Since NECA's Kill Bill figures are, so far, all based on the fight at the House of Blue Leaves, it just makes sense that the prevalent badguys are those masked marauders, the Crazy 88.
The private army of O-Ren Ishii, the gang members who call themselves the Crazy 88 revel in the perks that come with their status, bullying everyone they meet and having fun. But what will happen when a blood-splattered Bride with an insatiable lust for revenge comes looking for their mistress?
The 88s are this film's incarnation of the Tarantino uniform: black suit, white shirt, black tie. With a different head this could be Vincent Vega or Mr. Blonde. QT loves these suits, and this time we get (almost) 88 of them.
To help us build an army, NECA released three versions of the Crazy 88 figure, each with a different head: one bald, one plain and one with a beard. The original plan called for all three heads to be packaged together, with variants based on which head was on the body in the package. This was scrapped, however, and all three came by themselves.
Now, in terms of Crazy 88s, the bald guy is one figure and the two with hair are another. Baldy is actually Johnny Mo, the 88's leader and one of O-Ren's trusted bodyguards. He's played by kung fu legend Gordon Liu, and when else are you ever gonna get a Gordon Liu action figure? The other two, while based somewhat on 88s seen in the film, are more generic soldiers.
The Crazy 88 wear Kato masks in an homage to Bruce Lee's role in The Green Hornet, his first US role. And when they face the Bride, she's wearing a version of Lee's yellow and black-striped jumpsuit from Game of Death, the film he was working on when he died. Closure! And hey, if you really want to get all meng-style nerd on this issue, the Green Hornet theme (which is sampled as the Bride tracks O-Ren and the 88 on her motorcycle) is actually an arrangement of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee" from 1899. Oh, and what color is a bumblebee? Yellow and black, bitch! Meng!
Each of the figures comes with a katana and a hatchet, both vac-metallized. If you watch closely during Vol. 1, the axe-wielding 88 is clean-shaven, so you may want to put both figures' hatchets in his hands. Johnny Mo also includes a bo staff that opens to reveal a blade within, and his right hand is molded to hold that.
Word has it that during the assault on the House of Blue Leaves, more than 450 gallons of fake blood were used. Now while you don't get quite that much, you can still have some fun with these guys. Since the Bride was hacking off extremities left and right, the Crazy 88 figures have removable heads and arms: the pieces pull off easily and plug back on securely, so you can play however you want. However, included in the package is a small bottle of disappearing ink. Red disappearing ink. And a squeeze bulb.
Fill the bulb with ink, plug it into the figure's back, remove his arms and squeeze. A clever system of tubes caries the ink down through the arms and sprays it out through the nicely detailed stumps. That right there, my friends, is the sign of a great toy company: they think of the little details that make the toys better. Sure, anyone could have done removable limbs, but that's not the only thing that happened. In the film, when a limb was cut off, blood came rocketing out of the body and soaked everything. Now it can do the same to your house.
According to Bill, there weren't really 88 of these guys - they just chose that name because it sounded cool. And supposedly if you keep track, the Bride kills 57 people in the House of Blue Leaves. However many there really are, it would have been nice if NECA had given us more than three faces - include an extra 88 head in each package or something. However, if you're really desperate for new fighters, the heads from Plan B's Special Forces figures fit on nicely, and are very close to the same scale. Still, if there's a Series 2? New heads!
Each Crazy 88 fighter comes with a display base that matches up with the Bride's. Though the outline looks entirely random, the bases do an amazing job of fitting with one another, and all three have a differently shaped blood-pool. NECA's art director, Ed Repka, did a terrific job designing the sand garden bases. They're the finishing touch on an already-great set of figures.
How many 88s would you buy? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.