A lot of times, a company will simply re-use an existing figure when creating a summer convention exclusive. Throw on a new paint app, maybe a new head or accessory, and you're good to go.
Of course, when NECA announced they'd be offering an exclusive version of Captain Jack Sparrow at SDCC this year, there was no question he'd be re-used. They've been beating the same dead horse for three series now, so they weren't about to debut a new version at the show.
We'll start with the obvious. Yes, this is the exact same sculpt as all the other Jacks Sparrow NECA has done. Well, nearly all: they've got the otherwise-identical "coated" and "coatless" versions, and this is one with the visible shirt sleeves. Now, granted, it's a very nice sculpt, but enough is enough. When DC Direct saw an opportunity to get multiple uses out of one mold, they upped the articulation and gave us their best Superman to date. NECA's given us this exact figure four times before, and I guarantee they'll give it to us again. They could have made this guy with Marvel Legends-style acrticulation and still recouped their cost, so the fact that he only moves at the boots, waist, wrists, shoulders and neck seems like a gyp.
Okay, there are a few differences in the costume -
got to make all the PotC2 updates, after all. Basically, he's wearing a bit more crap on his belt. And a second belt. He's still got his (non-opening) compass tied to him, but he's also got a small collection of new junk: a small red shell, a single vertebra and a monkey's paw. Or maybe the monkey's paw. Make a wish on it and see if it comes true. Horribly, horribly true.
Unlike their three (so far) failed attempts at creating an Orlando Bloom likeness, NECA absolutely nailed Johnny Depp on their first try. Amazingly enough, Cannibal Jack's head isn't a straight swipe from the existing figures - there was one small, easily overlooked change. As seen in all the trailers for the film, Jack ends up installed as king of the cannibals, and dons facepaint to give himself eight unblinking eyes - probably to dissuade anyone from creeping up on him and taking a big bite while he sleeps.
Anyway, the trailer zooms in on Jack's face,
with all those eyes staring at us, when suddenly his real eyes open, giving us a fun little shock. To that end, Cannibal Jack is sculpted with his eyes closed. It's hard to tell under the painted eyes, but yes, those are eyelids, not eyes. Nifty! Definitely not something they'll be getting a lot of future use out of, though. The paint is really done well. The faux eyes are all crisp, as is the paint on his chest. The wash on the clothes gives them an appropriate weathered look, and the individual beads tied in his hair stand out nicely.
For the most part, even Jack's accessories are re-used. He's got the sword, pistol, hat, extra hand and bottle of rum that all the Jacks have been sporting. There are a few extras, though. To begin with, two odd brown loops of soft plastic, tucked in a bag taped to the back of the tray. There's no explanation for them, so you're on your own in figuring them out. Lucky for you we're here, huh? The damn things fit inside the loops of Jack's scabbard, to hold the sword in place securely. The bigger one goes in the top, the smaller one goes in the bottom. Wow, what the hell, guys? Either mold the damn thing correctly in the first place or tell people your plan to fix it. Sheesh.
The most notable accessory is the gift the islanders gave Jack: a necklace. Made of toes. Oh, lovely. It's a single, miolded piece of soft rubber, and it fits down over the figure's hair perfectly. The toes are a different color than the rope they're strung on, and there's enough detail to bring out the toenails without making them look painted. Beauty!
So, is Cannibal Jack worth the purchase? Well, he's got more differences than any of the other Jack Sparrows, plus that great necklace. Sadly, he doesn't come with a display base, so you can't immediately integrate him into your PotC2 collection. But still, face it: if you've seen the movie, you want Cannibal Jack, and this is the only place to get him.
Are you as tired of this re-used sculpt as we are? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.