The Hateful Eight is a weird creature, in a multitude of ways. Setting aside the strange path Quentin Tarantino’s latest film took to get to the big screen (which notoriously involved the director scrapping the project after the script was leaked online, only to be inspired to bring it back to life after a live read of said script electrified a crowd in Los Angeles), it’s also a conundrum in terms of merchandising. On the one hand, the characters that populate this movie are all incredibly iconic and wonderfully stylized, from their unique costuming to the fantastic stable of actors who bring them to life. But on the other hand, the movie is as brutal and raw as anything Tarantino has put to film, and this reprehensible lot of individuals truly earn their ‘Hateful’ title.
But the controversial nature of this film and its content didn’t stop NECA from going for it, and releasing a toy line for these instantly-iconic characters. As with the ill-fated Django Unchained series, NECA opted to give The Hateful 8 the retro toy treatment, releasing them as a set of eight Mego-inspired 8″ figures with cloth outfits. But to call these figures “retro” would be a gross injustice– NECA has evolved their 8″ Mego body to include additional articulation, more refined clothing, and a slew of sculpted details that leaves these figures feeling considerably more modern than any other retro toy on the market… The Hateful 8 figures are less Mego-style interpretations of these characters, but the hypothetical result of what we might see had Mego thrived and continued to progress with their 8″ doll line over the past 35 years.
The portraits are fantastic across the board. All the likenesses are on-point, and while a few of them feel slightly exaggerated– most notably Michael Madsen’s Joe Gage– they remain not only instantly recognizable, but packed with character. I love that Demian Bichir’s Bob is sculpted with his signature one-eyed squint, and details like the black eye on the Jennifer Jason Leigh/ Daisy Domergue portrait inform the bitter sneer sculpted on her face, making her a perfect realization.
The only face portraits that are a little off are Walton Goggins’ Chris Mannix and Madsen’s cow puncher, Joe Gage. That isn’t to say these two are bad, but the uniform scale of the shared base bodies of the male figures means Madsen’s character is exactly the same height as his fellow characters… while in reality the actor’s build leaves him larger than his cast mates. As for Mannix, NECA’s sculpt looks slightly too dashing in opposition to the weaselly character he’s representing. It’s the one headsculpt among this bunch that isn’t immediately recognizable as the respective actor playing the role, though it’s only slightly off.
Each of the Hateful Eight (save Domergue) use the refined v.2 body, which affords them some great added articulation such as bicep and thigh swivels and ball jointed wrists, which go a long way in allowing these figures the ability to strike a number of dynamic poses. But what truly impressed me about this set of figures were the small, mostly unseen details which NECA thought to include in their designs. Despite being covered by the fabric outfits, figures like Daisy and Joe still include unique forearms, sculpted to include the gloves of their costumes, which is a great little detail that I’m glad NECA paid attention to.
Likewise, the fabric costumes themselves are very well rendered, using a multitude of materials to replicate the various layers and cold-weather coats worn by the cast in the film. The result of this attention to detail is a wide range of textures and fabrics unique to each figure, and it goes a long way to making each of them stand out as their own figure. From the wooly jacket that covers John “Hangman” Ruth, to the pelt-like furs of Bob’s overcoat, to the heavy felt cloth that composes the Union uniform of Samuel L. Jackson’s Major Marquis Warren, each figure sports a unique texture and outfit which harkens back to their most memorable scenes.
In addition to the varied fabrics that constitute each characters’ costume, The Hateful Eight figures also include relevant accessories, such as the various guns they will inevitably turn on one another, and more character-appropriate pieces such as Daisy’s shackles and John’s pipe and rifle. Every major item you would hope to be included with each of the Hateful Eight is included inside the window box of each figure… except maybe a pot of coffee.
While still typified as “retro toys” (which remains the ideal format in which to tackle any characters in the Tarantino stable, considering his fetish with throwbacks, old school references, and actors of yesteryear), The Hateful Eight collection feels more like a line that bucks expectations, veering away from the 1:12 scale and solid plastic makeup many collector toys consist of, into something both retro and distinctly new. The Hateful Eight figures are fun and their pseudo-retro aesthetic is thematically appropriate… yet they also showcase the fantastic sculpting, attention to detail, and commitment to screen accuracy which NECA brings to all their products.
NECA’s Hateful Eight collection is being offered as a limited run of 2,000 units per character. If you’d like to add these awesome figures to your collection, you should probably pick them up from NECA’s eBay page or specialty retailers while you can.
Thanks to NECA for giving us the opportunity to review this great set of action figures based on Quentin Tarantino’s latest masterpiece.