In the opening prologue of Pacific Rim, we see how society reacts to the kaiju invasion: first with pure terror, but eventually appropriation, as cute cartoon kaiju show up on tv shows, there are kaiju-themed sneakers, and kids play with kaiju toys. At this year's SDCC, NECA offered a set of vinyl figures based on the toys seen in the movie.
We were going to write this entire review from an in-universe perspective, as though NECA were the company whose toys were seen in the movie. We'd talk about how west-coast companies like Mattel and Jakks were severely hurt by their proximity to the Pacific, while east coasters like Hasbro and NECA thrived, thus explaining why a company known mainly for its collector lines would be making children's toys. We even had a whole bit about how a lot of production had moved to Mexico since shipping product from China wasn't viable anymore, and how SDCC had become LVCC (since Las Vegas is farther inland). But then, double-checking the dates, it turned out the review would have had to wait until at least December, so forget that!
The toys are only seen in the film for less than a second, and there are only four of them - but this is a five-pack, so either NECA made one up,
or there was a fifth created by the prop department that never made it onto screen. Either way, more cool toys for us! That "bonus" figure is the first one in the box (and the first one to come through the Breach), Trespasser. He's cast in bright yellow plastic, and has an adorably simplified design. The axes on his head and back come to surprisingly sharp points, as do the spikes on his shoulders, and without the distraction of skin texture and paint apps, it becomes clear just how much his eyebrow flares look like Wolverine's mask. He has sculpted teeth, tiny chest arms, and big pudgy hands.
Given the number of people who died because of him, an in-unverse toy of Trespasser seems... unlikely, at best. Karloff, on the other hand, is a perfect choice. The film's writer, Travis Beacham, explains it better than we can, but people would want a Karloff. Named for his Frankensteinian head, Karloff attacked Vancouver on April 23, 2015, and was defeated by Brawler Yukon. The toy is a light blue, and his head ends up looking more like Bart Simpson than the bony plate on the real thing. He has four eyes, a point on his chin, and although there are sculpted spikes on his arms and legs, his chest is perfectly smooth. Like Trespasser, he has swivel shoulders, but he also gets a swivel neck.
Next we've got Horizon Brave, the chubbiest, chibiest figure in the set. She's brown and gets paint apps for her fingers,
missiles and head. If you look at the screenshots of the movieverse version of the toy, there are some clear differences: the head is at a steeper angle, and the "eye" is solid rather than having a horizontal gap in the center; there were painted panel lines on the chest and shoulders, and more details on the fingers; the missiles, which were a deeper yellow, had three small brown dots painted on them - that could just be chalked up to play wear, but this figure has a grey rectangle painted on each side of the launcher that the fake toy lacked. The little gal moves at the shoulders and, since her head is buried in the torso, at the waist.
A week before China launched Horion Brave on Deceember 22, 2015, America launched Romeo Blue. The toy seen in the movie was a lighter blue than this, but this is closer to the actual design. But they could have made her out of neon pink plastic and there'd still be no mistaking who it is, thanks to that weird piece of armor sticking up off the front and the little wings on the back. Her legs are round and stumpy, and the flat arms are true to the real design (though obviously, they don't open and extend like the real thing). The Jaeger's shape limits the possible articulation: all she gets are swivel shoulders, no waist or neck.
The final figure is Hardship, who apparently became the face of the kaiju in-universe: he was used as idols for Kaiju Cultists,
burned in effigy, and even had shoes based on him. The toy is brown and grey, though the "real" Hardship had more of a blue tint, and the only time we really saw him in the film was in night-vision green. The brown on this toy has more red than the toy seen in the movie, which was more of a mustardy yellow. Hardship seems to be based on a beetle, with a big horn on his head, two tiny pointed chest-arms, and a shell covering his back. The "main" arms are big and bulky, which presents a problem: Hardship's legs are set pretty far back, so the weight of the arms can make the toy tip over. Just move them back a bit and it'll be fine.
These Pacific Rim chibis are a stylish set of figures, and make for a really neat SDCC exclusive. They're not something you need in your collection, just a cool bonus. And technically, they count as prop replicas, too! If you're a fan of Pacific Rim or designer vinyl figures, this is a fun bunch.