Toy Review: Galactic Friend E.T.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial. It’s hard to believe that such a simple film about ‘a boy and his alien,’ could have taken the world by storm as it did in 1982.
My parents said that the film was the first I was ever taken to, but being 2 years old, I don’t recall anything about the experience. It wasn’t until Universal Pictures released it on home video in the mid-80’s, did I finally see the film. Like some young boys, I thought it was dopey, but watching it some years later, I began to appreciate more the type of film that Steven Spielberg had crafted. At the time, it was one of the most personal films that he had done.
Naturally, toys were prevalent during the film’s release, and there were even vinyl/plush E.T. figures made. But it wasn’t until 2002, that the little alien would get a full-on action figure line. Made by Pacific Playthings, and distributed only through Toys ‘R’ Us, the line gave us several iterations of E.T., as well as action figures and playsets based around the human characters. However, at the time, the figures were chunky in their plastic iterations, and E.T.’s eyes looked ‘dead,’ making him look like he’d been shanghaied from an amusement park attraction. These seemed to be the only way to get figures of this alien creature…until NECA Toys got the license to produce merchandise for the film’s 30th Anniversary this year.
When I first heard about this, I got incredibly excited. NECA Toys had proven themselves to me in the last 5 years with their figure work for films like Harry Potter, and Terminator 2: Judgement Day. These guys had the talent to pull off the detail to make this iteration of E.T. look like the character we saw on screen…and the sculptors knocked this one out of the park!
This is one of the few sculpts that just brings a smile to my face. He doesn’t look like an escaped animatronic figure, but almost like he could start moving at any moment. There’s a wonderful amount of detail put into the face, arms, and body. Though if you were hoping to see E.T.’s ‘heart-light,’ this figure does not have it exposed.
There’s a wonderful ‘wash’ job done, adding some layered brown to the plastic used, giving E.T. a real ‘earthen’ look.
Another fine point are the eyes. They weren’t just blue in the film, but had a tinge of light green around the pupil. Strange enough, that little ring around the pupil works incredibly well to keep the eyes from going dead.
Of course, E.T.’s squat body isn’t going to allow him to pose like Spider-Man. Even so, NECA gives us a nice level of rotation in E.T.’s ankles, shoulders, and elbows. It’s in his wrists that the articulation becomes limited. You can move the hands a little bit, but you can’t make them do a full 90-degree bend.
The four-fingered hands also provide us with those long fingers we remember seeing, with the right ‘index’ finger painted an orange color to signify E.T.’s healing touch.
But E.T. isn’t just a lump of an alien. He did have flexibility where it counted-in his neck. This design aesthetic was part of Spielberg’s wish that E.T. come off as a believable character, that you wouldn’t believe was a person in a suit. Throughout the film, E.T. could extend and collapse his neck, which would be difficult to do in toy form. To remedy this, NECA has given us two separate neck pieces, that connect by a ball-hinge piece at the base of the neck, and inside the back of the head.
This is where one finds out that these are not just kids toys, as I struggled for a bit trying to change the neck out several times. I’m not one to apply alot of force to my figures (the joint on one of my T-1000’s arms snapped a few months ago), so I tend to leave E.T. with the smaller neck piece. It makes him seem more calm and ‘humble.’
This E.T. release also comes with two other accessories:
– an orange bag of black, yellow & orange candy (from a company that achieved great success because of the film, but seemed unwilling to add the candy’s name to the item in question for the toy release).
– a white bathrobe. I originally thought this was from a scene near the end of the film, but it’s actually worn by E.T. in a deleted scene where he and Elliot (Henry Thomas) are in the bathroom of the house. The scene was reinstated into the 20th Anniversary release in 2002, where much of the E.T. animatronic/costumed figures were replaced by a computer-generated version (word was the scene was omitted because the technology of the time couldn’t make E.T. do everything in the scene that Spielberg wanted).
Galactic Friend E.T. is one of two figures that have currently been released as part of the first wave of E.T. merchandise from NECA. Another figure they released is called Dress-Up E.T., which recreates him wearing the wig and outfit that Gertie (Drew Berrymore) dresses him in after she comes home from school. Unlike Galactic Friend, Dress-up has a different facial expression. I almost considered getting it to have multiple faces/expressions, until a review on the site Captain Toy said that the hair that E.T. is wearing is permanent.
Personally, I’m fine and content with my ‘naked’ E.T. After all, that was how he normally went around in the film.
Closer to the Blu-Ray/DVD release this fall, NECA will release two more figures of E.T. One of him in the blue-checkered shirt when he bummed around the house watching TV and drinking beer (though NECA has stated that he does not come with empty cans), and one of him wrapped in the white cloth while riding in the basket of Elliott’s bike.
Of course, some have wondered if we’ll get NECA iterations of the human characters. While I’d love to have a figure of Elliott on his bike, it’s a pretty good bet that NECA will not be doing these figures. They seem content with simply doing creatures, and ‘normal humans’ aren’t quite their bag.
On a final note, retail price will range between $13-$20 for the figure, which may make some people balk. I was more than happy to pay that amount for something of this quality. E.T. will moreso be a display piece on my NECA shelf (standing amid figures from Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, & Terminator 2), but I’m happy to have him in my collection.