Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a really, really good movie, one of my favorite films of the summer. It featured the same kind of moral complexity that made the original such an all-time classic, and some fantastic characters, especially on the ape side of the equation. NECA’s action figures brought three of them to life earlier this year, and now the second series follows up, offering new versions of our main characters Caesar and Koba, as well as Luca the gorilla.
Let’s start with Luca, our one original character in this wave. Much like Maurice the Orangutan in the previous wave, Luca is a great figure to break up the fairly uniform colors, size and shape of the Chimpanzees, and he’s pretty badass in his own right. The hulking Luca is the biggest of the Apes figures, and his articulation works well,, allowing him to be posed standing upright or hunched forward on his knuckles.
The sculpt on this figure is just as good as you’d expect when you hear the phrase “a gorilla sculpted by NECA”– he’s bulky and heavy and loaded with great details in his fur and leathery skin. Luca comes packed with no accessories, but he does get an extra head, so he can be displayed with a neutral face or in mid-roar, with his teeth exposed. While I normally skew toward more vanilla expressions, the screaming Luca looks so cool, I can’t bring myself to change him back to his more calm alternative.
Luca’s screaming head also segues into the other two figures in this wave, as Caesar and Koba both get much more aggressive facial sculpts for their second figures. Caesar looks pretty good– his new portrait is shouting, his fur is no longer covered in war paint, and he sports a shotgun instead of a spear– but the new expression just doesn’t suit our hero in my opinion, so I passed on him.
Koba, however, is a radical step up from his previous figure in every way possible. Like Caesar, our villain trades his war paint for clean fur (what’s left amidst his scars and burns, anyway), and wields a machine gun instead of his hunting spear. The new portrait here is astonishing, uncannily on model to Koba’s cinematic appearance, and filled with expressive energy. All the hate and anger and pain that defines this iconic bad guy is captured in scars and contorted brown and gnashed teeth of this figure’s face. It’s truly one of the best sculpts I’ve seen from NECA’s team, and considering their usual high watermark, that’s saying something.
While Koba’s body is essentially the same as the previous version, the new paint, weapon and head sculpt make him feel like a totally new toy, and he’s without a doubt the definitive figure version of this character. It kind of makes me sad that NECA would get Koba and his character so perfectly right with this figure, while they missed the mark with Caesar, who’s packed much heavier than either of his fellow apes.
I’m very happy with the two thirds of this wave that I picked up. I’d love to see NECA continue this line with characters like Blue Eyes and Rocket (not to mention a deluxe ape on horseback)… but for now, it appears these three figures will mark the end of the modern POTA collection. With that knowledge, part of me wishes the character selection had been more diverse, as I always skew toward unique characters over core cast variants. But when those variants are a step up to the degree of this fantastic new Koba, I really can’t complain.
Look for the latest Dawn of the Planet of the Apes figures at Toys R Us and specialty stores now. NECA has them available online as well, and considering both Luca and Koba are short packed, getting them directly from NECA’s eBay store might be the easiest option available.