Series Five of NECA's popular Cult Classics toy line features fours figures: Leatherface (from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Ash (from Army of Darkness), the Jigsaw Killer (from Saw) and Hannibal Lecter (from under your bed). This lineup is particularly notable because it contains two characters already figure-ized by the formerly pre-eminent McFarlane Toys and one figure loooooong requested from that company but whose rights were never available to them. Since NECA essentially rose to notoriety through the efforts of disenfranchised ex-McFarlane employees, the two companies have shared a rather bitter and childish rivalry, generally with NECA trying to outshine McFarlane and McFarlane trying to out-think NECA. Lines were drawn, sides chosen, but with Cult Classics 5, NECA finally surpasses its psuedo-parent and fully comes into its own. Here NECA's figures blow McFarlane's attempts out of the water, and they manage the impossible by securing the rights to and releasing a Hannibal figure, something that was up to now a legal nightmare.
Leatherface is, by all means, the father of modern horror. Much as Bela Lugosi's Dracula defined the horror genre for the two decades following it, Tobe Hooper's masterpiece "massacre-piece" laid the groundwork for the realism, violence, gore and eccentric maniac we still suffer in the genre today. In many ways it's appropriate for Leatherface to be released in the same series as Jigsaw, from the lamentable Saw franchise, who is surely the current definition of the horror genre.
McFarlane Toys released a Leatherface way back in 1998's Movie Maniacs Series 1, the series that, like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre's effect on cinema, in many ways changed the action figure world and created the push for older movie licenses, ultimately to be shared by all companies, and even inspired the creation of two similar lines (Cult Classics and SOTA's "Now Playing"). However, while McFarlane did make the "signature" Leatherface, their version was notably under par even at the time it was released and a new, better version we have awaited ever since.
This is the second Leatherface figure NECA has released (and third if one were daring enough to count the recent box set from the prequel to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre [oooooh, Hollywood!]), the first being the man in his "climatic" garb from the final act of the film. This was ultimately a rather boring figure released as part of Cult Classics Series 1 and while a neat treat for us fans, it left many people waiting for the "signature," apron-clad version of the character – and this one does not disappoint.
As with the entirety of Series 5, this is easily one of NECA's better sculpts.
It offers varying degrees of texturization on every surface, a hallmark of NECA product, which has become more perfected and subtle than on previous releases. From the carved pinstripes on his shirt to the musculature and veins on his forearms, and all the wrinkled clothing in between, this is just a pretty figure to look at. Leatherface is pre-posed in a mild squat, not fully dissimilar from the classic movie poster, and while I do tend to prefer generic poses, this is subtle and appropriate enough to not be bothersome, especially with the articulation.
NECA's two main problem areas have always been likeness and articulation, and both are pretty darn good on this figure. Leatherface is articulated at the ankles, waist, shoulders, biceps and head. Due to the pant cuffs at the ankles and glued-on apron at the waist, those three points don't move too well, but the remaining (and more important) points move great allowing for, yes, effective multiple poses. That's right – a NECA figure with real options! Leatherface's head is balljointed and has a surprisingly wide range of motion; not great, but definitely better than most figures these days. Moreover, the arms are split just right for them to move up and down well and always able to double-hand the beloved chainsaw (which is family, were we to believe the sequels).
Accessory-wise, this figure isn't lacking. Leatherface comes complete with his trademark yellow chainsaw, a human femur (thigh bone), a humerus (upper arm bone), a mallet and a small butcher knife. All are great, though the knife is particularly small and somewhat unusual in shape. Also included is a base for the figure, this time a piece of the ironically named living room. It's a hardwood floor with scattered bones, teeth, feathers and nameless debris. It's somewhat simple compared to some other bases, but fully effective and quite nice.
No complaints on the paint either. It should be noted that the figure and accessories come with a really nice and restrained splattering of blood, which can't help but incite recollections of the whole "bloody" versus "non-bloody" variants from the early Movie Maniacs series - including Leatherface. As such, one's tempted to hope for a non-bloody Leatherface at some point, but to be perfectly honest, I just don't see that as really being a noted improvement or worthy, interesting change for this figure.
I really can't say enough good things about this figure – its got a great sculpt, great paint and a good range of poses. This is really the Leatherface figure. It's the fourth time NECA has remade a figure previously done by McFarlane and the first time that it is in every way superior. This is really a figure every fan and collector needs to have – I highly recommend you track one down for yourself, forthwith!
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