THE AFJ REVIEW: NECA AGE OF ULTRON 1/4 SCALE HULK!
By Jarrett Kruse
It is rare that I am literally in awe of a figure but that is what happened when I opened the behemoth that is NECA's new creation, the AGE OF ULTRON HULK. I had seen the unfinished version at Toy Fair 2016 but that is a really tough venue because if you touch anything, security will repel down from the roof and detain you in the Javitts Center. It is really a museum setting for every company, not just NECA, and defines the saying, "look but don't touch." Much like my prom dates. So when I unboxed this quarter-scale giant on the first episode of AFJ LIVE!, I was immediately enamored with my new Hulk. As a new tenant in a brand new building, I can only tell you the looks I got as I trekked up onto the roof, camera around my neck, interchangeable hands in each pocket, and Hulk cradled in my arms like an oversized newborn. They probably thought I was crazy; all I could think of was how lucky I am to have the coolest job in the world!
Before Hulk fell and I cracked his hairline that I eventually glued back on, I really put Bruce Banner's creation through the mill. I did the equivalent of a stroller test for babies because to be honest, that is how damn big this gorgeous figure is. So I knew that it was going to get a few dings & scratches going into the photo shoot. It held up very well and I think that this is not just a must have for die hard Hulk fans but for every fan that loves an oversized 24-inch figure with the detail and sculpting brilliance that we have come to expect from the NJ-based powerhouse that is NECA. Randy Falk and his guys do not mess around. I learned that big time when AFJ spent the day there earlier this year. I think being on Wall Street for an IPO would have been a less intense experience than watching these NECA artisans and craftsmen working on every minute detail most collectors do not even realize goes into figure-making.
I think that the digital wizards that worked on Hulk from the first AVENGERS film in 2012 to the sequel in 2015 really came leaps and bounds improving the likeness of the character onscreen. But it is not until you see this Hulk figure in person that you realizes it demolishes pretty much every other Hulk figure ever created. The musculature is insane and the facial expression is one of the best I have ever seen on a high end figure in all my years of collecting. Yes, this is the definition of a "high-end" figure and while it will set you back roughly $250 with shipping, I think that is an absolute bargain. The love that goes into each NECA piece is evident in every pose you can manage to put Hulk into. I know this is true because I witnessed it first hand. These guys care about you, the Junkies, and what you are throwing your hard earned cash down on. Each meticulous detail is considered before it finally goes out into the marketplace which might explain why we are only just now getting the AGE OF ULTRON Hulk considering the movie was released 16 months ago. To be honest, this kind of work takes that kind of time and I would much rather wait on a piece like this than have it rushed into retail with a slew of problems. This is not a figure you are going to have to buy twice the way we do with $19.99 figures. This Hulk is a keeper and man is he display-worthy.
It is hard to manage extreme articulation with a piece this big, especially a character that is so lumbering and ape like with hands that reach the floor. So maneuvering him definitely takes some work but the shoulder hinges work very well if you want to set up a classic Hulk thunder-clap or raise his hands over his head. It will take a little time for you to get used to posing the in much need of anger management Avenger but once you figure out how to balance him properly, it becomes a lot more fun. I like that they did not just go for the easy fix and make his feet super flat. Instead we have contoured feet shaped in a way that makes it a bit of a challenge to really properly pose. However, ten minutes tops and you will be a pro at having Banner scare your pet.
The shorts look like they went through a few iterations and I actually dig the way they look on this figure. They kind of have a MEGO-throwback style to it because it is real cloth giving the figure an air of realism to it. In the right lighting, you could swear The Hulk moved a little when you weren't looking. Above all else, the shorts are durable and made of some sort of neoprene elastic with buttons. I like that they perfectly match what we saw on-screen in AGE OF ULTRON. They are highly stylized as opposed to the classic torn purple pants which I have read hundreds of interpretations about from the MARVEL canon over the years, none of which made that much sense to me!
The paint-job is superlative and they somehow catch the glorious green that we see on-screen without sacrificing quality. So many times I have seen a Hulk figure that the green is simply off and not exactly what I had hoped. It doesn't hurt that this 24-inch Hulk has muscles everywhere that the natural light will bounce off of making for a more vibrant green. I mean if you were to play a word association game and said the word "Hulk," odds are someone is going to say, "green." The interchangeable hands are great because one set is closed fisted while the other has that aforementioned ape-like feel to them. Very easy to switch them out or even mix and match.
THE FINAL WORD
This is a piece that you will not be sorry you bought. With the holidays right around the corner, this can be the big gift you give to the big collector in your life or conversely, you can leave hints for the next 50 days and slide down the banister on Christmas morning or Hanukkah eve and get this bad boy for yourself. Hulk enthusiasts can finally own the Hulk of all Hulk's because this figure is a love letter to those that are obsessed with the gamma ray'd hero with a rage issue. While it is a stout $235 retail, I can see this figure ballooning up to the $400 range for you figure speculator Junkies out there. A definite winner from top to bottom and continued proof that NECA is in it to win it.