Half-Life 2: Gordon Freeman by NECA

1999 was a rough year for me, and I’m not just talking about the release of The Phantom Menace. HA! No, seriously. I was working a full time job while also trying to get my own business off the ground, and living in a shitty apartment with a difficult roommate. My downtime consisted of weekends playing games on my computer, which was propped up in the corner of my mostly unfurnished bedroom on a computer table made out of plastic totes and a wooden board. My PC was one of the few things of value that I owned that wasn’t in storage and it was my only means of escaping my dreary surroundings. Thank god, Half-Life came out when it did, because I was able to lose myself in it. It was the only thing that I looked forward to when I got home from work and playing it got me through a tough time. So, besides being such a mind-blowingly influential game for its time, it’ll always be extra special to me. Why did I gas on about all this in the intro? Because sometimes I like to point out that some of these bits of plastic that I collect do indeed have special meaning to me.

And here comes NECA giving the intrepid Gordon Freeman the action figure treatment. This is actually a re-issue of their original figure, and as you can see from the packaged shot, he’s based off of Gordon in Half-Life 2, a great game to be sure, but one that doesn’t instill as many strong memories for me as the first one does. Indeed, I’m drawing a blank on most of what happens in it and seriously considering giving it another play-through. So, yes, I would have rather had a new figure from the original game, but I’ll happily take this one as a consolation prize. And hell, it’s still amazing to me just how iconic Gordon Freeman has become despite him starring in a First-Person Shooter where you hardly ever see him. Anyway… enough about the games, let’s get this figure open and check him out!

Gordon comes wearing his trusty Black Mesa HEV (Hostile Environment) Suit. It’s still totally recognizable as the iconic suit from the original game, which was a Mark IV, but with some notable changes (both cosmetic and functional), upgrading it to a Mark V. Suffice it to say, NECA did an amazing job recreating the suit in 7-inch scale plastic form. Despite being all cast as part of the buck, it has a convincing layered look to its construction. The mesh under-suit can be seen between the armor pieces on the arms and legs, and it’s sculpted to have a very fine chain-mail-like texture. The armor plates feature various cut lines and the lambda logo on his chest is actually sculpted as well as painted.

The suit’s deco is darker and less polished looking than the Mark IV he wore at Dark Mesa, but it definitely fits the darker and dystopian feel of the second game. There’s less orange, but still enough to keep the sense of connection to the older suit. Most of it is done in matte colors, but you do get a little gloss on the red panels on the leg armor. I really like what NECA did with the finish on the shoulder armor as it has a cool unfinished metal patina to it. It really invokes an old medieval suit of armor feel to it, which again meshes well with the feel of the sequel. You get more of that rough metal finish to the armor pieces on the arm, only much darker. I especially like the hint of red padding that can be seen picking through the shoulder sockets. Finally, NECA did some nice weathering in both the sculpt and paint, including some scratching and scarring on the orange plates. This is a well-worn suit that shows off the wear-and-tear of Gordon’s adventures.

The portrait is excellent. This is definitely the slightly gruffer Gordon from HL2, but he hasn’t changed that much. He still sports the clean haircut and the neatly trimmed goatee. One of Gordon’s most iconic features has always been his nerd glasses and they are extremely well done here. Glasses on figures often come off as too large or bulky, but these are perfect. They’re cast in a separate piece, permanently attached to the head, and feature actual lenses. There’s a little bit of spray from the hair on his forehead, but it’s nothing too bad and looks more like dirt than anything else.

The articulation here is pretty solid, although a few of the points are a bit unconventional. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with the wrists attached using ball joints to allow the hands to swap out with his two additional accessory-holding hands. The torso features a ball joint under the chest and another set deep in the base of the neck. The odd bit I was referring to earlier are the hips, which feature pins running from the front and back to form a rotating hinge. They work fine, but they still always look weird to me, and these certainly do their part to identify Gordon as the reissue of an earlier release. Finally, the legs feature rotating hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. Let’s move on to accessories!

Let’s face it, Gordon Freeman and his crowbar go together like King Arthur and Excalibur. Whether I was busting apart crates or putting the beat-down on head crabs, this trusty tool was always by my side. It’s not just an implement and a melee weapon, but it’s a symbol that Gordon Freeman is the average schlub turned action hero. Well, assuming your average schlub has a Ph.D in theoretical physics from MIT. Anyway, the crowbar is… well, it’s a crowbar. It’s an essential accessory, it sure comes in handy when you run out of ammo, but there isn’t a lot to say about it as an accessory. It has a nice weathered finish and you can see some of the red paint that’s been worn off of the handle. The right hand that comes on the figure can grip it nice and tight.

More interesting, and more central to HL2 is the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator and boy is that a mouthful! The Manipulator was created as a lifting tool, but it has the power to hurl heavy objects at enemies, which allows it to be classified as a pretty deadly weapon. Gordon’s second set of hands are designed specifically to hold the Manipulator and they do the job perfectly. This is a great looking piece with a lot of attention to detail, although I would advise caution when dealing with the mandibles at the end of the device as they appear to be frail. I’ll likely wind up keeping the box for Gordon, because I don’t want to risk bagging that accessory and having those mandibles wind up breaking or warping.

And Gordon also comes with a Pheropod, which he could use in the game to summon the Antlions to attack his targets. It’s a well-sculpted little ball that fits into one of Gordon’s left hands. A cool addition to be sure!

Finally, Gordon comes with a headcrab, which to me remains the all-time best copy of the Alien facehugger. These things were so damn annoying in the game and were equally creepy when you saw them attach themselves to unfortunate Black Mesa scientists and convert them into unwilling zombies. They kind of look like mutant roasted turkeys, and NECA did a fine job on this little static figure. From the blue veins that run under their golden roasted turkey skin to the unsettling orifice underneath that is meant to wrap around a person’s head and basically turn them into a bipedal murder vehicle. Ugh, it’s really disgusting inside that thing!

As grateful as I am to NECA for re-releasing this fantastic figure, I’m actually quite surprised they did. Sure, the prospect of a coveted Half-Life 3 is forever lurking in the dark corners of the PC Gaming community, but it’s been a long time since Half-Life 2 and sadly Gordon Freeman isn’t the household name he used to be. And as great as this figure is, I think this may be one of those figures where you really have to be centered on the character to appreciate how great it is. But for me, Gordon Freeman is monumental in his importance. He introduced the idea of the everyman protagonist to video games, which in turn made it easy for me to identify and put myself into the game. But most of all, he’ll always be a cherished character who was a symbol of relief in a rather rough year of my life, and I’m very happy to be able to add this figure to my shelf. I was on the fence over picking up their Chell reissue from Portal 2, but now I’m thinking I may go ahead and pick her up too.

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Predator: “Concrete Jungle” Scarface by NECA

I’m slowly getting caught up on my NECA reviews, and that’s a good thing because I have a bunch more figures coming in the next week or so that will start filling up the hopper again. Today I’m checking out Scarface from the game Concrete Jungle. I originally played it on the PlayStation 2, but a little while ago I picked up a copy for the Xbox, since my OG Xbox is now rigged for HD. Alas, my poor old girl died on me shortly afterwards and I’ve only recently been able to do the surgery required to get her running again. If I’m being honest, Concrete Jungle is a decent game, but not a great one, although I’ll confess that I’ve enjoyed playing it a lot more than I enjoyed watching any of the films that followed after Predator 2.

I don’t know if NECA classifies this figure as one of their Ultimate releases, but the packaging suggests that it is. You get an extra thick window box with a folding front flap, and there are a lot of goodies inside. The box has plenty of pictures of the figure and accessories and, unlike NECA’s regular Predators, this packaging is totally collector friendly. Let the gushing begin!

Getting Scarface out of the box, I’m immediately greeted by a sense of awe that I rarely encounter with figures in this price range. Seriously! He’s big, he’s beefy, and he’s absolutely gorgeous. Sure, NECA knows their way around a Predator better than anyone other than Stan Winston. They’ve been sculpting these deadly interstellar hunters for ages now and they bring with it a passion that can be seen in the craftsmanship. Scarface features the same familiar body type as previous releases, with the creepy yellow-and-black skin and all kitted out with a sculpted body net. The outfit, on the other hand, is new and distinctive among previous Predator releases, and almost has a medieval flavor to it. For starters, you get some ragged chain-mail protecting the upper part of his torso and his groin. Segmented plate armor covers his shoulders, arms, hips, and lower legs. All of the plate armor is sculpted with pitting and wear, making it look like this dude has seen some major action in his day and the paint is totally convincing as weathered metal.

Some nice extra touches to the outfit include two human skulls, one mounted on his right shoulder and the other used as a belt-buckle. Both are missing their lower jaws and feature a realistic bone finish with a wash to bring out all the details. Additionally, he has a traditional bone sash hanging off his right shoulder and crossing his chest. Scarface also likes his spikes, as his armor is literally studded with them. He’s got some real sharp ones on his right shoulder, hip plates, and knee guards, and some more blunt and knobby ones running around his belt. He ties the outfit together with a ragged brown sash that obscures some of the chain-mail protecting his unmentionables.

As is often the case with NECA’s Predators, Scarface comes with both a masked and unmasked head, and both of these are works of art. The mask is a lot more intricate than what we saw on the City and Jungle Hunters. The configuration of the forehead is similar, but Scarface again sports some spikes on a short ridge that rises up from between his eyes. The almond-shaped eyes are black and soul-less as ever, but the biggest difference here comes in all the detail in the area that covers his mandibles, which looks damn cool and adds to the intimidation factor of the mask. The surface of the mask features the same worn and pitted look as the rest of his armor, and as always, I’m impressed by the individually sculpted dreadlocks. The final touch comes with the splash of red paint that covers the damaged side of his face.

A simple pop-and-swap gets you the unmasked look, and once again I’m faced with the impossible decision of which way to display this figure. Scarface’s naked visage features his mandibles open in full, bloodcurdling scream, allowing for quite the view of his alien oral cavity. Above, you can see his yellow, beady right eye as well as the vacant socket to the left where his horrific wound was suffered, granting him his nickname. I really need to invest in one of those packs of head stands that NECA has on the market, because not displaying both of these noggins is nothing short of a crime. Let’s move on to Scarface’s various instruments of killing…

No Predator feels complete without a shoulder-mounted plasmacaster, and Scarface’s is quite a doozy. The entire assembly tabs easily into the notches on his back and the weapon itself has a track that allows it to be slid forward and hinged into a firing position. NECA did not include a firing effect part with this figure, and I can’t say as I really miss it. If you absolutely must have one, you might be able to borrow from one of the previous releases. As usual, it’s a tight fit between the weapon and the head, but I’m used to that by now.

Next up, Scarface comes with this speargun. I’m pretty sure a version of this thing was seen in Predator 2, but it was really given its due in the Predator video games. The Concrete Jungle version is a bit more compact, not quite a rifle and not quite a pistol. I really dig the design of this thing, and the right hand is sculpted to hold it quite well.

Scarface also comes with this rather distinctive curved sword to hold in his left hand. The handle works so that it is above the blade, allowing for slashing moves with the serrated edge that rests past his elbow as well as downward swipes with the hooked edge that protrudes past his wrist. The exotic shape of the blade reminds me a bit of the Klingon swords from Star Trek and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a very utilitarian looking weapon, without any real ornamentation, save for the artistic curves of the blade.

And for added slicing, dicing, and skewering, Scarface has the retractable blades on his right gauntlet that we’ve seen with most previous Predators. As usual, these don’t actually retract into the gauntlet, but rather tab into the slots when you want to display him with them deployed. There’s also an open right hand that can be swapped out for when he’s not holding his spear gun.

And last, but not least, Scarface includes the opening wrist computer on his left gauntlet. The hinges on this one are a lot sturdier than they’ve been on some previous releases.

Generally speaking, I’ve been pretty good at resisting going nuts with NECA’s Predators line. It’s not that I don’t want to own them all, but I’m at that stage with my collecting, where I really have to think about how much space I have and how deep I want to go into any particular line. So far, I’ve restricted myself mostly to the boxed releases, and one or two of the carded ones. Whatever the case, I’m so very happy I decided to pick up Scarface, because he is a stand-out figure in a line populated almost entirely by stand-out figures. NECA worked their magic with this design and created a masterpiece of a figure that is far better than the rather average game deserved. I’ve had this one sitting around waiting to be opened for a while now, and I was actually surprised to see that he’s still available at the original MSRP of about $25, give or take a little, depending on where you find him. In terms of iconic designs, I’d say that the City and/or Jungle Predators are still the must-haves for any collection, but beyond that, you can’t go wrong picking up this bad boy. He’s quite simply a stunning figure.

Figma “Space Channel 5” Ulala (Orange Version) by Max Factory

“Groooove morning, Space Cats!” Are you ready for a rather unusual middle of the week Figma review? Yeah, most of my Figma reviews land on Anime Saturdays, but since this one is most definitely video game based, I thought I’d fit Ulala in the normal weekday rotation.  I’d forgive you if you aren’t instantly familiar with Space Channel 5‘s Star Reporter, because she hails from a game that premiered on the SEGA Dreamcast about 18 years ago. The sequel, along with a port of the original, came a little later to the US on the PlayStation 2, but after that Ulala’s been more or less relegated to appearing in stuff like SEGA All-Stars Racing and SEGA All-Stars Tennis. It’s a shame, because she’s a fun character and I think she deserved more of her own games. Now, why we’re getting a Figma release of her now, I have no idea, but I sure as hell ain’t complaining.

Ulala comes in a typical Figma window box, albeit it’s bigger than most to accommodate the three Morolians bundled with her. What are Morolians? Let me save some time and just link to a review of the game that I wrote way back when it first came out. I’ll wait… Back? OK, let’s proceed! The colors on the box are brighter than the usual Figma packaging and reflect the bright and trippy color scheme of the game. I’ll point out that Max Factory released two versions of Ulala, this one in her orange outfit from the original game, and another in her white outfit, from the sequel and a lot of her guest appearances. It was no contest for me, I went with orange and I was willing to pay the price, but more on that when we get to the end. Also, I’m not really sure what the “EX” means in the numbering scheme, but maybe someone out there can enlighten me. As always, the packaging here is collector friendly, but if you want to toss it out, they provide you with a Figma-branded Ziploc bag to keep all the stuff in.

And here she is out of the package and ready to get her groove on. Space Channel 5’s star reporter usually went through some outfit changes between levels of the game, but this is undoubtedly Ulala’s most iconic look for me with the orange miniskirt, cropped top, and high heeled platform boots. She has a blue belt sculpted around her right thigh and it features a peg so she can wear one of her guns on it. The coloring is certainly on point with her outfit consisting of a bright orange with white trim and red platforms on her boots. As an added bonus, the finish on the plastic does a nice job mimicking the glossy, rubber look that her outfit had in the game. Her chest features a perfectly printed Space Channel 5 logo and she has two blue jet packs strapped to her back. These are mounted on ball joints to allow for a little bit of re-positioning. That comes in handy for working with the included stand. And boy am I thankful for that stand, since Ulala’s boots make it rather difficult to get her to stay upright on her own.

The portrait here is spot on perfect for the Ulala’s on screen appearance. The paint on her makeup and eyebrows is super sharp and clean and her pigtails are set on ball joints to allow a little bit of movement when posing her. I particularly love the shade of pink they used for her hair. The portrait also includes her blue headset with microphone, which is permanently attached to the head.

Ulala only comes with one face, which is really odd as Figmas usually have an extra two or three to change the expressions. Instead, she has movable eyes! I own quite a few Figmas, but this is the first time I’ve encountered this sort of thing. They even provide a tool to move the eyes, and I had no idea what it was until I looked at the instructions. Basically, you remove the face as if you’re swapping it, and use the tool to direct the eyes where you want them to look. Now, Ulala didn’t really sport a lot of different expressions in the game, so I’m not really bummed out by the lack of extra faces, but at the same time, I don’t think I’ll be using the articulation in the eyes very much.

While the extra faces may be missing, Ulala compensates with a whole lot of hands. Not only is the usual sprue loaded up with four pairs, but she also has an extra pair in a baggie, plus the ones she comes wearing. Hands include relaxed fingers, splayed fingers, fists, pointing fingers, and two sets for holding her accessories. I don’t see a whole lot of use for her fists, but the accessory holding hands work well. And speaking of accessories… let’s take a look at what she’s got.

First off is her official Space Channel 5 news microphone and this little thing is beautiful. It’s cast in two shades of blue plastic and has tiny SC5 logos printed around the ring.

Next up are her twin pistols. These have a great retro sci-fi look to them that fits perfectly with the style of the show. Yes, she only has a place to wear one of the pistols. That was the case in the game as well, and through a good portion of the game she only has the single gun, but there are times when she busts out a second. One was to shoot Morolians and the other was to rescue hostages. But where does she keep that extra gun?

Ulala also comes with three little Morolians and these are just static pieces to display with her, but they look great and come in blue, yellow, and pink. I’ll toss out here that the white costume version of Ulala comes with three different colored Morolians, so if you want to get them all, you have to buy both versions. Who would be crazy enough to do that? Don’t tempt me!

And finally, the box includes the usual clear Figma stand with hinged arm and a peg adapter. If you own any Figmas then you already know what to expect here. I do have one gripe, though, and that’s the peg is not a very good fit for the hole in her back. With or without the adapter piece, it takes way too much force to get that thing to stay put. I’ve had a similar issue on one or two other Figmas in my collection, but it’s not the norm. Granted, it isn’t a huge complaint, but it can be annoying.

What’s also annoying is the price on this gal! For some reason this orange version of Space Channel 5’s star reporter dropped at just over $100 and that’s just stupid expensive for what’s included in the box. Did the articulated eyes add that much to the price? It certainly couldn’t have been the Morolians. I have Deluxe Figmas with elaborate accessories that cost a lot less than Ulala here. And with the white version dropping at $85 (also oddly expensive) the only reason I could possibly see for this one being $20 more is because most people are probably going to want the orange version. In any event, I wasn’t about to take any risks here and so I crushed that pre-order button the moment she went up. I certainly don’t regret it, as she’s a beautiful figure and a wonderful display piece to proclaim my undying love for the SEGA Dreamcast and it’s era of gaming.

KanColle: Battleship Mutsu “Super Premium” Figure with 41cm Twin Gun Mount by SEGA

Of all the Fleet Girls in the KanColle Universe, Mutsu is my favorite. I can’t tell you why, I just dig her a lot. Ironically, to date I’ve only reviewed one figure of her, and that was the Figma FigFix Half-Damage version. I do have one other to look at one day, but the truth is that she doesn’t get quite as much love as her fellow Fleet Girls when it comes to prize figures, or even scaled figures. But today’s release makes a mends, because it is the incredible “Super Premium” Figure from SEGA, and her armaments are so freaking big, they had to be boxed and sold separately. If you’ve seen my review on the SPM Battleship Nagato and her Gun Mount, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here. The only difference is I was able to buy these together, so Mutsu didn’t have to wait an extra couple of months for her guns to arrive from Japan like poor Nagato did. Let’s start with the figure…

Mutsu comes in a pretty big box for a prize figure. The regular SPM figures are roughly 8-inch scale and since Mutsu is a Battleship, she scales just a bit bigger. The box is fully enclosed, has some nice artwork, but mine arrived beat to hell with a big crunch in the side. And you know what? I don’t even care because I got a really good price on this lady and even manged to get her from a US Seller off of Amazon. She comes out of the box inside a plastic tray and the only assembly required is to place her on her stand. There’s also a little name plate in Japanese that you can place on the base or remove and place on the base that comes with the Gun Mount. It all depends on how you want to display the figure and gear, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s Mutsu all set up and looking great. It’s a playful and demure pose and it almost looks like she’s blowing a kiss. I think this pose works great when the figure is on its own and without all the gear. It also nicely reflects Mutsu’s flirty and seldom too serious personality. Otherwise, she wears an outfit that’s very similar to Nagato’s, which includes a black and white half-top and a very short black pleated skirt with white stripe around the bottom. The outfit is rounded out by white gloves and a pair of knee-high red and gray rudder boots with white striping at the tops. One thing of note is that the arming belt she’s displayed with here does not have the ports to attach her armaments. I’m guessing they did that to give her more of a streamlined look for people who wanted to display her without her gear. I think it was a good choice!

The paint and coloring here is quite good. The whites are bright and the red and gray areas are smooth and even. The striping is solid, but in some areas could have been a bit sharper. Still, all the paint applications are well within what I expect of a prize figure, if not better. She also has a gold painted chrysanthemum embedded in the center of her belt. The skin tone is pretty good, but under certain light it does have a bit of that waxy sheen that you tend to see in prize figures, but not in the more expensive scaled figures. This sort of thing is usually a big pet peeve of mine, so when I say  it’s not too bad, you can believe it. All in all I’m really happy with how the coloring on the statue turned out with the figure in hand, even if it does look a little too orange in some of my pictures.

The portrait is spot on for my favorite Fleet Girl. She’s got big, perfectly printed green eyes and the hint of a smile. I really love how they sculpted her short, brown hair framing her face and blowing off to the back a bit. She also has her trademark antenna, which earned her nickname, Snail.

The simple black disk base is absolutely massive, and that’s because it’s designed to work with the Gun Mount. Alas, that means if you choose to display her alone, she takes up a lot more real estate on the shelf than should be required, and the base looks way out of proportion for the figure. But I have no intention of displaying her without her weapons, so let’s move on to the second box!

Like the figure, Mutsu’s armaments come in an enclosed box with lots of pictures and lots of Japanese text. If you’re like me and hopeless at reading Japanese, you really need to know what you’re looking at here or you could easily pick this up thinking that you get the figure as well. I’m pretty sure it says “Mutsu sold separately” somewhere on that box, but hell if I can read it. Although, if you’re familiar with the SPM figures, it would be pretty obvious that the figure couldn’t fit in this box. In any event, the Gun Mount requires a bit of assembly, as you have to attach the stand to the base, then connect the two sets of guns together, then plug those into the stand and put on the smokestack. Oh yeah, you also have to attach the anchor. There are also some support posts intended for when its hooked up to the figure, but I found they were totally unnecessary and didn’t look so good, so you won’t see them featured here. Obviously, the instructions are in Japanese, but there’s nothing here that can’t be figured out by way of the illustrations. When you’re all done cobbling this thing together, here’s what you get…

Now, I really dig the presentation here. The stand is meant to look like a gantry, cast in a smokey translucent plastic, complete with sculpted detail and even some stairs, which makes me wonder what’s going on with the scale in the KanColle Universe. The pieces all attach very securely and you can work the articulation on the individual guns and also rotate the turrets. That’s pretty much all the articulation that’s here. It’s fine for customizing the look I want, but if you want the fully articulated package, you really need to go with the Figma version of these Battleships. There’s a loop to hook the anchor chain through and I like to wind it around the back and hang it off the front, similarly to how it will look when worn by Mutsu.

The whole rig looks great, but apart from some sculpted rivets and a few panel lines, there isn’t an overload of detail and that’s fine because it carries the animated look quite well. You do get some nice variations in the gray with shading in some areas, cream colored plastic used for the coverings at the base of the guns, and a red border running along the bottom of the rig. The name plate is the same one pictured on the Mutsu base, and there’s no way to actually secure it, so I just use a bit of blue tack to keep it in place. There are some very faint hash marks on both bases so you know exactly how to position it. As I said, I really dig all the effort that went into the presentation here, and that makes it kind of sad that I will never ever display the guns this way. Nope, just like Nagato’s guns, these babies are going to stay on the figure, so let’s get Mutsu all kitted out.

The first thing you need to do is swap out the arming belt on the figure with this one that has the actual connecting ports. To do this, you pull poor Mutsu apart at the middle and lift out the old arming belt and swap it out for the new one. Yup, the skirt is sculpted as part of the belt, so it swaps out too. When you’re done, you just have to tab in the left and right gun assemblies, pop the smokestack onto the back, and attach her anchor. Traditionally, Mutsu is seen with her anchor’s chain wrapping around her left leg and attaching at her left rudder boot, but here the intent is that you run it around the back and then have it dangling from her left hand.

And here she is all armed up and looking absolutely spectacular! While Nagato’s gun assembly attached entirely by one connection point at the back, Mutsu’s feel a little more secure because each half attaches to each of the side ports. Not that I’ve had any issues with Nagato’s falling off, but it’s worth noting the difference in design and execution. However, like Nagato, fully armed Mutsu is a beast of a prize figure, measuring about 10-inches tall and requiring at least 10-inches radius to properly display her big guns.

While Mutsu’s pose works better than Nagato’s when she’s unarmed, I think the reverse is true for the armed up display. It’s not that Mutsu’s pose doesn’t work, it actually fits her character perfectly, but Nagato just looks like she’s ready to kick all kinds of ass with her hand out, commanding her Fleet Girls to open fire. Mutsu looks more like she’s just along for the ride. But either way, she sure looks adorable, and the two poses really speak volumes about each gal’s personality.

The two figures also look amazing displayed together, but they take up the bulk of my shelf, so even with most of my “Day Off” figures put away right now, I’m still going to need to do some expanding in order to make room for Mutsu. I’ll probably wind up displaying Mutsu and Nagato on each end of the shelf with SEGA’s three SPM Battleships, Fubuki, Mutsuki, and Yuudachi in the center. So, it looks like the rest of the Fleet Girls will be annexing the lower shelf, where I just have a random assortment of prize figures. I was able to pick up Mutsu and her Gun Mount for about $45 and that’s a lot better than I made out with Nagato. She was $45 all by herself, although she was advertised as coming with her Gun Mounts. Ah, but I already told that story back in that review. Either way, I’ve got no complaints, as I would have been perfectly happy paying a premium for this gal if I needed to. The bulk of my Kantai Collection figures are casual pick ups, but SEGA’s “Super Premium” Mutsu was a must-own figure and one that I jumped on as soon as I saw her.

 

RoboCop Vs Terminator: Future RoboCop by NECA

Wow, was it really over a month ago since I looked at NECA’s EndoCop and Terminator Dog from Dark Horse’s RoboCop Vs Terminator comic? I’m pretty sure I promised back then that I’d be back with a look at this Future RoboCop the following week, but things appear to have gotten away from me. Nonetheless, when I was picking up in the Toy Closet the other day, this guy fell off a stack and hit me in the head. It was clearly the Universe’s way of reminding me to make good on my promise. And finding a new NECA figure to open makes every day better! So let’s check him out!

If you were here for the EndoCop review, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from this packaging. The figure comes in a window box, but it has a hinged front flap that secures with the premium goodness of velcro. It’s also the same style packaging that NECA uses for their Ultimate figures and I hate it because it’s so nice and I can’t throw it out and it takes up so much space and oh my god, I have so many shelves of these things! Naturally, it’s all collector friendly, although I would recommend a modicum of care when removing Robo from the tray, as his legs pass through holes in it and he’s got those somewhat fragile pistons down there. The artwork on the box is superb as it looks like it’s straight out of the comic. It also compliments the artwork on the EndoCop box perfectly. The photos, on the other hand, are pretty awful. I don’t know what happened here, but most of the official promo shots of this figure look really rough and rushed. I’m glad I didn’t let that influence my decision to purchase it. Oh yeah, the lettering on the front flap is printed in rich foil blue and red and it looks super spiffy. The whole presentation is just a wonderful send up to the comic and a perfect example of how NECA pours their collective heart and soul into these projects.

And here he is out of the box and ready for action! Far in the future, Alex Murphy’s consciousness hides within Skynet’s artificial intelligence until the time is right to fabricate himself a new body. Augmented by Terminator technology and a new battle frame, RoboCop allies itself with the human resistance to take out Skynet and prevent the annihilation of mankind. At least that’s how I remember it. It’s been a while since I read this comic. As you can probably tell, there are a lot of parts shared between this figure and the EndoCop, indeed the bulk of the figure is very much the same, but there are also some cool new bits here as well. From the waist down the only thing that I can see different is the little device coming off of his right hip. I have no idea what this is, but I really hope someone can enlighten me. At first, I thought it might be a gun, but it doesn’t pivot into what would resemble a firing position. The torso is the same as the EndoCop’s and includes the fortified pistons and shoulder plates.

The right arm is the same, but his lower left arm has been replaced with what looks like a rocket launcher. The sculpt still features all the great little touches like the OCP branding on the leg and helmet, the working pistons on his lower legs and the backs of his upper arms, the thruster modules attached to the outsides of his lower legs, and the detail in the right hand is extremely intricate.

The head appears to be the same sculpt that NECA used for their regular RoboCop figures. The only major difference here is that the chin guard is painted silver instead of black. And speaking of paint, it looks great all over the figure. NECA did make use of some blue highlights here and there, and at first I thought this was to recreate that blue-purple hue the suit sometimes showed on screen. It sort of works at some angles, but it looks a bit obvious if you get in close. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they were probably going for more of a comic coloring effect here, and if that’s the case… well, bravo!

From the back, we can see the biggest change on the figure in the form of his massive backpack-o-death. This thing is like a Swiss Army Knife of Mutual Assured Destruction. It’s got missiles, rockets, and something that looks like an anti-tank gun. Sadly none of these pieces are removable and are for display only, but holy crap does it look cool!

Future Robo does, however, have a mini-gun mounted behind his right shoulder that can be deployed for attack. I dig this thing a lot and it gives me a bit of a Predator feel. But lets not get them or the Aliens involved. This crossover is mind-bending enough.

And when a back full of ICBMs and mini-guns can’t get the job done, or just for old times’ sake, Future Robo also still comes with his trusty Auto-9 pistol. This looks like the exact same accessory that came with the EndoCop. It’s a decent enough sculpt, but it feels a little too flat and two-dimensional. The right hand can hold it perfectly and you can even thread the trigger finger through the guard.

After playing around with the EndoCop, I was pretty excited to get my hands on this figure and I have to say I am not disappointed. This line is so damn fun and it’s making me want to go back and pick up the RoboCop video game figures that NECA did a while back. I think if there are any fan complaints here, it’ll be that Future Robo and the EndoCop share so many parts, but you won’t hear me griping about it. They’re both accurate to the comic designs, and the ability to share so many parts is probably what allowed this project to happen, because I fear these figures will have a rather niche audience. To be honest, at this point I’ll take any new RoboCop figures that NECA is willing to produce. I just wish they could get some likeness rights and do an unmasked Murphy in this scale.

KanColle: Light Cruiser Oyodo-Kai “Super Premium” Prize Figure by SEGA

After a long week of being sick, I’m ready to enjoy a leisurely morning with some coffee and a brand new KanColle Super Premium figure from the wonderful folks at SEGA. These SPM figures are presented in a roughly 8-inch scale and they’ve been digging pretty deep on the character selection, which keeps me coming back for more. Today’s Fleet Girl is the Light Cruiser Oyodo in her refit “Kai” form.

As always, SEGA’s SPM Fleet Girls come in standard enclosed boxes with a shot of the figure on the front, character art on the side panels, and lots of Japanese copy on the back. There’s very little English here, so hopefully you know what you’re getting. These boxes usually arrive pretty badly beaten up, but Oyodo’s is actually in pretty nice shape. Inside, the figure comes between two clear plastic trays. The only assembly required involves plugging her into her base.

While Oyodo-Kai is a fully armed Light Cruiser, she’s known more as an administrative “Mission Girl,” and only really sees action if you happen to be playing as her in the game. Likewise, she never saw action in the anime either, but rather served as assistant to Battleship Nagato and relayed action orders to the Fleet Girls. Even in the final battle when Nagato and Mutsu hit the water for action, Oyodo was nowhere to be seen. Her administrative nature is nicely reflected in the figure, which stands with clipboard in hand and turning in mid walk, as if to receive some last mission detail before hurrying off to relay orders.

Her outfit is rather unique among the Fleet Girls, and while she retains the familiar sailor-type uniform, she wears the top over an office-style long-sleeved button-down blouse with a red necktie. While she looks like all-business from the skirt up, she’s got a bit more whimsy going on down below decks. She’s wearing a pair of thigh-high stockings with lace around the tops and tied with pink ribbons just below. Over those she has white boots with gray, red, and gold rudder boots. Finally, she has a single piece of armor on her lower left leg, tied with two red ribbons.

The portrait here is pretty nice, but maybe not one of their best. I think maybe if the mouth was closed it would match the character art a little more closely. I do, however, like how they did her glasses, and they definitely add to her official administrative look. One thing that’s noteworthy is the white head band, which is correct for this refit “Kai” version. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that as Oyodo-Kai, this version should have flower patches on her lapels, but they seem to have been omitted.

Oyodo-Kai may be a Mission Girl, but she still retains her armaments. In this case, that includes her twin 15.5cm gun mounts, one of which she wears across her back and the other on her right thigh. She also wears her catapult on her right arm, used for launching her Type 0 reconnaissance seaplane. Her full gear would also include a considerably large hull part on her backpack and extra guns, which SEGA wisely omitted from this figure, probably because it would have been too big and ungainly and I’m fine with that.

Oyodo-Kai comes with a white hexagonal base, which is similar to several of SEGA’s previous SPM releases. Her name is also printed in blue near the front and off-center. These are more or less standard designs for the SPM figures, although they do change them up from time to time.

And here’s a shot of Oyodo-Kai with Heavy Cruiser Ashigara Kai II and Aircraft Carrier Shokaku Kai II. No matter what ships I assemble in the fleet, these gals always display beautifully together.

As a characeter, Oyodo was not terribly high on my list, but as I fill out most of Kantai Collection’s heavier hitters, I’m having fun picking up some of the back-benchers as well. Besides, Oyodo really brings a lot of charm to my collection with her rather distinctive outfit. And it doesn’t hurt that both the sculpt and paintwork on this figure are excellent. I snatched her up off of Amazon for $18 shipped and I’d say as far as missions go, that was a success!

KanColle: Destroyer Akizuki (Moon Viewing Version) by Taito

It’s Saturday… who’s ready for some more KanColle? Well, don’t everybody raise their hands at once. Sheesh. On the last Anime Saturday I opened up Taito’s “Moon Viewing” version of the Destroyer Teruzuki and pointed out that she was intended to be displayed with her sister ship. So here I am back as promised to open up the “Moon Viewing” version of Akizuki and finally get these two Fleet Girls together on the shelf.

The packaging features the same style of enclosed box as we saw last week only with pictures of Akizuki on the front and side panels. The back panel, however, still shows both figures together, and it’s brilliant marketing, because I don’t know what kind of filthy animal could possibly buy one without the other and not feel empty inside. There isn’t a lot of assembly required. You just plug Akizuki into her base, put her Chou-10cm-hou-chan onto the base, and then put the Susuki grass into each of their hands.

And here she is all set up and ready for display. Akizuki stands on one foot with the other leg bent at the knee and clutching a handful of Susuki Grass, which is a traditional offering at the Otsukimi harvest celebration, or Moon Viewing Ceremony. Her pleated skirt is a palate swap of her sister’s, so instead of black with a white stripe it’s white with black stripe. The top, however, is the same, mostly white with a black collar and white stripe, and an orange neckerchief. And while Teruzuki wears her Anti-Aircraft Fire Detector on her neckerchief, Akizuki wears hers up in her hair.

Of course, this “Moon Viewing” version is the equivalent of Taito’s “Day Off” figures, so Akizuki is not wearing her armaments. She does, however still have her arming mount belt around her waist where her weapons would attach if she were out on a mission. On the other hand, she does still have her rudder boots. While her sisters boots were all red, Akizuki’s are mostly gray with red platforms and rudders.

The paint on this figure is quite good, both in quality and application. The white is very bright and clean and the flesh tones are smooth and warm. But that’s not surprising, as Taito rarely lets me down in this category. The lines between the white and black in her gloves could be a little sharper, but it’s not something that I’m going to fuss about when dealing with a figure at this price point. Sometimes her neckerchief is depicted as being more yellow, but here it’s orange, the same as it was with her sister’s.

The portrait is excellent. Akizuki is the older of the two sisters, and I think that’s reflected, as her eyes are not as wide as Teruzuki’s. I really like the depth to her hair and how it frames her face. Like her sister, she has a headband that reads “61” in Japanese, indicating that she is part of the 61st Destroyer Division. And as mentioned earlier, she wears her AA Fire Detector above her ahoge. The Susuki Grass does have a habit of slipping out of her left hand, something I noticed as I was handling her a lot, but it snaps back into place easily.

Like her sister, Akizuki also comes with her very own Chou-10cm-hou-chan, which is basically a little sentient gun turret, and he’s every bit as adorable as Teruzuki’s. He has both viewing ports open, giving him wide eyes and there’s  a cat-like smile drawn on his face. The guns are articulated and are kind of expressive, like antenna. He’s also holding an offering of Susuki Grass in his little flipper-like arms, which attaches via a peg. Unlike Teruzuki’s little friend, this one doesn’t have a post to attach him to the base, so you can just position him anywhere you like.

Akizuki’s base is a clear hexagon, identical to her sister’s. They’re set up so that if you put two of the sides flush with each other, the girls will be standing back to back and I think they look great together.

And here’s a quick shot of her with SEGA’s Super Premium Akizuki, which is all armed up and ready for action.

This is another fantastic figure from Taito and I love how she displays with Teruzuki. The only shame is that neither Taito nor SEGA appears to have released the third Akizuki Class sister-ship, Hatsuzuki. Good Smile has released a Nendoroid figure of her, but I’m not really into those all that much. Like her sister, Akizuki set me back only $13 shipped and that’s a pretty amazing deal. The sculpt is sharp, the paint is on point, and I have to say once again how happy I am that Amazon has been a source for these figures, because if it weren’t for them, my collection would be a lot smaller. Next Saturday will likely be another helping of KanColle love, but I’m not sure whether it’ll be another prize figure or a Figma release. Either way, I’m starting to get really badly backlogged.

KanColle: Destroyer Teruzuki (Moon Viewing Version) by Taito

Welcome to another Anime Saturday! I’m a little bummed out today because my vacation is coming to a close, so I’m drowning my sorrows this morning in coffee and opening up a new figure to cheer me up. It’s been a little while since I dipped my toe into that sweet, sweet pool of Kantai Collection prize figures, so it’s time to remedy that by unboxing another one of Taito’s lovely Fleet Girls. This time I’m checking out the Akizuki Class Destroyer, Teruzuki! This is the “Moon Viewing” version which is sort of akin to the “Day Off” figures, some of which I’ve looked at before. I’ve actually been on the hunt for SEGA’s Super Premium version of Teruzuki, as that one is all geared up, but I have yet to find a domestic source for her. In the meantime, I wound up buying this one just to get her in my collection. And also because Taito usually does some really nice work with these figures.

Teruzuki comes in a fully enclosed box with some shots of the figure on the front and side panels. It’s an attractive enough box, but these things are so flimsy that they’re usually pretty rough by the time they get to me. This one was even wrapped in plastic and it still took a pounding. The only English on the box is on the top and bottom panels where it has the figure’s name. You get the ubiquitous JAMMA logo in the upper corner and there are perforations to make handles on the sides.

The back panel of the box shows her paired up with her sister-ship, Akizuki. These two Fleet Girls are sold separately, but they’re actually meant to be displayed together. Inside the box, you get some extra bits of reinforcing cardboard and the figure is wrapped in plastic with a little minor assembly required. And as always, these figures are scaled at about 8-inches or so.

And here she is all set up and looking adorable. I really dig the pose here. Teruzuki is leaning forward and proudly offering up a box of Dango, which as I understand it are like sweet dumplings and are often enjoyed at the Otsukimi, or Moon Viewing Ceremony. Her sailor uniform is pretty typical stuff with a short pleated skirt, black with white stripes and a white top with a black collar with white stripes to match the skirt. She also has a bright orange neckerchief to add a little color to the ensemble, and it’s secured below her collar with her Anti-Aircraft Fire Detector. What a great little detail! Her outfit is rounded out by a pair of white knee socks and tall red rudder boots.

From the back, we can see that despite this being a leisure figure, she still has her arming mount on the back of her waist. One of the reasons I really want to get a regular version of Teruzuki is because her gear includes a really cool and distinctive pair of drum magazines that she wears on her thighs.

The portrait is nice and simple. Her blue eyes are printed looking off to the side and she’s offering a little smile. I love the golden propellers at the ends of her pigtails. Her headband is also marked “61” in Japanese, as she is part of the 61st Destroyer Division.

Her mound of tasty Dango are neatly stacked in a pyramid with white linen unfolded to display them. If anyone out there knows how to make Dango, be sure and send me a batch because they sound delicious.

Like the fan favorite Fleet Girl, Shimakaze and her Rouchouchan, Teruzuki is accompanied by her own adorable little sentient gun turret, in this case referred to as Chou-10cm-hou-chan. This little guy is mounted on a ball jointed post and hovering over the base, so you can position him whichever way you like. The guns are articulated and he has one view port closed to make it look like he’s winking. He also looks like he’s sucking down a Dango, probably the one missing from the top of the pyramid. As you can see the base is a simple clear plastic hexagon and Teruzuki is positioned on it so the flat side behind her can sit flush with the opposite side of her sister ship’s base. There’s no name inscribed, which is fine by me. Taito doesn’t tend to put the girls’ names on the bases.

And here’s a shot of her with Taito’s Battleship Yamato “Day Off” figure, just to show that they scale really well together. The OCD in me wishes they would stick with one style of base, but I guess they each have their merits. Also… So much food being served… now I’m hungry.

It’s been a while since I bought this figure, but I seem to recall her being a whopping $13 shipped off of Amazon. Honest, folks. I don’t get any kickbacks from mentioning Amazon, but it really is a great place to grab some of these figures. Anyway, I really like Teruzuki a lot. Taito continues to deliver some especially sharp sculpts and clean, vibrant paint for figures in this price range, and all with a wonderful attention to the character’s personality and appearance. Naturally, I picked her up with the “Moon Viewing” version of Akizuki, and I’ll be checking out that figure next Saturday, as long as time permits.

Figma “Overwatch” Tracer by Max Factory

It’s Anime Saturday and cry foul if you must, but today’s figure is not from an anime series or Japanese video game. Nope, today we’re dealing with a Figma from the Western video game Overwatch, but it’s still a Figma, and so I’m sticking this review here. Also, I pre-ordered Tracer forever ago and once she arrived I really couldn’t wait to get her opened and check her out. And here’s a fun fact: I don’t even play the game, but I’ve watched a bunch of the videos and I love the character designs in general, and that goes double for Tracer.

While Tracer comes in a pretty standard Figma window box, the white and orange color scheme really makes this box stand out among the others on my shelf. She’s Figma #352, if you’re keeping track, but Lord know’s I’m not. I can’t even make any sense of their numbering scheme. As usual, there’s some English on the box, but a lot of it is in Japanese. The packaging is totally collector friendly, but if you don’t want to keep the box, you get a handy Figma-branded Ziploc bag to keep all those extra bits in.

Cheers, Love! The cavalry’s here! And oh, boy doesn’t she look like she just jumped right out of the screen? The creators did a beautiful job bringing her digitally rendered costume to plastic, from those tight pants with sculpted side panels to her very British looking bomber jacket with it’s high collar and flared sleeves. Even the Chronal Harness looks so good, if I didn’t know better, I’d swear it’s actually keeping my figure anchored in the here and now. I especially dig the translucent blue plastic used on the front and back to simulate the glow of the Accelerator. Her Tracer Bracers look really nice too, and for the record, they do not open up to hold her pistols, but then I wasn’t really expecting them to be able to make that work at this scale.

The paint quality and overall coloring on the figure is also excellent. One of the appealing things for me about the Overwatch designs are the beautiful vibrant colors and that’s certainly the case with Tracer here. The bright orange pants contrasts beautifully with the immaculate white and gray shoes and bracers and the matte brown and tan of the jacket. Everything about this figure just pops! Other great little touches include the immaculate shoulder patches on her jacket, the silver paint on the zipper, and the crisp “T-01” printed on her bracers.

Of course, this is a Figma, so you know you’re going to get extra hands and faces. Tracer comes with three different facial expressions. You get a regular smile, a more jubilant open mouthed smile, and a more determined expression with a wry little smirk. Whichever face you go with, each one includes the same orange tinted goggles, which are clear enough to see her eyes (at least when my studio lights aren’t reflecting off of them!) and I love the way they sculpted her spiky hair. It’s just perfect. The hands include a pair of fists, splayed hands, gun-holding hands, accessory gripping hands, a and a left hand offering a two-fingered salute. They’re all pretty easy to pop in and out, although I tend to just keep the guns in the gun-hands.

Apart from the hands and faces (and the ubiquitous Figma figure stand), Tracer doesn’t come with a whole lot of accessories, but she does have the essentials. Naturally, she has her trusty pair of pulse pistols, and these are indeed a beautiful set of guns with great sculpted detail and crisp paintwork. Maybe some effect parts for the guns would have been cool, but probably not necessary.

The other accessory is a Pulse Mine and this thing is super tiny. It’s so tiny, I almost missed it in the box. One of her accessory holding hands is perfectly sculpted to hold it and despite its size, there’s some really nice detail painted onto it.

If you can’t tell, I’m absolutely smitten with this figure. I’ve been waiting for Overwatch figures ever since the game first came out. It seemed like a sure thing that NECA would be the ones to do them, since they were partnering with Blizzard on the Heroes of the Storm line, but that line fizzled and I guess the cats at Blizzard cut a deal with Max Factory instead. There’s no doubt that the designs work well with the Figma format, and I’m sure we’re getting overall better quality product, but I can’t help but think NECA would have delivered more characters. As of right now, the only other Overwatch Figma that I know has been revealed is Genji, and he’s due out this Summer. While there are certainly some characters I’m looking forward to more than others, I’ll probably pick up whoever they release, if only to do my part toward seeing the line succeed. Because I definitely want more of this! And who knows, someday I may actually play the game!

Fate/Grand Order: Archer (Altria Pendragon) by Furyu

If there was any area where I dropped the ball in 2017 it was with Anime Saturday. There just weren’t enough of them. Now, in my defense, I already do at least four days of content a week, but then excuses don’t make my backlog of anime figures get any smaller. I honestly doubt I’ll have time to do any more this year, but I wanted to squeeze in just one more, so I can feel a little less worse about my lack of initiative. One thing I can say is that I’ve looked at a handful of figures from Fate/Stay Night and Fate/Extra this year, but today I’m venturing into the uncharted territory of Fate/Grand Order. It’s a phone app game that I will never play, but I still enjoy following the characters and lore. This version of Archer, Altria Pendragon, was a limited Servant, who could only be summoned during the game’s 2016 Summer Event. The character originally caught my eye as a limited Figma release, which quickly rocketed beyond what I was ever willing to spend on her.

And so it’s cheap JAMMA prize figures to the rescue! Altria comes in an enclosed box, which is typical of these prize figures. The box is nice and colorful and features a fair amount of English copy, including the character’s name. I’ll note here that this is basically a budget prize figure version of the exact same figure that was released as a proper scaled figure by Max Factory. Another figure that I would have loved to pick up, but I just couldn’t justify spending what she cost. I will, however, still point out some of the differences based on the pictures I’ve seen. The figure requires a little bit of assembly. You just peg her left foot into the base, peg the tip of Excalibur into her left hand, and tab the water gun into her right hand.

And here she is all set up and ready for a game of Water Blitz and looking pretty good. Altria is the perfect poster girl for the Summer Event, posing with her right leg kicking up behind her and leaning on Excalibur with her left hand, as she turns to fire off a blast from her water gun. And of course, since it’s summer, she’s wearing very little, just a skimpy white bikini with blue bows and ribbons, and a pair of white sandals.

Overall, the paint is pretty clean on this figure, although she obviously lacks the premium work of Max Factory’s version where the blues are more vibrant and the whites are actually pearlescent. Her skin tone here is also a little paler and flatter, while the skin on the better version features a warmer hue. I think that’s probably my biggest quibble about the figure, because everything else is pretty damn solid for what you’re paying.

The portrait is pretty good, with perfectly printed blue eyes to match the bows on her bikini, and a very nice sculpt for her hair. She’s got a big blue bow on the back of her head and the ubiquitous ahoge sprouting from the top.

Excalibur is an extremely nice looking accessory. The blade is painted silver and the hilt is a combination of blue and gold. The peg holding it into her hand is also fairly unobtrusive, so you could actually use this as an accessory for a similarly scaled figure.

And because you can’t always rely on your legendary magic sword in battle, it helps to take a water gun! The water gun looks great and it’s such a fun accessory. The wetting weapon is cast in translucent plastic with both a yellow and pale blue tint and it tabs very securely into her hand.

The easiest difference to spot between this piece and Max Factory’s scaled figure, is found in the bases. Max Factory’s version features a detailed beach base, this one gets by with just a a simple white disc, which is serviceable and doesn’t take up too much real estate.

I’m delighted that I was able to add this figure to my collection without breaking the bank. But make no mistake, if I only collected anime figures, I would have picked up the fully scaled figure in a heartbeat. But anime figures happen to be only a fringe part of my collection, and at around $140, I just couldn’t justify it picking it up. On the other hand, $12 shipped for a JAMMA figure and I still get to put the character on my shelf? Hell, yeah. Why not? I can’t stress enough that the difference between the two in terms of quality and polish is like night and day, but then with a $120 spread, that’s to be expected.