Spyro The Dragon by NECA

Good morning Toyhounds, and welcome to FigureFan Zero’s 10 Year Anniversary. Yup, I’ve managed to crap out ten years of this bullshit, amounting to something like 2,400 reviews. I chewed on the idea of doing something special for the occasion, and I decided that I’d be better off just working on getting my normal content up and running again as best as I can, so I’ll spare you all me waxing poetic about the fact that my stupid toy blog has run for this long. Maybe I’ll get inspired to do something celebratory before the end of the month, but for now I’ll just shut up about it and get on with today’s review!

And so long as we’re talking anniversaries, let me point out that one of the many tough points about getting old is seeing games that I played as an adult getting re-released as HD remastered nostalgia. Case in point: Spyro The Dragon was released for the original Sony PlayStation in 1997 when I was 25. It was one of the first PSX games I played that felt like they nailed fluid platforming in a 3D world. On top of that, it felt like playing a cartoon, the musical score was breathtaking, and Spyro would take on the role of a Sony Mascot until, like a certain Bandicoot, the franchise eventually landed on all the platforms and ultimately Spyro got ground up by the Skylanders juggernaut. Well, one of the good things of games being re-released is we get a second chance at merch, and NECA has stepped up to the plate with a Spyro action figure.

Spyro comes in a big and beefy sealed clamshell, which means that unless you’re deft with a razor blade, the packaging really isn’t collector friendly. On the other hand, it also means when you make your first incision you will be rewarded with that heady smell of concentrated plastic. So good! The bubble inserts feature some colorful graphics and you do get a great look at the figure, well except for his feet. And before I start taking a look at the figure overall, we’re going to start there with…

FEET! Let’s talk about feet! A whole hell of a lot (maybe all) of these figures shipped with the feet assembled wrong, meaning the fronts are on the backs and the backs are on the fronts. Oh, NECA! Now, if you are intimately familiar with Spyro, you may know that he has four toes on his front paws and three on the backs. Apart from that, you’d really have to look hard to notice the mistake. Indeed, it almost kinda makes sense that the larger feet would be on the back legs and the smaller on the front, but if you look close you can see the diameter of the ankle on the foot doesn’t match that of the upper leg. Nonetheless, the feet on my figure are switched, and I’m not really sure if they ever actually corrected the mistake during production. Swapping the feet is supposed to be pretty easy by applying some heat, but I’m a firm believer in looking at figures the way they come to me, so I’ll be making that swap later on down the road. When I do get around to it, I’ll be happy to follow up this review with an addendum. OK, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at the figure as a whole.

In terms of sculpt, NECA absolutely nailed Spyro’s adorable-with-attitude look. I love this character design so much, and a lot of that probably goes back to my fondness as a kid for a certain purple Disney dragon named Figment. Spyro’s skin is covered with a scaly texture and topped off with craggy scales, all of which are part of the sculpt. His chest is segmented with deep cuts, his tail terminates with a yellow swirl, and his wings have a slightly angular nature that reflects the mating of the HD look with the polygonal origins of the character.

That same angular nature applies to Spyro’s head sculpt, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how well the sculpting wizards at NECA captured Spyro’s portrait. His crooked brow hangs heavy over his large, perfectly printed eyes. His broad smile contributes to an overall mischievous visage, punctuated by two tiny nostrils. Meanwhile the top of his head is adorned with his two goat-like horns and a mowawk running down between them.

And the colors! Oh, the colors! The deep purple has some subtle gradations to show the darker purple of the craggy scales. It all pops so beautifully against the bright yellow of his belly and tail. But for me the real eye candy here is the yellow with orange shading in the wings and mohawk. It’s sumptuous and captures the coloring in the original art so perfectly.

The figure takes a bit of a hit in the articulation, and that’s not for lack of trying. The body itself has what appear to be ball joints in the neck, mid section, base of the tail, and three more in the tail itself. That allows for some nice subtle movements in the body and helps the figure go from standing to flying poses. The legs only rotating hinges where they connect to the body and no mid-point hinges. What’s more those upper leg joints are a bit restrictive. The ankle joints mostly just want to swivel. I suspect there are hinges up there too, but mine don’t want to move like that. I guess I’ll find out when I eventually swap the paws. Finally, you get rotating hinges at the base of the wings and a ball joint in the neck. Like I said, there’s plenty to work with here, but in the end, I found that there was only so much I could do with this little guy.

It’s never a good thing when a toy comes to me wrong right out of the box, and having to take the time to fix something I just paid for is never fun. But even with the assembly misstep (HA!), Spyro here has a lot going for him. NECA managed to nail both the sculpt and coloring and deliver a wonderful representation of this spunky little dragon in action figure form. The articulation is there in spirit, but he wasn’t quite as much fun to play around with as I hoped he would be. That’s not such a big deal when he looks so good on the shelf, but it’s still something I need to call out. I also wish that they had given us some kind of flight stand with him. A translucent post and base would have been really cool. A clip might not work as well to support his weight, but they could have put a peg hole in his belly and included a plug to cover it up for when he’s not in flight. Nonetheless, I’m happy to have this guy standing on the shelf next to my Bandicoots.