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Review of Planet of the Apes Classic action figures Series 1

NECA
Date Published:
Written By:
Overall Average Rating: 3.5 out of 4

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Introduction

As a fan of the classic Planet of the Apes films, I had my share of doubts about the re-launch. Thankfully, there was nothing to worry about - Rise and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes have been excellent, standing on their own within the general POTA universe, and yet fitting in relatively well with the originals.

The original series was THE first real franchise - a concept that spawned multiple movies, television shows, books, comics, and perhaps most importantly, licensed products. George Lucas was smart enough to see what POTA had done, and he knew where the real money was going to be with his Star Wars baby.

Oddly enough, the father of licensed products has never gotten a great action figure series.  Back in the day there was the Mego line up, a nostalgic favorite to be sure, but not exactly up to collector's modern standards. Medicom did a fairly deep series around the turn of this century, but even that line pales in comparison to modern figure quality. Sideshow took a shot in sixth scale, and so did Hot Toys, but the latter gave it up before we got to see any crucial characters.

You can understand why collectors were excited to hear that when NECA picked up the license to do figures based on the new films, this license also covered the classics.  We've now been treated to our first wave - Cornelius, Zaius and a Gorilla Soldier. The second wave has been announced, including Zira, a second Zaius in a longer coat, and General Ursus from Beneath. There's a two pack of Gorilla's coming as well, and I expect we'll see additional announcements soon.

These figures run about $20 each, and you can find them at your local Toys R Us, or at one of the many fine sponsors I have listed at the end of the review.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Packaging - ***1/2
It's official - I really, really like these new boxes that seem to be all the rage for collectible figures in this approximate scale. Hasbro is using them for their Star Wars Black 6" line, and Funko is using them for their 7" Game of Thrones. They look great, they are very collector friendly, and they store and display nicely for the MIBer.

I did deduct a half star only because there's one twisty for each figure this time, and it's not necessary. The design of plastic tray works great at holding the figure tightly in place, and they could have skipped the annoying tie.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Sculpting - Gorilla Soldier ****; Zaius ***1/2; Cornelius ***
For reference purposes, here's a shot of a Gorilla Soldier, Cornelius, and of course, Dr. Zaius.

Of the three, the Gorilla Soldier is easily my favorite. He looks like he just stepped off the screen, and the detailing in the hair and skin texture is amazing - remember, this is a 7" scale figure!

This attention to detail continues to his clothing, and the textures, wrinkles and folds of the various materials looks great.

If I had one complaint, it's that he's a little small compared to Cornelius.  I don't want him huge - that would look out of place - but another 10% larger or so would give him a little more bulk next to Corn-boy. Of course, Cornelius could simply be smaller, as well...

The good doctor looks fantastic too, although the hair piece does sit a little bit off the head and face. That's a minor nit, but noticeable in hand. He's wearing his short coat outfit, and again, they've spared no detail.

The Cornelius likeness is solid, but not quite as spot on as the other two. It's the hair that throws it off, with far too much on top, less on the sides and jawline. He had a lot of hair - he's a chimp after all - but it was fairly evenly placed around his face on film. This version has a lot on top, flipped back, and the hair style just doesn't match up for me.

I'm also not digging the scowling expression. It's not that he never scowled - he did often enough. But the wide eyed wonder that he approached most aspects of Taylor and science with is a more appropriate, and more iconic, look.

Still, the detailing, texturing and exactness of the minutia is really impressive. All three figures represent some of the best work we've seen done for the classic series.

All three have hands sculpted to work with the accessories, and they stand great on their own. All three are right about 7" tall, although Zaius is just a smidge bigger than the other two.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Paint - Gorilla Soldier, Zaius ****; Cornelius ***
There was a time where I was always worried about the final production paint operations on any NECA line.  It was a hit or miss proposition, and you simply took your chances.

Over the last couple years, that concern has become a thing of the past. They're paint work has been solid in this scale, and often it is truly stellar.

The Gorilla Soldier highlights the best work here, with the weathering and wear on his uniform looking just about perfect. There's just the right use of wash and dry brushing, with no overuse of any particular technique.

The quality is apparent with Zaius as well, although I do wish the hair was just a smidge thinner in coverage, particularly on the top of the head. It fills in some of the sculpt detail a bit too much, taking away some of the realism.

Overall though, it's excellent work. No poor cut lines or sloppy edges here, and even the various shades used on the costume look accurate and consistent.

Cornelius takes a slight hit because I think they overdid the wash on the face, and it's such a critical area.  A wash like that highlights the detailing in the sculpt, and here it accentuates the scowling, mean look, just as you'd expect.

Overall that's a minor nit however, and I'm very pleased with the final production outcome on all three of these.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Articulation - ***1/2
All three have very well designed, very functional articulation.

It starts with an excellent ball jointed neck that allows for a wide range of movement, even with the thick monkey hair.

The ball shoulders and hips work fairly well, and the ball elbows, wrists, knees and ankles have excellent mobility and stability. They can easily take decent crouch positions, and keep both feet flat on the ground in even deeper stances.  A little more tilt in the upper body would have been nice, allowing an even deeper bend, but you can get a very reasonable monkey stance out of these joints.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Accessories - Gorilla Soldier ***1/2; Zaius ***; Cornelius **1/2
These guys don't have a ton, but they have more than some other similarly priced lines.

Cornelius gets the short end of the stick, coming with just a Sacred Scroll.  It looks great, but not only is it just a single accessory...it's a re-use, since Zaius has one as well.

Zaius fairs better though, because along with the scroll he has his large cane.  He can hold it one or both hands, and it works well with a variety of poses. It is longer than we saw with the prototype, but that's a minor nit.

I do wish he had the human doll though, since it's such a critical item in the first movie. We'll be getting a second Zaius in his longer coat as part of series 2, and I have my fingers crossed that the doll will be available then.

The Gorilla Soldier wins in this category once again. He has his rough wooden stock rifle, along with a small club. The rifle can be worn over his shoulder thanks to a strap, and the club can attach to the shoulder belt via a small hook.

There's an additional hand included, intended for holding the club. The hands swap easily, with no fear of peg breakage.

Technically, the belt around his torso is also an accessory, since it can be removed if you pop the head off. This is particularly nice if you want to pick up more than one soldier to build your own ape army, and want to differentiate them on the shelf.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Fun Factor - ****
With a great looking sculpt and paint job, plus terrific articulation, these are excellent action figures. It's pretty unlikely that they'll get a lot of sandbox play, but you should have a blast posing them around the cubicle.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Value - **1/2
Most collector figures in this style and sale are running right around $18 - $20 now, including the Star Wars Black series and the Game of Thrones.  No surprise then that these fall in that same range, and with a couple accessories each and some very, very nice articulation, they come in at a solid average value.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Things to Watch Out For -
Be particularly careful attaching and removing the club from the hook on the Soldier's belt.  It's a hard plastic, and can easily be broken.

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Overall - Cornelius ***; Zaius ***1/2; Gorilla Soldier ****
Before this, the closest we got to great figures in an action figure scale was the line by Medicom some 13 years or so ago. I don't think I have to point out that these blow those out of the water.

It's great to see the classic movies getting the sort of collectible love that they deserve. NECA has a second series already set with a ship date and a third wave partly announced, and I hope they have 1/4 scale figures in mind as well. I hope we see some depth in this line, at least getting us through Taylor and Nova before they peter out.

Of course, that's going to depend on how fans of the original series respond to this first wave.  Hopefully sales will be strong enough to get us to waves 4, 5, 6 and beyond, but the only way that will happen is if collectors pick these up. I'm definitely on board!

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - Gorilla Soldier ****; Zaius ***1/2; Cornelius ***
Paint - Gorilla Soldier, Zaius ****; Cornelius ***
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - Gorilla Soldier ***1/2; Zaius ***; Cornelius **1/2
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - Cornelius ***; Zaius ***1/2; Gorilla Soldier ****

Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- is at $18 for the singles, and $53 for a set of three.

- Entertainment Earth has a good price on series 1 for the set at just $50.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
NECA is also doing a series of figures for the new films, including Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

A couple years ago, Hiya Toys did their version of Caesar and Koba from Rise of the Planet of the Apes. 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 13 years ago, was on the Medicom POTA figures.

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Planet of the Apes Classic action figures series 1 by NECA

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

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