I should start out by saying that in all the times I’ve played through the Mass Effect games, I never once used the canned version of Shepard. In fact, I always rolled a Fem Shep, just because (and forgive me if you’ve heard this from when I talk about World of Warcraft) if I’m going to stare at a character’s ass for 40 hours, you can damn sure bet that ass is going to belong to a chick. Nonetheless, I can still relate to the stock Shepard just from seeing him so many times in the various adverts. But with no Fem Shep in the Big Fish line of figures, grabbing this version was pretty much a must. Let’s see how he turned out.
Shepard comes in a very nicely designed sealed clamshell package. You get a printed insert with the Mass Effect 3 logo up on the top and the bubble is designed to resemble the helmets from the game. Shep’s rifle is visible through the side panel, which is labeled as the weapons locker. In typical DC Direct… oops, I mean Big Fish, fashion, the packaging is completely generic for each series, with only a sticker on the front to distinguish the character inside. The back of the printed insert features photos of all four figures that make up Series 1 along with little blurbs about each character. Overall, this is a very nice presentation and there was a time when I would have carefully razored the back in order to save the package. But I’ve got no room for packages anymore, so I tore the hell out of this thing to get at my figure inside. Shep is held into his tray by a few twisty ties, but nothing that I can’t make quick work of.
Let’s go ahead and start with the head sculpt, since Square-Enix’s shitty Shepard head sculpt is the whole reason I wound up buying this line instead. It’s definitely reminiscent of the stock Shepard from the game and not some small headed flu-addled transvestite like the Play Arts Kai figure. Is it perfect? No. He’s a tad too cartoony for my taste, particularly in the eyes, and maybe his beard is a little heavy, but I’m really looking for things to nitpick here. Truth is, he looks great and I’ll take this head on a $20 figure over the head on that other $60 figure any day of the week. The paint apps are clean and it’s certainly passable for a figure in this price range.
The body sculpt is quite excellent and before getting to the details, I’m most pleased about the way the neutral stance works with this figure’s surprisingly serviceable articulation. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself, so let’s just talk sculpt and paint first. Shep’s armor is very nicely recreated here with a convincing layered depth to it. You get his scaled under armor exposed around his legs and hands and the sculpted plates on top of that with plenty of panel lines. There aren’t a ton of paint apps on the figure’s armor, but the red and white stripes are there on his right arm and there’s a little silver scraping applied here and there to give the armor a little weathered look. I do wish his right hand was sculpted with the trigger finger so it could pass through the trigger guard of his assault rifle. As he is, he can hold it, but a better sculpt on the hand would have improved it a lot.
Now about that articulation… Big Fish or no, these figures started life as DC Direct product, and while DC Direct figures are hardly statues, they are not generally heralded for being overly articulated. Now, that having been said, Shep here has a surprisingly good amount of useful articulation. He has ball joints in his neck and shoulders, elbows, and knees. He has swivels in his ankles and wrists, and he has a typical “T” joint for his hips. Shep can also swivel just below the chest. A word of warning, if you manipulate his shoulders too much, you may pop off his shoulder armor. The shoulder plates are glued on, but fear not, if you pop them off, they will peg right back in and have a greater range of motion.
Shep comes with two accessories. First off, you get his tried and true Assault Rifle. It’s a faithful recreation of the weapon in the game and he can hold it fairly well, even without that trigger finger. Amazingly enough, you also get a removable helmet, which is ironically something that the Square-Enix figure (at three times the cost) doesn’t come with. I say, it’s ironic because the figure’s head is really ugly and he doesn’t come with a helmet to hide that shit, but then you probably already saw where I was going with that. The helmet is made of soft pliable plastic and fits snugly over the figure’s head while still leaving the lower part of the face visible. The helmet looks great on the figure, but I prefer to pose Shep with the helmet in the crook of his arm. He also comes with a figure stand, which is a simple plain black disc. Come on, Big Fish, couldn’t you have at least put the title of the game on these things?
In the end, I am totally impressed with this figure. He’s a tad bigger than I expected. I thought he’d be more in line with DC Unlimited’sResistance 2 figures, but he stands just about a head taller than the regular Chimera. The sculpt and paint are both excellent for a figure in this price range and I was pleasantly surprised to find that Shepard isn’t your typical slightly articulated statue, but a bona fide action figure that can be posed and played with just fine. I’d recommend him to anyone looking to pick up a Mass Effect figure, particularly if you don’t want to spend more on a super-articulated ugly one. Alas, as we’ll see in the days ahead, Shepard isn’t exactly illustrative of the rest of this line, which tends to be hit and miss.