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Bubba Ho-Tep

Cult Classics
by yo go re

There's a semi-constant stream of discussion that centers around NECA's desire to be the new McFarlane Toys. There are worse goals, especially since the old McFarlane Toys has become a hollow shell of its former self. While Todd shuns the horror properties that made him huge in order to repeat his Little Nicky mistakes with Napolean Dynamite, NECA and other companies have swept in to pick up the slack. NECA's trying the hardest, since their Cult Classics line follows the (old, good) Movie Maniacs scheme pretty closely: a mix of big blockbuster characters and obscure cult favorites.

Bubba Ho-Tep is a 3000-year-old Egyptian mummy with a penchant for cowboy boots, bathroom graffiti and sucking the souls from the barely living. Bubba preys on the helpless senior citizens in the Shady Rest retirement home until an unlikely pair of geriatric heroes make one last stand against evil.

Bubba Ho-Tep was mostly seen in shadows in the film, since he didn't just suck souls for his sustenance - his need for energy was so all-consuming that the lights dimmed around him as he drew the power in. There's no hiding as an action figure, however, and Bubba's looking great. McFarlane and SOTA have already made mummies of their own, so NECA had a lot to live up to. Now, this Ho-Tep isn't as good as Imhotep, but that's more to do with the source material than the toy. Bubba Ho-Tep wasn't a CGI creation, he was a skinny guy in a rubber suit, so the figure has to reflect that.

The detailing on his skin is great. Bubba's dry and dessicated, and his tattered clothes are spot-on. Bubba found his way to Texas in a travelling carnival, but was stolen by a pair of yokels. These brain donors managed to plunge their getaway van over the side of a bridge, and there it rested for years, until the mummy awoke to wreak havoc. In order to blend in and move about unnoticed, he stole what was left of the guys' clothes, creating a flawless disguise. Flawless!

Anyway, the clothes don't seem like they're sculpted on - they really look like something that's seperate from the body underneath. And the amount of detail on his boots is unbelievable, from the snakeskin tops to the crinkled leather up the sides. Even his big dumb Texas-style belt buckle is intricately detailed.

The paint apps live up to the quality of the sculpt. His wrinkly skin is a sickly yellow, with a great wash to bring out the detail. The face is particularly strong, with the paint really accenting the sunken eyes. There's a spot of exposed bone on his chin, which really highlights a problem: though the chin bone is noticably whiter than the rest of the figure, all the exposed bone below the neck is nearly the same color as the skin. The detail on the clothes - the patterns on the boots, the flames on the shoulders of the shirt, the diamond hatband and the feathers tucked in it - is all crisp and well chosen; it really is just the bone that seems wrong.

Articulation in the Cult Classics line is unpredictable, but Bubba Ho-Tep is on the good end of things. He moves at the boots, which is really only to help him stand, and has a joint at the right hip, but just so they could get him out of the mold. Those three points don't really contribute anything - the articulation that counts is all above the waist. He's got a peg joint at the head, but turning it leaves an odd little tracheal nub attached to the neck, for some reason. His shoulders are balljointed, while his elbows and wrists are pegs. while that does mean the elbow joints are nearly useless, the combo of shoulders and wrists will give you some posing variety, and that's all we really ask.

You can get BHT to stand by himself, but it's so damn hard that there's almost no point. Luckily, NECA gave us a nifty little display stand. A little more than 3" in diameter, this disc is the shore of the swamp that Bubba called home. The bank is muddy, with a stone to the side and a stand of reeds at the water's edge. The license plate from the crashed bus has even floated to shore. The standing reeds are soft rubber, so you don't have to worry about them snapping off. This is a nice piece, and will allow Bubba Ho-Tep to connect with Series 4's Sebastian Haff. The joints in Bub's boots will come in handy here, trying to get his feet lined up with the pegs.

Bubba Ho-Tep was a tiny little film that definitely fulfills the "cult" part of Cult Classics. If NECA is giving us figures from a film as obscure as this, my dreams of a Buddy figure from Six String Samurai may one day come true. Hopefully he's as nice as Bubba, here - a surprisingly good toy.

-- 04/09/06

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