2014 is almost over, but NECA managed to sneak out some last-minute Planet of the Apes releases to cement this toy line as one of the best freshman lines of the year. If you want proof, look no further than the latest wave of Classics figures, which includes the last main ape we needed in toy form, Zira, as well as arguably the greatest villain in the film’s series, General Ursus.
I’ve been dying for a Zira figure ever since Series One was released. Kim Hunter’s chimpanzee psychologist is, for all intents and purposes, our main hero for much of this series, and I’m glad she’s been given justice in this toy line. Zira is great, with all the articulation we saw in the previous Apes figures. The neck articulation is particularly nice, with a great range of motion that does wonders to bring out the personality in the portrait, and the design of the rest of the figure is quite thoughtful, with close attention paid to both useful articulated joints and a focus on not interrupting the excellent sculpt.
I was concerned at first about Zira’s outfit getting in the way of her lower leg articulation– she wears an ankle length skirt with a shorter tunic that extends to her knees– but NECA came up with a great solution. Using a cloth underskirt and a soft rubber overlay for the tunic, Zira can layer as she should in a way that does not leave her silhouette unnecessarily bulky, nor does it limit the articulation.
The color pattern on Zira’s green and grown garb is a perfect compliment to Cornelius, making the duo look particularly great together, and her accessories are pulled straight from the movie and provide a lot of fun. She’s packed with a paper airplane and the note from Taylor that leads her to take action… but the real clincher is the wedding photo of her and Cornelius, which is replicated to look like the movie image… but starring the Apes action figures! Nice touch, NECA!
Beneath the Planet of the Apes introduced the power hungry Gorilla General, Ursus to the series, and he’s gone down as one of the series’ most iconic villains, so his inclusion in the toy line makes perfect sense. And what a hell of a toy he makes! With Ursus, NECA makes smart reuse of a few Gorilla Soldier pieces, as well as great new tooling for the General’s ornate, segmented armor. The result is a figure who’s perfectly on model, looking natural amidst his Gorilla army, and yet clearly decorated enough to give the impression of authority.
The sculpt on Ursus is wonderful, from the heiroglyphics etched into his helmet, to the slightly agape mouth, to the individual studs and scales of his arm and body armor. The bulkier armor on Ursus’ forearms does inhibit his elbow motion just a bit (he can’t quite get to the 90 degree angle his troops can), but aside from this shortfall he retains all the articulation of his fellow apes.
Ursus’ colors are very well rendered, with a nice weathering on his armor to give a realistic metal appearance, and a nice, dark purple for his uniform to establish continuity with his army, yet distinguish himself from them at the same time. What could have simply been a kind of boring, all-black figure is very finely detailed, with many subtle shades of dark colors giving him a very eye-catching look.
Ursus includes a pistol which stores in a holster on his belt, an alternate hand with an extended index finger, and a nicely painted rifle, which he unfortunately cannot hold very well. The scale of the handle of the gun doesn’t seem to mesh with Ursus’ hand position, so even with two possible hands to choose from, neither can grip the weapon in an organic manner. He can still hold it somewhat, but it’s a bit more awkward than I’m used to seeing with NECA figures.
The new set of classic Apes is rounded out by a new Dr. Zaius in his long coat, who looked very cool, but who I unfortunately encountered on a day when I could only swing two figures. Still, both those figures are solid wins in this very cool figure line, and they make me excited to see what else NECA has in store for the collection in 2015. I have a feeling it’s going to be a very good year for Apes fans.