his head, which looks absolutely terrible. Like, 2002 “doing the best they can with what they have” terrible.

This Jason has long, patchy hair, another element that makes him stand out from the rest and actually makes sense. But NECA apparently made no effort whatsoever to blend the hair – which is made of separate, attached pieces – into the head. When the mask is on the straps cover the seams, but when it’s off – yikes.

Fortunately I won’t be displaying this figure with the mask off, so to be honest this doesn’t bother me. But as a toy enthusiast I also find it sort of inexcusable. Every other aspect of this figure represents the very best in horror toys today, but the back of that head is pure amateur hour.

Under the jacket Jason’s shirt and trousers are appropriately filthy and damaged. In and of themselves they aren’t too far a cry from OG Jason’s clothes – plain and utilitarian. There’s a pretty decent ab joint hidden under that shirt, as well as a waist joint.

Jason’s sheath is a nice touch, possibly lifted from the practicality of the straight-up utility belt he wore in Jason Lives. We all know the machete is his favorite instrument of death. Why wouldn’t he have a way to keep him on him rather than just carrying it all the time? If you want to switch things up and murder someone with a screwdriver or a hatchet you don’t want to just leave your machete sitting around somewhere. You might misplace it.

The feet are the new, updated NECA style – they pivot both ways and swivel. This is such a massive upgrade to how NECA’s figures use to be designed that I almost can’t believe it happened. This kind of improvement within an action figure line is rare. Manufacturers tend to get set in their ways and abhor change. NECA, on the other hand, seems to be constantly improving and innovating.

DSC_0528THE STUFF

While Jason can carry out plenty of mayhem with his giant, bare hands, his figure just wouldn’t be the same without some instruments of violence.

This figure comes with an alternate head, an alternate hand, a machete, a screwdriver, an axe, a fireplace poker, and an ice axe. Not because any portion of the movie takes place near ice, but because it looks cool. Which is fine by me.

The pegs on NECA figures have changed, making swappable parts much easier to swap. Now the heads and hands are mounted on pegs with a wide head rather than a ball; meaning there’s a ridge where the peg gets wider in order to keep the piece attached. This works so much better than the old ball pegs, which tended to be a bit too thick and made getting parts on and off difficult. This switch happened a while ago, but I kept forgetting to mention it. It seems standard across all of their figures now.

The alternate head is wearing the sack this Jason has for the first portion of the movie. Just like in Part 2, Jason has one exposed eye and the detail on it is great. The sack itself has some texture and a nice paint job. It’s sculpted to appear sort of wrapped around his head rather than just being a simple hood. It looks great, but as nice as it is I’m probably going to keep my old 2009 Jason on the shelf with his sack head.

The extra hand is sculpted with a tighter grip in order to hold the ice axe, screwdriver, or poker. The swap out is easy and it interacts with those weapons nicely.

The screwdriver is probably the nicest toy screwdriver I own. The shaft is metallic and the handle is green with some nice wear painted on. It’s as plain as can be, but once you put it in the figure’s hand, it becomes an intimidating weapon.

Like Jason’s jacket, the machete is just too much. But I love it. It’s almost twice as big as any machete from the classic films. It looks heavy and terrifying. This thing is basically a sword. The handle has a painted rivet and is sculpted to look wrapped in leather. It looks fantastic and the figure can hold it perfectly.

While I love the machete, the ice axe is the most unique instrument in this box. It just looks mean.

The fireplace poker is simple, but fun.

Finally, there’s the standard axe. Its handle is sculpted and painted to look like wood and the head has a nice paint job that makes the edges look like they’ve been sharpened many times over the years.

DSC_0561THE VERDICT

If you’re a fan of the 2009 remake, this is a worthy upgrade to the old NECA figure or just a must-have if you don’t already own that one. Since Jason had two different looks in the movie I’m happy to have both on the shelf, one with the sack and one with the hockey mask.

Those seams in the hair are bad and shouldn’t be there, but unless you’re displaying the figure with the mask off and facing the wrong way, you’ll never even think about them.

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