I swear this blog is not just a NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blog, even though that’s what it has looked like lately. I’ve just been getting crushed with new releases lately, but it looks like a drought of some length will be incoming soon. Before that can happen though we need to talk about everyone’s favorite vigilante: Casey Jones!
It was over a year ago that NECA released its Casey Jones and Raphael two-pack from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie line. The Jones figure came with a masked portrait, golf bag, assorted melee weapons, and a whole bunch of hands. It was basically everything a fan would want of a Casey Jones figure based on his appearance in the first film, a figure that had never been done before despite the character’s popularity. There was just one thing missing: an unmasked face.
When it comes to producing action figures based on a real life actor certain legal hurdles must be cleared in order to recreate the likeness of a real person. When it came to Casey Jones actor Elias Koteas, he apparently had no desire to be cast in plastic. The message was relayed to fans through NECA and Koteas would expound on that on social media a bit basically just saying he thought it was a bit weird to be turned into a toy. It’s probably not something the average person ever considers, but I guess it is weird for random people to just have a small version of you that they can do whatever they want with. Enter Judith Hoag, the actor who portrayed April O’Neil in that film and has been a bit of a champion of that film for the past few years. She was rather enthusiastic about the prospect of an April O’Neil figure and when she found out Koteas wasn’t onboard she reached out. She’s apparently a very convincing woman because soon after he was onboard and NECA was cleared to create the Casey Jones figure it and the fans wanted from the start.
The only problem there is that approval from the actor came too late to incorporate that into the first edition figure. It was really right around the time that figure was hitting retail that Koteas shared on social media that he was now onboard. I’m sure NECA was happy to have that approval, but probably not super excited for that information to come out while they were trying to sell the masked version. It ended up not mattering as that set was a bear to track down at retail as it sold out almost immediately. NECA would eventually open it up for preorder though on their site, so I’m assuming that everyone who wanted that two-pack at the time now has it.
With that figure already done, what was NECA to do with the actor likeness? Well, they felt a re-release was in order, but rather than update that two-pack and ask collectors to rebuy Raph, they decided to single pack him as one of their Ultimates releases. Ultimate Casey Jones is basically true to that expression as he’s now equipped with everything you need. He has all of the same weapons and hands as before, but now he comes with an unmasked head and a loose mask for good measure. It’s a very familiar release as a result, but if you must have that unmasked portrait here is your chance. It was, after all, a bit easy to dismiss the likeness issue because most likely agree that Casey looks cooler with the mask on. Had the original come with the unmasked head from the start, how likely were collectors to actually display him without the mask? Personally, I wasn’t likely to, but it’s also worth noting he wears the mask in the film for maybe 5 minutes. Probably less. He’s introduced with the mask, but quickly removes it to deal with Raph. When he rescues April and the turtles from the Foot he once again dons the mask, but that scene is brief and once it’s over the mask is put away for good. That’s why it’s entirely defensible for collectors to want the unmasked version. Plus, Koteas isn’t a bad-looking dude. He deserves to have that face uncovered.
Ultimate Casey Jones is nearly the same figure as before, so I suppose this review should be brief. There are some changes though, so it’s not just a straight re-release. Now the figure comes in the Ultimates styled packaging, the five panel box with numerous product shots all around with a neat mask picture (like a photo of NECA’s own prop replica) on the cover. The figure comes with the masked portrait on and he’s still in his main attire in the film: white shirt, tattered vest, gray sweatpants. The sculpting and paint job is handled pretty well. This isn’t a knock your socks off kind of release, because the character isn’t some crazy mutant, but what is here is handled well. My only gripe when it comes to the paint is that the shoulder joints are just painted white which flakes off so he looks like he has rips in his armpits when raising his arms out. The same paint flaking issue also affects the ankles as his socks are painted over a black hinge, but it’s not that noticeable due to his footwear. Otherwise, it’s great as the white shirt has this dingy quality to it like the character just puts this on every night without washing it. The texture and paint on the fingerless gloves is well down, though there’s some minor paint imperfections on some of the fingers, and the sweatpants look like sweatpants. If the knee joints were less visible it would be easy to mistake them for soft goods.
Of course, what we need to talk about is the face. That’s the main selling point, after all. And as far as the likeness goes, this is well done. Actor likenesses are hard and NECA certainly knows that. Their Back to the Future line contains a tremendous likeness with its Doc Brown character, but those Marty McFly figures are pretty rough. For Casey, the likeness isn’t as breathtaking as the Doc Brown figures, but it is very good. This looks like Elias Koteas and he has a hint of a smile on his face that’s suitable for the character. The hair looks good, it’s well-painted, and I think collectors (and hopefully Koteas) will be pleased with this one.
The other difference with this release is with the articulation. This guy is largely the same, so I’ll run down what is the same as the prior release: ball-jointed head, ball-hinged shoulders, wrist swivels with horizontal hinges, waist twist, hips, single-hinged knees, hinged ankles, ankle swivel. The big change, is in the elbows. The prior release had double-jointed elbows and it was the odd NECA-styled double elbow which rotate above and below the joint, but contains a huge (relatively speaking) joiner in-between. The end result is the elbow doesn’t really point like a real elbow should and instead looks square when bent. The range is awesome, but the aesthetics not so much. NECA agreed so this release just has a single hinge and swivel at the elbow. This means Casey can’t really bend his elbow past 90 degrees, but it does look better. It’s a trade-off worth making, in my opinion, and it looks like NECA is about to make a similar change to it’s April O’Neil movie figure only with her it’s the knees and not the elbows.
The actual articulation on this release works okay. He’s not a truly dynamic figure which could frustrate some. Part of that is due to the limited torso articulation. I didn’t include it in the list of joints, but there’s almost certainly some diaphragm joint in this guy, but it’s functionally useless. That’s due to NECA using an overlay for the shirt, which certainly looks more authentic, but results in lesser poses. His feet also can create problems because he’s wearing high tops, which just don’t move as well as some other styles of foot wear. You get little ankle rotation and the hinge only affords so much as well. I will say this one seems to stand better than my previous release, so maybe something has been changed in there, but if so I can’t pinpoint what that change would be. The other articulation shortcoming rests in the hands, which all feature horizontal hinges. Again, we saw this with the Shadow Warriors set, NECA is really good about giving someone like Leonardo vertical hinges to properly wield his katana, but seemingly everyone else who would benefit from the same is left wanting. He even has two sets of gripping hands that are almost identical. I thought maybe with the original release it was a factory error and one set was supposed to have the vertical hinge, but apparently that wasn’t the case.
The accessory count should feel familiar to anyone with the first Casey release. He has a boat load of hands for starters that include pairs of gripping hands, slightly looser gripping hands, and fists. He also has an even looser left gripping hand for supporting his goalie stick and a pointing right hand. The plastic is rather pliable on the hands which makes it nice and easy to work the weapons in and out, making one set of gripping hands feel truly extraneous. Since the paint can get a little sloppy on the hands though, it’s not bad to have a second pair. For weapons we’ve got two baseball bats, a hockey stick, goalie stick, cricket bat, and a golf club. They all fit into his golf bag which can also fit over his head, though it is easier to remove the head first to slip it on. If you stuff everything into it the end result is pretty ridiculous, but it can be done! He also has the masked head, if you prefer that. It looks to the be same as the previous one, but for some reason it didn’t come out as clean when it comes to the vents over the mouth. I don’t know why that is, but it is noticeable when comparing it with the previous release. Lastly, he also has a loose mask this time to hold or hang off of the handle of one of his weapons as he does when running from Raph. It’s actually a pretty cool little accessory and, unlike the second portrait, it came out nice and clean. You cannot put it over the figure’s head, but why would you want to? It’s just a neat thing to have and it’s not like there was much else NECA could have tossed in.
Ultimate Casey Jones is easily summarized as the Casey we all wanted from the start. It’s an improved version of what was already a good figure. Yeah, there are some areas one can nitpick, but I think most will be quite happy to have him. There are also probably some folks who don’t see this release as a necessity and that’s understandable too. I certainly questioned how much I “needed” this release, but when presented with an opportunity to own it I went for it, and I’m happy to have done so. This figure is currently being sold by Walmart which appears to be in the midst of a restock at an MSRP of 30 bucks. NECA has not made the figure available on its website, but there’s always a possibility that it will down the road. There’s also a mysterious listing on Walmart’s website for a farm two-pack of April and Casey, but NECA has not confirmed the existence of that so for now it’s just a picture-less listing. A special shoutout to a user at thefwoosh.com, Detrimental_Fig, who was able to find this figure locally and ship it to me after I failed to track one down. Collectors, help each other out and don’t feed those scalpers! There should be plenty to go around.