Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Cherno Alpha (Pacific Rim) (NECA)

Cherno-Alpha

It’s a rule in movies: The cool character has to fizzle. Boba Fett went out like a punk, General Grievous never got his due, Darth Maul came and went in a flash, and Cherno Alpha got flattened.

Cherno-kneel

Cherno Alpha was the Jaeger piloted by Sasha and Aleksis Kaidanovsky, a married couple – and they had more time in the field fighting Kaiju than anybody else in Pacific Rim. To their credit, they did really well at first in the Double Event, only losing because two Kaiju tag-teamed them at once. Despite this, the actors had awesome stage presence, and their Jaeger – the ultimate Russian mecha – was so memorable that ever since NECA announced a Pacific Rim line, fans clamored for Cherno Alpha. Even when their only point of reference was that first unsatisfying wave, the outcry was there.

Cherno-BattleStance

Here’s something surprising – Cherno Alpha was not named for Chernobyl, but rather for Czernobog (remember him? That devil guy in Fantasia?). It was originally meant to be modelled after an old tank, but the design later veered toward giving it a massive nuclear cooling tower for a head. So the name’s got a double meaning! Although Cherno does not have any fancy rocket launchers or laser swords, it is equipped with hydraulic fists and tesla-style taser-gauntlets. This is a big, bulky machine with lots of armor, lots of strength, and no escape pod. Either you win, or you die.

With all that in mind, let’s take a look at this massive, nuclear-powered battle mech!

Cherno-packaged

PACKAGING: ****

Cherno Alpha is in a typical NECA clamshell, which both protects and shows off the figure. The only thing that’s missing is a blurb offering specs on the Jaeger itself, but Pacific Rim figures don’t get info like that.

Cherno-Stand

SCULPT: ****

At eight-ish inches tall, this figure is bigger than Gipsy Danger, though still not approaching the mass of those gigantic Kaiju. Still, its solidly-built design seems to suggest size and strength, and you can easily imagine this thing towering over skyscrapers. As has been pointed out before, its design is more than just a walking nuclear plant – the Jaeger incorporates aspects of Russian T-90 tanks and submarines in its design.

Cherno-CoolingTower

Of course, it doesn’t have a literal cooling tower for a head – you’ll note that the top is sealed up. It is a gigantic fuel cell, but that’s about the only functional similarity. Cherno Alpha’s cockpit is that small orange window in the upper middle of its chest. Its torso looks as though it has hinges or fold-out panels, but those are just part of the design. Having the cockpit away from the head meant that, when Kaiju started targeting cockpits, they often missed this one.

Cherno-DefensiveStance

Cherno Alpha’s fists are its primary weapon. Its arms are very thick and strong, and its shoulders are decorated with the Russian star. The hands are bulky enough that they almost look like mittens, and with good reason – each fist slides out from the wrist due to a hydraulic system, and they have to be like hammers. The Jaeger has crude fingers, built more to be durable than delicate. Inside the hands are little cylinders which actually activate its tesla gauntlets feature. When you pull a fist out, you can also see the hydraulic pistons that make it work.

Cherno-groundlevel

The only potential show of fragility in this mech are the hips – but they don’t really look spindly (though I guess a Kaiju could bite at those cables), not when you get a good look at them. Its legs certainly call to mind a G1 Transformer with their blocky, armor-plated design, and its feet are wide and flat, with curved arches (for support!) and little piston spikes that could be used to anchor the Jaeger into the ground.

Cherno-head

PAINT: ****

If you didn’t think that Cherno Alpha was a tank, one look at its paint job should put that to rest. The mech is primarily olive green, just slightly shiny – it’s metal, but it’s painted metal, and it is also pretty dingy. Instead of a flat green, there is a light brown wash over the figure to represent years of built-up grime, and the effect looks perfect – like a car that’s seen use. There are also little scrapes and scratches all over, again making the figure look realistically used and worn.

Cherno-LeftHook

Cherno Alpha has its name stamped twice on its head and gauntlets, as well as a few red stripes on its head and limbs, but most of the non-green apps are simple parts of the machine – silver for its unpainted mechanical workings, darker gray for the vents, that sort of thing. This is a utilitarian machine, and it shows. It’s the weathering and the small scratches that really sell the figure – it looks realistic, not “battle damaged.”

 

Cherno-ironman

ARTICULATION: ****

Cherno Alpha is easily the best-articulated figure in NECA’s Pacific Rim line. It has a swivel head, hinged elbows, knees, and fingers, ball-and-socket hips, double ball-jointed shoulders and hips, hinge-and-ball-jointed ankles, a ball-jointed torso, and extendable wrists. The head barely moves, though that is due to the shape of the sculpt. But everything else is outstanding!

Cherno-PistonFist

The double ball joints are simple – both body parts have sockets, connected by a single double-peg barbell. The result is that this figure has incredible articulation in the shoulders, hips, and ankles. You can easily and comfortably put it in the “Iron Man” three-point pose! You know, kneeling with one hand on the ground and one arm up in the air. Who would’ve thought that an old Russian tank would be more limber than the sleek American corvette? It just has one tiny flaw – you can’t quite make it fist-bump, but there are very few toys that can.

Cherno-Grip

The arms hold the best part – Cherno Alpha’s hydraulic fists! The gauntlets slide forward easily, revealing a mess of machinery underneath, ostensibly to put extra jackhammering power into each punch. The hand are actually pretty easy to remove and pop back on if you want, too. Rocket punch? Battle damage? Either way, it’s good. Secure, too, and unlikely to loosen. Cherno’s fingers also open and close enough to grip at a building or similar prop – Gipsy Danger couldn’t pick up a boat, but you can be sure that Cherno Alpha will!

Cherno-Javelin

ACCESSORIES: N/A

Nope. Nada. None. Zip.  This building is from a Safari Ltd. Toob.

Cherno-Gipsy

VALUE: ****

This figure retails for $20. That’s a pretty fair price… but a lot of resellers are trying to sell them for $40+. Look, just give it time.

Cherno-VsKaiju03

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

This figure is very durable and solid. The only possible issue could be some of its joints becoming loose, but mine is still fine.

Cherno-VsKaiju01

WHERE TO BUY:

Lost of people are selling this figure for $40, but I got mine at Toys R Us for under $20.

Cherno-VsKaiju02

OVERALL: ****

Star Wars started the trend of really marketble cool character designs showing up for a minute or two and then leaving from film to toy aisles. And let’s be honest, that is just what Pacific Rim did. Sure, Cherno Alpha got more screen time than Trespasser, or Karloff, or Romeo Blue, or Coyote Tango. But it and its pilots serve a purpose of fleshing out the movie’s world and just being awesome.

Cherno-Spotlight

As a toy, Cherno Alpha is exceptional, and completely blows poor, poor Gipsy out of the water. It is easily on par with those fantastic new Kaiju released, and I am more than glad to have it in my collection now.

 

Cherno-PyrrhicVictory

 

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