Cult Classics 2
Nightmare Freddy, Frank the Bunny, Leatherface, Tallman

Cult Classics is NECA's line of movie figures, generally a jumble of licenses where only one or two figures from the film(s) really makes sense to produce. Their first series included Patrick Bateman from American Psycho, The Crow, the Mohawk Gremlin from Gremlins 2, and Jason from Friday the 13th part 7. They also released an 18" version of Patrick Bateman, and an 18" version of the Endo from Terminator 2.

The second series is now hitting shelves, and includes a couple more much requested figures, along with some old standbys. There's Leatherface from the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, in his formal dinner face, Freddy from New Nightmare, the Tallman from Phantasm, and Frank the Bunny from Donnie Darko.

These have just been hitting retail over the last couple weeks, with online stores getting them first in most cases. Expect to pay around $12 each, and I have some suggestions for you of excellent retailers at the end of the review.

Series 3 has just been announced this week as well, and includes the T-800 Endo from T2, John McClane from Diehard, Bubba Ho-Tep (let's hope we get an old Elvis too!), and the 'flyboy' Zombie from the original Dawn of the Dead. Initial release date is estimated at February of 2006. 

NECA is also going to be producing some 12" figures, and we'll see Frank the Bunny from this series get that treatment in February. He'll also have lines from the film, although it can't be too many.

Packaging -  ***1/2
NECA uses what is now the fairly industry standard clamshell packaging. It's sturdy, but can be tough to store for the MOCers. Still, they'll be happy that it lasts a long time, doesn't require a lot of care in handling, and is not going to get musty or suffer from water damage in a flood.

It will require a knife to open though, and there's a fair share of twisties, but nothing crazed. The insert is attractive and character specific, a big plus.

Sculpt - Frank, Freddy ***1/2; Leatherface, Tallman ***
While none of these sculpts completely blew me away, they were all solid, and a couple were better than I expected from early photos.

I hadn't expected to be real keen on Freddy, since I already have about 3 more than the number of stars in the sky.  But it turns out that this might be the best sculpt of the bunch, with an excellent job on the wounded head and skeletal hands.  The long coat looks terrific, and there's nice detail in the sweater, with the correct textures on the stripes.  The boots look great, and this dynamic pose is my favorite overall Freddy pose to this point.

Frank the Bunny's sculpt is might fine as well.  There's a ton of furry goodness in the suit detail, with a different texture and feel to the mask itself.  This is probably the most anticipated figure of the line, and the sculpt (at least of the masked figure) shouldn't disappoint.

Unfortunately for both of these figures, the paint application gets in the way of what might have been four star sculpts.

The biggest surprise for me was Leatherface.  I'm not a huge fan of his effeminate dinner face, but have to admit that they captured it well.  The pose is also better than I expected, once you get him out and straighten him up.  The 'turned to the side' appearance in the package doesn't do much for him, but once he's out on his base and facing forward, in a running pose, he looks ten times better.  He would have ended up at with another half point, had the hair been a tad closer to the source material.  Instead, it looks like he's Brad Pitt, who spent $500 on a stylist to get his hair looking messy.

Finally, there's the Tallman.  Phantasm is a true cult favorite, and I was really looking forward to this character based on the prototype photos.  Unfortunately, he doesn't live up to the expectation.  The head sculpt is a little rough, and he suffers from serious 'loomis' arms, with very thin biceps.  The sculpt isn't God awful, but when you go in expecting the thing of beauty that we had in the prototype, and then end up with a sculpt that's only slighty better than the average bear, you're always disappointed.

Tallman and Frank both stand without their bases, but both Freddy and Leatherface require them to stay upright.  Hand sculpts are designed to hold accessories where appropriate, and are generally done in interesting poses as well.

Scale is a tad wonky though.  Tallman, at about 8 1/4", is definitely tall.  The other three are all about 7 - 7 1/4" tall though, which makes Freddy way too big compared to Leatherface.

Paint - Freddy, Tallman ***; Leatherface **1/2; Frank **
I don't think I've said this quite often enough - a great paint job can make a mediocre sculpt shine, and a lousy one can make even Michelangelo's work look like crap.  This series is an excellent example.

Freddy's not bad, with only one minor annoyance really.  The gloss on the arms is much shinier than the jacket itself.  It's not a major issue, but it did bug me.  The gloss on the pants might turn off some folks, but I believe he wore leather pants in the film, so that's what they were going for.

In general, the rest of his work is good.  His eyes aren't perfectly on center with each other, but unless you take a photo of him like I did, you aren't probably going to notice.  The masking was fairly good, with little over spray or bleed, and there are a fair number of paint operations.

The Tallman isn't awful either, but has a handful of minor issues.  The hairline is a bit sloppy around the sideburns, his suit (which was definitely not leather) is a tad too shiny, and the skin tone on his face is a little too uneven.  But he still deserves ***.

Leatherface doesn't have any real slop, and the uneven tone of his face is on purpose, since he's wearing someone else's.  The small detail work is pretty good, but the eyes were also off just a tad.  But he has a problem that many other NECA figures tend to have - over use of the techniques of dry brushing and paint wash.

These two techniques are used to bring out highlights.  Dry brushing (which is poor Frank's problem) brings out the high points, while washes darken the low points.  Leatherface's white shirt has way too much wash, going from a highlight to excessive.  His jacket and pants also suffer from too much drybrushing, and end up looking a little too much like a frosted donut.

But his frosting isn't nearly as bad as poor Frank.  This is a guy that was at the donut factory when it exploded.  He reminds me of that I Love Lucy episode where she got into a flour fight with Ethel in the kitchen.

Okay, it's not quite that bad, but it's not good.  Rather than bring out the detail, it becomes distracting and over the top.  The wash on his shoes is so heavy it ends up obscuring the details of the sculpt, rather than bring them out.

On another note, Leatherface is also overly glossy, similar to Tallman.  Not sure what's up with that - at least Freddy's pants make sense.

Articulation - Freddy ***; Leatherface, Tallman **1/2; Frank **
These aren't meant to be superposeable. They have enough articulation to get them in one or two interesting movie-like poses, and then sit on the shelf.

Frank has the least joints, with only the ball jointed neck and cut shoulders.  He also has cut ankles, but the are almost completely restricted by the sculpt.  He looks good in one pose, and one pose only.

The Tallman also has the ball jointed neck, always a big plus, along with ball jointed shoulders, cut wrists, cut waist, and cut ankles. In fact, his feet are removable, and come off his body in the package, since he's too tall to fit otherwise.  Some additional arm articulation would have been nice, since the ball jointed shoulders don't do you much good without an elbows.

Leatherface also has that ball jointed neck - praise the Lord! - along with ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows, cut wrists and a cut waist.  There's no leg articulation, but the arm and ball jointed neck work really adds to the figure.  He is also very capable of holding the chainsaw in both hands.

Freddy is the most articulated, with the ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut elbows, cut wrists, cut waist, and cuts at the top of both boots.

Accessories - ***1/2
The Cult Classics line is doing a great job of adding in interesting and cool accessories.

Each figure comes with a base.  For Leatherface, it's some sandy ground with a couple plants sticking up.  His feet attach easily, and it holds him up great.  It has nice detail work, and really adds to the appearance of the figure.  He also has a armadillo with him, which sports a great sculpt and paint job, but seems a tad too small to be in scale.  He also comes with his bloodied chainsaw, which fits nicely in his hands.  The mask is NOT removable - trust me, I tried.  You can get it off, but there' little sculpting beneath.

The Tallman's base is the portal thingamabob from the film.  It's a tad plain, but it was in the flick as well.  He also has one of his nasty balls and a very cool evil minion figure.  The little guy (who is about 4" tall) has cut shoulders and wrists AND a ball jointed neck all his own!

Freddy has two heads, with *slightly* different sculpts. And I mean slightly.  I'm not sure what the point was of giving us two heads so close in sculpt, and it really doesn't add much to the package.  I do love his base though, with the swirling snakes and busted up column.  He also has his hat of course, and it fits pretty easily on either head.  Ah, and let's not forget the script, with tiny print you can even read!

Frank the Bunny has his extra head as well, and the sculpt is pretty decent.  The work on the missing eye is particularly realistic and gruesome.  However, this head is MUCH smaller than the prototype version, almost to the point of pinhead size.  After playing around with it awhile, I decided that it's not so much the size of the head that's off, but the size of the neck.  Anyone in a suit, especially a big furry suit, always looks like they have a small head when the pull off the mask.  Think about it for a minute, picture someone maskless in a fur suit, and you'll know what I mean.

But the neck that this head is supposed to connect to is ginormous.  I could barely get the head to fit on the post, and the difference between the head and neck was really obvious to the eye.  Add to that a very different skin color between the neck and head, and you get a very odd appearance.

Frank also comes with a terrific base, showing the mailbox of Roberta's house, along with the rocky yard.  The mailbox sculpt is fantastic, with lots of cool weathering, and the door opens up.  There's a letter for dear Roberta that can slip right inside as well.

Fun Factor - **
None of these is designed to be a toy, so this score won't reflect in the overall with any real weight. Still, if you were thinking your five year old might have a good time with Leatherface, I'd rethink it.

Value - **1/2
Expect to pay around $12 each for these, which is pretty much the average going rate of the specialty market movie based action figure these days.

Things to watch out for - 
Be careful popping the heads on and off for Freddy and Frank, as they are all quite tight on the posts.  Other than that, I didn't have any concerns.

Overall -  Freddy ***1/2; Leatherface, Tallman ***; Frank **1/2
I was surprised that once I considered everything, Freddy was the best figure of this set.  I hadn't expected that, so it kind of snuck up on me.  But the sculpt is great, I love the pose and base, and the paint ops work the best.

Leatherface turned out better than I expected, and if he hadn't had the overdone paint applications, he would have scored another half star higher.  He looks better in the running pose once he's out of the package, and the sculpt is good, if you can get past the hair.

The Tallman and Frank were disappointments to me.  Not so much that they won't take their place on the shelf with my other movie figures, oh no.  But considering the high hopes I had for both, they didn't come close to living up to them.

The Tallman sculpt simply didn't survive the process from prototype to final product in tact, and Frank's paint job turned what appears to be a fantastic sculpt into an average figure at best.

Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - Frank, Freddy ***1/2; Leatherface ***; Tallman **1/2
Paint - Freddy, Tallman ***; Leatherface **1/2; Frank **
Articulation - Freddy ***; Leatherface, Tallman **1/2; Frank **
Outfit - ***
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - **
Value - **1/2
Overall -  Freddy ***1/2; Leatherface, Tallman ***; Frank **1/2

Where to Buy -
There's plenty of online opportunities - here are some good ones:

- has the individual figures for $10.50 each. They also have preorders up at that price for series 3.

- Amazing Toyz has the set for $45, and the individual figures for $11 - $14, depending on the character.

- CornerStoreComics has the full set for $45, and the individual figures for $12 each. They also have series 1 stuff still available, and preorders up for series 3 and the 12" Frank the Bunny ($24).

- Alter Ego Comics has the set of four for $47.57. They also have the 12" Frank up for preorder for $25.50, and the 3 series of Cult Classics for $47.56.

- Killer Toys has the full set for $50, or the individual figures for $14 each.

Related Links -
I reviewed the Mohawk Gremlin and Patrick Bateman from series 1, and you can check out the photos of series 3 here and here.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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