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Kaiju Drone

Pacific Rim: Uprising
by yo go re

Pretend there are dozens of this figure.

Shao Industries' remote-piloted Jaeger drones were designed to remove the human element from combat, threatening to shut down the existing Jaeger program. But they would soon become a threat to humanity when it was discovered that Kaiju DNA was biomechanically infused within their titanium alloy housing and neural network by corrupted Shao industries scientist Dr. Newton Geiszler, unleashing their destructive power on the humans they were created to protect.

While it's not a great sequel, Pacific Rim: Uprising has rightly been refered to as the best live-action Neon Genesis Evangelion movie we're ever likely to get. Giant robots, otherworldly monsters, the prevalence of kids as pilots because of their mental state, the main character's daddy issues... and of course, mass-produced drones that go crazy.

Pacific Rim's drones even look like Evangelion's drones - a white plastic exterior with weird quasi-organic deformations rippling out from within. The Shao Drones may not have big smiles like the Mass Production Evas, but the way the face has flanged open like jaws bears a definite similarity you'd have to be willfully ignoring to not see.

The drones started out with simple, smooth designs, but as their manufactured kaiju brains took over, big spikes began erupting from their surfaces, a feature this figure copies very nicely. The organic bits are a dark grey with thin blue lines running along their length, so they totally look like they come from the same kind of species as Leatherback or Knifehead. The armor is sculpted to look like it's been pushed out from within, as it should, and in one of the smarter bits of visual design this movie had, the digitigrade legs are a callback to a similar feature on Crimson Typhoon - China's Jaeger from the first movie.

It may seem like the light blue paint on the forearms and thighs is a paint mistake or overspray or something, but not really: that's the way the drones looked even before wilding out. The white armor contrasts well with the grey monster-spikes, and the beam generators on the chest are metallic silver, so they look awesome when they catch the light.

The figure stands about 8" tall, thanks to the big spikes on its back - the head is about an ich lower than that. It has joints at the head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, knees, and ankles. The arms in particular have a huge range of motion, thanks to the fact that the shoulders are double-balljoints: one in the arm, and another in the body. There are no separate pads on the body that need their own joints, and the spikes don't get in the way of the movement at all, making this fun to pose.

Like the rest of the late-series Pacific Rim: Uprising figures, the Kaiju Drone doesn't come with any accessories other than extra hands - in this case, with the fingers curled slightly. That's really damn dull. You know what would have been nice? give us a chest beam, like those SH MonsterArts effects sets. Give us something that could plug into the chest and reach down to the ground, like it was shooting at the ocean floor; mold the edges of it so you could get a bunch of them together and form a complete circle (think of the way Kill Bill's Crazy 88 bases) and help drive sales to army-builders.

And while we're at it, there's another big missed opportunity here. The only figure in Series 2 or 3 of this line to come with any worthwhile accessory was Guardian Bravo; that's five figures with nothing but dead space in their big Select packaging. So why not take a cue from the Ghostbusters line, with their buildable diorama split out over multiple waves, and give us the pieces to build a Drone without the kaiju spikes? Heck, pull a Butler Gundam and drop the articulation a little if you need to: even if it only moved at the Big Five, a bonus plain Drone Jaeger would have been an awesome thing to have in our collections. It would have made the existing toys look like they were more worth the money, would have made a real difference between the Select and (potential) plain versions, and would have gotten one more toy into fans' hands, leaving only Murder Witch left before we could have completed the entire roster. But of course, that all would have required Toys Я Us to still exist to help push sales, so it's not like we blame DST for not living up to our imaginary, unlimited-budget standards.

Jaeger/Kaiju hybrids were in Guillermo del Toro's plans for Pacific Rim 2, so it's nice that they popped up in the sequel even if he wasn't directly involved. They're a cool idea with a pretty neat design, and even if we have no hope for a plain one at any time, make good enemies for the good guys to fight.

-- 06/04/19

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