If you look at the convergence of awesome properties, high quality action figures, and affordable prices, it’s tough to consider anyone in the same league as NECA. These toymakers manage to develop incredibly detailed, highly poseable action figures based on beloved properties past and present, at a price point and level of quality unparalleled at domestic mass retail.
2016’s Toy Fair booth was another solid showing for NECA, with a new focus on more iconic cult classic properties like Aliens, Predator, Terminator, and Rocky, as well as some new brands such as Ash vs Evil Dead and Arkham City.
It probably comes as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of NECA’s Aliens collection, and they didn’t disappoint with their new reveals, which included an Alien 3 Ripley (who will feature her shaved head as well as alternate arms so she can be displayed with her prisoner jacket on or off), as well as a Weyland-Yutani troop builder, and two versions of the Dog Alien– a reissue of the original brown figure as well as an all-new deco in grey to capture the creature’s appearance post-lead bath.
On the Predator front, we will see not only a second wave of figures based on AvP (or a third, if you consider the Aliens Series 7 additions to the lineup), but four new Kenner Collection Predators, as well. The Predator Clan Leader will be released as a Deluxe figure, and his imposing stature and extra-long dreadlocks ensure he has earned this status. Meanwhile, the glow-in-the-dark Stalker, Spiked Tail, and Ghost Predators will also join the hunt in Series 16.
If you’re into NECA’s Predator collection, you’re probably aware that Series 14 saw the release of amazing action figures based on the super-lame AvP movie, as well as a step forward in articulation and figure design. The new Predator bodies added articulation to the torso, as well as double joints at the elbows and knees, and NECA will apply these new elements to the classic (good) Predators, starting with the release of Ultimate Jungle Hunter and Ultimate City Hunter later in 2016. While we’re on the subject of Ultimate figures, the Ultimate Terminator line will continue with a new version of the T-800 from the first film, with added accessories and full articulation.
We’ve know for a while that 2016 would also bring the return of NECA’s Rocky collection, and the first wave of figures was on display at Toy Fair. This lineup will deliver a brand new Rocky Balboa– complete with his championship belt– as well as reissues of Rocky 3 fighters Clubber Lang and Rocky, in new window box packaging. The series will follow suit going forward, with an all-new sculpt released alongside reissues of highly sought after figures like Apollo Creed, Ivan Drago, and of course, Rocky himself. Sadly, NECA is only focused on the first four movies in the franchise, meaning the chances of seeing Tommy Gunn or Adonis Creed joining this collection are slim.
Video game fans should be happy, as not only was a new wave of Little Big Planet Sackboys on display, but a fantastic Nathan Drake figure from the new Uncharted game, and a stellar toy version of Kratos from God of War. If your proclivities veer toward vintage games, the Contra two-pack should be the perfect remedy to your action figure fix, along with the retro NES deco Simon Belmont, whose retro box will come packed with many accessories from NECA’s previous Castlevania toy line.
Q-Scale collectors are also bound to be excited, with a quarter-scale Jungle Hunter Predator, as well as an Aliens Xenomorph Warrior on display, as well as Arkham City’s Batman and Harley Quinn, and Batman Begins Batman. Each figure looked fantastic, and left me hopeful that NECA would work their magic to deliver all three sculpts to their Toys R Us exclusive 7″ toy line this Fall.
The long-awaited Q-Scale Age of Ultron Hulk will be joined by Iron-Man and Donatello, who will launch the movie-themes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection, while Pacific Rim fans will be happy about the inclusion of an Ultimate Gypsy Danger to follow Kaijus Mutavore and Hardship. Right now, we have no idea of Guillermo Del Toro’s universe will even continue on the big screen. While I hoped we’d see at least Ultimate versions of Crimson Typhoon and Cherno Alpha before the first film’s toy line finally bowed out, the numerous accessories and all new metallic paint job on this Ultimate Gypsy Danger make it about as appropriate an ending to the long-running toy line as possible, should this truly be the last release.
If you’re into NECA’s fun Mego-inspired retro figures, 2016 should be a banner year. We’ve got the Hateful Eight collection hitting specialty retailers in limited quantities right now, to be followed by releases from House of a Thousand Corpses and Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, as well as an amazing two-pack inspired by Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, which will feature the Wyld Stallions packed in the iconic phone booth from the movie.
One new line that has definitely piqued my interest in the Cinemachines, a wave of die cast toys based on some of the most iconic movie vehicles of the last few decades. The first waves will focus largely on the Aliens universe, delivering 6″ scale renditions of vehicles and props such as the Space Jockey from Alien and the Troop Transport from Aliens. I was very happy to see that all these toys would share the same scale, and while Aliens is a logical starting point, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t dreaming of the day that we could see the tricked out war machines from the Mad Max franchise in this promising new series.
It’s a given at this point that NECA is a must-see stop on the Toy Fair tour, and while their 2016 showcase may have dialed back on new properties, it saw a lot of what I would consider the toy version of deep cuts, a lineup of collectibles sure to appeal to many hardcore collectors across the gamut of pop culture past and present. I’ve got my favorites, for sure… but what are your must-have NECA toys for the year? Let us know in the comments below!