In addition to their toy line based on Caesar and his modern simian allies, NECA has also launched a classic Planet of the Apes collection, releasing gorgeous 7″ scale action figures based on classic characters including Dr. Zaius, Cornelius and a Gorilla Soldier. Apes has been a franchise weirdly under-explored in regard to toys, but the quality of NECA’s figures make up for that absence.
There is so much attention to detail packed into these figures, they exude NECA’s passion for the property loud and clear. Every aspect of the Apes’ on-screen appearance is painstakingly represented here, from the hieroglyphic- like pattern on Cornelius’ tunic, to the simple yet striking silhouette of the Gorilla’s rifle. But let’s start at the top, with the stunning portraits NECA’s sculptors have created.
Typically, sculpting non-human figures comes with the perk of not having to match an actor likeness, but the Apes seen in the classic films did such a good job with their revolutionary makeup designs, the actors underneath still bled through their new simian features. So NECA essentially had to hit two marks here– remain screen accurate to the look of the make-up, as well as nail the likenesses of the actors underneath. They accomplish both with flying colors, as all three figures’ faces match their on-screen counterparts wonderfully. Roddy McDowall’s eyes certainly come through in the determined look on Cornelius’ face, while Zaius sports the sinister yet slightly bemused look Maurice Evans made famous. And the Gorilla, while not matching a single actor, certainly gives the appearance of a creature you do not want to mess with.
Screen accuracy is one thing, but these Apes also make for great toys, loaded with sculpted details to heighten their realism and a copious amount of articulation to land lots of posing options. Each figure features a ball joint neck, torso joint (all cleverly hidden by soft rubber tunics), ball shoulders and hips, half-ball elbows and knees, and ball wrists and ankles. The range is great, as well, whether it’s fitting Zaius’ cane naturally into his hand or posing the soldier with his gun aimed with one or both hands.
Each figure comes packed with some appropriate accessories, as well. As I mentioned above, the Gorilla includes his rifle with a functional sling, as well as a small club which includes a ring to hook it to his bandolier when not in use. Zaius is packed with his cane as well as a sacred scroll, an accessory which Cornelius shares.
Normally I don’t delve too much into packaging, but the classic Apes’ window box treatment is so succinct yet cool looking it has to be mentioned. Like Star Wars Black and Funko’s Game of Thrones Legacy, each Apes figure is featured in a color-coded window box. Not only does this show off the figures nicely in package, it takes up less space on the shelf, and the matte finish and strong design of the packaging– complete with unique sigils for each Ape– looks so polished and slick it’s tempting to display the boxes along with the figures on the shelf. And the color-coding makes it incredibly easy to eyeball and find the Ape that you’re looking for.
I could not be happier with NECA’s Planet of the Apes figures. The size and designs of these guys harkens back to the great Mego doll versions released in the 70s, but the modern design and incredibly detailed sculpts are quick to remind us these toys are far more advanced than a mere nostalgia trip. NECA’s sculpts are almost always on point, but there’s an extra attention to detail and sense of magic that only makes it into those toys which are clearly their passion projects. With how great the Planet of the Apes figures came out, it’s clear this is a project very near and dear to the hearts of these talented toy makers.