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T-800 (Man or Machine)

Terminator 2
by yo go re

Some folks have said that all NECA's Terminator figures look exactly the same - we're here today to prove that wrong.

Sarah Connor's failed assassination attempt on Cyberdyne scientist Miles Dyson leads to the arrival of her son John and the T-800 who take a different approach. The T-800 removes the outer-flesh of his left arm, exposing his cybernetic arm and hand to reveal his true nature to Miles Dyson. Dyson recognizes the robotic arm as it is identical to the one in Cyberdyne's laboratory and realizes the he must destroy all of his work to prevent Judgement Day and the annihilation of mankind.

The second series of NECA's "Terminator Collection" figures has just hit shelves, which seems like a good opportunity to go back and review some of the earlier figures we skipped before. This figure, "Man or Machine" was actually part of Terminator 2 Series 1, so clearly we've been sitting on it a while. It came out alongside a re-released Endoskeleton and the Pescdero Escape T-800, so right from the beginning there was plenty of visual diversity.

The Terminator's trademark "biker" look, with the leather jacket and whatnot, is so iconic that it's no surprise no one's ever been in a rush to create toys of his alternate looks - you know, things like "sweaty nude muscle man" and... okay, just that. He doesn't have a lot of costume changes. Kenner came up with a lot of different looks when they had the T2 toy license, but this is the first time anybody's made one that was accurate.

It's not even that this is a major change from his usual outfit - all he did was take off the leather jacket, revealing the T-shirt beneath. However, that does mean he gets a few new pieces that couldn't be shared with other figures. The chest is the same used for the Cyberdyne Showdown T-800, but both arms are new. The right arm is whole and unblemished, showing off Arnie's massive gun; the left, meanwhile, is truncated just below the elbow, switching to the metallic Endo arm. It's not covered with little bits of viscera as it was in the film, but that would have been very hard to duplicate.

The paint makes up for it, though. The arm is splattered with bloody red paint, matching the raw edge of his "human" arm. His skintone is a bit orange, but not unnaturally so - he just looks like he's got a fresh tan. It's not quite right for the character, but it's not unusual, either. The head sculpt is also shared with the Cyberdyne Showdown figure, allowing you to compare how paint apps can change a likeness.

All NECA's T-800 figures can swap heads with each other: the neck is a balljoint, and the heads pop off with a little effort. The rest of the articulation is unimpressive, to say the least. The figure has the same legs as every other Terminator, so he has swivel thighs, shins and ankles. The waist is a peg joint, and the sculpt of the shirt makes it clear he's meant to be twisted to the right. Both shoulders are swivel/hinge joints, and his arms swivel where they come out of his sleeves. The right arm has no other articulation - no elbow, no wrist, nothing. The robot arm swivels at the wrist and where it emerges from the flesh, but that means it's forever bent at that 90° angle.

Accessories are equally disappointing. Or actually, we should say "accessory": he only has one. He comes with the Colt/Detonics M1911A1 Series 70 hybrid that was used throughout the film. Do you see what's wrong with this picture? Well consider this: the toy is based on the scene where he cut his fake skin open, yes? Did he use a gun to cut it open? No, of course not. So why doesn't he come with a knife? Why doesn't he come with an alternate left arm that still has skin on it? Heck, just include the empty skin-glove! Even though it was never seen on-screen, it would still make perfect sense. The gun is true to the film, but for this figure it's useless.

All the (good) Terminator figures have been wearing the full biker gear, including the leather jacket. Merely by virtue of wearing a T-shirt, this figure is a standout. Man or Machine T-800 could have been a lot better as a toy, but there's nothing truly bad about him, just lackluster. His biggest failing is not living up to our (budget-free) imaginations.

-- 11/19/11

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