Cult Classics 5
Hannibal Lecter and the Jigsaw Killer

NECA's Cult Classics series 5 is now hitting shelves, at least at stores like Hot Topic and Spencers, perhaps the last two brick and mortar retailers worth visiting for the horror collecter. This wave is made up of four figures, including Hannibal Lecter, the Jigsaw killer from Saw, Medieval Ash from Army of Darkness, and Leatherface from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Personally, I'm all done with Ash and Leatherface figures, no matter how good the new ones are at this point. They'd have to be pretty unique versions to suck me in, and while both of the CC versions look nice, they didn't grab my attention on the peg. But the two new serial killers, Hannibal and Jigsaw, were definitely something I wanted to add to the collection, so I picked them up for tonight's review.

There's actually five figures in a full set though, because there are two versions of the Jigsaw killer. There is the normal, Tobin Bell version of the killer, and there's the pig face disguise version. I went with the pig face, simply because he was a more visually interesting character for the shelf.

These guys will run you about $14 at Hot Topic, or around $11 - $12 at most online retailers.

Packaging - ***1/2
The packaging does a very nice job of showing off the figures, and they use a different insert for each character, based on the specific license. These inserts are wildly different of course, which really brands the figure closer to the film than some generic label of 'cult classics'. I prefer that, although I'm sure some folks who like consistency won't be as happy.

Of course, they're clamshells, so that means break out the machete. There's also a fair share of twisties, especially on the Jigsaw killer, so do what I do and enlist the aid of your five year old daughter. Mine loves untying twist ties for dad, and I avoid explaining to her that she's freeing a serial killer.

Sculpting - ***1/2
When I first saw Lecter in the package, I was a bit disappointed. The sculpt simply didn't look as good as what we'd seen in the prototype. After I had him out though and looked at him both close up and at a variety of angles, I think it's not the sculpt that's at fault but the paint.

The head sculpt is extremely detailed, with every wrinkle and sag done in excruciating accuracy. Get past the heavy paint wash, and it really is a very good rendition of Lecter, and if we saw this level of detail in the sixth scale arena, I think there'd be some folks who would be very pleased.

There is one oddity with his overall sculpt, and that's his bald spot in back. It is sculpted as slightly pushed in from the rest of his hair, as you'd expect his scalp to be, but there's actually sculpted hair throughout. While of course there would be some hair wisping over the patch of skin, what's sculpted here looks as full as the rest of the head. It's also painted skin tone, and the combination of paint and sculpted hair just doesn't quite work.

Lecter stands fine on his own, although you'll most likely keep him restrained the majority of the time, at least if you know what's good for you. 

The Jigsaw killer is similar in many ways. His sculpt is good, especially the textured pig face and long flowing hair. The hand sculpts match up nicely with the dynamic pose, and as a killer goes, the overall look works. I had a little trouble at first keeping him standing, but if you keep the left foot turned far enough forward, he'll stay upright pretty well.

The soft rubber cloak looks terrific, especially the folded hood in back. The blade on his right arm isn't retractable, but that's a pretty minor issue. It was a bit bent out of the package, but when I get some time I plan on heating it up with some hot water and straightening it a bit. It's made from a very hard plastic though, so don't go bending it without any heat, or you're sure to damage it.

Paint - ***
If there's one category that didn't quite live up to my expectations, it's this one. Don't get me wrong - it's not terrible, and in fact, is above average in quality. But it's not at the level that I had hoped, especially for Lecter.

Lecter's face has a heavy wash, used to bring out the many wrinkles and the detail of the sculpt. It's quite dark though, and around the eyes, nose and mouth it tends to over-emphasis certain aspects of the face. The nose ends up looking too big, the eyes too wrinkled, etc. Had they toned this wash down just a bit, I think the quality of the head sculpt would have really shown through.

There's also that weirdness with the painted bald spot in back that just doesn't work for me, but it's hidden from sight most of the time. The paint work on the straight jacket and orange jumper looks good, although using a brighter color on the buckles in back would have given the jacket a little more detail and color.

Jigsaw suffers from a few problems with slop. There's a lot of black over spray on the inside of the coat, which should be red. This black appears to either be over spray from touching up the legs, or just because the black legs came in contact with the coat before they were fully dry.

The other major paint issue for me is the highlighting on the hair right dead center on the forehead. It appears intentional, but because of the location and the amount, it looks slop rather than like highlighting.

On the plus side, the red edges of the coat are extremely clean, with no bleed into the black, and have a nice gloss finish. Also, I like the skin tone on the pig mask, and how it doesn't match the actual skin tone of the neck. Since it's a mask, it shouldn't, and this abrupt change in color makes the fact that it's not his actual face clear to the observer.

Articulation - Hannibal *1/2: Jigsaw **1/2
As you might expect, these aren't mega-articulated. If you've bought other Cult Classics (or Movie Maniacs, or Now Playing) figures, than you'll know what to expect.

Hannibal is even less articulated than usual though. Considering the amount of damage this man could do with any limb free, that's probably a good thing. He has cut joints at the ankles, and a ball jointed neck. The neck joint is down inside the torso, where it has less range of movement than it would have at the top of the neck. Contrary to appearance, there's no cut waist.

Jigsaw has more of the traditional CC articulation. There's the ball jointed neck, but the usefulness of this joint over a regular cut joint is negated by the hair and jaw sculpt. He has ball jointed shoulders and these are NOT the traditional NECA shoulders. These are true ball joints, and have an excellent range of movement. there's also cut elbows and wrists, cut waist and cut ankles.

Some of his joints, like the elbows, are a little loose, but I'm thrilled to see the use of the improved shoulders. Again, he's not going to be doing the tango, but there's enough articulation here to give him some personalized poses.

Accessories - Jigsaw ****; Lecter ***1/2
Both figures come with some damn cool accessories, and in the case of Jigsaw, you may buy the figure just for the accessory.

Lecter comes with his dolly, not the kind you play with but the kind you move appliances and lethal psych patients with. The sculpt and paint on it are excellent, and it's quite complex and realistic. There's even an extra set of smaller wheels that fold out from the back, allowing you to display him tilted back just like the flick.

The strap around his chest is sculpted as part of his body, with the back half of the strap sculpted around the dolly. There's a second smaller soft rubber strap included that you can wrap around the dolly and his legs, and strap him down tight. This strap works pretty well, although it takes some effort to get the two soft rubber pins to fit within their respective holes. My only complaint here is that the strap is a much lighter brown in color, and doesn't match the black strap across his chest.

He also has his mask, of course. Can't have him biting anything off of you, now can we. The small, hard, plastic straps actually pop out of the mask (I popped them off on the right side, but I'm betting you can do it on either side), allowing you to put the it on and then pop them back into the softer rubber mask. While the head sculpt is good, with the mask on he looks even better.

Jigsaw comes with the Saw puppet, including his little tricycle. You might say that four stars is too much for just the puppet and tricycle, but I would say that any accessory that's so good and so in demand that it is likely to cause many people to buy this figure just to get it, has to be one sweet accessory.

The puppet actually has more articulation than the average 7" Cult Classics figure. There's a cut neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows and wrists, cut knees and ankles, and ball jointed hips! All these joints make it possible for him to sit on the bike (among other poses of course), but it does take a little care and effort on your part. You have to get his body in *just* the right pose to stay on the bike, and the handlebars are quite fragile. I found that by putting his hands on the grips first, then slowly adjusting his arms down and out, I was finally able to get his butt on the seat and feet on the pedals.

The bike itself is also articulated, since all three wheels turn. Both the bike and puppet look terrific, although the puppet seems a smidge small in relation to the size of the other 7" figures.

Fun Factor - **
While some of the previous CC figures have potential as toys for more generic reasons, neither of these guys lend themselves particularly well to that. Most kids aren't going to find them interesting - or even scary, out of context - so they'd find them pretty boring. These are really only for the adult fan of the flick, and even they won't be doing much posing once they're on the shelf.

Value - ***
You can get these guys at $11 each if you try, and even Hot Topic is still at $14, where you know you've always over paid. Considering the complexity and cost in getting all the licenses, and the quality of the figures and accessories, these are hanging in there as a solid value in a very tight market.

Things to Watch Out For - 
This is a set that requires taking some time and care to get things just right. Be extremely careful popping on and off the straps on the Lecter mask, since they are quite tiny and easy to break. Also, the puppet can be put on the bike with a little effort, but if you rush it or force it, you'll snap the handlebars.

Overall - ***1/2
Small issues held these figures back from bigger and better scores, but both should make fans quite happy.

For both figures, it was all about the paint. On Lecter, the heavy wash hurt his appearance without the mask, but if you plan on displaying him predominately in it, then you'll find it's not much of an issue for you.

On Jigsaw, there was a little more slop and fuzz than a four star figure can have. If you have the opportunity to pick carefully, or just have better luck than I, you may not have the same issues with him.

Either way, these are still very nice figures, both of them right up there with some of the other top CC figures from previous waves. They'll fit in nicely with your movie display, but I couldn't help but think how cool a Premium Format Lecter would be. Yowza!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - ***
Articulation - Hannibal *1/2: Jigsaw **1/2
Accessories - Jigsaw ****; Lecter ***1/2
Fun Factor - **
Value -  ***
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy - 
I grabbed these at Hot Topic, but they aren't cheap there, that's for sure. Online options include:

- CornerStoreComics sells singles at $13, the set of four for $44, or the set of five at $55.

- Time and Space Toys has the figures at just $12 each, sold individually!

- Alter Ego has a case of 14 figures for $167, if you and some friends are looking to go in together. That's just $12 each.

- YouBuyNow has the individual figures at $13 each.

- Killer Toys has the singles for $12 - $14 each, and the set of four for $49.

- Amazing Toyz sells singles at $13 each, or the set of five at $55.

Related Links:
I've reviewed all the series so far, including series 1, series 2, and series 3 (with Bubba and John McClane  in one review, and Flyboy and the Endoskeleton in another), and of course, series 4.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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