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"Doc" Brown

Back to the Future
by yo go re

I bet we can guess what text will be on the back of this package.

Marty McFly & "Doc" Brown experience the adventure of a lifetime in an unlikely time machine, as they travel to the past, present, and future setting off a time-shattering chain reaction that disrupts the time-space continuum!

We've now reviewed three of NECA's Back to the Future figures, and all three have used the same text. On the plus side, we've reviewed three of NECA's Back to the Future figures, and all three have been from different time periods: the future, the present, and now the past. The official story of why Doc and Marty hung out was that Marty had been warned all his life to stay away from the dangerous old coot who lived in town, but (being a rebellious teen) wanted to see what the fuss was about; he thought the things Doc was building were cool, and Doc was just happy to have somebody consider him sane. Which makes sense, since we see that he'd been basically shunned and alone since at least the 1950s.

Dr. Emmett L. Brown is in his mid-30s in 1955, which would have been clearer if he'd looked at all different between 1955 and 1985. Yes, I know there was the whole thing about him wearing fake old-age makeup when he came back from 2015, but come on, nobody noticed that in the original 1985 scenes. Wild, frizzy, gray hair in the '80s, wild, frizzy, gray hair in the '50s... might as well be the same guy both times. Like the Marties, Doc has two heads, and again the sculpts are outstanding. The normal head has a plain expression (and a bandage on the forehead, from where he hit it on the sink), while the alternate is a wild-eyed scream! The likeness is nudged just a little toward "cartoony," which suits the toy very well; it's exaggerated, but still recognizable as Christopher Lloyd.

The vagaries of fashion mean that Emmett's clothes from the middle of last century don't actually look particularly out-of place even now, six years after the "future" the movies promised. Unassuming black shoes, plain brown pants, a patterned shirt, and a light overcoat? If you saw someone wearing this outfit somewhere, you wouldn't think twice about it. A little retro, maybe, sure, but not weird enough to warrant mentioning. If anything, you'd be asking him about the big rip in his left pantleg that lets you see his sock. The pants, shirt, and even the socks have sculpted textures, when you get up close and really look at them.

Remember how all the Marty McFly figures NECA's made so far have had facial paint like a kabuki actor? Doc Brown avoids that problem, thankfully. Or mayve the exaggeration in the sculpt helps hide it? In any case, he doesn't look like someone who just fast-forwarded through their first YouTube makeup tutorial. The paint on the body is simple - when you're wearing a bunch of solid colors, it's hard to mess things up. The pattern on the shirt is only printed on the front, since the coat is not meant to be removed.

Doc's got plenty of articulation. He moves at the head, neck, shoulders, elbows (the double-swivel/hinge style), wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees, shins, and ankles. The hips are the new style NECA introduced with the BttF figures, actual balljoints rather than just swivel/hinges that mimic the same range. No more moving both legs when you try to just move one! There may also be a chest joint under the shirt, but if so, mine doesn't want to move, and I'm smart enough not to break the toy finsing out - he's plenty mobile as-is.

Usually being an "Ultimate" release would mean a decent amount of accessories, but all Doc Brown gets is an alternate pair of hands with no gloves on, a pair of goggles that can slide up under the hair on either head, and a wrench. Really? That's it? We couldn't get the brainwave analyzer he was wearing when Marty first contacted him in 1955? No, Doc wasn't wearing this outfit when Marty turned up, but it's a famous accessory and would have helped fill up the packaging. And it's in a scene where he does wear this, just not on his head. Getting the goggles onto the head is a bit tricky, but the way the hair is designed to accommodate the piece is truly inventive.

There are a few paper accessories taped to the insert behind the figure, admittedly: a blueprint of Doc's house (for some reason), a hand-drawn diagrama of the flux capacitor, and the "do not open until 1985" letter Marty left him. And sure, those are nice, but... does anybody really care? One's an interesting footnote, one's actually plot-relevant, and one feels like NECA was desperately casting about for something to help justify the price, something they could list in the fine print on the back to make it seem like you were getting more than you are. You're not. You're getting goggles, a head, a wrench, and hands. That's it.

This is only the first Doc Brown NECA is making. They've already shown 2015 Doc, so hopefully that one will retain the same high level of quality in the toy and the paint, but will come with some more/better accessories.

-- 04/08/21

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