Heroes of the Storm: Thrall (Warcraft) by NECA

After being locked into Marvel Legends reviews for over a week, it’s nice to stretch my legs and write about something different. I have piles of stuff to choose from, but ultimately I decided to go with NECA’s Heroes of the Storm line, because the final wave is out and I want to both celebrate this line and sob mournfully because it’s going away. This last assortment includes two figures from Warcraft and one from Starcraft.  And, today I decided to open up Thrall, Warchief of The Horde!

Because who rolls Alliance, amiriiiight? Well, I did once just to see how the other half lives, but most my time in WoW, I was Horde through and through. As usual, the figure comes in a sealed clamshell, which means it is not collector friendly, but it will give you a delightful plastic fume high when you open it. Just a reminder, I’ve never played Heroes of the Storm, but I have played the games that it draws its characters from. In this case the hundreds of hours I spent playing World of Warcraft served as a buttress to my life when I needed it the most. I also really love the aesthetic, characters, and lore. Oh, and it ran pretty well on the shitty laptop that I had at the time. Previously, Warcraft characters have included Stitches, Arthas, and Illidan Stormrage. It’s about time Orgrimmar was represented. What about Stormwind? Pahleeeez!

Mmmhmmm… NECA gives good Orc! Despite already putting out three Warcraft figures in this line, this is NECA’s first crack at one of the Orcs. I wasn’t worried, because they have proven that they have the Warcraft aesthetic down pat and Thrall here is yet another example of that. Just look at the love and detail poured into this sculpt. The figure feels so layered, as if all that armor could be removed, even though it’s mostly part of the buck. Each of the heavy armor plates are thoroughly convincing, with hammered finishes, sculpted rivets, and a gorgeously worn bronze paint making up the reinforced weathered edges. This is some incredible work!

Thrall features raised Horde emblems sculpted into his large disc belt buckle as well as the plates on his gauntlets. The furry fringe on his boots and gauntlets have that distinctive angular flavor to them that comes out in the games’ Toons. The cloth sash has subtle sculpted wrinkles, which are beautifully brought out with a paint wash, and I love the sculpted feathers, which give the outfit a tribal motif. Behind those heavy plates on his legs, you can make out a cross-thatched pattern to the underlying suit, as well as the sculpted straps and painted buckles that are meant to be holding them on.

And those shoulders! Warcraft is infamous for its ridiculously proportioned shoulders and Thrall here is displaying the latest in Horde shoulder fashion. You get more of that wonderful hammered texture in the panels, laid into the bulky bronze frames with chunky spikes protruding outward. As for the portrait…  Those narrow eyes, the protruding tusks, those sharp ears, no doubt a handsome devil like Thrall has all the She-Orcs of Grommash Hold under his spell. I really dig his incredibly long braided hair as well. These are cast in fairly flexible plastic, and spill down the front along either side of his neck. I also love the color paint they used for his orc flesh. It’s a fairly bright green that contrasts beautifully with the armor.

With plenty of rotating hinges throughout the figure, Thrall features a respectable amount of articulation and all of those points do the best they can against a design that is not by nature intended to be limber. The shoulders threatened to be the biggest impediment, but they are designed to be flexible and lift up to allow for a fairly good range of arm movement. The elbows are a lot more restrictive. Still, all in all I’m quite pleased with the posability in this figure.

Thrall includes one accessory, and that’s Doomhammer. The hammer actually comes in two pieces, allowing you to pass the shaft of the handle up through the bottom of his closed right grip and then peg in the head of the hammer. It works well and gives him an infallible grasp on the weapon. Although, he can actually hold it in his left hand as well, just not as securely. It’s a heavy and bulky chunk of plastic, with all the same great level of paint and detail that is exhibited in the figure. And damn does it look great in his hand!

At this point it’s safe to say that, Blizzard’s art design and NECA go together like PB&J, which makes it all the sadder that this line is dying and NECA isn’t going to be doing Overwatch figures. Yeah, I was really hoping for that to happen. But rather than end this review under a cloud of doom and gloom, let’s just revel in what we’ve got. Thrall is a fantastic figure, which exhibits all the passion and craftsmanship that NECA pours into the licenses they work on. The coloring and complexity of sculpt bring this figure to life and make him look like he just stepped off the screen. He’ll likely be spending a while sitting on my desk, so that I can keep glancing over and admiring him, before joining his friends on the shelf. Thrall is available now at NECA retailers for around twenty bucks.

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Heroes of the Storm: Stitches, The Terror of Darkshire by NECA

It took a while, but I’m finally all caught up on NECA’s Heroes of the Storm line today as I look at Stitches! While this is intended to be the specific character from HotS, I’ve gone on record in saying that I don’t play that game and that I buy these figures for the games from which they’re sourced. In the case of Stitches, I know this guy best as the Undercity Guardians from the dark days of my World of Warcraft addiction. While WoW has spawned it’s share of figures and statues, I think this may be the first time we’ve seen an Abomination’s delightfully repulsive visage in plastic form, so I am super excited to check this guy out!

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Stitches comes in a sizable (and quite hefty) window box with some great artwork and shots of the figure, as well as a little blurb about him on the back panel. While Stitches is still scaled to go with this 6-inch line, and indeed isn’t all that much taller than his fellow figures, he’s still an absolute behemoth. As any good Abomination will tell you, it’s not the height, but the girth that matters! While the box is mostly collector friendly, getting Stitches off his tray will require a bit of patience and some deft fingers to work all those twisty-ties. Also, you’ll need to razor the bubbles, which hold his weapons to the sides of the cardboard insert.

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Out of the box, and it’s easy to see why they call him Stitches. Virtually indistinguishable from the run-of-the-mill Abominations that stalk The Undercity, this guy is a giant patchwork lump of dead flesh, stapled together and animated into a slobbering brute, literally spilling his guts out of the gaping maw in his belly. The sculpt here is absolutely stunning, with acres of mottled blue flesh, exposed muscles and ligaments, warts, and a delightful pair of saggy man-tits, which based on their color, were actually put there by design! And as good as the sculpt is, the paint easily matches, or possibly surpasses it. The sickly grayish-flesh tone of the skin on his right leg, left hand, and breasticles, is all truly disgusting and the subtle variations in his blue skin are phenomenal. It’s all so beautifully contrasted with the bright crimson of exposed meat and neatly painted silver staples. I was suitably impressed when I got him in hand, as even the production pictures of this guy really didn’t do the quality of paint justice.

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I mean, just look at that! Glorious! The open abdominal cavity shows exposed bones, some organs, and his intestines dangling down between his legs.

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From behind, we’re treated to a huge helping of saggy blue Abomination ass covered in warts, more miles of saggy blue skin, and the pizza-colored exposed section of his spine that curves up the top of his back. We can also get a good look at the third arm that grows out from behind his left shoulder. All of these lovely bits feature a respectable amount of articulation. All three arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with his two main hands sporting the same in the wrists. The legs are all about rotating hinges too, here you get them in the hips, knees, and ankles. He’s also got what appears to be a ball joint under his chest, but it really only swivels. There are a few more points to talk about, but to do that, let’s move on to the portrait.

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Well, hello there! Wanna make out? This goofy bastard features an intense stare and a dental situation that looks like a 20-mount pileup on the road to Tirisfal Glades. Again, the sculpt and paintwork here is just phenomenal. I especially love all the necrotic looking tissue around his chin. But wait, there’s more…

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He not only has an articulated jaw, but an articulated tongue as well. I can’t think of too many action figures that can boast that! So good! The neck is also on a swivel, but since the head juts forward out of his torso, it doesn’t really turn side to side, but he can make those motions that a puppy does when it hears a strange sound. Adorable! Let’s look at his killing implements…

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Nothing makes a statement quite like a giant clever. I mean a clever that’s about as big as most of the other figures in this line. Seriously, this thing probably weighs more than Nova and it is every bit a work of art. The realistic looking wood-grain handle comes apart, so you can stick it in the top of his hand and plug the bottom of the handle into the bottom, pegging them together inside his grip. The blade is a huge slab of plastic with a convincing rusty patina on the surface, scratches from seeing a lot of use, and a bloody edge… from seeing a lot of use. Only his enlarged right hand is big enough to wield this thing.

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But we don’t want his freaky back hand to get lonely, so he also comes with a sickle. Same deal with the handle. It splits apart and pegs together in the grip. This is another accessory that features some quality paint.

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And since Stitch has one more hand, he gets one more weapon. This time it’s a hook on a chain with a counterweight on the other end. You get a similar rusty-silver finish as we see on the other weapons. NECA really captured the WoW aesthetic with all of these pieces, but for some reason the hook and chain totally nails it.

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Stitches is an absolutely gorgeous hunk of plastic and yet another fine example of the sort of love and craftsmanship NECA pours into their figures. He retails at around $45-50, but I was able to snag mine for just under $30. He completes the initial assortments of NECA’s Heroes of the Storm and despite some QC issues in the beginning with Nova, I’m truly happy to have jumped on board this colorful line. I’m also pleased to know that the line will be continuing and we’ll be seeing some of the upcoming figures later this month at SDCC!

Heroes of the Storm: Nova Terra (Starcraft) by NECA

Blizzard! It’s one of those video game companies that has made a huge impact on my life… just not so much lately. Warcraft, Starcraft, World of Warcraft, Diablo... if I were to add up all the hours (or days, even) that I spent playing these franchises, I would probably die of shock. And while I’m still down for a little Starcraft or Diablo now and again, I’ve mostly been able to kick the Blizzard monkey off my back. I relapsed twice before finally quitting WoW for good! That having been said, when NECA announced their Heroes of the Storm figures I was on board. Not because I’ve ever played the game, but because the game draws characters from all of these properties that I know and love. I’m kicking off my look at this line with Nova Terra from Starcraft.

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I’ve been enjoying the collector friendly presentation of NECA’s “Ultimate” line, but lest we forget, NECA is also the king of hermetically sealed clam shells and that’s exactly what you get with Heroes of the Storm. I had to razor my way into this package and was instantly rewarded with a heady dose of lovely plastic fumes. Ahhh… contact high! The packaging is nothing much to write home about. The bubble shows off the figure, and you get a bubble insert with a rather nice character portrait. It’s serviceable and at least it doesn’t make me feel guilty about pitching it.

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Here she is and she is absolutely gorgeous! But, before getting in too deep… We got breakage! Yeah, Nova’s right leg snapped off at the hip almost immediately after taking her out of the package. At first I thought it was just a ball joint popped out of the socket. That’s how easy and quickly it happened. Then I realized that there’s nothing holding that leg on but a tiny pin and some quick Internet research told me that the snapping right hip is a common occurrence on this figure. I write a lot of favorable reviews of NECA product, but paying $22 for a figure that breaks so easily and so commonly is really disappointing, especially when it’s this wide spread.

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Aaaaand especially when the piece is as beautiful as this one. NECA did a wonderful job capturing the look of her Ghost Suit. From the smooth form-fitting midriff and thighs to the slightly bulkier armored pieces on her forearms, lower legs, chest and shoulders, everything about the hostile environment suit is recreated here in beautiful detail. The paint is also very well done. The metallic blue used for the armor pieces is brilliant and the panel lines are colored in black or light blue. There are a few smudges here and there, which are certainly not intended as weathering, but they’re less bothersome because they do make the suit look used.

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The portrait here looks particularly good. It’s funny, but at the right angles I could swear I see a little Billie Piper in the likeness. Maybe it’s because I always have Doctor Who on the brain. Either way, the paint on the lips and eyes is sharp and the large ponytail (which comes separate from the figure has to be pegged in to the head) is certainly impressive.

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And that brings us to articulation, which is where this figure runs into problems. Yes, obviously, I did some hip surgery. After two attempts to save the right hip articulation, I realized that my only hope was to fuse the leg in place with an ample dose of glue. Even now, because of the weird way the hip joints are constructed, the fused leg wants to move when I move the left hip and so I have to be extra careful when posing even her good leg. Beyond that, the legs include double hinged knees and ball joints in the ankles. The arms have rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. There are generous ball joints in the neck and just under the chest. The rest of the jointing on the figure feels great, so it’s a real shame about the bum hip.

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Nova comes with two accessories. First, you get an extra left hand that allows her to point with two fingers. I’ll likely go with this hand permanently since the articulation isn’t quite there to let her hold the huge gun across her chest and cradle it in the left hand. Besides, this hand works just as well for holding the gun in firing poses.

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And speaking of huge guns… You also get her trusty AGR-14 rifle, which is almost as tall as she is. It’s a relatively simple sculpt, but looks good and does include some panel lines and a few paint apps. The grip includes a peg that pegs into Nova’s right hand to help her hold it. Guess what? That snapped off too. Ugh… today just hasn’t been my day. Fortunately, she’s capable of holding it without the peg assist.

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Poor Nova… first your PS2 game gets cancelled (yes, I’m still bitter about that) and now this. This is an otherwise excellent figure taken down by either poor quality control, poor joint design, or maybe a little of both. Either way, I know NECA has a reputation for some delicate joints, but firsthand, I’ve had very few problems with their figures and I do own a lot of them. That having been said, this is one that I can join fellow collectors and have a cry over. I absolutely love the figure, and as much as I hate to do it, I’m seriously tempted to buy another and try again. But then with so many other reports of the same thing happening, I may be better off just sticking with my repaired figure rather than risk having another snap on me. If and when I do get another I’ll do a follow up feature. Either way, she still looks mighty nice standing on my shelf. Hopefully things will look up from here, and next week, I’ll revisit this line of figures again with a look at Illidan Stormage.