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Highlander

Cult Classics
by Monkey Boy

Highlander. Not a great movie. Full of '80s hair and '80s special effects, it is, inevitably, a product-of-the-80s. Certainly not a great franchise, spawning three sequels, a television series, and an animated series, all of which arguably take place in completely different continuities. However, there's something about that original film. Something that gives Highlander a special place in the hearts of those who have beheld it.

No doubt, the movie's stars are a large part of what's good about the movie. Sean Connery and Clancy Brown turn in admirable performances. And then there's Christopher Lambert, with his sleepy eyes, caveman brow and inscrutable accent. He makes an appearance in just about every Highlander spin-off, but he's never as endearing as he is in the original.

But credit must also go to the story. The spin-offs have done a lot to water down the initial story so that it can be stretched out thinner than Nicole Ritchie (zing!), so it's easy to forget how cool the original premise is. Mysterious immortals in a century-spanning contest to see who will win the "prize". And how do you win? By decapitating your opponent, of course! And what is the "Prize"? Uhm...it's complicated. I'll get back to you on that.

And let us not forget, the wicked soundtrack entirely composed by Queen!

Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod So once again, it's NECA who steps up to the plate to deliver 7" scale figures of a semi-cult movie that may or may not have the fan base to justify such a venture. NECA loves their box sets, and this one gives us Christopher Lambert's character of Connor McLeod, along with Clancy Brown's villainous Kurgan. Wisely, they represent the characters as they appeared in 16th century Scotland, rather than how they looked in 1980s New York City. Not that I don't want a punk rock-styled, leather-clad Kurgan, but the medieval duds are just more fun.

I consider myself a Christopher Lambert fan...well, as much as I can be without owning copies of any of his movies. Still, I was really hoping NECA nailed the likeness. And thankfully, they did. While he looks quite a bit like Vigo the Carpathian from Ghostbusters II, he's definitely got the aforementioned caveman brow, sleepy eyes and some seriously pouty lips. The hair uses a separate piece of plastic, but NECA is getting smarter about their hair pieces. This time, the top of the hair is sculpted as part of the head, and the secondary piece is attached along the side, following the line created by Connor's pulled-back ponytail. Good stuff.

Connor is wearing his full medieval battle outfit, which for some reason includes armor on everything but the arms, legs and neck. He's got a big animal fur cloak with a large buckle in the front, Squinty McGrumpypants and while it is well done, it also appears (unfortunately) to be non-removable. However, thankfully it only appears this way, as his head pops off quite easily. This way you can have Connor lose the climactic battle if you want. His bare arms are muscled, but wiry, eschewing the over-bulked look seen on many figures in favor of a more realistic approach. His kilt and sash are detailed nicely, and painted with a nice blue plaid pattern. As far as I can tell from a quick Google image search, the figure's sash appears to be on the reverse side when compared to the promotional movie stills, but by removing the head you can reverse this and make it right. Overall, an excellent sculpt, with a great paint job to match.

Connor features some decent articulation, though the balljoints in his neck and shoulders are somewhat restricted by his heavy cloak. He also has balljointed hips, but they are likewise restricted by his kilt. His waist, elbows, wrists and boot tops all feature peg joints. weapons Despite the limiting garments, he's about as mobile as most other NECA figures, and the balljointed hips are promising, especially since another recently released NECA figure, the titular V from V for Vendetta, also sports balljoints in the hips.

Connor is equipped with his medieval sword (as opposed to the katana he used in the '80s) as well as a circular shield. The sword is uber-detailed, and even features the inscription "MacLeod" on the hand guard. The shield has two rubbery straps that fit over his arm, but be careful: the glue that holds the straps to the shield isn't that strong, and the straps can pop of fairly easily. I always keep some superglue close by, just in case.

Packaged with Connor is the Kurgan, The Kurgan a warrior used by the Fraser clan to defeat their rivals, the MacLeods, in battle. The Kurgan, like Connor, happens to be an immortal. The difference is that at this point in the film, Connor is unaware of his immortality. He'll find out soon though, with the aid of the Kurgan's blade. Kurgan is wearing his wickedly awesome battle armor, complete with a helmet designed to resemble a monstrous skull. Though not much of his face can be seen, and what is there is contorted in rage, it's possible to make out Brown's visage. The high cheekbones and pronounced chin all contribute to the look, though this is a young Brown, not the weathered man seen more recently in Carnivale and Lost.

Unlike Connor, Kurgan is clad head to toe in armor, which is kind of odd, considering he's an immortal. Even more odd, the most vulnerable place in his armor seems to be his neck. Nevertheless, it looks cool and menacing, with skull motifs on the shoulders and right boot. The armor is asymmetrical in the arms and legs, with the left side covered in segmented black pieces while the right side and the rest of his body is more traditionally armored with tarnished silver plates. Faux feathers poke out from behind the helmet, beneath the shoulder pads, and under his belt on the left side, and hopefully they won't decide to fall out over time. A cape hangs down behind the figure, and it bunches oddly at the bottom, despite hovering a centimeter or so about the ground (higher if you're using the base). Still, he cuts quite an imposing figure.

Kurgan's neck is balljointed, this could be anybody and the joint is at the bottom of the neck, just like Connor's. He also has balljoints in the shoulders, and also limited balljoints in the elbows (cleverly covered by separate overlaying pieces of armor. His wrists have peg joints, as well as his waist, and his torso is balljointed. Despite not moving at all below the waist, the balljoints in the chest and elbows give Kurgan more mobility than his heroic counterpart, and it's nice to see NECA isn't afraid to incorporate articulation into their figures when it can be properly hidden.

Kurgan is less accessorized than Connor, but that's understandable considering he's about a full inch taller. He's got his sword, which he continues to use well into the 20th century. It's accurate, complete with the little spikes that jut out from the base of the blade, and fits well in his right hand.

Both figures get a base, and they connect to recreate a tiny patch of the Scottish highlands. Kurgan's is elongated, and one of the corners line ups with the front of Connor's base. While they look good connected, the effect isn't entirely convincing, since Connor seems much more at rest than the lunging Kurgan, there can be only one despite the fact that they're barely separated by a sword's length. A tiny skull adorns Kurgan's base, which highlights the fact that NECA's skulls-on-bases have been drastically shrinking over time. The Terminator 2 endoskeleton and Pirates of the Caribbean figure bases featured gigantic skulls that wouldn't come close to fitting inside the heads of the figures that stood on them. Cult Classics 5 Ash had a more moderately sized base skull, while the one between Kurgan's feet seems like it would be far too small to fit inside Connor's head (although to be fair, Lambert's head is rather large).

All in all, this is a fantastic set if you're a fan of the movie, the franchise, Christopher Lambert, or even a fan of medieval stuff in general. The sculpting and paint detail are excellent, and both figures have a decent range of articulation as well as some nice accoutrements. The price is essentially what you'd pay for two Cult Classics figures individually, and essentially that's just what you're getting, since the bases aren't as fancy or elaborate as say, the Cursed Barbossa and Jack Sparrow box set. If you're a fan and you can find this, pick it up.


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