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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Caesar, Koba, Maurice

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA


I'm a huge fan of the original Planet of the Apes films. They were ground breaking for many reasons, not the least of which was the product licensing that occurred, ushering in a whole new era of pop culture marketing.

The Burton remake is better off forgotten, so you can't blame most people, me included, for feeling apprehensive about the prequel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. But instead of a disaster, we ended up with an excellent film, worthy of fitting in with the rest of the franchise. It fits better with the first film than I had expected, but there are a few time frame issues that make the events of later movies a bit off kilter. Still, considering the mountain they had to climb just to get a film out that wasn't eviscerated by the fans, I'd say they were mighty successful.

The follow up, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is due for release in July. Unlike the original films, Rise had very little support in the way of licensed product, but Dawn is getting a series of action figures from NECA.  There are three characters in this first wave - Caesar, Koba and Maurice. No word yet on more, but I'm sure it will depend on how well this first set sells. Expect to pay around $20 each, depending on the retailer.

NECA is doing figures in this same scale for the original films, and that first wave should hit very soon.
Click on the photo below for a life size version
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA

Packaging - ***
The best thing about clamshell packaging is that it's sturdy - no shelf damage here. For the MOCers, long term storage is less of an issue as well.

The worst thing about clamshell packaging is that it's sturdy - you'll have to cut it open with a knife, so try not to end up in the emergency room. Truly a catch 22.

While these are attractive, there's very little personalization outside of the character name on the front. There's only one twisty tie though, always a plus.

Sculpting - ****
Both Koba and Caesar have had action figures in this scale before, done by Hiya Toys.  While those had decent articulation and accessories, they really were very generic chimps, barely recognizable as the movie characters.

NECA has done away with that, capturing the look of all three simians extremely well. There's no mistaking Caesar for Koba, or mistaking either of them for the chimp at the local zoo.

These are a 7" scale, but of course they aren't that tall themselves. Caesar comes in at about 6 inches tall, but they fit in pretty well, scale-wise, with other 7" figures.

The detailing on the face, skin and fur is really quite impressive. There's a nice variety here too, with the short fur on the chimps and the much longer fur on the orangutan.

You can find excellent examples of the skin texture every where you look, but my favorite is on the sides of Maurice's face. Considering the scale, this level of realism and detail is truly impressive.

The importance of proper proportions can't be stressed enough. I've included a photo of the NECA Caesar and Hiya Caesar next to each other. Without the NECA to compare, you might be able to see something is off, but not quite what. When they are together, you can clearly see the difference in the shape and slope of the shoulders, the size of the ears compared to the head, the size of the hands, and the general overall proportion of the limbs to the body. Clearly the NECA version is much closer to reality.

My one complaint with Koba is the work on his back. I'm not sure what the exposed skin is supposed to represent - was he beaten? Flayed? Cut? Or is he just having a bad hair day?  The sculpt doesn't seem as realistic as the work on the face and fur. It's a minor nit though, and one on his back no less.

Paint - Maurice ****; Koba, Caesar ***1/2
The paint work is solid, coming from the school of "if it's sloppy on purpose it's not really sloppy".

There's plenty of dry brushing to bring out the details, especially on the face, hands and feet. The war paint looks terrific on Caesar and Koba, and there's some subtle variation in the skin around the face on Maurice that really sets him apart.

All three also have very realistic, life-like eyes, not an easy feat in this scale. When lines and edges need to be sharp, they are, but the overall rough feel to the body paint adds a level of credibility.

Articulation - ***
This is one of those cases where there's plenty of articulation on paper, but in practice you can't quite get it to do the things you'd like.

They all have ball jointed necks, NECA shoulders, post/pin style elbows, knees, hips and ankles, a rocker ab-crunch, and ball wrists. While that sounds like a lot, the design means many of these joints are restricted.

For example, the necks turn, but are not able to tilt or lean very far. You'll want to lean these guys forward at the ab-crunch and hips, but you can't tilt the head back very far - annoying.

Another problem area is the hips. You can't get a good ape-on-his-knuckles pose out of any of them, even Maurice, and he's got seriously long arms. Because the hips, knees and ankles are blocked by the sculpt, it's difficult to get the back feet to remain on the ground with the knuckles touching. This is a pretty basic stance, and while these figures are much better looking than the Hiya Toys alternatives, that's a pose they could pull off easily.

In Maurice's case, there's another pose that's important - sitting down. He has those funky feet that are more like hands, and they are even sculpted in a gripping pose. But there's no way this orangutan is going to park his butt down, making it tough to get the best look on the shelf.

Accessories - Koba, Caesar ***; Maurice **1/2
Each figure comes with one main accessory, and they fit the character personality pretty well. 

With Koba, you expect nothing less than a big weapon, and that's what you get. He comes with a very long, and very deadly spear. One end has an obsidian tip, while the other end is sharpened wood. He can kill you coming or going!

Caesar might  not be quite as violence prone, but let's face it - he's one pissed off chimp. He also has a spear, with both ends available for stabbing. It's not quite as large as Koba's, but he's clearly confident in his apehood.

Both Koba and Caesar also come with a second set of hands. The pair they come wearing are relaxed, and the extra set are designed to grip the spears. The swap works easily, with little fear of breakage.

Maurice is shorted in this category, possible due to his larger scale and bulk.  He has a book, but just one.  While the implications are interesting - apes reading and writing - it's a pretty simplistic accessory.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
While there's a few issues here and there, overall these are great toys. I'm not sure if kids will use them as the protagonist or the antagonist, but that's part of the beauty of the movies - there's some ambiguity.

Value - **
I can deal with $15 - $17 action figures in this scale - that's pretty much the going rate. But now we're seeing them slide into the $20 a pop range, and for a mass market toy, that's getting hard to swallow.

Buy them as a set and you can probably get closer to $19 each, and maybe even $17 depending on the retailer. Get down that far, and you can add another half star here, bringing them up to an average value.

Things to Watch Out For -
The spears only go together one way, and they are brittle enough that you can snap them with too much pressure. Pay attention to the shape of the peg!

Overall - ***1/2
I like simians - they're just so much poop flinging fun. But the apes in the new films are less Bonzo, more 'rip your face off'. NECA has done an excellent job with the film likenesses, making these more than just ape action figures, and making them recognizable as their on screen personas.

I really enjoyed the first film, much more than I had expected. Hopefully the second film in the series can maintain that momentum, and continue to build on a terrific story. I'm also hopeful that we'll get at least a few more figures out of this series, particularly with NECA also working on the classic characters.

This is one of those reviews with a lot of photos - be sure to keep scrolling down to see them all.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - ****
Paint - Maurice ****; Koba, Caesar ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - Koba, Caesar ***; Maurice **1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- Entertainment Earth has the set for just $50.

- Big Bad Toy Store has the set for $53, or the singles at $19.

- Unmasked Collectibles has them for $55.

- CornerStoreComics has the set of three for $58.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
A couple years ago, Hiya Toys did their version of Caesar and Koba from the first film. Other Ape related reviews include:

- Hot Toys did a few excellent apes based on the original films.

- Sideshow did a Premium Format figure of Dr. Zauis.

- I reviewed Sideshow's Ape Marauder and Enforcer, Zira and Cornelius, and both the regular and exclusive versions of Dr. Zauis.

- I also looked at a couple of the smaller figures for the bad remake.

- here's a guest review of Sideshow's General Ursus, Caesar, prisoner Taylor, Astronaut Brent, slave Brent,

- and the first guest review ever done at my site, way back over 8 years ago, was on the Medicom POTA figures.

Discussion:
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes action figures by NECA


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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