NECA’s Ultimate Series continues to blow me away with each new figure I pick up. In fact, it’s doing such a great job, that I even find myself buying figures from properties that I otherwise wouldn’t think of. Now, God of War is a decent series of video games, I will not deny that. I’ve played most of them, even one of the PSP releases, and while I wouldn’t rank it at the top of my list of personal favorites, I’d consider these games a guilty pleasure. I certainly never played any of them for the story or even that much for Kratos himself. What I’m getting at here is that, apart from being a cool badass, Kratos doesn’t mean that much to me as a character, but that doesn’t matter so much when NECA is working their magic on the figure.
Behold! Just when I thought the Ultimate Series packaging couldn’t get any better, they go and do this. While the previous packages have been unifrom in size and shape, this one is most definitely a stand-alone piece. It’s still a window box with a front flap, but this one is much wider across when compared to the regular releases and it’s designed to look like a mock up of a PS2 game. Or in this case, a large PS2 accessory of some sort. I love it.
Open it up and you get some lovely artwork on the inside of the front flap and a good look at the figure and all the accessories within. One side panel has the franchise name on it and the other has three shots of Kratos in action. This is some killer presentation and it feels more like a limited edition or exclusive than an off-the-shelf release. The Gods would indeed be pleased.
Even at NECA’s regular 7-inch scale, Kratos feels like a big figure in hand and he’s a beautifully crafted piece. NECA has reproduced his ashen skin perfectly, thanks to gray plastic and a white wash, and coupled it with some splendid detail on all the components of his costume. You have the Boots of Hermes, which are really more like sandals, but they still feature the sculpted wraps, bronzed fixtures and crimson wings on the sides. His belt is engraved with a decorative pattern and his loin cloth blows off to the side. The detail on the chains around his bracers is impressive, as is the bronzed armor plates on his right arm, all of which feature a nice, shiny gold finish with some bright red splatter on the upper pieces.
On his back, Kratos wears the twin Blades of Chaos, secured in place with chains and ready to be drawn at the hint of danger. From behind, you can also get a better look at the individual straps that make up his “skirt.” I can’t think of too many companies, outside of NECA, putting this kind of effort in sculpt and paintwork in their figures.
You get two portraits for Kratos. The regular, slightly perturbed, visage and the angry one he flashes right before he starts tearing shit up. Both of these head sculpts are little works of art and both manage to capture the character perfectly. Whether you’re going for a standard “museum style” pose or something with a little action, these two noggins have you covered.
The articulation on this fella includes just about everything I could ask for in my video game action figures. The legs have rotating hinges at the hips, double hinges in the knees, and rotating hinges in the ankles. The torso can swivel at the waist and has an ab crunch hinge. The arms have rotating hinges at the shoulders and wrists, double hinges in the elbows, and swivels in the biceps. The head is ball jointed. Some lateral rockers in the ankles would have been nice for those wide stances, but he can get by without them.
The Blades of Chaos are beautifully recreated here as if they flew right out of the game. They feature blazing orange blades fashioned in translucent plastic at the edges. The hilts are intricately sculpted, gnarled and ancient-looking and Kratos can comfortably grasp them in his hands.
You also get the Nemean Cestus, the massive pair of gauntlets, which fit over Kratos’ hands. As far as accessories go, these things are absolutely stunning. Not only are the enormous, but they represent a hell of a lot more sculpted detail than I’m used to seeing in some companies’ entire figures. They are, however, extremely heavy, so getting Kratos’ joints to support all that weight in certain poses can be problematic.
I’m going to pay Kratos the highest compliment I can: He ranks up there with my treasured Raziel as my favorite video game action figures of all time. Now, Raziel, also one of NECA’s Player Select figures, still holds the top spot, but that’s mostly because I’m far more vested in that character and series. But in terms of craftsmanship, these figures are leagues above anything other companies are putting out in this scale. The real kick in the jumblies is the price. If you handed this box to me and let me play around with Kratos for a while, I would probably guess an MSRP of around $40-50. Nope, try $25. TWENTY FIVE DOLLARS. Even laying aside all the sculpt work and paint that went into this guy, the amount of plastic alone makes that seem like a great value. Add to that the fact that when compared to the stuff Hasbro and Mattel are putting out, these are really niche figures aimed at a much smaller market. I seriously don’t know how they do it, but I’m glad they can!