Toy Review: Back to the Future Diecast DeLorean and Animated Series Figures

NECA‘s been finding near-unprecedented licensing success with their animated-style Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so they’re starting to take that cartoon look to other lines. Toony Terrors reimagines classic horror villains in Scooby-Doo style. Meanwhile, Toony Classics allows for any property from Bob Ross to Bill and Ted to get caricatured. So as part of the Back to the Future toy license –a dream toy property that many others tried and failed to get — they snapped up animated rights too. Because yes, a Back to the Future TV cartoon existed. Christopher Lloyd appeared in wraparound live-action segments, while Dan Castellaneta provided a Bernie Sanders-ish voice for the animated version. And Bill Nye made his TV “science guy” debut as live-action Doc Brown’s assistant.

With NECA’s average figure price now creeping up towards $25, these animated figures seem designed for a much more affordable alternative. And as NECA announced them before they revealed a realistic Doc figure, they may have served as bet-hedging in case actor likenesses proved impossible. (Alas, and unsurprisingly, Crispin Glover did not choose to cooperate.) Typical NECA figures come in around 7 inches and feature 30-some points of articulation. These are closer to 5-inch scale, $12.99, with far fewer joints. They also come on simple blister cards, as they might have in the early ’90s when the show ran.

Thus far, only three exist: Marty, Doc (with Einstein), and Biff. The show frequently centered around the escapades of Doc’s kids, Jules and Verne, but they don’t remotely have the recognition factor. NECA also prototyped an animated style DeLorean in scale that may or may not see release. In the meantime, however, they’ve made a diecast, movie-styled version in a smaller size.

RELATED: Review: Back to the Future The Ultimate Trilogy 4K Set

A nice touch that NECA animated figures tend to have is black line-work that really captures the drawn look. It’s something most animated-style figures in 3D neglect. As a general rules, such toys in the past have envisioned simply a 3D version of the thing being drawn, rather than a 3D version of the drawing itself, if that makes sense. (Think of the various Sin City toys made in shades of gray rather than actual black and white.)

Articulation varies per figure. Doc has ankles, hips, shoulders, wrists, and a ball-jointed neck. Marty boasts all that plus a cut waist. Biff adds ball-jointed ankles and cut bicep joints at his sleeves. Einstein just has a neck-cut. As with all retro-ish figures in this style, the cut joints can make their movement look stiff in anything but neutral poses — Biff avoids this stiffness factor the most by having the arm leeway.  Both Doc and Marty feature alternate hands – Marty gets one extra to hold his hoverboard, while Doc’s are open or remote control-holding. Doc also has removable sunglasses and a collar for “Einy,” while Marty gets a guitar and the hoverboard with a removable, ball-jointed clear stand. Biff includes an entire alternate head, so he can smile or scowl.

And yes, every figure works with the foot peg on the hoverboard. Even Einstein.

RELATED: Watch Billy Zane Audition for Biff Tannen in Back to the Future

While these caricatures would not count as “actor likenesses,” it’s a testament to the original animated series that they do strongly suggest the folks who played them for real. (Tom Wilson actually did voice Biff — and his ancestors — on the show, but the other two used sound-alikes.) Marty in particular is unmistakably Michael J. Fox-inspired.

It’s a shame, then, that the diecast DeLorean doesn’t quite measure up. NECA doesn’t make many vehicles quite like this, so maybe practice will make perfect. But this one’s a swing and a miss, especially since toy versions of the car are plentiful, from Playmobil to Transformers.

The best versions tend to either utilize light-up features, or creative color schemes to suggest them. NECA’s does neither — it’s extremely gray, as the car would look turned off and in daytime. The flux capacitor is a barely visible printed part. And this is 1985 mode only — no pivoting wheels or “Mr. Fusion” reactor.

RELATED: Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown Joins NECA’s Back to the Future Toys

Worse, for a company as detail-oriented as NECA: the bottom of the car sports no detail at all. Totally smooth. It’s the vehicle replica equivalent of a figure with no painted details on the backs of their outfits.

It’s impossible to recommend this when the Playmobil version with light-up features, lightning rod hook and 2015 conversion mode is right there for around the same price point. But take a look through our full image gallery below and decide for yourself.

Recommended Viewing: Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy 4K

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