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John McClane

Cult Classics
by yo go re

Through seven series of Movie Maniacs, there was only one constant: fans wanted more. Back in the days of the Spawn boards, a newbie's post about what figures he wanted to see in the line would elict eyerolls from the more polite members, and verbal beatdowns from the jerks. And there was always a list of figures that couldn't be made, because the rights weren't available or stars wouldn't allow their likenesses to be used.

Funny thing, though. NECA seems to have built the majority of their movie toys around the figures that "couldn't" be made. They started with Pinhead, there's a Hannibal Lecter coming in the future, and they've just released Die Hard's John McClane.

New York City detective John McClane arrives in John McClane Los Angeles to reunite with his family for Christmas. McClane finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as his wife's office building is taken hostage by a ruthless group of terrorists. Armed with his service revolver and his street smarts, John McClane wages a one-man war against the terrorists.

Boy, you read that description and the movie really sounds dumb. One guy against a whole team of terrorists? The sappy guy from Moonlighting, who has delusions of being in a blues band, as an action star? It'll never work! Hell, they didn't even put his picture on the original movie posters - he was only added after the movie was a big success.

Unlike the invulnerable heroes played by Arnold Schwarzenegger and the like, John McClane got the holy hell beat out of him through the course of the film. This figure shows him in his iconic costume: like a suspect on Cops, he's barefoot and wearing a filthy white tanktop.

The sculpt is quite good. McClane is muscular without being a 'roided-up freak, and they even got the hair on his arms and chest. The best part is that his shirt bunches up appropriately over his stomach - he's got his pistol tucked into his belt, and he's hunched over slightly, so the cloth should be out of place. You know some people are going to be upset that he doesn't have his feet bandaged, but that's not this scene. NECA strives to be scene-specific, rather than trying to create a general "ultimate" version of a character.

The face isn't quite right, however. It's possible that Bruce Willis finally allowed his likeness to be used because he saw how good NECA did with the Sin City figures, but Hartigan is better than John McClane. The general shape of the head is right, and his hair recedes nicely, but his eyes and mouth look a little too old. Compare the figure to the movie poster, and the difference is clear. If they softened those bags under his eyes and at his cheeks, he'd be much better. Still, this is a perfectly serviceable sculpt.

Paint apps are not stellar. Well, some are, otheres aren't. The color they picked for the skin is good, and the tattoo on John's shoulder is crisp. Bonus "attention to detail" points for including the list John scrawled on his arm. However, the blood and... sweat? Motor oil? Whatever. The blood and stuff that's on his shirt is kind of unimpressive. It still looks like paint, rather than various fluids. One spot to watch out for is the wash on his chest and arms. It's supposed to give some detail to the sculpted hair, not look like he has severe burns.

The Cult Classics figures range from decent articulation to fully immobile, and John McClane is closer to the bad end of that scale. He's got joints at the ankles, shoulders and neck, but none of it serves much of a purpose. The ankles are just for balance (which we do appreciate), but the shoulders only exist because NECA needed to get the figure out of the mold. The head is on a balljoint, but one good joint can only do so much. He looks good holding the Heckler & Koch MP5 he liberated from Tony, which is really all he's designed to do.

To help him be the last man standing, John McClane comes with a display base. NECA loves their crazy floor shapes, so the base doesn't have a smooth profile, but it's a 3⅞" x 3¾" portion of the roof of Nakatomi Tower. The ground is flat and grey, with a speckling of lighter paint to make it more interesting. There's a vent pipe at the back, and a 4" tall section of railing with a light beacon on the left. Between John's feet are eight shell casings, each painted pristinely. It's all very nice, but if he's up there on the roof, shouldn't he have a fire hose to tie around his waist? If you must have one, get the one from Plan-B's firefighters, a cool set of toys in their own right.

Cult Classics' John McClane isn't a perfect figure - there are definte problems with both the sculpt and paint - but it is a good one, and a fine addition to your movie figure collection. Now, NECA, your next assignment is to give us a Hans Gruber - because everybody would like seven inches of Alan Rickman. Yippe ki-yay!

-- 04/05/06

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