Poe Ghostal here. We’re trying something new for this review – what I’m calling “Sculptor’s Commentary” (though I reserve the right to change it to, say, “Designer’s Commentary” depending on who’s doing the commenting). The Boomer was sculpted by Jason Frailey, who also sculpted the Evil Dead II Henrietta as well as the super-popular new Glyos-compatible Armorvor. Jason was kind enough to do an interview in which he discussed some aspects of sculpting the Boomer. You can find this commentary in quotes throughout the review. I’m working on more of these for the future, so if you’re a sculptor who’s sculpted toys I’ve reviewed, or a reader who’s in contact with such a sculptor and think they might be interested, please shoot me an email at email@example.com. –PG
NECA have done me proud. Way back in 2010, when I wrote my two articles about how the Left 4 Dead action figures should be made, fate was listening in and ensured that the Valve licence would end up with those who could best bring my plastic fantasies to life. Soon we’ll be seeing a plethora of excellent action figures based on Valve’s sensational award-winning video games done by those amazing people over at NECA. The first release was the original Left 4 Dead Boomer, probably the most well-known of the L4D zombies and the perfect test case for NECA to show off their chops at converting these characters into action figures. How did they do, particularly in regard to my planned version in my article? Read on to find out!
Packaging: The first mark of NECA’s genius comes with the awesome packaging, an excellent clamshell designed to show off the toy in the most amazing way possible. The very-large Boomer action figure is tightly packaged into the big plastic package, with his top half disconnected from the bottom to show off his amazing blown-in-half feature while, at the same time, keeping the main figure intact. It’s better than I could have imagined – it simultaneously shows off the size of the toy as well as the superb sculpt and the fantastic alternative display mode. This is sure to please mint-on-card collectors, but also sells the toy – when you see this thing, you have to have it. The package also features the Left 4 Dead logo and excellent art from the game – it’s completely 100% awesome.
Sculpt: Oh man, the sculpt. The sculpt is so good. This is a picture perfect copy of the in-game Boomer model, complete with every exposed pustule and sore, every wrinkle in the clothes, every disgusting minute detail brought to life. I can’t find fault with this thing; the Boomer is a big fat-ass and every part of him is gross. His right eye is a blistering mass of pussy horror, matched by the blobs of horror under his chin. His exposed midriff is cracked nastily with veins and splatters of things and the detail around his individual sores is absolutely foul.
His clothes are torn and ruffled in exactly the right places, and his big horrible sweatpants that must have been purchased at one of those specialty-stores for large men are horrid to look at. Even his socks are perfectly sculpted – in my 200 hours of playing these games I wasn’t even aware he wore socks! I didn’t know until I checked this toy against the character model, and boom! Amazing. This is one of, if not the best action figure sculpt I’ve seen this year. He stands just under 7″ tall, perfectly in scale with your other NECA action figures and other zombie toys, like those excellent Attack of the Living Dead, meaning he’ll integrate into the rest of your collection even if you don’t like Left 4 Dead and are thus an insane person.
Sculptor Jason Frailey: We had more plans for the Boomer. I don’t remember if I thought of it or if [NECA Director of Product Development] Randy [Falk] did – though it seems like something I’d think of, making the project more complicated than it should be – we were thinking about having his stomach so that you could squeeze it and he would shoot water, so you could go drench people with the Boomer. That’s the main reason that his jaw is movable. But I think the cost got too high or it just sort of became something we couldn’t do.
Plastic & Paint: My days of complaining about NECA’s brittle plastic are long gone – this thing is incredibly durable and it rocks. It rocks!! This is a heavy, firm, borderline-unbreakable toy. He is matched with paint that is essentially flawless; the gloss paint used on the pustules gives them a slightly transluscent look that makes me want to throw up, and I love it. The drybrush used around the sores brings out their amazing detail, ditto the clothing, which is painted to include the natural change in color when ruffled together and it’s amazing. There’s no overspray or problems anywhere on my toy, and I love it.
Articulation: Man, this is great. In my original article, I argued that his lower body needed to be one sculpted piece, as top-heavy toys have a tendency to topple. Man, was I wrong – this guy is loaded with articulation, and it all works, giving him a large range of movement without getting in the way of his sculpt nor putting him at risk of falling. Let’s start with the shoulders, both of which are ball joints with a good range of movement, despite the shoulderpad-hump on his left. There are subsequent ball joints at the elbows and at the wrists, all with the same full range of motion so you can get him in any position you’d want.
[The Boomer] was very difficult to get articulation into, but I do like ball joints, so I just sort of made his whole upper body basically a big ball joint.
This is matched in his lower half, wherein his legs have balljoints at the hips, ditto in the knees and even in the feet. At the same time, these joints are solid enough that they keep him standing – take that, me! What all this means is you can have him in the general “lookin’ gross” stance as seen in all the promo art, or leaning over to vomit as seen in the game. A similar versatile joint is found at his upper torso, and he has a cut joint at the midsection. He even has a balljointed neck, although that movement is a little limited by his grotesque bloated chin – except – wait for it – that chin is articulated!! Yes, this pulsing mound of disgusting has a moveable mouth, which can open and shut as you desire to give him a different look on his twisted face. I can’t think of anything else you could even add to this guy, as if you’d want to. NECA have done a magnificent job.
Accessories: Now this is where it gets even cooler. In my original article, I said I wanted sound effects, which frankly wouldn’t have played out so well – small speakers in toys are usually played a couple of times and then ignored, and usually sound tinny and bland anyway, as well as making toys unnecessarily heavy. Instead, NECA replicate the post-explosion effect that a Boomer undergoes by including an alternative blown-apart torso piece that fits onto the legs, so you can display the thing after he’s exploded, spraying the survivors with his bile.
His guts were sculpted out of bubblegum, chewed by me. I just decided it was the best way to get the gooey-ness right. The only part of the guts that wasn’t bubblegum is a little Castilene vertebra that I nestled in, which long with the intestines lets you know how I meant to arrange the guts section (just put the vertebra in the back).
The figure comes to pieces without any fear of breakage and the piece fits onto him via peg, and it’s just awesome. The disgusting insides and intestines and bits look fantastic, with the same high standard of paint as the rest of the figure. This is above and beyond what I expected, and there’s a certain ingenuity involved engineering this to fit together and work so well. I’ve considered picking up another Boomer just so I can have him displayed blown apart – it’s that good.
[The exploding body] started out as a joke. I sent Randy an in-progress image, and it was just the bottom half of the Boomer. The leg articulation works really well, making it look like it’s just flopping around as a lower half. And it does suggest that rag-doll effect the Boomer body has after you pop him [in the videogame].
Quality Control: All good! I can’t find anything wrong with this toy, in either design or QC. I will note that straight out of the package his jaw came off, but this wasn’t a break – instead, the jaw is hinged on pegs that allow it to be removed if you want, for whatever reason – this isn’t really an accessory, just a kind of sick bonus if you want his chin blown away. It also protects the joint and ensures it can’t be broken. A+, NECA. A+.
Overall: Man, this is such a great action figure. It’s everything I wanted, and then some. I hope NECA keeps making these characters, and keeps them at the same high standard of quality – although I doubt we’ll see toys of the L4D Survivors, the special zombies will continue to make excellent toys and I hope we get more and more of them. The Boomer will likely be in the running for my Toy of the Year, and I can’t recommend him enough.
Toy photos are courtesy Toyspank.com.
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