Overlooked Masterpieces: NECA Tonto
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
technically this isn't a review of any kind. Instead, it's a terrific
photo shoot by my friend Monte Williams, a guy that designs and
executes on exceptional outdoor photos with your favorite figures.
In this article, he's covering one of his favorite, most
photogenic recent figures - the Tonto figure from NECA. Take it away,
I am not here to defend Gore Verbinski’s The Lone Ranger. A
number of perceptive writers (Matt Zoller Seitz of Roger Ebert.com,
Angie Errigo of Empire, Mark Hughes of Forbes, Luke Y. Thompson of
Topless Robot, Walter Chaw of Film Freak Central and Andrew O’Hehir of
Salon, among others) have already championed that misunderstood,
uneven, ambitious film, so in lieu of another redundant piece of film
criticism or a handwringing analysis of the casting of Johnny Depp as a
Native American, I’ll focus on something important: toys.
I don’t suppose that what follows can rightly be called a defense of
the NECA Tonto action figure, either, if only because defense isn’t
precisely what the toy warrants. After all, reviews of NECA’s Tonto are
overwhelmingly positive; Michael Crawford praised both the seven-inch
figure and its towering quarter-scale
counterpart here at the Review of
the Week site, The Fwoosh’s RoboKillah wrote a giddy review, and OAFE’s
Monkey Boy and Bill Sencio of Kastor’s Korner both admired the figure
despite their misgivings about the film.
And while I normally don’t make a point of perusing the comments of
anonymous shoppers (recall the brilliant headline from The Onion:
“Majority Of Human Discourse Now Occurring In Online Product Reviews”),
it is perhaps worth noting that, of the twelve customer reviews of
NECA’s Tonto at Amazon.com, ten rate it a 5-star figure.
If not a defense, then, I guess this hasty essay and barrage of
portraits is simply a tribute. While most toy collectors seem willing
enough to agree that NECA’s Tonto is a neat toy, few bothered to
actually buy it—presumably due to a general lack of interest in the
film—and consequently, too few toy enthusiasts have made a point of
capturing photographs of the figure. This is a shame, for whether on
its own or standing alongside the Lone Ranger figure, NECA’s Tonto is
one of the most photogenic, inspired action figures of the decade.
The most obvious selling point of NECA’s Tonto is its sculpt, produced
by the talented Kyle Windrix. The complexity of the cracked face paint
is eerie and astonishing, and its Johnny Depp likeness puts the Hot
Toys Tonto portrait to shame despite costing only ten percent
Hot Toys figure costs.
However, for me at least, the most important component of the figure is
its articulation. Indeed, if Tonto had featured the limited
articulation most NECA figures boasted until 2012 or so, I might never
have purchased him. It was only when they included proper leg
articulation in their figures that I finally gave NECA a chance to
impress me, and now, such is my mania for the Tonto figure, I’ve even
purchased some older NECA figures with no leg articulation. (One
example is Jonah Hex, another Old West masterpiece that too few bought
and fewer still elect to photograph.)
Beyond the aesthetics and the affordability and the articulation,
however, and certainly unrelated or only peripherally related to
whatever affection I might harbor for 2013’s The Lone Ranger, there is
some intangible yet transcendent appeal to the Tonto figure, a special
invitingness that is all too rare in toys these days. Put another way:
my NECA Tonto portraits are never my most popular toy photos… but they
are almost always my best toy photos.
Some action figures are shelf fodder. A precious few become nostalgic
favorites, and fewer still become muses, inspiring a creativity and
speculation and wonder that come as close as an aging toy enthusiast is
likely to get to the immersive, consuming play of childhood.
Tonto is just such a muse.
Keep scrolling down for more exceptional photos of Tonto from Monte!
this review with others!
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Monte Williams.