by Christopher Troy
Up to now, most of the video game related figures we’ve looked at have been created by Square Enix, as most of them have been based on Japanese properties. However, Square’s expansion to non-Final Fantasy/ Kingdom Hearts properties is still fairly new, and they wouldn’t be the first company to handle both eastern and western video game properties this decade (Technically Toy Biz is, but those toys are super dated). Ever since 2004, NECA has been working with a number of publishers to create figures based on best selling games and franchises. Today’s article will highlight some of the products they’ve churned out these last couple of years, both the good and the bad.
In the beginning…..
The first line of video game related toys that introduced me to NECA was the Resident Evil 4 line. This wasn’t the first time a American company had attempted to create toys based on the best selling Survivor-Horror Games (again Toy Biz covered Resident Evil 1-3 with figures in the late 90s), and NECA launched with a line that was well sculpted (for 2004) and came with a decent amount of accessories per figure. Pictured is RE4 lead Leon S Kennedy, who aside from a handgun, came with a knife, rocket launcher and a few grenades. The major flaw with these figures were that articulation on them were severely limited, and were sculpted in odd positions, attempting to be like McFarlane Toys. NECA released 2 lines for RE4, and then figures based on the Resident Evil 1 remakes, but would not touch the line again until 2009. We’ll get back to that later.
NECA’s sculpts got better with time, as they moved on to work on figures based on popular Eidos properties like Tomb Raider and Hitman, but the first line of video game toys that really caught my attention were based on Konami’s Castlevania series. The first (and sadly only) line in the set focused on the original Castlevania, as well as Symphony on the Night, arguably the most popular entry in the series to date. NECA finally managed to combined good sculpts with better articulation, as seen with Alucard and the Succubus. These improved sculpts didn’t mean that NECA would cut back on accessories though, as both figures came with weapons from the game, and in the Succubus’ case, a tiny demonic sidekick. These figures have proven to be very popular, and the line was re-released several times, to the point the FPNYC still has them in stock.
While Konami, Capcom and Edios are all big publishers in their own respects, the company struck gold when forming partnerships with Epic Games, and released figures based on the Gears of War franchise. Based on the 360/PC exclusive title, there have been a number of line devoted to heroes and monsters of the 2 games, and are some of the best figures to date in terms of sculpt and articulation. NECA also struck deals with Sony to produce figures based on the God of War games, EA with Dead Space, Army of 2 and Dante’s Inferno, but arguably one of the best single figures to come out of the line has to be based on the XB360/PS3 Title Ninja Gaiden 2. Ryu Hayabusa was the only figure from the game to be released, but he backs and impressive amount of articulation, style and game perfect sculpt! But screw them, none of them are a screaming rabbit from Rayman, which is why I put a picture of a Rabbid in this article instead!
And what of Capcom you ask, the first company to strike a deal with NECA? In 2009, NECA returned to the Resident Evil universe with Resident Evil 5, and created 3 figures based on the game. Chris Redfield, pictured on the left, is an obviously better figure than the older RE lines, bosing 20 point of articulation, numerous accessories, and a great sculpt. Resident Evil wasn’t the only Capcom franchise to get some love from NECA that year, as the company created 2 different Street Fighter lines based on the long awaited 4th entry in the series. The line was faithful to the unique art style of the games, and since accessories aren’t really common in the legendary fighting game, variant hands were packaged instead.
For $15-20 on average, it’s hard to beat what NECA has offered these last few years. The variety of figures have is great, and the company has come a long way since that first Resident Evil line. And with new entries in the Gears of War, Dead Space and Bioshock universe coming out over the next 2 years, expect a lot more great figures to be released as well!