Updated: May 12
Review : Ultimate Tech Noir Terminator The Terminator, NECA Wave/Series : Ultimate Series Released : July 2016
£22.99 - £25.99
After giving us the three iconic characters from Terminator 2, NECA is now winding back the clock to 1984 and bringing us figures from the original Terminator movie in their exciting Ultimate format. Although we are unlikely to get any figures past the titular character from T1, their addition to the range will be welcomed by fans. Summer 2016 see's us getting two Terminators from T1 in quick succession, and in this review we will look at the first release - The Tech Noir Ultimate Terminator.
The Ultimate series packaging design has been locked in since it launched in 2014, but each box is carefully designed to replicate the look and feel of the original movie. The Tech Noir is no difference, with the front of the box dominated by a replication of the original 1984 promotional poster. The words Schwarzenegger are emblazoned across the top in bold red text, and under this is a head and shoulders shot of Arnie as the Terminator. To the bottom left of this image is a movie synopsis in white text, a direct replication of the wording used on the poster and the box ends with "The Terminator" text logo.
This "The Terminator" text is replicated on the top of the box and on either spine and is placed across a red 1980's laser grid background, it is here also that the NECA and Reel Toys logo first appears. Round the back of the box we get a series of images, this time of the figure itself and with some digital text that we would normally see scrolling through the Terminator eyes as they processed a target.
Like all Ultimate releases, the figure itself is not immediately visible. You view it by opening the front flap which is held in place by two Velcro tabs. The opening flap is decorated by a full image of the figure itself against a nondescript grey and red background. The figure and its various swap out parts can then be viewed through the viewing window. The inner tray slides out via the top or bottom flap and is packed against a four sided cardboard background which represents a generic road with concrete crash barriers.
Looking at the figure first, Tech Noir stands a touch over 7 inches tall and is beautiful representation of the youthful Arnie from 1984, there is no re-use of the T800 head from the T2 series where Arnie was obviously older. The heads are of course no doubt tweaked from the first set of Terminator figures, but they are still an almost perfect likeness of Arnie. Out of the box the figure comes fitted with the undamaged Tech Noir nightclub head, the one with a centre parting on the hair as seen when the T800 reaches the club looking for Sarah Connor. The sculpt is crisp and like a lot of NECA faces is sculpted with a personality and a "look" rather than being a neutral face. The head is painted well with varying tones of flesh accentuating that frowning brow and the angular chin. The lips are just a shade redder and are very natural, with the eyes very intense and extremely neat considering the space the factory have to paint the whites of the eyes and then the pupils. It's not all perfect however as my review figure did have a couple of blemishes on the nose and the side of the chin. The hair captures that centre parting that Arnie wears early in the film really well and you can see the individual strand detail which is further enhanced with a dry brush of lighter brown on the dark brown base coat.
The jacket, relieved in the movie of course from a punk when Arnie arrived in 1984. the detail is the usual high level that NECA fans are used to. The jacket has a worn and dirty look and is creased and folded in the right areas to hang perfectly natural off Arnie's frame. There are zippers and buttons, and round the back is the beautiful black triangular section complete with silver studs - each one is sculpted and then painted, with not one paint splodge or smear. There is also a real chain over the left shoulder that is a metal type material and is perfectly in scale with the figure and hangs nicely on both front and back - brilliant, this could have so easily been a plastic sculpt or even a painted piece.
Under the jacket is the graffiti shirt and this extends well under the jacket, it's not just painted in a strip that you can see through the coat. The hands are black gloss fingerless gloves, and these are a bit too shiny for my liking and the studs here are painted and therefore not as defined.
Down into the trousers, and these are a brown textured effect and again have folds and creases where you would expect and are weathered and grimy thanks to a paint job that other firms would have simply made plain and fresh - this all adds to the personality of the figure. The motorcycle boots are just as well detailed, and are thankfully not as glossy as the gloves and are complete with metal and leather straps and another chain (sculpted plastic this time) round one boot.
Like all Ultimate series the Tech Noir Terminator is jam packed with a number of options that you can use to vary the figure you put on display. So what can you swap out on the figure? Well the first thing is the head, for which you have three options. Aside for the centre parting head we have just discussed, there are then two further heads which are presented with a variant hair style - the one Arnie was sporting after the battle with Kyle Reese in Tech Noir. This hair look is starting to migrate to Arnie's soon to be trademark crew cut. These two faces are not a direct re-use of the first with a slightly varying expression on each. The undamaged head on mine is looking to one side, am not sure if this is deliberate. The damaged head is presented without his left eye which instead is painted in a blood red. Both heads snap on the ball joint really tightly and do require a bit of force.
The next swap out is Arnie's right forearm. This pulls out at the elbow joint and can then be replaced by a second version where the sleeve is rolled up to the elbow and on the exposed arm the skin is peeled back to expose the metal tendons underneath - all of it sculpted and painted in true 18 rating gory detail. To enhance this additional arm there are also two scissor pincers included for Arnie to perform his own repairs. Sadly the figure does not hold these all to well and essentially display wise you need to pose Arnie with his arm on a table with the scissors either side to look relatively screen accurate. The scissors are also very fragile and one pair of mine snapped straight out of the box. The other hand is not left out as this can be swapped for a closed/clenched fist version if that is your desire.
And as Arnie is of course a killing machine from the future he also comes with three weapons. The first a shot gun which is cleanly sculpted ad painted with a light brown stock and a gun metal barrel. The shotgun will hit into either open hand - not the clenched fist or the damaged version - and looks "OK". Sadly the figure articulation doesn't allow a two handed pose as the arms and coat are a bit too bulky to bring the left arm across enough to cradle the barrel. The other two weapons are single handed guns which look more natural. The first is a sighted handgun cast in a silver with a black wash and black hand grip. The other is a plain black cast automatic weapon. Both of these single handed guns do suffer a bit from being a softer plastic and both came out of the box a little misshapen - but nothing a hot water or hairdryer couldn't fit.
So the arms aren't the best in terms of articulation to hold a shotgun, but they do have enough movement to allow them to be stretched out to the side and to rotate over the head. The elbow then bends to 90 degrees, and yet is well disguised within the sculpt and doubles as a swap out part on one of the arms. Each wrist is on a ball joint, with a reversal of usual pegged hands and with a more solid ball attached to the arm and the socket piece being on the hand. This makes them more robust and they feel like they have a wider range of movement.
Legs start with hips that are once again behind this flexible crotch area that NECA have used a number of times now to stop the hips looking too unnatural, but retaining a decent about of movement. Like most NECA figures you won't sit Arnie down or put him in the splits. The knees further support lower body articulation, but are single jointed not double. They do rotate though, as does a further joint at the top of the boots. And even with this the ankle rocker still remains without ruining the cut of the boot.
That just leads the head articulation to talk about, and that is just about perfect in that they can be swapped out with a bit of effort - but also rotate fully and look up and down. This means you can position the head looking down, and coupled with those intense and frowning eye brows it makes Arnie look very menacing.
Tech Noir Arnie is another NECA master stroke. It gets a highly sought after figure back into circulation with the bonus of allowing collectors to tweak the look to how they want to show off their T800. You may even want to buy two or more for your Terminator display. The level of detail is insane for the price point, the jacket alone being a masterpiece let alone the graffiti T-Shirt underneath. The damaged arm is really well done, but the scissor pincers a little too fragile and without a real option to pose Arnie as you see him in the film - but that would be asking a bit too much from a £25 figure. There are then three weapon options, all of which are detailed and engineered well to fit into the gripping hands. All that for the same price essentially as a smaller less detailed Star Wars or Marvel figure from Hasbro? I award the Tech Noir Ultimate Terminator a 5 out of 5 and look forward to moving on to the subsequent Police Station Assault figure.