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T-800 (Pescadero Escape)

Terminator 2
by Monkey Boy

If you were a child in the late '80s/early '90s, there are few movies that speak for your generation as much as Terminator 2: Judgment Day. This film was an event, with a ridiculous marketing blitz (that even featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as a guest star in a Guns N' Roses music video), and it became one of those rare sequels whose cultural significance more than surpassed that of its predecessor. Societal impact aside, it was a really fun flick, despite the unfortunate side effect of introducing the world to the snot-nosed Edward Furlong. But it was Arnie who took center stage, this time as hero rather than villain, managing to distract the audience from the annoying brat and really up the ante.

Under direct orders from John Connor, the T-800 sets out to rescue Sarah Connor from Pescadero State Hospital where she has been institutionalized for 10 years. Armed with a Winchester Shotgun the T-800 fights off the liquid metal T-1000, an advanced new prototype programmed to kill John. Ironically the same model Terminator that was once sent to kill Sarah has no come to protect John and reunite mother & son.

But if you're a visitor to this site, chances are you know all about T2. You may also be aware of what a milestone it is that NECA is finally releasing figures of Arnie's iconic T-800 protector from T2, in all its fully-licensed likeness glory. Y'see, back when McFarlane actually made toys that anyone cared about, there was a short list of fan favorite figures that folks were constantly told could never be made. McFarlane assured us that they had done the research on the various properties fans wanted, and had their reasons lined up for why they could never happen. Anthony Hopkins wouldn't lend his likeness for a "child's toy" of a serial killer, so no Hannibal Lecter. Hellraiser's Pinhead could only be done as part of an entire line of figures from the films (or something), which didn't fit into McFarlane's blah-blah-hooey whatever. And Arnie wouldn't lend his likeness to figures from T2.

They did throw the fans a few bones though, which really only seemed to pour salt in the wound. No Hannibal figure, but they did give us a figure of Clown from Spawn in a bite-mask and straightjacket, so we should have been happy. McFarlane teamed with Clive Barker to make Tortured Souls, which was kinda sorta like Hellraiser, right? And, before any of that happened, McF did indeed release a figure of Arnie as the T-800 from T2. Only not really. While the original promo shots showed Schwarzenegger's likeness, the actual figure was "battle-damaged" to the point where his human face was unrecognizable. Much has been said about this, on this site and on others, so I'll spare you the gory details. Suffice to say, it wasn't pretty.

McF tried to appease fans later on, by obtaining the license for Terminator 3 and promising a full array of Arnold figures. They delivered, but the figures were quite clearly from the third film and couldn't really fit in as being from the second. Also, despite promo shots showing Arnie sans glasses and unscarred, the figures were released in two sets of variants: with sunglasses, and without sunglasses but horribly battle-scarred. Only the 12" figure lacked sunglasses and battle damage.

[There's a review in here somewhere, I swear. --ed]

The point is that NECA has shown, time and time again, that almost all of the licenses and likenesses McFarlane used to say were off-limits were, in fact, quite obtainable. Some time ago we saw Hellraiser and Hannibal Lecter figures, and now NECA is giving us some solid Judgment Day Arnie goodness, seemingly timed to roughly coincide with the release of the fourth film in the series, the subpar Terminator: Salvation. The first series includes "Pescadero Escape" T-800, the subject of tis review, as well as "Man or Machine" T-800 and a retool of NECA's Endoskeleton figure from their Cult Classics line. A second series is shown on the pack of the clamshell package, showing "Cyberdyne Showdown" Arnie (with minigun!!!) and "Final Battle" Arnie, with a scarred visage (though Schwarzenegger is still recognizable in the sculpt).

Clearly, "Pescadero Escape" is going to be the big seller of the first series. The design of the figure is taken from the scene where the T-800 busts Sarah Connor out of the Pescadero State Hospital, but also works as a representation of Arnie's grand entrance, walking down a mall hallway towards John Connor with a shotgun concealed in a box of roses. At this point in the film, the audience has seen plenty of Arnold, but John sees him for the first time. Remember, originally it was meant to be something of a (poorly kept) secret that Arnie was the hero this time, so this ominous scene held a lot of suspense, and it wasn't immediately clear that the T-800 was in fact there to rescue John from Robert Patrick's menacing T-1000. NECA's figure looks great, capturing the look of the character at that moment of entry very nicely. Kyle "Tankman" Windrix did an amazing job on the sculpt, especially on the head. This is definitely one of the top Arnie likenesses in any scale, and that includes Hot Toys and Sideshow stuff. This is unquestionably Arnold, and even casual fans (or hell, people who aren't fans at all) will be able to pick him out.

He is wearing glasses, and they are not removable. The Man or Machine T-800 features an Arnie head without glasses, and the heads are interchangeable between figures (they pop off quite easily), but something about the glasses-less head is a bit less impressive. The body sculpt on the Pescadero Escape figure is great though, with some really nice texturing on the leather jacket, shirt, and pants. Incidentally, there seems to be a fair bit of re-use between the figures, and I imagine this guy's legs are the same legs found on the Man or Machine version, as well as on the upcoming Cyberdyne Showdown version. Re-use is a fact of life these days, however, and it doesn't seem like any company out there is immune.

The paint work is nice, though there's not a lot to paint on a guy all dressed in black. The bulk of the detail is on the head. The hair is done well, with a clean enough masking for the hairline. The skin tone is nice and matte, and not at all goopy. The lips get a nice darker brown shade, and thankfully manage not to look like he's wearing lipstick. The only fault I could find is that the black paint on the stem of the sunglasses doesn't quite cover all the way to the face, and some of the stem is left flesh-colored. For the price point though, that has to be a tricky area to get right.

The rest of the body is mostly black, with some gray and grayish-brown highlights. There's silver on the zippers, and brown for the belt. The sleeves of the jacket are sculpted as part of the arms, but the "vest" of the jacket is a separate rubbery piece. Usually this may mean there's a visibly different look between the parts due to the materials used; thankfully that's not the case here.

Recent NECA videogame-based figures have really improved in the articulation department, but the T2 stays true to what we're used to seeing from NECA movie-based figures: a decent range of mobility in the upper body, and fairly static legs. Pescadero Escape Arnie has a balljoint in the neck, balljoints in the shoulders, pegged and hinged elbows, balljoints in the wrists, a peg joint in the waist, peg joints in the left thigh and calf, and almost unusable peg joints in the ankles. Most of the joints in the leg seem to be there solely for the purpose of being able to re-use parts of the sculpt for the Final Battle T-800, rather than to provide any true movement. Still, there's some pretty great posing potential for the upper body, and he can even hold his shotgun in both hands.

Speaking of the shotgun, it's his only accessory. It's a nice reproduction of the Winchester he used in the movie, but it would have been super awesome to get a little box of roses for it to fit in. That simple addition would have really increased the play value of this figure a lot (and probably been ToY material). It seems like each new T-800 figure gives us a little more of his arsenal, based on the packaging photos: MoM gets a handgun, FB gets a grenade launcher, and CS appears to get a minigun and the grenade launcher. Here's hoping the launcher doesn't disappear by the time the figure hits production. NECA is somewhat infamous for not including certain accessories with its figures, even when said accessories are still listed on the figure's final production packaging.

Despite the dearth of accessories and the lack of mobility below the waist, this really is a fine figure. If you only get one figure from this line, this is probably the one you'll want to snag. It's not as decked out as the Cyberdyne Showdown version appears to be, but it's much more iconic. In the end, it's nice to be able to say, after almost 20 years after the film's release, we finally have some decent T2 action figures.

-- 06/09/09

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