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"Doc" Brown (Hazmat Suit)

Back to the Future
by yo go re

What's this? NECA's released a new Doc Brown figure? Can't wait to see what cool, unique text is on the back of the box!

"Good evening, I'm Dr. Emmett Brown, I'm standing on the parking lot at Twin Pines Mall. It's Saturday morning, October 26, 1985, 1:18 am, and this is temporal experiment number one."

Ha, just kidding! You know darn well this box has the same boilerplate copy as literally every other Back to the Future figure NECA's done. Good thing Doc has a nicely concise quote related to this appearance. Also, it's certainly taken a while, but at last we have a Doc Brown from all three time periods: 1955, 1985, and 2015. Presumably at some point NECA will start doing Back to the Future III toys, and then we'll get a nice Cowboy Doc, but until such time, we've now got representations of his entire spectrum. And technically all three appeared in the first movie, didn't they? Handy!

The toy gets two portraits, both by Jason Frailey. It's impressive that we're on our third Doc, and so far every head has been done with a unique expression. And yet they're all fully swappable, so you can make any of the Docs look any way you want! That's good toymaking. The ones we get this time are mildly neutral (the eyes are wide, but the mouth is fully closed rather than open in surprise) and smiling warmly. Both have the "notch" under the hair in the back, though the smiling one doesn't also have it pushed away from his ears, so it probably wouldn't be able to accommodate past-Doc's goggles. The sculpt on both is tweaked just slightly toward caricature, which always makes likenesses at this scale look better.

When it comes to timeless designs, this Doc has it all over the previous two: after all, a white jumpsuit is a white jumpsuit whether it's in the 1950s, 1980s, or 2010s. This one gets to be a little flashier, thanks to the orange trim on the pockets and inside the pleats on the pantlegs. The collar is open slightly, giving us a glimpse of the green Hawaiian shirt he was wearing beneath that. A full toolbelt hangs against his right hip, and on his left is the silver pouch that holds the printer for the Seiko stopwatch hanging around his neck. In his breat pocket are a few pens and the folded timezone map he carried.

The only thing that would possibly mark this jumpsuit as out-of-place in the past would be the nuclear symbol on the back: although the famous trefoil design was created at the UC Berkley Radiation Lab in 1946 (representing energy radiating away from an atom in the center), it wasn't officially standardized until the '60s. So his fellow scientists may well have recognized what it meant, but the man on the street would most likely not.

The toy includes a second pair of arms, these with the sleeves of the suit all the way down instead of pushed to the elbows, and gloves instead of bare hands. The better to handle plutonium with, my dear! The articulation remains the same no matter which limbs you have on, though: 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.

In the movie, Doc wore three watches: the silver Armitron calculator watch on his left wrist, the stopwatch/printer combo around his neck, and a Seiko A826 training timer on his right wrist. That last one also featured a trigger button connected by a cord to the watch (it's so coaches can start and stop the watch while holding other things). NECA's included that trigger, but it's not without problem: specifically, the toy has it on upside down; when you take him out of the box, the piece is on the back of his fingers, rather than the inside, where he'd be able to reach the button with his thumb; so that the piece will stay in place, NECA has not only sculpted the velcro loop that goes around the wearer's finger, they've also done a small coil, like Doc has absent-mindedly wrapped it around his finger while fidgeting. And that's smart, but the cord isn't long enough to easily reach around his hand if you want to turn it the right way, and while the watch itself is a sculpted part of the arm, the cord connecting it and the trigger is flimsy enough that you could rip it off without trying, which would ruin the entire point of doing it. You already have to be careful how you use the hinge in that hand's wrist (the figure also includes an alternate right hand that can barely use it at all). It would have been a better choice to sculpt the trigger and cord as part of the ungloved right hand(s) rather than trying to make it a separate thing.

The other accessories are fine. There's an alternate gloved right hand, shaped to hold the revolver Doc fumbles with when the Libyans arrive. An alternate left hand is shaped to hold the fancy Tag Heuer Timing Board, which is sculpted with some documents clipped to the body and the 7030 and 7750 Microsplit timers mounted at the top. Then there's a wider left hand, to help him hold the remote control he used to pilot the DeLorean on its first trip. There's even a loose notebook that slips into his open pocket, though it has the Amblin Entertainment logo instead of the Gremlin it should have. They could have at least made it green and orange, not black and white!

NECA has made an accessory set to complement their BTTF figures, and it includes a ton of stuff that would be great with this release, like Einstein the dog, OUTATIME license plates, the hood to Doc's suit, and a chest full of plutonium. Great, right? Well, it would be, except that the set is exclusive to NECA's web store... or at least it was, last November, and they did nothing to promote that it existed. So now that 1985 Doc is finally available, you go online and find out the things that go with him sold out five months ago. Top-notch work, NECA, you really planned that out perfectly. Now I actually do need to find a time machine, because that's the only way to complete my new toy. I liked Hazmat Suit Doc Brown pretty well, until I learned that he's incomplete and there's no way now to finish him.

-- 04/30/23

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