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Texas Chainsaw Massacre
by yo go re

I am thrilled to get this figure!

This is the tragic tale of five young friends who venture into rural Texas one hot afternoon and become victims in one of the most bizarre and brutal crimes in Travis County history. Many of them meet a horrific end at the hands of the murderous lunatic Leatherface, in what comes to be known as the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

When this figure was first announced, it was unclear what line it was going to be in. NECA was in full-on "let's hype our Mego knockoffs" mode, so it seemed like that's what they were teasing, but then there was a retro 8-bit version, suggesting there were plans for a normal release in the works. I waited and waited, and then two years later found out from Rustin that the Ultimate Leatherface had come out at some point, and was already gone. Thanks a lot, stockperson! But apparently NECA recognized how bad their distribution had been, because they opted to rerelease the figure. Thanks a lot, NECA!

Leatherface was, of course, one of the inaugural figures in McFarane Toys' Movie Maniacs (sculpted by Chris Dahlberg and Cornboy), and was part of NECA's own Cult Classics as well. But this new version, sculpted by Kyle Windrix and Chris Gawrych, absolutely puts those to shame. First of all, his leather apron is softgoods, rather than plastic, so it can move and flex as the figure does - and can even be removed, if you so wish! Ever wanted to see actor Gunnar Hansen's pot belly straining against his pinstripe shirt? Well today's your lucky day! Doubly so, because this is only a toy, and not the real thing: TCM was made on such a small budget that they couldn't afford to make more than one costume for Leatherface; they also couldn't launder it, in case the color faded; remember that the movie was shot in the middle of a 110° Texas summer, and then imagine how rank those clothes would be after being worn for 18 hours a day.

Rather than trying to simply suggest the feeling of a man wearing a mask, NECA has opted to mold the head as multiple pieces: there's a pink "skintone" lump of plastic at the core, with the tan "mask" plastic over top of that. That doesn't mean the mask is removable, just that the head was made in layers for maximum realism. Creepy, creepy realism.

The idea behind Leatherface is that he has no personality of his own, and can only express himself through the masks he wears. The most famous one is the "Killing Mask," seen above, but there's also the "Pretty Woman" mask he wears when it's time to dress up for dinner, and the "Old Woman" mask when he's trying to be helpful around the house. In a first for any Leatherface toy, NECA has included a second mask; judging by the shape of the mouth (and the hammer wound on top of the scalp), this is meant to be the Old Woman, though the hair isn't right: it falls down over the forehead, when it needs to be swept back, and the 'do should be bigger overall. Why just this mask, and not the Pretty Woman? Probably because Leatherface only wore that one with his black suit, while he wore this one with these clothes (though he did trade the leather apron for a flowery one).

That softgoods apron means this is the first Leatherface to have decent articulation. He moves like a standard NECA toy moves, with a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, balljointed wrists, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees, and balljointed ankles. If this were a new toy coming out now and not a re-release from a few years ago, he might get those double-elbows NECA's been into lately, but they don't look so great on bare arms like this.

The figure's paint makes him look filthy and greasy, both on his skin and his clothes. The apron is splattered with blood, of course, and all the little stitches on his masks are picked out cleanly. His comically short necktie has a gray pattern, and the two masks each have a slightly different shade, suggesting the people they were made from did as well. Nice attention to detail by the usual team of Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp.

Naturally, Leatherface comes with his chainsaw. And as you'd expect, it has the most accurate sculpt yet. The one used in the film was a Poulan 306A, modified with the fuel tank from a 245 and the muffler from a 245A. And a piece of tape over the logo so Poulan wouldn't sue them. The handle is taped up, too, so Hansen would have a better grip on the 13-pound monster. The accessory is painted excellently: yellow with silver streaks representing wear, and blood on the blade. You have to work it into the toy's hands - it's not like the handles are removable or anything - but he looks terrific holding it.

And that's not even the only accessory we get! There's his mallet, a meat cleaver, the bone-handled knife from the dinner scene, and a bloody meat hook. You could also count his charm bracelet as an accessory, since it's a separate piece, but you'd have to pull his hand off to remove it. All the pieces are nice, but they really don't compare to the bucket of bodyparts McToys gave us, or even the base and bones from NECA's earlier crack at the character.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre is one of those horror films I've never seen, and really have no urgent need to. But Leatherface is iconic, and NECA did a predictably awesome job on this figure.

-- 10/21/18

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