20" 'Epic Figure' Aragorn


The juggernaut that is the Lord of the Rings is over, or so you'd think.  It's been months since the last film was released in theaters, and weeks since it was released on video.

But still the merchandise comes, and there's no sign of it ending any time soon.  Action figures have come in all sizes for this license - 12", 6", mini-figures, and now, NECA has released their 'Epic Figure", at a whopping 20".  Although this says 20" though, he fits in well with the rest of the 18" or quarter scale figures.  He might actually be 20" if he was standing up straight, but with his knees bent he's about 18".

There are two figures in this first release: Aragorn and Legolas.  I picked up the Aragorn last week at a local Spencer's, and have since seen them at Media Play.  Retail is around $40.

NECA has more LOTR plans for later this year, including the very cool 20" Balrog.  That will sure to be a big hit with the collectors of the Toybiz 6" line, since it will be much closer to real scale.

They will also do figures in other licenses in this scale, including a very cool Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean!

Packaging - ***
The package is huge, because the toy is huge.  It's a little plain, but does display the figure extremely well.  This baby was twisty tie hell though, so be prepared with your wire cutters.

Sculpting - ***1/2
I think this is easily the finest Aragorn head sculpt done so far.  It captures the shape, proportion and detail of Viggo's face far better than anything we've seen up to this point.

That being said, I didn't give it a perfect score.  While I don't mind the action pose, and can actually tolerate the action hair in this case (regular readers will remember my past rants on that particular subject), my only objection is in the slightly odd angle to the neck.

The angle of the neck, and direction of the gaze, works well in one or two poses, but isn't quite as universal as I'd like.  Still, the likeness is truly striking.

As I mentioned, the action hair works fine here, probably because it isn't overdone, with the hair sticking out at any odd angle.  The beard stubble is also sculpted rather than just painted on, and that works much better than the usual.

The detail work on the clothing is also outstanding.  All the little details are included, from the ring on his hand to the pattern on his gauntlets.  The ring is particularly well done in this scale.  The gift of the Evenstar is even around his neck!

I did notice a slightly rougher appearance to the sculpt of the left hand than the rest of the figure.  It was a little out of place, but you have to really be paying attention to notice.

Scale on this figure is also extremely well done.  Weapons look proper - not over or undersized - as do the other accessories.  NECA was very careful to match the actual size of all the pieces with the figure, using the movie as a reference.  These are much closer in scale than what we've seen with the 6" line.  The only one that seems a tad off is the bow, which seems a little small to me - but I have to go back over the film a little more carefully before I can be sure.

Paint - ****
The paint ops are top notch, with excellent skin tone, an appropriate use of washes, and lots of clean, small detail work.

The face is the first thing you notice of course, and the icey blue eyes are perfect.  The skin is consistent, and the combination of paint and sculpt for the beard works perfectly.  They've added additional 'hair' on the forehead with just paint, and it depth to the appearance.

While most of the clothing is made up of a brown/gray palette, there are other, brighter colors that make for a great contrast.

Articulation - **
This isn't intended to be a highly posable figure, so thank goodness the sculpted pose works so well.  That doesn't mean he's completely unarticulated though.

There's a ball jointed neck (with a very limited range of motion), ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows and legs above the boots, and waist.  The articulation that's here is intended to serve two purposes - get him his lower body and torso in just the right spot to allow him to stand perfectly, and to pose his arms in a variety of ways.  It serves both purposes pretty well.

I do wish the neck was a little more useful, since I'm not thrilled with that damn angle.  But that's a minor gripe overall.

Accessories - ****
Here's a category where this figure certainly doesn't disappoint.  There's plenty of accessories, and they all are extremely well done.

On his back is his quiver with five arrows, all loose, and straps to hold his bow.  Yes, the bow is removable, and the bowstring is elastic.

There's also a bedroll, torch, dagger, Elven knife, and sword.  Every one of these shows tremendous attention to detail.

The sword may be my favorite.  It's strong and light, looking like metal without actually having the weight.  It's one of the better plastic swords I've ever seen, and fits in his hands extremely well.

The dagger fits in a sheath on the outside of the sword's scabbard, both on his left hip.  The Elven knife, complete with Elven decoration on the blade, fits in another sheath on his right side. And the torch fits nicely in his left hand, and comes with a surprise!  The flame can be removed, and a red ember end can be seen on what's left of the torch, as though it's just been lit or has burned down.

Talking Feature - ***1/2
The Epic Force series includes a talking feature.  There's a switch on the back, and when turned on, Aragorn repeats lines from the film.

There are five lines in total:
"We travel light."
"Let's hunt some Orc."
"By my life or death, I can protect you...I have my sword."
"It is an army bred for a single purpose - to destroy the world of men!"
"I am Aragorn, son of Arathor."

The lines are loud and clear, and reproduce very well.  There's little scratchiness or tinniness to the voice, and it sure beats the hell out of my 1968 Talking Astronaut.

There is no button though to get him to say the lines, but rather it's completely dependent on the motion sensor.  Like most motion sensors, it can get pretty annoying pretty fast.

Fun Factor - ***
While this is primarily designed as a 'collectors' item, it has fun potential.  The biggest problem facing a kid looking to play with Aragorn is the lack of any bad guys for him to battle.

Of course, the other issue here are the accessories, many of which are either sharp, brittle or both.

Value - ***
At $40, this figure is not a steal.  But comparing him against other 18" figures in this price range, like the Mezco Hellboy or NECA's own Pinhead, you'll see that you're getting a decent value.  Plenty of accessories, excellent sculpting and paint, a high profile license AND a talking feature - certainly more bang for the buck than we're used to.

Overall - ***1/2
This big boy is quickly becoming one of my favorite LOTR action figures.  I'm still not *thrilled* by the neck pose, but I'll get over it.

I wasn't as happy with the Legolas head sculpt as I was with this one.  He looked like he was retaining water, a little too puffy for Orlando Bloom.  But I've heard many other folks who were very happy with him, so ymmv.

We need more of these, and they have to fill out at least Gimli and Gandalf for me to be happy, and a Ringwraith and Orc would make the line perfect.  I'm hoping they skip the hobbits - they aren't high on my list for this scale.  

While I wasn't thrilled with Legolas on first inspection, just having Aragorn around the house for a few days has convinced me I need to go back and pony up the forty clams for his partner.

Where to Buy - 
I picked mine up at Spencer's, but Media Play has them as well.  On-line options include:

- Alter Ego Comics has a terrific price at just $34.  You can add another half star to the value at that price!

- Cornerstorecomics has them listed at $37 each.

- Killer Toys has him at $38 as a pre-order.

- Aisle Sniper has him for $40.

- Southern Island also has him listed in stock at $40.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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