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NECA 1/4 scale Cherno Alpha

Finally got the rest of the 18 inch NECA Pacific Rim jaegers. First up is Cherno Alpha, a lot of people's favorite jaeger. Unfortunately, this uh, this came with a whole bunch of problems. Problematic, I think I'd consider this one problematic.

First of all, the first Cherno I got from Amazon was defective. The hip joint, you can see it from this pic:

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This is how it's supposed to look normally. Well, the first one, which I didn't take pics of, the front piece of that hip joint was bent outwards out of the socket and detached from that darker center core piece in the middle of the ball. Obviously, this was completely bullshit and not my fault, so I just went and got a replacement from Amazon, which came quite quickly. So... right off the bat, there's a bad experience. But the second one, it didn't have any hip joint malfunctions, so all seemed well. Oh, not at all, in fact.

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Here it is. Looks pretty nice, huh? On first glance, yeah it does. I've got it posed like how it was right before that classic Cherno fist-smashing move in the film. The detail and weathering are about what you'd expect from that first 18 inch Gipsy Danger. Not great, but overall pretty good for how much it costs ($90-100). The big structural change they made was to space the legs out farther from the center. In the film, Cherno had its legs closer to its centerline, emphasizing the top heavy nature of the robot. I suspect that NECA decided to spread the hips out for stability reasons, which makes sense.

Cherno looks best from the straight front view. That leaves a good impression. But look at that third pic, from the side. Now, you start seeing that there's a huge gap of nothing between the torso and the uh... the reactor "helmet" that makes up the top of Cherno. The figure is made so that that top helmet is attached to the rest of the robot by a ball socket joint and you can really move it around to accommodate the movements of the arms. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of the area between the helmet and torso is completely empty and certain camera views will expose this truth blatantly. This was definitely not true in the movie, where Cherno seemed completely solid and thick from the bottom of the torso to the top of the head.

The other big problem is that NECA seems to love to make most of these 18 inch figures out of thick rubbery vinyl or some vinyl-like material, instead of straight plastic like most toys. The big issue with this is that the vinyl can warp and distort and give way more than you'd expect. That's good for taking punishment while your kid plays with it, but bad in some other ways. For example:

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Look at the top of the cockpit covering. It's off-center, warped and leaning off to the left. That's just real bad looking. That is something that you most likely will never find on a normal plastic toy, but the flexible vinyl material will not conform as often and you end up with these lousy results. It's also a problem with arm limbs, where the sockets aren't made from plastic ratchet joints, but are instead ball joints where the joint itself is made from tough vinyl, going into sockets that are made out of vinyl. This arrangement is unforgiving with tolerances and in Cherno's case, the shoulder joints were tight to the point of absurdity, as it was just a big vinyl ball stuck in a really tight and constricting vinyl socket. The only way to loosen up the joints and actually get the arm to move was getting out the trusty old hair dryer and blowing hot air to soften the vinyl. So I mean... sure, there's a way, but it's a shitty solution to a problem that shouldn't exist.

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The poor use of vinyl in 90% of this figure also results in this above picture. As you can see, the foot isn't planting flat on the table. The entire vinyl foot has warped out of its intended mold shape and gotten curved. Which ya know, isn't very good for a foot's function. Stuff like this is all over the figure and getting a good proper unwarped Cherno from the factory is probably like hitting the lottery. I guess they must exist, but why take the risk?

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Oh yeah, here's how it looks with the lights on. Uh, as you can see, this fucker is really fucking bright. Like, ohmygod bright. Of the three 18 inch jaegers, Cherno has by far the brightest lights. I mean, I don't see why anybody would want to have the lights on like this, it's uncomfortably bright to look at for any length of time.

Also, I'll note that this Cherno figure is not quite to scale with Gipsy Danger. Of the 3 NECA jaegers, Cherno is by far the shortest, which isn't right. If you think about it, Cherno with its bigass reactor helmet would probably be the tallest. I'd say Cherno is probably undersized by about 25% from what it should be. Sucks for any big Cherno fans.

Bottom line: This is a really bad figure. It's a big decline from NECA's Gipsy Danger, which was wholly free of these problems and had pretty good poseability. Wouldn't recommend anybody spend 100 bucks on Cherno.

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