Robocop vs. Robocop (McFarlane vs. NECA)

Yeah, I know that’s Robocop vs. Terminator pic. It was the coolest pic I took and I wanted to start strong.

For the last few years NECA seems to have made a concerted effort to stick it to McFarlane Toys by redoing figures McFarlane did for their Movie Maniacs line in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sculptor Kyle “Tankman” Windrix, who once worked for McFarlane and now sculpts for NECA, has often expressed disappointment or outright disgust at many of the McFarlane sculpts from the era. I’ve read (though I can’t recall the source at the moment, so take it as you will) that Todd McFarlane would often dismiss concerns about film accuracy on Movie Maniacs sculpts, claiming, for example, that no one really knows exactly what an Alien or a Predator looks like.

While that may be true for casual fans, diehard fans of any movie franchise, but especially those of the Aliens, Predators, Robocops, and Terminators of the world, are notorious for their obsession with detail (check out any Hot Toys discussion thread). NECA has striven to make their own versions of these characters more film-accurate, and for the most part they’ve succeeded; their Terminators and Predators have been superior to their McFarlane counterparts. Thus, I was eagerly anticipating NECA’s take on a 7″ Robocop (they did an 18″ version a few years back). To my surprise, I’m not entirely sure they beat McFarlane this time around.

The McFarlane Robocop was a surprisingly good figure. Along with having a fantastic sculpt, it also features some useful articulation. It could move its head forward and back and side to side; the shoulders had swivel-hinges, allowing for some ball joint-like range of motion; it had ball jointed hips; a swivel at the waists and swivels at the wrists; and hinges at the elbows, knees and ankles. Many of the articulation points featured ratchet joints that made a satisfying click when moved, and held a position easily.

I’ll be honest and admit I’m not sure whether the sculpt of the McFarlane or NECA figure is more film-accurate. Windrix sculpted this figure along with Roger Mutt, and given Windrix’s concern for accuracy, my hunch is the NECA one is more accurate to the film. And yet…when sculpting a figure in this scale, there’s a certain need for exaggeration, for caricature, to bring out the familiar details. You could liken it to the exaggerated expressions that theater actors use so that the people in the nosebleed seats have some idea of what their emotions are. I think the McFarlane sculpt does a better job of that than the NECA one.

Articulation-wise, NECA wins–but just barely. The articulation is almost identical to McFarlane’s, except the neck is a true ball joint, allowing for a better range of motion, and the upper torso has a ball joint as well. The elbow joints on the NECA figure are actually more restricted than the McFarlane version, unable to come up to quite the same angle.

Paint-wise McFarlane wins hands-down. There’s really no question. First off, the NECA figure’s paint has a ton of quality control issues. I had to return my first figure because of big splotches of white paint on the legs. But the figure I ended up buying wasn’t much better; the silver paint is still splotchy and rough, with no real sense of a shine to it, and as you can see there’s slop everywhere, especially on his chin.

The McFarlane figure, by contrast, has a smooth, glossy shine to it, with a blueish gleam. Now, I know that Robocop was technically silver in the first film and blueish-silver in Robocop 2, but there was still a touch of blue in the first film as well.

Speaking of quality control issues, another reason I returned my first Robocop was because one of the little round clips on his shoulders was torn off in the package. Upon opening my replacement, I discovered the ankle piston on the right leg was simply missing. I’ve emailed NECA’s customer service to see if I can get a replacement–I’d be happy with just the part, since I could just glue it on. [To be fair, my McFarlane Robocop’s foot broke off at one point, too.]

But wait, there’s more! The helmet of the NECA Robocop was sculpted, for some reason, as a separate piece, though it’s not removable. The figure was also given a tiny nose. The helmet wasn’t pushed down far enough when it was glued on, and so the nose is peaking out beneath the helmet. It looks terrible. Fortunately, it’s easily corrected. You can pry off the helmet pretty easily. Then just warm it up with a hair dryer, stick some glue on the sides of the helmet, and push it down further onto the face.

QC issues aside, NECA does have more than just extra articulation going for it. First off, the McFarlane Robocop is a bit too tall to fit in with NECA’s other offerings, whereas their Robocop is just right. And of course there’s the gun, easily the biggest problem with the McFarlane version. I can’t say for sure which is more film-accurate, but the McFarlane Auto-9 looks tiny in his hand. While the NECA Robocop is a tiny bit smaller than the McFarlane version, his gun is much larger, and looks ten times better in action. The NECA figure also comes with the interchangeable “data spike” hand, which is a nice added bonus.

All that said, the McFarlane Robocop came with a badass display base, so the accessories category is probably a wash.

So what’s the verdict? The poseability, scale compatibility, and better gun give NECA a very slight edge over the McFarlane version. But clearly NECA has not solved the quality control problems that have plagued them for years, and this particular figure has suffered mightily for it. What could have been an amazing figure ends up being just average.


Comments now closed (31)

  • Love the opening pic, b.t.w.

    I was just last night comparing the two figures at my local toy shop, & I really have to say that I thought McFarlane's Robocop was an overall better fig. Better paint, better heft, better proportions, & most importantly to me, a better Peter Weller mouth sculpt. I was really bummed that NECA missed their opportunity here, yet I couldn't bring myself to buying the McFarlane one, 'cause as you pointed out, that gun was just ridiculously small. Massive nitpicking, I know, but that gun is just SOOO iconic, I need it done right.

    I've come to the conclusion that I'll have to spend $60 for a Robocop figure. That's right, I'll be acquiring the Figma version.

  • EXCELLENT review and that's a kick ass photo at the start too.
    I think I can safely skip the NECA version on the strength of this, Figma seems the way forwards for me too…

  • Awesome starting pic,making me consider buying the figure.I think the NECA figure is better with the more recognizable Weller face,it probably just needs a bit more paint app like the Mcfarlane one,like needing to get his panels lined.

  • I'm still waffling on the Figma version. The fact that he's so expensive and won't be in scale with any of my other figures is what's holding me back.

  • Thanks for the great review Poe, sigh.. I've pretty much given up on most of neca's figures, they're just too sloppily made paintwise. I wanted to get the gremlins gizmo sdcc exclusive figure since it was widely available at our local malls here in the Philippines, but the paint on the figures i've seen were all annoying if not terrible.

    I also will be getting the figma version, and I'm really intrigued how max factory will execute the gun/leg folding holster, as that seems to be their main selling point for their robocop figure. Paintwise the figma version also seems to have a nice glossy silver finish. It's way smaller than neca or mcfarlane's version, but I think maxfac can pull out and release a great robocop figure. A few more weeks of waiting, hope there wont be any more delays for it..

  • Based on all the comments, you just may have to get a Figma Robocop, if only to get a proper, ultimate three-way O.C.D. comparison review. ; p

  • Dude, I waited forever for you to review this figure- since you said you had it! And this is the best way to review it, comp/cont with the mcrobo! The data spike was the only draw for me, but I ended up passing anyway. Here's hoping we get a holster and helmet-less version next!

  • I own and like them both. I prefer the NECA face, but the McF paint and body sculpt are so beautiful I have to give it the edge. Also, NECA's Arnie terminators are better than McF's, but the McF endoskeleton terminator is better than NECA's.

    • It is very nice, but so is the McFarlane headsculpt. The difference is in the limbs, where McF's is made from multiple pieces and really gives it a nice machine look. The NECA limbs are just sculpted to look like they are multi-part, but the illusion doesn't hold up when you see it next to the McF. The NECA version's sculpt also looks "softer" overall. It does have a better gun, though, bigger at least.

      • I like the Mcfarlane headsculpt a lot. It looked as though the first NECA endo traded detail for an articulated jaw. Unfortunately the result was less than stellar, and I'm glad they revised it. I never really noticed the limbs- are you talking about the forearms?

  • very insightful review comparison. i’m soooo tired of quality control issues that i’ve canceled my preorder for this one. though i’ll be curious to see if they produce a Battle-Damaged version.

  • the helmet thing is sort of a deal breaker for me, especially since I'm not comfortable taking my toys apart… if I could find one with the helmet pushed down, I might get it… but frankly, I'm fine with the mcfarlane version, the gun doesn't bother me much

  • yeah. neca has done some really great things, but also some junk! i bought the classic predator (who is awesome beyond belief) and his left arm just snapped off. i emailed neca and they actually replied almost immediately! the guy told me theyd send me out a replacement because they had been having issues. they asked me to send some pics (which i did). that was over a month ago and i've not heard anything back yet. has anyone dealt with them before?

  • These comments make me sad. What kind of world do we live in where people turn down a bad ass Robocop fig?

    As far as the Figma figure goes, that face sculpt is just too soft for me. It looks like it could be anyone underneath that helmet.

  • I have yet to buy a single Neca product (too many of them are immobile from the waist down). If I DO, it'll most likely wind up being the Berserker Predator…but the problem is I want the masked version which has a far inferior paint scheme to the unmasked version and I find it hard to justify getting both just so I can headswap.

    • I've avoided the Predators for the same reason, but the new articulation they have on the newer models does look very good, I may pick one up.

      • The upcoming Pred 2 Pred has the best articulation yet, including ball-jointed hips and double-hinge knees. It drives me crazy that I just can't get a goddamned Pred 1 Pred with articulation like that (in the 6"-7" scale, anyway).

        • I'd hope NECA would re-release the classic Predator with the new articulation if the City Hunter is a success, or do you think there would be a lot of cry's of foul from those who have already bought the 'standard' version?

        • Well, I own every version they've made of the classic Predator (Predators, 2-pack w/ Alien, Classic, and Gort) and I wouldn't cry foul. I just want a super-articulated version.

          As to whether they'd re-release a classic Pred with the better articulation…I don't know. It would largely be new tooling, and I'm not sure they'd spend the money.

  • Damn, I really love the NECA figure. I love how when the light hits it just right there is a sort of slight purple sheen to it, kind of like grease or something. He had it a little in the first movie, but had it a LOT in the second movie.

  • Awesome review! Yeah it looks like each one has its own pros & cons. I actually had the same issue when I looked for one as far as the helmet not being down far enough. I kept wondering what was different then I noticed it was the nose ( which I thought meant that the helmet would be removable, that would have knocked it out of the park imo) Luckily I grabbed one that had the helmet down far enough. What size is the Figma figure going to be?

  • I'd been searching almost daily for a comparative review since I got my NECA Robocop, and I'm glad to see Poe delivered and did it well. As far as taking reviews in a different direction from what you see other places, this was great!

    McF Robocop came along when money was tight and it was probably at a time when $10 or whatever for a figure seemed impossible to ponder. I imagine I was also fed up with their brittle statues. I figured the joints were all superficial until a friend got one.

    I'm really happy with my NECA version, but I think it comes on a per-figure basis. My helmet is a hair lower like it't supposed to be, so the nose is just a cool detail when you're looking for it. I also had the benefit of picking the best from a full peg and the subtle blue is pretty nice on mine.

    I prefer the look of the NECA version and I love the neck and ab joints, but it says something about how great the McF figure is that the NECA isn't definitively superior all these years later.

    • After comparisons I'm glad I went with the NECA, however while standing right next to the McF version there does not to seem to be many improvements on the NECA figure and nothing major to set it apart at least not like what you would expect.

  • My McFarlane Robocop had superweak joint plastic (it was this clear thing that broke way to easily), and both legs at the hip, the head, and one of the knees broke apart. The Neca one seems solid right now, which is why I like it.

  • Nice review, Poe. The McF Robo was good during its time but NECA's is superior in sculpt & articulation, though the details on McF is more pronounced. my two complaints are the shitty paint and the exposed nose, man…. wtf…

    I'n gonna repaint mine!

  • "Many of the articulation points featured ratchet joints that made a satisfying click when moved, and held a position easily"

    Ummm, good review but I have both on my shelf and the only ratcheting joint on the McFarlane piece is the forward and backward neck tilt and the spread joints in the shoulders, though those aren't very good. The rest are all smooth friction joints. NECA wherever there is a hinge joint is a ratchet. Knees, elbows, shoulder spread joints and ankles. And while their initial release wasn't as good in the paint department their spring loaded holster reissue is miles better. I like the McFarlane and I like the way they picked out the seam lines and all but the over all sculpt is TOO exaggerated like the collar on the upper torso sticks out way too far and the head is so wide that it makes him look fat faced. I also wish they had done an open hand on the left hand like NECA. Dunno, I haven't been able to part with my McFarlane figure as I DO still like it but I think the NECA figure is just a bit better.

  • got me a NECA Robocop with opening holster… I'd say it's not so bad. no paint splotches, no missing ankle piston, nose hidden by helmet. so far, one of the nice figures I've collected