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9 movie figures from NECA

9 movie action figures by NECA

In just over a week, on September 9th, we're getting one of those rarities - a CGI animated movie rated PG-13. The film is called '9', and is produced by Tim Burton, along with Timur Bekmambetov. Everyone knows Burton of course, and since Nightmare Before Christmas, he's shown his bent for quirky animated films with the likes of James and the Giant Peach and Corpse Bride. Horror fans will recognize Timur's name from film's like Night Watch and Day Watch, and the more recent Wanted flick. But these guys are just producers (although producer is a far more critical role than some give it credit for), and the film is based on a story by, and directed by, the newcomer Shane Acker. Shane's claim to fame was working as an animator for Weta back in the Lord of the Rings days, and based on that I would expect that this new film will be visually astounding, if nothing else.

The film deals with a post apocalyptic future in which little rag doll sort of characters are the last vestige of hope, fighting some form of mechanical evil. There's a strong steam punk feel to the designs, as well as some clear Weta influences. It's a little tough to tell from the trailer exactly what's going on, but I'm all for that. Clearly, there are nine of the little buggers, each with a number on his or her back.

NECA has picked up the license to do figures, but so far they've only shown us numbers 1 and 9. These started shipping about a week ago, just in time to be on pegs by opening day. The figures run the usual price these days, around $14 a pop. We've seen photos of number 7, but she hasn't been released yet. I'm hopeful that they'll produce more, but I'm fearful that the same thing will happen this time that happened with Coraline - it'll be one and done.
9 movie action figures by NECA
9 movie action figures by NECA
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9 movie action figures by NECA
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9 movie action figures by NECA
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9 movie action figures by NECA
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9 movie action figures by NECA
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9 movie action figures by NECA
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9 movie action figures by NECA
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9 movie action figures by NECA

Packaging - ***1/2
NECA still loves their clamshells, and so do I. You're going to have to use a knife to get in, but the package withstands shelf wear extremely well, and is very easy to store for the MOCers. The interior artwork is from the film, and has a great style and design.

Sculpting - ****
The big attraction of this movie, for me at least, is the character and set designs. It's a really great looking movie, and these part burlap sack, part mechanical creatures are the highlight.

From what we've seen with the trailer, these figures look dead on. I'm sure that once the film is out, there will be details that are off here and there - to make figures that hit the shelf at the same time as the movie, it often means working from early character designs that change by the time of release. But I think that these are going to end up pretty damn close.

The detailed cloth texture looks amazing, complete with stitching, wrinkles and folds. They appear stuffed, and the depth and size of the cross stitched threads varies in a realistic manner.

The smooth textured pieces - eyes, huge zipper, feet, hands - give the appearance of metal, along with appropriate wear and age. Number 1 has more detail work on the overall body, due to the fancier costume, but both are excellent looking figures.

They stand about 6 1/2" tall, and depending on how tall you think they are supposed to be, they can fit in with other lines. They stand great on their own, and the hands are sculpted to work with the accessories.

Paint - ***
If there's one area that's a bit disappointing, it's the paint work. It's not awful by any means, but I think the wash used on the overall 'skin' could have been applied in a way that made them look a little more realistic. That's particularly true for 9, where the heavier wash ends up looking less like dirt and shadow and more like what it is...paint.

Other small details are very clean though, like the eyes, stitches, buckles and zipper. There's some intentional wear and damage, and it's done quite well.

Articulation - ***
These two are surprisingly well articulated, considering the bulky, restrictive bag design of their bodies.

The necks and ankles are true ball and socket ball joints. This really gives both the feet and the head a tremendous range of movement, but I found the joints to be a tad sticky at first. Take care breaking them free, as the posts are pretty small.

The arms are also bendy, and the wires inside appear to be fairly strong. They can take and hold some pretty extreme bends, and I found them to be a bit more natural to pose than most bendy arms.

There are also cut wrists, but the same warning applies as to the ankles and neck.

Finally, 1 has something extra - cut shoulders! the odd thing is that you can't really do much with them, since the sculpted 'cape' covers and restricts them. I wish they'd given the cut shoulders to 9 as well.

Accessories - ***1/2
Each figure comes with a couple extra goodies, probably right from the key moments in the film.

1 has two items: his funky "I'm number 1!" hat, and his staff. The hat not only proclaims his status as number 1, but covers up the burlap knot on top of his head. Unlike 9, who is stitched shut, 1 is just tied off on top. Perhaps that's the real reason he wears the hat?

His staff is very cool, with a sculpt and paint job that emotes a devolved mechanical society. The little bell on the end doesn't actually ring, but the staff is properly scaled and fits nicely in his hands.

9 has not two but three extras: his unique staff, an extra right hand, and some sort of device. The staff has a very unusual design, and from the trailer it appears that this version matches the screen version quite well. I'm betting the staff plays a key role, although that's to be seen. The plastic globe at the top has a pretty obvious seam, but considering the price point, I can live with that.

The extra hand is designed specifically to hold the staff. The staff comes apart above the second clasp, and can slide in the tightly fisted extra right hand. The hands swap pretty easily, but the pegs are pretty small, so take extra care.

The staff really should have detached a bit lower on the shaft, since it's hard to get the arm high enough to hold the base properly against the ground at his feet. Still, the sculpt and paint are above average, and it's a nice addition.

The device I mentioned looks like a half ball, with steam punk designs. There are three holes on the bottom which are clearly designed to do...something. I thought they might be finger holes (he does have three fingers), but I couldn't get it to work quite right. I couldn't come up with anything else to do with it, but I'm betting it's a major player in the film.

Fun Factor - ***
Until I see the movie, I have no idea if this is something with the potential to appeal to the 8 - 10 year old crowd, but I suspect it will. Yes, the movie is rated PG-13, but so was Iron Man. I think the basic designs will certainly appeal, but kid's may find the joints a bit too weak for any real play.

For posing on the desk though, these will work great.  It will be interesting to see if the personalities of 1 and 9 will make these more enticing to the cubicle crowd.

Value - **1/2
At around $14, these are about the regular price these days for movie action figures. If you can get it down closer to $12, you can add another half star here, up around $16, and drop another half star.

Things To Watch Out For
Those little wrist pegs are very small, and you could break them pretty easily, especially when breaking them free or swapping the right hand on 9. 

I also have to break the neck and ankle ball joints loose, and I did this VERY carefully. Once they are freed up, they work great, but use a steady, even pressure to start.

Overall - ***1/2
I love what I've seen of the designs for this film so far, especially the characters themselves. Some of the evil mechanical monsters look terrific, and I have high hopes that the story can support the visuals.

I'm also hoping that NECA sees this line through with the full set of 9 characters, plus a couple baddies for good measure. These days that's a lot like hoping to win the lottery when you haven't bought a ticket, but hey...hope is hope.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
These figures can be tough to find due to their name. What do you search for, '9'? Do that and you get a million results. Be patient when you're searching for them, because it might take two or three different attempts til you find the perfect search term that brings them up. Online options include:

- Urban Collector has them for $25 for the pair.

- Things from Another World has them for $16 each. Hint - search for 'nine action figure'. Spell out the number nine!

- Forbidden Planet has them for 14 GBP each. Hint - search for '9 movie action figure'.

- Entertainment Earth has a case of 8 for $114, handy if you and your friends want to go in together.

- of course, you can always hit ebay looking for a deal.

Related Links -
None from me, but you should check out the trailer!

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9 movie action figures by NECA


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

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