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Marty McFly

Back to the Future
by yo go re

Well hello, McFly!

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!

This is like the 50th time NECA has done something other toymakers have claimed is "impossible," and at some point we should really stop being surprised by it. In 2010 Mattel quite famously paid for the Back to the Future license, and then also quite famously failed to do anything with it. The excuse they gave at the time was "likeness issues" (whether that meant their license didn't include likeness rights, or that they just couldn't get the actors to approve their work was never made clear), but whatever the case, NECA has once again worked out a deal no one thought they would, and we've got Back to the Future Ultimates on the shelves at Walmart, Target, Best Buy, FYE... wherever. Naturally, one of the first releases is the classic 1985 Marty McFly.

Let's get this out of the way first: the figure has two heads, and neither of them is as good as we've come to expect from NECA. Oh, the problem isn't the sculpt - Trevor Grove is an amazing portraitist, and he didn't drop the ball here - the problem is the paint. The original prototypes didn't look like this, so we can only assume it was either a studio mandate or an issue at the factory, but every single figure in this line that's shipped already (three Marties and one Biff) has paint that looks like they're wearing heavy stage makeup: eyeliner, lipstick, blush, all that. The "sunglasses" head in this set avoids the worst of it, since we can't see the eyes, but man do these look wrong!

That's our only issue though, really. Marty is wearing his iconic '80s outfit: white Nike Bruins (without the full swoosh on the sides, so they don't have to be licensed - cf. previous examples), blue jeans, a red T-shirt, plaid button-up shirt, suspenders, a jean jacket, and a puffy red vest. You kids today don't remember, thanks to global warming and iron supplements, but back in the '80s teenagers were just cold all the time. It was an epidemic. You had to wear at least four torso coverings or you'd freeze your nipple off! Okay, we kid, but the movie takes place in late October; looking at historical weather data (yes, this is the kind of research we do for reviews) reveals that it would have been in the low-to-mid 50s (ironically enough) when Marty went to Lone Twin Pines Mall to meet Doc; a kid raised in Northern California would absolutely find that chilly! If the movie had been set in Hill Valley, Minnesota, he'd have been in shorts and a tank top for that kind of weather.

Other than the face issues, the paint is good. There's a drybrushing on the vest to keep it from looking plasticky, and the paint on his shirt is very crisp - the plaid pattern stops after it goes under the jacket, logically enough, but the suspenders are painted even on his back, where you'll never see them. The folded cuffs of his jean jacket have a spotted lining. We already mentioned the slightly remodeled sneakers, but all the snaps and buttons on his clothes get their own little apps, as does the face of his digital watch.

Marty's got plenty of articulation. Like most NECA figures these days, he moves at the head, shoulders, elbows (the double-swivel/hinge style), wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The hips are a new style for NECA, actual balljoints rather than just swivel/hinges that mimic the same range. No more moving both legs when you try to just move one! The waist joint is underneath the PVC sheath that forms the shirt and top of the pants, so it doesn't move very far at all. This was probably done in case they want to make a "jacketless" Marty, and were worried about the suspenders looking weird?

Being an "Ultimate" release means Marty gets a decent amount of accessories. There's his skateboard and backpack, as seen throughout the film; the camcorder used to record the time machine tests; and the guitar he played in the opening scene, which is where the alternate head comes from, too. No, he wasn't wearing a vest in that scene, but NECA's already teased a figure without it. He also has three alternate hands: one to hold the camera, two to play guitar.

All the figures in this BttF Ultimates line have different packaging - Biff's looks like the Sports Almanac, Radiation Suit Marty's looks like the Tales from Space comicbook, etc. Fittingly, Marty's is a reproduction of the first movie's iconic poster. It's exciting to get these characters as toys at last, but hopefully there will be a running change to tone down the face paint a little bit. Marty's very good, but he could still be better.

-- 11/05/20

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