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Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter

Cult Classics
by Rustin Parr

It's here the figure they told you would never get released.

You know what you look like to me, with your good bag and your cheap shoes? You look like a rube. A well scrubbed, hustling rube with a little taste. Good nutrition has given you some length of bone, but you're not more than one generation from poor white trash, are you, Agent Starling? And that accent you've tried so desperately to shed? Pure West Virginia. What's your father, dear? Is he a coal miner? Does he stink of the lamp? You know how quickly the boys found you... all those tedious sticky fumblings in the back seats of cars... while you could only dream of getting out... getting anywhere... getting all the way to the FBI.

McFarlane Toys has really gotten a Bachelor's Degree, Master's Degree and Doctorate in the subject of "Getting One's Ass Kicked" at the school of NECA. That's right. When one thinks of Cult Classics series 5 popular phrases like "schooled" and "owned" come to mind. That's because 50% of the series is composed of vastly superior re-do's of characters already figure-ized by McFarlane while an additional 25% is a figure of character McFarlane strongly implied ("never say never...") would never get made Hannibal Lecter.

This was expressly a result of actor Anthony Hopkins. Hannibal Lecter According to McFarlane Toys, Hopkins would in no way sign any release of his likeness for this character into a medium in any way connected to children. This is the third time NECA has gotten a license seemingly unattainable to McFarlane. The first time was with Hellraiser, a license McFarlane had been after since Movie Maniacs Series 1 in 1998, and all that took was agreeing to the licensor's terms of creating a dedicated line around several Hellraiser movies, a decision that not only proved quite lucrative to NECA but something McFarlane ultimately did dabble in Tortured Souls, anyone? MM7's Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake? One can only imagine what NECA had to do for Hopkins to get his much needed "John Hancock," but now that they have it, plans for the character/license include not only this figure, but two box sets and at least one 18" figure.

Much like Ash from Army of Darkness, Hannibal Lecter was a figure requested at incredible heights of fandomery and it is great to finally be able to add the good doctor to our collection. Interestingly enough, though, reaction to the announcement of the figure was relatively luke-warm. Unlike Ash, who has received a fairly steady amount of fan interest over the years, one gets the distinct impression that Lecter fans have become increasingly disenfranchised with the... franchise each successive time Hopkins climbs back into the role he made (in)famous only to disappoint with increasing magnitudes. The overall quality of Lecter's role, character and performance has dwindled over the 2001 sequel, Hannibal, the 2002 prequel, Red Dragon, and undoubtedly the upcoming pre-prequel, 2007's Hannibal Rising. While the quality of Silence of the Lambs and Hopkins' performance within will never be less than stunning, the rest of Lecter-mania is certainly at record lows. Perhaps this is what prompted the Oscar-winning actor to fork over the rights...

You see a lot, don't you doctor? Why don't you turn that high-powered perception at yourself and tell us what you see? Or maybe you're afraid to.

I remember, way back in 2000, popular McFarlane employee Chet Jacques being asked how much articulation would be on the straitjacketed, gurney-ed Clown III figure. His only response was, "do wheels count?"

mask That figure was quite blatantly based on Lecter's appearance in the hangar scene in which he interacts with Senator Ruth Martin, mother of the abducted Catherine Martin, and, for the only time in the film, dons the infamous mask. Well, NECA comes to bat delivering the very first Hannibal Lecter figure in that very outfit. It is rather ironic that the infamous and iconic Mask is also part of the least remarkable outfit Lecter wears, but I guess with the mask in frame, you ain't looking at his pants.

More likely than not, the first thing anyone will notice when looking at this figure is his legs. Underneath the straitjacket Lecter is wearing an unflattering jumpsuit in "prison orange." NECA clearly took that concept, of high visibility, and selected the most day-glo orange they could get their hands on. It's quite distracting and somewhat out of place, though it would have worked very nicely as a base coat for a duller orange to be dry-brushed over, similar to the method used on the straitjacket.

bald spot The only other notable bit of paint business to discuss is, that's right, Lecter's bald spot. Hopkins' hair was really starting to thin out by the time he made Silence of the Lambs and the most logical way to represent that to NECA was, apparently, to spray paint a flesh-tone square on top of the painted hair on the back of Lecter's head. Another brilliant decision from the company that brought the straight horizontal swivel for so-called elbow articulation. Also, the hair is a bit too dark, but it doesn't really detract from the figure.

Anthony Hopkins The overall sculpt of the figure is pretty nice, but then again it's little more than wrinkly clothes. The most important part of doing a figure of this character is nailing the likeness and NECA delivered as absolutely best as they could. Sure it's not as "dead-on" as it could be, but for a company known for terrible likenesses [what? --ed.] this is amazing! I'd rate it at about a 9 out of 10.

The figure technically includes but three accessories, nice beard but that number is arguable based on how you define an accessory. Included is a leather belt that restrains Lecter's legs to the dolly, the popular mask, and a gurney, which doubles as this figure's base. The belt and the Mask both work by plugging and unplugging pegs and holes, which actually can get very aggravating based on their size and placement. The belt is rubbery, and I had really expected the same of the straps on the Mask, but they are a harder plastic which makes them a bit tough to work with. A rubbery piece that could slip over the head would have been preferable.

The gurney is actually more impressive than expected, boing! and while it's pretty sterile in design (meaning no real texture and such) it does involve a number of individual parts and pieces, and as we all know the more pieces in a figure/set, the more it costs to make, so technically you aren't getting ripped off by a comparably simple figure. Perhaps the best feature of the entire figure is the gurney's retractable support wheels, which allow the cart not only to be posed vertical, but also at about a 45 degree angle as if he were being rolled to position.

And now, the million-dollar question articulation. Three points. Ankles and balljointed neck. And no, not even the wheels turn (though that's probably not a bad thing since it makes the gurney more stable, especially when at an angle). The neck joint is only okay, too. Unlike the Ash and Leatherface in this series, the collar is pretty restrictive, and while it's not too bad since Lecter was a pretty stationary fellow, it would be nice if he could lean his head forward more to look straight ahead when at an angle.

Overall this is a very nice figure. It's something many of us have been waiting a long time for, and while some of the more fervent fans of the Cannibal are no longer as desirous of the figure to "build an entire house out of them," as once they had threatened, its still a very nice addition to anyone's collection. Granted this is the least memorable of Lecter's three costumes, but you do get him in a straitjacket and this will most likely be the only time he'll come with the mask so infamous and popular it was written into every Lecter film following Silence of the Lambs. The film is a classic, the performance is amazing and the figure is great.

Amputate a man's leg and he can still feel it tickling. Tell me, mum, when your little girl is on the slab, where will it tickle you?

What other potential licenses did McFarlane lie about? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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