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NECA: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimate Casey Jones Review

New game roundheads! Actually, new FIGURE, roundheads! Casey Jones is back in NECA’s TMNT movie line, and he has gotten an upgrade complete with Elias Koteas likeness. With some patience, persistence, and a little help from one Judith Hoag (April O’Neil), we now have the handsomest Casey Jones out there, ready to fight alongside his little green over there.

If you have been collecting action figures from NECA for a bit, you know that patience can be a definite virtue. I say this because the world of likeness rights is a CRAZY and complicated place. Securing the likeness of individuals when those rights are to a part of the overall licensing deal can be such a hassle that sometimes it is often seen as not being worth it for manufacturers. However, NECA has been are the forefront of being able to do the (seemingly) impossible when it comes to working their magic for rights. It might take some time, but I have some figures on my shelf that I never dreamed would be possible (looking at you, Nostromo crew), and now Casey Jones joins that joyous group.

Sure, we got a great Casey figure in two-pack with Disguised Raphael, but it didn’t feature Elias Koteas’ likeness at the time due to the actor not granting the permission. Personally, I was pretty crushed when that was revealed because Mr. Koteas is the definitive Casey Jones to me, and of all of the iterations of the character that are out there, the original TMNT movie version deserves to have the face under the mask. However, since we have seen things like this change before, I remained somewhat hopeful that Randy and team would do their thing and get done for a future version. Well, as you know, they DID get it done with a bit of help along the way, and I am so very glad because this is the Casey Jones I have been waiting for since, well, the first time I saw the movie.

Even though it is hard to take for fans and collectors like me, I understand that sometimes, people just don’t want to lend their likeness to such things as little plastic recreations. Sometimes it is about money, and sometimes disinterest or whatever just leads to a lack of wanting to engage, but people have the right to feel however they want about it. That said, I am so glad the April O’Neil herself, Judith Hoag, was about to help get Mr. Koteas onboard after all. I think at this point we all know that Ms. Hoag is an absolute gem, but it bears repeating because having an accurate Casey Jones with likeness is a big deal to a lot of fans. Happy times!

Now, while I love that original NECA Casey, and he will stay on my shelf to hangout with trench coat Raph, this new release is definitely an upgrade. Understand that while the figure is 85% the same as the previous version, this one features and alternate head with the likeness that I have been going on about, a separate mask accessory, and upgraded elbow articulation. That last one might seem like a small thing, but it is such an improvement to the form of the figure, it most certainly bears mentioning. You still get that masked head, along with all of the bags, bats, sticks, clubs, and hands, and this most certainly lives up to an “ultimate” release on its own.

The Koteas likeness is great, but we knew it would be. Trevor Grove once again nails it, and I look forward to future Casey figures (you know there will be more) with other expressions/etc. There is a playfulness to the expression, but it is also serious/annoyed, so it suits the character well. The photo-realistic printing was used on the face which is always a great thing in my opinion. This technique usually enhances a likeness and this is no exception, so I am very glad NECA is using it more and more. This particular figure does have a VERY slightly misaligned left eye, but it only comes out in these up-close photographs, it looks fine in real life. Like with all figures, if you have chance to pick from multiples (and if you find this magical Wal-Mart), give them all a once over to get the best face, this is most important piece in the entire release after all.

I mentioned the elbows as well because I am really glad that NECA went to the more traditional hinge and swivel here and away from the three-part socket double joints. I totally get what there were going for with the latter, and for characters wearing sleeves or armor or anything else, it works just fine. However, for bare arms, it just isn’t as aesthetically pleasing. Now, the older Casey figure might get a bit more range of movement in the bend of the arm, but honestly it is negligible and I have not found a “Casey pose” that the older figure can achieve that this figure cannot. I appreciate the work done to update this. This change shows that NECA has been listening to the collector base and I think most people will pleased with this choice.

Finally, I love the inclusion of the mask accessory. It is not designed to be worn by unmasked head (there is a whole other head included that pulls this off better), but rather to be held or hung off the back of the bag. I adore this piece hanging off of a bat in the bag. It just adds a perfect little wink to the character and allows the mask to be a part of the display without it obscuring the likeness. Again, it is a small thing that was certainly not required, but it makes this release so much better for being here.

If you enrolled in the “Pain 101” class this fall, your instructor is HERE! Casey is such an important part of the TMNT mythos overall, but to me he especially shines in the original movie, so it is wonderful to have this. This is going to (obviously) be a popular release, so the Wal-Mart exclusivity will be challenge, I think. My wife spotted this one for me on a trip to visit her parents, but as usual, persistence will pay off. There is a landing page for this on Wal-Mart’s website, so hopefully that means more are on the way. Again, NECA has been doing better with stock and availability with the TMNT figures, so don’t get discouraged yet if you haven’t found him, there is still time. Now, about that leaked “Farm House” Casey and April set. Hmm…