There was some doubt for a while but a Pacific Rim sequel is officially happening in 2017 and I’m pretty excited by the prospect of it. The first film had a lot of potential even if it fell short in a few places. One area where the film really succeeded was in the creature designs. The Kaiju featured a good blend of fantasy and believability; they were ugly and alien but inspired by real-world animals which grounded them in reality. They shared similar characteristics so you could believe they all came from the same world and yet they all looked unique and had their own defining calling card.
My favorite Kaiju from the movie was Knifehead. Unfortunately the wave 1 action figure of Knifehead is rather disappointing. Thankfully, Neca improved their figure design significantly by the time they got around to my favorite Pacific Rim toy to date, wave 4’s Scunner. In between the release of those two figures was wave 3’s Trespasser.
Trespasser was the first of Neca’s new and improved Kaiju. It was bigger, more articulated, and featured a more elaborate paint job than the wave 1 and 2 figures. I read on another blog that the reason for the change in size and style is because the toyline was originally going to be sold in Walmart stores but that deal fell through and Neca saw that as an opportunity to do the figures how they originally wanted to. I don’t know if that’s true but I’m happy about the shift in direction whatever the reason may be. Both Trespasser and Scunner are awesome figures, as is the wave 3 re-release of Knifehead; a figure I haven’t picked up yet. Neca had really hit their stride with this line and I was excited to see which Kaiju they would tackle next.
I was rather surprised and disappointed when it was announced that the next Kaiju figure would be a repaint of Trespasser named Axehead. It seemed like a good way to lose momentum on the hot selling toyline. I planned on skipping the underwhelming Axehead. I was much more excited when Neca announced they’d follow up Axehead with their largest Kaiju figure to date, the 18″ Otachi.
Now I’d love to get the Otachi figure but it retails online for around $70 which is more than double the price of previous figures. Plus, there is speculation that Neca will release a winged version of Otachi down the road. I only need 1 Otachi in my collection and if its going to cost me $70 I’d rather it be the winged version so I opted to wait for Neca’s next announcement before splurging. Since I put the Otachi purchase on the backburner and I was still looking to scratch my Kaiju itch, I decided to give Axehead a second look. I was intrigued by the fact that he was being marketed as a brand new character. Had this figure just been released as Trespasser version 2 I surely wouldn’t have bought it but new characters are always tempting.
After some internal debate I came to the conclusion that the paint job was different enough to warrant picking him up after all. Where Trespasser and the other Kaiju have been mostly grey with a few colorful highlights Axehead is colorful throughout. It’s almost hard to tell if he’s black with a green wash or green with a black wash but I’m leaning more towards the former. I think the figure was molded in the same gray plastic as the others but a green paint wash was liberally applied so that his skin tone is quite a bit different. His underbelly has an aqua blue hue and instead of stark lines of color as we’ve seen in the past Axehead has yellow dots dabbed on his chest neck and shoulders. It’s an odd paint deco but all-in-all it works pretty well.
Paint job aside I was surprised to discover that this wasn’t just a straight repaint of Trespasser. There are actually several differences in the figure construction:
1. Axehead has boney spiked protrusions on his knees that Trespasser doesn’t;
2. Axehead only has 3 fingers on his small secondary arms while Trespasser has 4;
4. Axehead has a much smaller shell on his back and one of the spiky protrusions is battle damaged;
5. And the heads are even different.
The heads look the same at a glance but on closer inspection you can see a number of subtle differences such as in the ridges over the eyes and in the structure of the axe. Axehead is based on this creature’s concept designs where as Trespasser is based on the final product that appeared on screen. It’s kind of a cool idea and I actually wouldn’t mind getting a few more concept figures.
I’m quite happy with Axehead (other than the fact that mine arrived with an unhinged jaw which refuses to snap back into place) and would definitely recommend you snag one if you don’t already have Trespasser. Axehead isn’t essential if you do already own the Trespasser figure but there are enough differences between the two to distinguish them from one another if you are considering adding an extra monster to your shelf. 8 out of 10.