By Jarrett Kruse

I remember the summer of '91 like it was yesterday. It is hard to believe that a quarter century has passed since TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY hit the big screen and ushered in a new generation of special effects that we now know as CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). Robert Patrick was a virtual unknown back then whose biggest credit was as one of Colonel Stewart's rogue soldiers in 1990's DIE HARD 2. Bruce Willis offed him so it wasn't a total loss to be killed by a superstar. However, Patrick was cast as the T-1000 in T2 and he rocketed to stardom holding his own with one of the biggest, most iconic movie stars on the planet. "Ah-Nuld" had finally met his match in Patrick's T-1000, a liquid metal Terminator that made the T-800 look like a Yugo.

NECAT10007The sequel to James Cameron's 1984 magnum opus THE TERMINATOR was one of the first movies to really find its core audience via the VHS boom of the 1980's. So by the time the 90's rolled around, Cameron's vision would be able to be achieved with the assistance of computers that probably took up an entire room. T2 was the film that completely changed film-making. When the T-1000 walked out of the fire in the most epic car chase (actually big rig & motorcycle) since THE FRENCH CONNECTION, their was a seismic shift in the way movies were made and taken in.  The T-1000 sent to kill John Connor became one of the most formidable villains of all-time, oozing his way into our hearts and minds, our mouths agape, all wondering the same question, "How the *%$# did they do that?!?". Despite his small stature and relatively regular frame (I guess anyone looks small next to Arnold), Patrick was a brilliant villain that did not need many lines to translate his main directive: KILL JOHN CONNOR. But what he lacked in scripted lines, he made up for exuding his icy stares and robot like calmness. So it is appropriate that the T-1000 finally has gotten the 21st Century action figure treatment from AFJ's pals at NECA, a company that continues to astound and amaze me and is just a stones throw from Action Figure Junkies Headquarters.

NECAT10009This figure, like Sarah Connor which is next on my list, is one that I wanted to wait until a lot of Junkies were able to pick up before reviewing. After reviewing the John Matrix COMMANDO figure last year, I honestly thought that their was just no way that NECA could out-NECA NECA but they've done it...again. And I am fairly certain I will be knocked out by the new ROCKY wave later this year as NECA continues to be like a wildly great novel that gets better with each chapter. Continually this company organically grows through a strong social media presence and almost reserved T-1000 demeanor with head honcho Randy Falk personally answering questions from die hard Junkies. To me, that says a lot about the company in where they are and where they came from. It is important for them to connect with their target audience that spends their hard earned dollars on their product.


Gobbling up license after license like Pac-Man eating pellets, the folks at NECA, like the T-1000, will not stop until they have every figure Junkie's attention. And they are not showboating gang, they are doing it with panache and style and letting their work speak volumes. They are Coca-Cola, not RC Cola. They are Nike, not Avia. When I first realized that AFJ was a viable property and was opening up an avenue unexplored for die hard collectors, I studied the branding strategies of companies I looked up to and admired with NECA at the top of my list. The NECA section of my Toys R Us, which I tweet out a pic of every time I am there, is starting to inch closer to toy giants like Hasbro & Mattel. They are encroaching on those two giants' acreage and they are having fun doing it. Make no mistake though, NECA is no underdog. There is simply no contest if you have a choice between a 6-inch DC Multiverse figure and a NECA work of art for only two, three dollars more. A poorly put together figure, sloppy paint apps with chips and scuffs, cross eyes & shoddy packaging over a beautiful window-box package, film accurate sculpts, alternate heads, articulation and a ton of extras that is easy for storage and allowing Junkies to take the figure in and out of the package with ease? I'll take the latter Mr. Geoffrey the Giraffe.

NECA7On the AFJ page, I hear it all the time, "I hope NECA gets that license," for pretty much every new property being made into an action figure line. That speaks volumes to me as I wade through the daily posts on the main AFJ Facebook page. The brand loyalty that NECA has created is second to none and its TERMINATOR figures have been a mainstay for collectors for years. However now they have revealed their piece de resistance, the absolute best TERMINATOR figure ever produced in this Junkies opinion. After fiddling around with this figure for a few days, you'll start to wish that the T-1000 came out on top in the film. Lets break it down now from top to bottom.


The sculpt is just out of this world. Simply put, it is just perfect down to every detail and we are given two additional heads, one split down the middle and one with the right side of his face with a barn door size hole in it. I should note that one of the extra heads is actually an entirely different head AND torso with shotgun damage replete with those silver swirly holes that the T-1000 absorbs in the film. It is beyond cool looking folks because the integrity of the facial sculpt is still kept despite the gaping hole in his melon. I can only imagine how insanely difficult this was to sculpt.


You can also interchange the hands for either a set of the steel hands that open up the elevator in the pivotal Pescadero escape scene or a set of the pointed fingers for when he pokes Sarah. I love that you can reenact seriously iconic scenes with all of NECA's Terminator figures. Maybe an Edward Furlong John Connor is in the works? Who knows, but these figures from the dynamic franchise just keep getting better. And what amazes me even more is that the old T-1000, of which their were a few versions, are improved upon in this Ultimate version. Here is an older one that I have in my personal "Well of Souls."


Old School T-1000 from NECA

I looked high and low for errors, but this figure is absolutely flawless. It is one that deservedly so is getting my rare 5-star rating because for just $22.99, you are getting the most impressive bang for your buck figure of 2016. Pitting this up to my T-800 from NECA makes it even more fun because you can go from original versions to battle-damaged iterations in less than a minute, making the figures itching to be photographed. From an artists point of view, the T-1000 figure looks more like Robert Patrick than Robert Patrick! This is an easy high recommendation for Junkies all over the world. You simply will not be disappointed in the culmination of years of audition pieces of the same character and finally this version easily qualifies as "Ultimate."


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