Reel Toys: Cult Classics
The Crow (Eric Draven)
In 1978, a tragic car accident inspired one of the most personal and unique stories ever to grace the comic book medium. The book wouldn’t come out for many years, but when it did it helped to shape the future of comic books during a time when the medium was a little unsure of its own identity. James O’Barr’s The Crow is one of those independent comics that all aspiring creators should read at least once, to let you know where the bar is set for you in terms of art, writing, storytelling, and passion.
In 1994, a film adaptation of the story hit the big screen directed by Alex Proyas (AKA Alexander M. Proyas) and starring the late Brandon Lee, who was unfortunately accidentally killed on set. While not identical to the comic, each are extremely well-done and follows the story of a young man named Eric who returns from the dead with the aid of a mysterious crow to seek justice on those who killed him and his fiancée. The following action figure is based on the movie version of Eric.
I saw The Crow at a very formative point in my life, and therefore am very defensive of it. I saw it first well before I should have because my cousin knew a girl at the theatre who let us in, despite it being rated R and me being eleven. The images, the language, the depth of character and story all made it one of the most memorable films I ever saw in a theatre. In my freshman year of high school, my best friend’s dad authorized me to buy a copy of the trade paperback, enamored as he was by the idea that a comic could have boobs in it.
Without going into too much depth, I really enjoy the story and the character. When I enjoy something this much, I demand excellence from its merchandise or I just won’t buy it. If I had to stop the review right now, I would say that every fan of The Crow comic, movie, or even the design should go out today and buy the figure. It is truly a work of art.
Eric is sculpted magnificently by Kyle “Tankman” Windrix of NECA and previously McFarlane toys fame. The amount of time and effort he put into this figure shows not only a deep appreciation for the art form, but also an incredible amount of respect for the character and the actor. The figure simply looks amazing.
The face is rendered beautifully and looks very much like Brandon Lee, even with the makeup on. The paint all ‘round is excellent. As you can see here, painters Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp really went the extra mile to give dimension to the piece. The bits of skin showing through the makeup and the lips which are more lined than full show that some time has passed since he donned the makeup and that it’s somewhat worn. This attention to detail is present all over the figure, which could have otherwise been very bland. Black on black does not always an interesting paint scheme make.
The boots are another great example of paint helping to define sculpt. Here we have the boots with a nice bluish-grey wash to denote wear and tear, along with a little brown on the toe to show he gets them a little dirty. And individually painted eyelets! This is a 7” figure folks, they could have easily skipped that detail but they didn’t. That’s what makes this figure so great. Even the crow itself which is depicted as all black in the movie (word is it’s actually a raven from start to finish-shh!) features some very subtle greys and even some purple thrown in on the wings to make it more than a lump of black plastic.
If I had to tear it down for anything, and I mean down and dirty nitpicking, I would say that they made a mistake in the presentation of the ring. A horrible, terrible, excellent and beautiful mistake. The ring you see on his right pinkie finger is from the end of the scene in which he strikes this pose at Gideon’s Pawn. Specifically, when he goes through the box of rings and remembers which was hers and places it on his pinkie. He adds the string to make it a necklace later. What I love is that they still include a REAL METAL ring on the end of a piece of string around the figure’s neck. Not only do you have the option to display it as-is, you could also use it as a prop elsewhere in your Crow display. He doesn’t give up his coat for a while yet, so you can choose how you wish to display it, but either way it was a fantastic addition. It may not be accurate exactly, but can you really argue with such wonderful detail?
More attention to detail you ask? Done. Do you see the small red line on Eric’s nose here that obviously represents a scar? At first I thought this was a really cool nod to the comic version of the character. In the book, Eric is shot in the back of the head which causes a piece of shrapnel to pass through his left eye and cut across his nose, which also drains the pigment from his left eye. Despite how cool it was, NECA’s not really known for going too far outside of the source material unless necessary, so I popped in the film.
Now I’ve seen this movie dozens of times since I was a kid. I’ve owned it on VHS and DVD. Never before have I noticed it, but Eric does indeed have the scar on his nose under the makeup in the movie. Every time I drew a picture of him since I read the comic, I’ve always included the scar. It’s not until now that I realize how accurate I was being. NECA, you get major points just for bringing this to my attention.
Soup to nuts, aesthetically this guy is just a dream. The washes and choices of gloss vs. matte finishes really add a lot to the already well-sculpted texture of the piece and the only complaint I have in the paint department is that they added a few stray hairs on his forehead to add to the wet look of the hair (it rains throughout most of the film) and the paint doesn’t quite meet his hairline. This was present on every version of the figure I’ve seen so far. Far from a deal-breaker for me, but it’s worth nothing.
One final note about the hair is that it’s very flexible. There are two strands that hang in front of his face in most of my pictures. On many of the figures I’ve seen in box, they’re actually tucked away under his hair like in the picture above. I like to leave them out to better represent his look through most of the movie, but it’s entirely up to you and that’s another point for NECA.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time here because, well, there’s not much to say.
Eric is a pre-posed figure designed to capture his look from the doorway of Gideon’s Pawn. NECA threw in a few joints, but they won’t give you too many options. Eric features a swivel neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, boots, and a V-style crotch. It is somewhat difficult to get him to stand because his boots are sculpted realistically including the curve of the soles. However, once you get the hips and boot cuts twisted just right, he ain’t goin’ NOWHERE.
I’m not going to knock it at all here since this is not meant to be an action figure. It’s intention is to re-create a well-known scene and it does so flawlessly.
I picked up Eric at my local TRU for $9.99. As far as I’m concerned that is a steal. I know this guy was released in the Reflections boxed set, but I believe this is the first time he’s been released on his own. He doesn’t come with a base and his only accessories are the ring necklace and the crow, but ten dollars for the most iconic version of any character with this much detail and in a 7” scale is easily worth your time and money.
I think if I could have any one thing different on this figure, I would have liked one of those wonderful ball-jointed necks NECA has been using the last few years. But consider this: this figure was sculpted in 2005. One the one hand I find it amazing that the sculpt has held up so well and that at this point NECA’s only competing with itself anyway. On the other, it’s a testament to how far they’ve come since just a few years back. I suppose excellence is contagious over there.
I’m not even going to pretend I’m not biased when it comes to this figure. I’m all about collecting action figures and toys that’re fun to play with and this fits in neither of those categories. I also understand when something is so much a labor of love for anyone. In 2005, this is the absolute best figure NECA could have produced for this character. In 2011, I’m still blown away at how much detail and reverence was paid to the character and actor.
Every time I see this figure, I’m reminded of a story that helped to shape me as a young man and gave me certain principles and understandings when it comes to love and relationships. I realize that sound a bit heavy and even a little gay, but that’s what NECA does to me, man. It makes me a little gay.
This is simply the version of Eric I’d always wanted. Thank you, NECA, for your appreciation, dedication, and overall fantastic work on this figure.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.