You all know me. Know what I do. So, you’re probably asking yourselves, why does Poe keep inviting his videogame enthusiast, Lost-obsessive kinfolk ‘round these parts to offer up n00bish takes on something he clearly know next to nothing about? That’s akin to bringing a Master Sword to a Hammer of Dawn fight… wait, that’s a gaming reference. I’ve got to remember my audience.
It’s akin to modeling a new Weeble with 98 points of articulation. It just don’t make sense, son.
Well, Poe summoned so I’m back for another round of first-blush observations. This time I point my peepers towards the shiny new toys on display at last week’s American International Toy Fair, held in New York City. As Poe has already provided links to a wide assortment of wares coming your way throughout the year, he’s dispatched the gaming guru to take a gander at the videogame-licensed properties that have also been announced.
In paging through the screenshots, the NECA lines really called to me. I’m here to call them as I see them but I’ll look to you guys to offer up the critical reaction. This is purely coming from a game player and therefore, I cast my eye upon these creations looking for those that I think do their license proud and are sculpted in a manner in which they expand upon each game’s unique universe.
I’m a huge fan of the original Bioshock, a game that I think really succeeded less on the strength of its combat and more on the core mystique of the submerged utopia, Rapture. I’m an adventure gamer at heart and I had the greatest thrill traipsing slowly through those dank corridors, discovering each little tidbit of info that colored in the corners to Andrew Ryan’s doomed experiment. To this end, I find there is no compelling reason for a sequel to exist. That first game largely succeeded based on atmosphere and one of gaming’s better twists which like The Sixth Sense, loses something upon subsequent viewings once you know that what you’re watching/playing is a bit of a shell game. But that first play through was pure magic. Lightning in a bottle. With that done, I see no reason to return to Rapture.
The same cannot be said about NECA’s figures. The Big Daddy Elite is gorgeous – expertly showcasing that decayed art-deco vibe that made Rapture and its inhabitants so memorable in the first place. This is an imposing piece that immediately elevates your desktop to badass. In addition to the Big Daddy Deluxe, NECA has the Splicer, Deluxe Big Daddy Bouncer Rosie, and the antagonist of the new game – the Little Sister and Eleanor Lamb 2-pack.
Gears of War
The NECA line of Gears of War figures also caught my eye, with the Locust Horde represented by new Kantus, Skorge, Butcher Boomer and Mauler Boomer figures. In addition, Toys ‘R Us gets an exclusive line this Spring – showcasing General Raam, Lt. Kim, and Marcus Fenix. A sixth series and seventh is expected to follow later this year, including a Comic-Con exclusive.
Gears of War is one franchise perfectly suited to the action figure domain. One of the knocks on the Unreal Engine 3 is the “plastic” appearance to in-game characters. The engine does render the characters as solid and bulky, which is a plus, even if the Gears protagonists are likely guilty of abusing every single substance abuse policy on Sera and beyond. While this heavily-modeled appearance can be a bit off-putting in game, it makes for some excellent reproductions among the action figure lines. And from the looks of it, NECA has nailed that “destroyed beauty” look of the franchise.
Dead Space 2
I was a huge fan of the first game. Sure, it’s derivative of action-horror classics such as Doom and Resident Evil 4, but when a rip-off is done with such class, and makes pains to pay homage to its inspirations, while also adding some new words to the vocabulary, then I’m willing to give it a shot. Dead Space evoked the tension of Cameron’s Aliens flick and provided one of the better times I’ve had gaming in the last five years.
It also gave us a fairly iconic new character in Isaac Clark, with the cerulean blue “spinal column” of his hazard suit given this very real human just enough of an alien edge to deal with the extraterrestrial threat enveloping him and the derelict ship, Ishimura. That being said, I found the alien designs too derivative of other properties – with most of them looking like Doom’s Imps crossed with the goopy-grisly transformations in John Carpenter’s The Thing.
NECA is currently prepping an Isaac Clark and a Necromorph to coincide with the 2011 sequel, Dead Space 2. Clark might be a solid pick but aside from the solid craftsmanship on the Necromorph, the actual alien design does nothing for me – and that’s a problem inherent to the intellectual property. And with that said, I’m sure a few hundred of them are just waiting to burst from a “monster closet” the next time I wander by unaware.
EA is a company that gets knocked around quite a bit simply because it suffers from Microsoft syndrome. It’s a huge soulless corporate Goliath so people love to stand around and toss stones. Which explains why Dante’s Inferno has seen nothing but a mammoth backlash in the gaming community ever since it was first announced as it really is nothing but the greatest God of War tribute made-to-date.
Of course, as I mentioned with Dead Space above, I’m fine with developers playing off familiar riffs if they either do it with the right amount of polish or bring something new to the table. Based on the demo, Dante’s Inferno is God of War in Hades – but my playtime proves the Underworld is one picaresque place to visit so I for one can’t wait to go to hell.
Coinciding with the release, NECA has the ass-kicking poet Dante in his Crusades regalia as well as an “Unbaptized Baby”. The Dante figure, with his rugged suit of armor and imposing sword, makes for a nice showpiece but I can’t think of anywhere that I’d want to display the “Unbaptized Baby” that won’t attract a few calls from Tim Tebow or his Mom, so I think I’ll skip that one.
Finally, NECA announced figures from Assassin’s Creed II, Splinter Cell and Borderlands.
Those little Claptrap bastards may have been nothing more than jive talkin’ Wall-E clones in game, but a fully voiced, articulated contraption might make for a nice curio so I’d say this is one to keep an eye on, especially for fans of the breakout hit, Borderlands.