I wasn’t able to make it out to SDCC this year (or any year, for that matter), so I was left watching and newsgathering from thousands of miles away. But the good folks at NECA were good enough to send a little San Diego my way, and about a week or so after the show, a box showed up at my door. Inside? The Batman/Predator and Superman/Alien 7-inch figure packs that they had on offer at the show and online. So how do they measure up? Is the execution as awesome as the concept?
The whole notion of these mashups is very 80’s/90’s, and the armor on Batman fits this motif perfectly. If you’ve read the comic crossovers, the look should be familiar, but even if you haven’t, it looks like Batman if he was a character in the Stallone Judge Dredd film. In other words, he looks rad and over-designed, and he gets bonus rad points for the over-designing, because this is one of those rare contexts where it works.
The Predator is, of course, the Predator, with all of the intimidation, brutality, and ugliness (check that spare head) that you would expect. The two figures look great together, especially with most of Bats’s armor taken off so he looks extra-desperate.
I really, really love the Superman figure. Much like the Batman that was announced a few years ago as part of a Batman/Alien two-pack, this Supes is just a dang-fine, simple take on the character, even without the bonus ugly foe. The heat vision head and its two stages are excellent, and I love the flying hands as an alternate display option. More than anything, I think I just love the physique—it’s not a thin, wiry Supes, but neither are the proportions incredibly modern-looking. Dig that enormous chin, too.
The Xenomorph—wow. No accessories, because it doesn’t need any. Open the mouth, and you can see the killer tongue inside. Swivel the tail to help get some balance in different poses. It’s just beautiful in its simplicity and its faithfulness to the iconic design of these bad boys. NECA informs me that they’ll be selling that previously-announced Batman/Alien pack at New York Comic Con in October, and that’s got me really excited to see the Jokerized Xeno that comes with it. Take this design and put some Joker on it—it’s going to be absolutely beautiful.
Construction and build quality
The spare hands for Batman, Superman, and the Predator all attach via posts inserted into the arm sockets. I much prefer the way Mezco does it—with a socketed hand fitting onto an arm ball—mostly because the hand posts are thinner and seem like they won’t hold up as long. The few Marvel Legends figures I have use the same construction, so I guess it’s standard enough, but I’ll be curious to see how long it lasts. Then again, NECA’s been doing this for a really long while, and they have a great reputation, so maybe my fears are unfounded.
When I reviewed some quarter-scale NECA figures a few years ago, I noticed that some of the paint on those hand posts would chip as I swapped parts. This is definitely an issue here, as well—a fact I noticed quickly, with little skin-colored shavings littering my black photo backdrop as I shot Superman. It’s not a huge deal, so long as you’re careful enough to avoid chipping the visible parts of the hands, but it’s worth noting.
Articulation on each of the figures—with the exception of the Xeno, who is a bit unique—was a bit challenging at first. Things are pretty stiff right out of the box, which is to be expected, but there were a number of occasions—on Batman, Superman, and Predator—where moving one leg dragged the other along for the ride, and it was not until I stabilized the one that I could freely move the other. This isn’t a world-ending scenario, but it does make it trickier to get finely-nuanced poses without a good deal of effort, and I tend to prefer something that can set up quickly. Still, once you get them how you want them, they do look mighty fine.
Understandably, the Xenomorph can be incredibly difficult to pose. Rotating the tail can help, but then you’re limited in how the tail can appear in your display. The problem is just the physiology of the thing, with small feet and long legs, and a tall height overall. There are holes on the feet for using a display stand, so I recommend using one if you’re planning on setting this up outside of the box.
These NECA 2-packs won’t blow you away with build quality or articulation, but I don’t think that’s the point, either. The designs are the real appeal here, along with the property crossovers, and for the price, I think you get a great deal on two awesome figures in a pack. Or, at least, you could, before they went to the secondary market after selling out! If you’re a fan of the style and the concept, and you can find these on eBay, or elsewhere, then I would say scoop them up. I can’t put a price on someone else’s taste, but personally, I would value these maybe even as high as $75 per pack. The boxes are slick, and with front flaps opening to big windows without much extra plastic in the way, you can enjoy the big 90’s aesthetic without ever having to fuss with the tricky articulation, or shave the posts attaching the hands.
DISCLAIMER: Batman News received these figures from NECA for review.