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Deadite Ash

Evil Dead 2
by Poe Ghostal

Sometimes life just isn't fair.

When I was 15 years old, I discovered the wonders of the Evil Dead trilogy. I can't remember how it all started, though I know I saw Army of Darkness first. I loved it, but when I saw Evil Dead 2 I knew I'd found what was destined to be one of my all-time favorite films. I've seen it dozens of times, including twice in a movie theater (the Brattle in Cambridge, MA). But back when I first discovered the movies - this was around 1994 or so - they weren't easily available on VHS aside from Army of Darkess. But for Christmas that year, my parents tracked down some used videostore copies of Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2 from Canada. (Of course, just a few scant years later the ED boom began and suddenly it was everywhere, available on every format.)

Some of you may not know this, but the reason I joined the McFarlane Toys forums - where I invented the handle "Poe Ghostal" - was to push for Ash in the Movie Maniacs line. I've told that story before, so I won't rehash it here, but suffice to say I am a very big Evil Dead fan (as a teen I even started a huge ED-themed fanfic that can be summed up as "Ash Goes to Hell" with multiple versions of Ash from different universes... but that will never see the light of day).

Man, did I try hard to like the McFarlane Ash figure. And man, did it truly suck. A terrible likeness, an awful fixed pose... McFarlane managed to make one of their most-requested figures ever one of their worst products of all time. That hit stores in 2000, and it's been a long 12-year wait for better Ash figures to come along. Given the rights issues that evidently surrounded ED2, I'd more or less given up hope.

Enter NECA, who somehow managed to score the Evil Dead 2 rights, which are fairly complicated. I was cautiously optimistic when the announcement was made, but I worried NECA would go the Terminator route and give him immobile legs. Thankfully, they didn't.

Back in the McFarlane days when I would imagine my dream Evil Dead 2 line, it included an Ash from the end of Evil Dead 2, when he's got the chainsaw and sawed-off shotgun, as well as Henrietta and a Deadite Ash. NECA is giving us them all. I've been even more keen on a Deadite Ash since playing Evil Dead: Regeneration, which featured the ability to "hulk out" into Deadite Ash and slice and dice through dozens of enemies.

As fans who open our toys, we don't give packaging much consideration, but NECA scores points simply by using the classic eyeballs-in-skull poster from the original film. Years before I saw Evil Dead 2, that unique design was etched in my childhood memory from the VHS box in the horror section of my local video store (Max Movies in Carver, MA, now long gone). The packaging also includes some classic quotes from the film on the sides and a brief explanation of the film on the back. And as always, we appreciate the fact that NECA includes credits for each figure on the bottom of the packaging.

Despite his classic, chiseled-chin superhero good looks, sculptors have had a notoriously difficult time capturing his likeness in plastic. The best I've ever seen on an action figure until now was McFarlane's 18" Ash, though NECA got pretty close with their Medieval Ash and S-Mart Ash. But sculptor Adrienne Smith may have come the closest in capturing the young ED2-era Bruce. The monstrous Deadite Ash was probably a lot easier to sculpt, but I think it's even better than the FTA portrait.

The body (identical to the Farewell to Arms figure) is well-sculpted and highly detailed as well. The figure seems to have come through the production process fairly intact, making this one of NECA's best efforts to date. Paint is often NECA's Achilles Heel, but both versions of Ash come through fairly well this time. There are two fairly tricky things to pull off here: the smeared blood on the head and the dirty, wet, sweaty shirt. The paint on the face is nearly flawless, but it looks a bit odd that none of that dirt and blood make it down to the neck (this may have been done to facilitate head-swappage, as this figure was at one point supposed to come with an alternate regular Ash head).

The shirt effect is done by molding it in light blue plastic and then applying a heavy dark wash. It works well, though the wash is a bit too thick and smeared in some places (i.e., it looks like paint on a flat surface and not wet fabric). It's also worth noting the elbow joints and shoulder joints are cast in light blue and the dark wash quickly rubs off, leaving bright exposed joints - though only on the inside of the shoulders and the back of the elbows, so it's not too noticeable. The shirt on the torso is made from a pliable material that allows the balljoint underneath to operate. The paint on the pants is very well done, with an excellent dry wash over the dark brown plastic. The paint was designed by Jon and Karin Wardell.

Ash includes a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, balljointed wrists, hinged elbows, what appears to be a balljointed upper torso beneath the shirt, a swivel waist, V-crotch, swivels at the thighs, hinges at the knees, and balljoints at the feet. The hands, especially the left hand (oddly enough) tend to pop off easily, but they'll pop right back on. The articulation is mildly disappointing in that we would have preferred Ash had H-hinges at the hips instead of the V-crotch, but compared to completely immobile legs we'll take it, and happily.

Deadite Ash comes with the Necronomicon ex Mortis, Professor Knowby's tape recorder, and the severed head of Ash's girlfriend Linda. The tape recorder is fine, if a bit uninteresting, but the Necronomicon seems much too small - closer to the size of the book in the original Evil Dead.

The paintwork on Linda's head is excellent; check out the filmy eyes! And the blood spatter is done very well too. The likeness of Denise Bixler is good, and even the underside of her stump has been fully sculpted - you can make out the spine, esophagus and trachea, because NECA knows that the human body is not made of plasticine. The accessories were fabricated by Brad Haskins and Anthony Minichino.

These are the Evil Dead 2 figures I've been waiting for all my life. They are a few things I might have wished for - H-hinge hips, double-jointed elbows perhaps - but with all the accessories and interchangeable parts, NECA has more than made up for that. And yet, these two are only the appetizer for the main course of Hero Ash and Henrietta (due out sometime over the summer).

Unfortunately, it appears that the four figures we're getting in this line are going to be it (along with what looks like an SDCC-exclusive sepia-toned "Hero Ash"). NECA has said these figures are "a labor of love, not profit." So we encourage you to buy these - otherwise we may never get an Evil Ed or figures from the first film.

We don't often say this, but go buy these. Now.

-- 03/31/12

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