Origins Highlander Boxed Set
Connor vs Kurgan

The Disappearing One is back tonight with a great review of the new Highlander boxed set from NECA - what's the scoop, DO?

If you were to go back in time and tell my past self that one day I would own not one, not two, but THREE plastic renditions of Connor MacLeod I would've told you that you were crazy. Even three or four years ago when we were at the height of the collector-oriented market, when the nichiest of niche properties where getting plastic love, it seemed that Highlander just didn't have the following to make toys feasible.

But here I am today, with Highlander figures in my greasy mitts. The first company to handle the license was Sideshow, with their nice (but pricey) 12 inch figures. Now it's NECA's turn to make figures of everyone's favorite head-chopping Scottish immortal played by an American-born Frenchman, doing figures in the scale and style made popular by McFarlane's Movie Maniacs.

So cue up your favorite Queen CD and turn the volume up, cuz we're taking a look at NECA's Highlander Medieval Box Set, which features Connor MacLeod and evil bad guy immortal Kurgan as they appeared during their first meeting on the battlefield.

Packaging - ***
The box features some attractive graphics, using pictures of the toys themselves with lightening (or "Quickening", for those in the know) and castle walls in the background. On the back of the box is another pic of both figures and a brief description of the characters. They get some extra points for using the original Highlander logo from the movie posters as opposed the TV show logo which seems to have become the only "official" logo used anymore. Inside you'll encounter a fair number of twist-ties, but if you're careful as you open the box (and are FAR more patient that I) you could probably put the figures back in later if you wanted to since you don't have to destroy anything to get the figures out.

My only real issue with the box is that MacLeod seemed sort of stuck back in the corner, and at least in mine, he was looking down and to the right, making it hard to get a good look at him until I had removed him from the box. Still, as always, packaging has no real purpose other than to get the toys to me intact, so I won't hold it against the set.

Sculpting - ****
I can't imagine that we're likely to see a better likeness of Christopher Lambert at this scale. That distinctive forehead, the brow, the nose - that's Lambert, no question. The hair is sculpted to lay out over the cape, and it can look little odd when you take off the cape, but I've found that I can usually arrange it look more natural. Long hair has often been an issue for NECA but they've pulled it off successfully here.

The great sculpt doesn't stop at the head - the aforementioned cape, all the little buckles and straps, the wrinkles and folds of the kilt, all little ornamental doodads on his outfit - all of it looks great.

MacLeod is sculpted in a rather neutral stance, which is a bit of a departure for NECA, as they tend to suggest some motion in their sculpts. The pose seems to be lifted directly from a poster image of Lambert standing with his hand resting on the pommel of his sword, and they've absolutely nailed it.

I could pretty much copy and paste most of my comments for MacLeod's sculpt in the spot for Kurgan's. Pulling off a likeness when most of the head is covered is probably tricky, but I'll be danged if I don't see Clancy Brown in there. Kurgan's over the top facial expression is lifted straight from the shot in the movie where he stabs MacLeod on the battlefield, thus "killing" MacLeod for the first time. I usually prefer more neutral expressions on toys, but given it's straight from the movie, I won't complain. And hey, the character was pretty over the top in every way possible, so I think it works well in this case.

Then there's his distinctive animal skull-themed armor, which looks fantastic as well. All the little doohickeys and whatsits are there, but it doesn't look too overdone or clunky. In addition, you have all the "real" fur bits which works quite nicely.

His stance is more action-oriented than MacLeod's, suggesting that he's about to lunge forward to attack. It works well, without being too overly contorted as can often happen with more pre-posed figures.

I was initially a bit disappointed with the scars on the side of his face - they're there, but very faintly - but had they been more prominent, they likely would've been TOO prominent, so I'm okay with the trade off.

Paint - MacLeod, ***; Kurgan, ***
The pattern on the kilt is nice and neat, as is all the paint on the costume. There's a very light brown wash on the skin to bring out some detail and it works pretty well without being overdone, and they've actually given him a bit of a 5 o'clock shadow.

When solid color meets flesh is where there are some issues. The hairline isn't quite as clean as it could be, and there's an occasional random fleck of brown on his arms and legs. He's also got a weird brown splotch on each elbow - I'm not sure if they were trying to paint his arm hair (which is sculpted on) or what, but it looks a bit odd. There's also a little bit of sloppiness where the arms meet the sleeves. These aren't major problems, but they are enough to knock a star off the score.

Kurgan's paint is pretty darn impressive, from his teeth (somehow, you can't help but get the feeling that there's not a bottle of Listerine sitting on his bathroom sink) and the dark circles under his eyes, to the intricate detail on his armor. All of it looks outstanding. Mine has one tiny little spot of misplaced paint on this hand. Seriously, that's the only bad spot I could find.

Articulation - MacLeod, ***; Kurgan, **
If you're familiar with NECA's movie figures, then you probably have a pretty good idea what you're in for here. They're not super-articulated by any means.. but that doesn't mean they don't have a surprise or two.

MacLeod fares better in the movement department than your average NECA figure, which is aided even further by the neutral pose. He's got the usual ball-jointed neck (movement is somewhat limited by the hair), ball-jointed shoulders, cuts at the elbows, wrists, waist, and tops of boots, and ball jointed hips. I'm not sure if NECA has EVER done ball hips before. Heck, most of their figures don't have hip articulation PERIOD. I suspect they gave MacLeod hip movement because the kilt would cover up the joints, so they didn't have to worry about marring the lines of the sculpt. However, the kilt blocks much of the potential movement, so it really only aids in adjusting his stance slightly.

Kurgan's articulation is a little more like what we're used to seeing from NECA. He's got the ball-jointed neck, ball shoulders (blocked a bit by the shoulder armor), ball joint on the right elbow, cut joint on the left elbow, cut right wrist, ball mid-torso, and a cut waist. He's immobile from the waist down.

I think the mid-torso joint is the most interesting, as I can't quite remember if NECA has done that before. It work nicely and helps you to get the attitude you're looking for when posing him. The ball joint at the right elbow is also good for varying the way he holds his sword.

Accessories - MacLeod, ****; Kurgan, **
I'm counting all separate pieces as accessories, so MacLeod fairs rather well with five; the sword, shield, cape, "sash", and base.

For those of you that read my review of Sideshow's Origins Connor (both of ya) you may remember that I griped a bit about the sword. Well, that won't be the case here as NECA based this sword directly on the one actually seen in the movie. It looks great for the scale, with the Celtic swirly-doodles and the "MacLeod" neatly inscribed on the hilt.

The shield, which didn't serve him too well on the battlefield, looks good with all of the little studs individually sculpted and painted, and it does successfully convey leather stretched over wood. There are two rubber straps on the back that go over his arm. I'd be careful with the straps since it's not too hard to imagine that they could break if too much stress is put on them.

The cape is removed by pulling off Connor's head (which allows you to have Kurgan win if so desired) It blocks most of his arm movement, so you're going to have to take it off you want to do much posing with him.

One thing about the sash - NECA photographed and packaged MacLeod with it over his right shoulder, but it's actually supposed to be over his left. Not only is that the accurate placement, but it's obviously sculpted to go on the left since it fits better. At some point between the sculpting and photographing phase it must've gotten switched somehow and no one noticed.

Kurgan is a little lighter in the category with only his sword and base. The sword is off - it's just too darn small. The sword in the movie was this massive, chunky, intimidating, heavy-looking sword and this just doesn't quite match up. His grip on the sword is really tight - so tight, that I've never actually removed it from his hand out of fear that it might break.

Both figures come with bases which loosely interconnect to have MacLeod and Kurgan facing off to recreate their first confrontation. They both look appropriately rocky and muddy, with grass pieces made of softer rubber. Kurgan's base has an undersized skull on it which seems a little out of place to me, but it's not too big a deal. Each base has two pegs to ensure that the figures stand on them securely, but both figures stand fine on their own so the bases can be put aside completely if you'd prefer to display the figures alone.

Fun Factor - ***
Although there is playability here, these are definitely mainly meant to look cool sitting on your shelf. Still, as a fan of the property, I can't help but get some serious nerdly enjoyment out of arranging these guys in various fighting positions.

Value - ***
I paid about $25 for this set from via Ebay, and while it may not the deal of the century, I think that it's pretty fair for two collector market figures. They tend to run from $10 to $15 individually at most places, so at $25 for the set they cost me about $12.50 each. Shop around a bit and you may find a better deal, but I didn't want to wait. I have no places left in my area that would carry stuff like this so online was pretty much my only option.

Overall - ***1/2
The fan boy in me wanted to give this set four stars, but I couldn't ignore Connor's (fairly minor) paint issues and Kurgan's undersized sword. But even so with these issues, these are still fantastic figures. I honestly think these are two of the best sculpts NECA has done to date.

I have acquired a pretty good number of NECA figures at this point - most of the Sin City figures, most of the Kill Bill figures, and a number of other assorted figures - and these easily top my list of favorite NECA figures. NECA has a bit of a reputation for being extremely hit or miss, and it's not entirely undeserved, but with this set they've not only hit - they've come as close to knocking it out of the park as I've seen them come, and perhaps it's a sign of things to come from them. Hopefully NECA will give us more Highlander figures before they're done with the license. Modern MacLeod and Kurgan? Yes please.

Packaging: ***
Sculpting: ****
Paint: MacLeod, ***; Kurgan, ***
Articulation: MacLeod, ***; Kurgan, **
Accessories: MacLeod, ****; Kurgan, **
Fun Factor: ***
Value: ***
Overall: ***1/2

Where To Buy:
Your online options include:

- Amazing Toyz has it at $24.

- YouBuyNow has it at just $24.95.

- Alter Ego Comics has it for $25.49.

- Killer Toys has the set at $26.95.

Figure from the collection of Disappearing One.

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