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Medieval Ash

Cult Classics
by Rustin Parr

Ash, aka Ashley J. Williams, first appeared in 1981's The Evil Dead, a true "cult classic" (Oh! He went there!), but really become a beloved character in 1987's Evil Dead II and ultimately a filmic icon in 1992's Army of Darkness. As such, he quickly became arguably the most requested figure - second only perhaps to Hannibal Lecter - for McFarlane Toys' Movie Maniacs toy line. The dream was realized in the fall of 2000 with the release of Movie Maniacs Series 3. The likeness was immediately panned by virtually everyone who laid eyes upon it, and McFarlane's choice of costume immediately separated the fans into two camps warring over what they had expected to see.

McFarlane chose to use Ash's costume from the first act of the film, which was essentially a riff on his Evil Dead II duds and unquestionably allowed for the infamous chainsaw hand. Some argued that was Ash and defended McFarlane's choice while other found the decision to be a bit of a cop-out as it was not the costume that came to mind when anyone thought of Army of Darkness and that the "blue shirt" version would have been better. The figure did well despite its flaws and while McFarlane ultimately produced two more Army of Darkness figures, they never went back and made a second, more film-​appropriate Ash. Thus, those of us yearning for the true threads of the King had to wait until this very moment to achieve a 7"-scale Army of Darkness Ash.

Ash is a shotgun-toting, chainsaw armed department store clerk transported back to England's Dark Ages to battle an army of Deadite soldiers for possession of the Necronomicon.

Like the rest of Cult Classics series 5, this is easily one of NECA's better sculpts. A hallmark of NECA is omnipresent texturing on their product and they have become very adept at using it in varying levels of intensity to great effect. The detail on this figure and all his accessories are everything we hoped it would be. However, to keep the theme running from the McFarlane figure of semi-awkward poses, this figure comes in a sort of pre-lunge stance that is... well, just kind of odd. Unfortunately, due to very static legs, semi-posed arms and a face with a specific expression, there's just not much that can be done with this figure. That said, when you get him into the intended pose, he doesn't look too bad; one just can't do too much to spice things up, unlike Leatherface. Overall, the sculpt is very good, especially in terms of body proportions - this definitely looks like Bruce Campbell's body. There are also a couple little sculptural treats, the best of which is the clip on the front of the gun-holster's strap which Ash can slide the pull-cord from his chainsaw into in order to perform a "hands-free" (or one-handed, depending on how you view his affliction) chainsaw ignition. Not only is it a pronounced detail, the clip is actually a separate piece glued on after the fact. Now that is attention to detail.

However, it does beg the question - where is the chainsaw? Granted, once Ash makes his mech-hand (his iron fist) he never again dons the iconic chainsaw, yet he does carry it along with him on his journey so it isn't totally inappropriate here. Frankly, Ash's chainsaw is his trademark. He's known for basically two things: being a jackass and having a chainsaw hand. You can't sculpt "jackass" [wanna bet? --ed.] but you can sculpt a chainsaw. Hell, even the McFarlane figure had interchangeable mech-hand and chainsaw despite the character never having the hand in that outfit. This figure does get a major ding in my book for being sans-saw - that's equivalent to selling a Darth Vader without a light saber or a Wolverine without "popped" claws: its just too iconic to not be included.

The likeness on this figure is very good, though again I must lament his specific expression, which alters and detracts from an otherwise great likeness. He's sort of squinting and looking over his shoulder causing narrow and sort of bulging eyes that A) aren't wanted or needed and B) near-ruin the likeness. Fortunately the rest of the face is so good that this is still very clearly The Man.

I must also say the off-center eyes really detract from possible poses as Ash can only ever look to his right - especially tricky with the gun can only ever be on his left. It's the sort of decision that just makes me go, "why?" On the plus side, though, is one of the most effective secondary-hair pieces I've ever seen. The bit of hair hanging over Ash's forehead is a separate piece cast in a rubbery plastic that blends in seamlessly.

Articulation can be found at the ankles, waist, shoulders (balljointed), elbows, wrists and head (balljointed). The head has a pretty decent range of movement while the ankles are pretty limited. The balljointed shoulders are really nice but with such mediocre elbow swivels and preposed legs there aren't many realistic or comfortable-looking poses Ash can hit. The right arm has a decent angled elbow allowing for some variation; however, the left arm suffers from what I call "NECA arm" - an elbow joint so horizontal that there is little-to-no reason for it as it adds nothing to the figure in any capacity. One wonders why they don't just pick a more slanted angle or a different location for a joint.

Ash comes with a handful of accessories such as his seemingly omnipresent "boom-stick" (shotgun) and Necronomincon as well as a very cool alternate stretched-out head from Ash's battle with the vortex-decoy Necronomicon. Also included is a pretty cool graveyard base complete with headstones and bastard skeletal hands just ready to perform all manner of slapstick comedy upon those they can get ahold of. The gun can be placed in the holster on Ash's back or in his left hand while neither hand can hold the Necronomicon. An interchangeable left hand would be appreciated almost as much as the chainsaw. It should also be noted that the cape is not removable.

Is this figure perfect? No, but "not perfect" to a degree that should keep you from buying it? Hell no. It's a very solid figure in a costume we've long desired and it's light-years beyond the McFarlane figure. I'd give this figure an enthusiastic "B," though it could have easily been an A+ with just a couple relatively minor changes. I do recommend it to any fan. Like 75% of Cult Classics series 5, it's a "must have."

For an Epilogue to this review, click here.

-- 10/31/06

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