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At this past July’s San Diego Comic Con, toy company NECA captured lightning in a bottle when they released one of the most unique action figures of all time.  Inspired by a custom toy a fan by the name of Will Edwards had made, they repainted one of their Jason Voorhees action figures with vibrant purple and baby blue colors – making the big guy look the way he did in the infamous 1989 Friday the 13th NES video game.

Exclusive to the Comic Con event, the 8-bit Jason figures became the talk of the horror community that weekend, fans clamoring to get their hands on one.  The brilliant idea proved a very profitable one for both NECA and those who were lucky enough to snatch one up, as the figures continue to sell for upwards of $150 on eBay.

http://youtu.be/tjG9l6_DZig

Not surprisingly, it didn’t take long for NECA to attempt to capture that same lightning in a bottle, one more time.  Not long after Comic Con, they unveiled an NES-inspired Freddy Krueger figure, giving Freddy the same treatment they gave Jason and painting him to look the way he did in the Nightmare on Elm Street NES game, which was also released in 1989 (watch the full game above!).  Their 8-bit Freddy figures have begun shipping out as of the first of this month, and the toys are limited to one production run – though they’re not exclusive to one event or retailer, the way the Jason figures were.

Now that I’ve got one in my hands, let’s take a closer look at NECA’s second addition to their budding NES-inspired line!

If you’ve ever played LJN’s incredibly frustrating and much-maligned Nightmare on Elm Street NES game, you may remember that the Freddy Krueger sprite you did battle with in the game looked a little bit different than Freddy did in the movies.  Though not nearly as unusual as Jason’s blue and purple NES makeover, NES Freddy had black holes in place of eyes, a glove that was the same color as his burnt flesh, and a striped sweater that looked more red and brown than it did red and green.  As for Freddy’s pants, rather than going with the brown color that they used in place of the green on his sweater, the video game technicians instead decided to just color them the same reddish-pink color as the other stripes on his sweater – making Freddy look more like a Christmas decoration than he already did to begin with.

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In order to convey this look, NECA put together parts from a few of their past Freddy figures – which there have been no shortage of, over the years.  The company has to date made figures based on every single installment in the franchise – including Freddy vs Jason and even the remake – and they just released Series 4 of their Elm Street line, which consists of ‘Power Glove’ Freddy and ‘Springwood Slasher’ Freddy, the latter of which depicts Fred Krueger before he became a burnt up dream demon.  From what I can tell, they used the body from a Series 1 Freddy, the arms from a Series 2 Freddy and the alternate head from a Series 3 Freddy, which they slapped together and then repainted – turning a movie Freddy sculpt into the video game Freddy you see above.

There’s been a bit of backlash against these video game-inspired figures in the horror community, which I feel I must address before I go any further.  While most fans appreciate them and want more, others are a bit disappointed that they’re simple repaints at the end of the day, feeling that NECA is cashing in on our nostalgia by turning old toys into new toys, and making a whole lot of money in the process.  True, both the Jason and Freddy figures are repaints of past releases of the characters, but I see little reason for that to upset anyone.  If you don’t want to buy them, you don’t have to.  But if you’re looking for unique additions to your action figure collection, NECA has totally been delivering with this line, which I personally hope to see them continue in the future.  We’ve gotten so many figures of the two characters over the years, and I love the fact that NECA has been thinking outside of the box, and giving us toys the likes of which we’ve never seen before.  So repaint all you want NECA, and I’ll keep buying!

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Based solely on the sculpt, this is one of the best Freddy figures we’ve ever seen.  NECA has been absolutely killing it with their Freddy releases in recent years, and this 7″ figure represents all the best parts of their previous offerings.  The head is absolutely perfect and the body is sculpted in such a way that it very much embodies the overall feel of the character, with articulation in all the right places in order to convey that iconic Freddy stance.  The hands, elbows and shoulders are all articulated, as is the torso (which features a rubber sweater), neck and ankles.  The legs feature no articulation, which I personally prefer given the fact that it gives the figure a sturdy base to stand on.  I’ve had a problem with a few NECA figures in the past, and their inability to stand up on their own, but this one requires absolutely no finesse in order to display it.  It’s the little things in life that I appreciate, and I most definitely appreciate that.

But again, this one’s all about the paint job, rather than the sculptural work – most people buying this figure already own the previous figures it’s comprised of.  Though I can’t deny that Jason’s look in his NES game was a lot more unique, and much more conducive to turning into its own oddball action figure, NECA did manage to nail the reds, browns and tans that made up the NES Freddy sprite.  The result is without question the most unique Freddy toy ever made, though it’s certainly not as much of a stand-out in my collection as their NES Jason is.  The fact of the matter is that Freddy’s look in the game wasn’t all that much different from his look in the movies, so the figure kind of just looks like a Freddy figure with red pants, that they forgot to paint the glove on.  Definitely an attempt to cash-in on the success of the much more unique Jason figure, at the end of the day, but nevertheless an oddball toy that’s a must-own for all hardcore fans and collectors of Freddy merch.  Would it have been even cooler if they included one of the snakes, skeletons or zombies that were for whatever reason in the game?  Most definitely.  But I’m appreciative that they put forth the effort of making this figure at all, so you won’t find me issuing any complaints or voicing any dissatisfaction.

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What really seals the deal with this figure is that NECA again housed it inside of NES-inspired packaging, as they did with their Jason figure.  Measuring 9.5″x6.5″, the oversized box looks exactly like the box that the 1989 video game was packaged in, right down to text on the back that states the plot of the game.  A flap on the front of the packaging opens up to reveal even more treats, including the game’s death screen and status bar.  Behind Freddy is the 8-bit rendition of 1428 Elm Street, as it was seen in the game.  I’d have to argue that the packaging is as cool as the figure itself on this one, which is the same way I felt about the Comic Con Jason figure.  The toy may just be a repaint, but the packaging makes this one hell of a nostalgia-inducing treat.

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The good news, for those who want one of these, is that you can find it for a whole lot cheaper than you’ll find the 8-bit Jason figure for.  They’re currently in stock over at Unmasked Collectibles for a mere $21.99, and I can personally vouch for the service and fast shipping of that company – that’s where I got mine from, after all.  Again though, NECA has limited these to only one production run, so you’d better grab one while you still can, because I can be pretty sure that they’ll soon be selling for a whole lot more money, once toy retailers no longer have them in stock.

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Up next, NECA gives Robocop the NES treatment, which you can see pictures of over on their website!