I believe videogames are an art medium, one that’s already comparable–in terms of commercial success–to film, the dominant art medium of the twentieth century, (compare the sales of Halo 3 to the box office receipts of The Dark Knight). But while videogames have been around for over a third of a century, there are very few examples of games that one would, without hesitation or qualification, refer to as a work of art.
But there are games that approach that ideal, and Bioshock is one of them. Dark, atmospheric, well-written and acted, with gorgeous graphics and some not-entirely-risible attempts at social commentary, Bioshock was easily one of my favorite videogame-playing experiences of the last few years.
The bizarrely lovable mascots of the Bioshock franchise are the Big Daddies, “beings who have had their skin and organs directly grafted into atmospheric diving suits, and are armed with either a rivet gun or heavy drill.” While the appearance of a Big Daddy in-game usually meant a desperate fight for survival, their steampunk-inspired look and role as the beloved protectors of the “Little Sisters” make them oddly endearing.
In tackling the Bioshock franchise (though technically, I believe their license is only for Bioshock 2) NECA chose to release a “preview” figure of Big Daddy–specifically the “Bouncer” version. Other figures, including the “Rosie” version of Big Daddy, will be released next year as part of their Bioshock 2 line.
I got my Big Daddy from Entertainment Earth for $19.99, plus shipping.
Packaging: Big Daddy comes in a big clamshell package, with some nice graphics from the game. The piece behind the figure could be glued to some cardboard and used for a diorama–or you could just get this.
Design & Sculpt: Big Daddy is a thing of beauty. Considering it’s based on a videogame character–something that doesn’t exist in the real world–the sculpting is nothing short of amazing. The figure feels realistic in every detail, which is no mean feat when you’re talking about a giant mutant diver from an alternate universe 1950s.
Probably my favorite part of the figure is all the texturing. The main section of the suit looks like worn bronze, while the drill looks like well-worn steel. The stippling on the arms gives it the look and feel of canvas.
Put it this way: this was a figure I had to photograph with a good amount of shadow, to make sure you could see all the textural details.
Plastic & Paint: A good sculpt can always be ruined by bad paint work, but again, NECA gives Big Daddy the royal treatment. All that bronze and steel and canvas texturing would look awful if it weren’t matched by some excellent paint work. The sheer amount of washes and drybrushes here would be difficult to describe.
The only place the paint lets me down is around the “portholes” for the eyes. The plain yellow is a bit disappointing, although it was probably the best way to represent the look of the character–had they been clear plastic pieces inset on the mask, they might not have had the same “glowing” effect.
Articulation: The shoulders are ball joints. The hips appear to be ball joints too, but they’re so limited by the weights on his hips that they move more like a V-crotch. The elbows and the right wrist are swivel/hinge combos, while the knees and ankles are swivels. The only oddball articulation point is the drill, which is only a swivel. Still, the fact that that drill could turn was one of those “Aw, that’s awesome” moments when you’re fiddling with a new toy.
Considering that Big Daddies weren’t exactly the most agile creatures anyway, I’m very happy with the amount and style of the articulation.
Accessories: None, although you have to put the two tanks on yourself. A Little Sister would be the obvious accessory, but I understand why NECA would hold that back to be included with a less-popular Bioshock 2 character.
Quality Control: Be careful putting the two tanks on the figure’s back. It requires a lot of force, but if you’re not careful with your grip you could break off the valve or the pressure gauge.
Overall: When you consider the size of this figure and the amount of articulation and detail, at $20 it’s almost a steal. While my favorite action figure line this year might be MOTUC, in terms of the figures I’ve reviewed there’s no question Big Daddy is in the running for the Best Figure of the Year award. This is a superb action figure at a great price.
Production development: Randy Falk
Sculpt: Kyle Windrix, Jason Frailey, Sam Lute, Chris Gawrych
Fabrication: Oliver Brig
Paint: Jon Wardell, Geoffrey Trapp
Prototypes: Adam Smith
Photography & Packaging: Nicole Falk
For 2K: Jeff Weir, Matt Gorman, Melissa Miller, Claire Roberts