The long wait for NECA’s officially licensed Valve figures is almost over. Though Valve fans are still awaiting word on when the company will release Half-Life 2: Episode 3 (or Half-Life 3, at this point), the figures, props, and plushes NECA has coming over the course of the next year should help satiate many appetites.
Above: Gordon was shown with a headcrab, crowbar, and gravity gun
Easily one of the most requested licenses for NECA to try and obtain, the ecstatic response from fans over the deal announced at San Diego Comic Con last year was quickly replaced with constant requests for updates on when and where the Valve figures would first be seen. The flagship figure of the line, Gordon Freeman, delivers on every hope and wish the fanbase had. No fan should be disappointed with the attention to detail, or with the accessories included with the figure. Gordon’s iconic crowbar and gravity gun will come packaged with the Half-Life hero, as will a headcrab. Instead of focusing on individual games, NECA has decided to approach the Valve license as one giant line.
Instead of releasing strictly Half-Life or Left 4 Dead figures, the toy manufacturer will dole out an assortment of figures based on all of Valve’s games at once.
Above: NECA captured Valve's art style perfectly
Releasing shortly after Gordon will be plastic representations of Team Fortress 2’s Heavy and Demo Man. Sadly, NECA’s prototype Demo Man was stolen just before the show started (we're not saying it was the Spy, but it was the Spy), so we will have to wait until another prototype can be made before getting a look. Fortunately, the Heavy was spared, and so were the two zombies from Left 4 Dead, the Boomer and Smoker. Even though both games have such drastically different art styles, NECA manages to capture both the simplicity and grotesqueness of each game perfectly. Just look at the exploded version of the Boomer’s legs (in the gallery below). It takes a special kind of commitment to detail that much intestinal fortitude.
NECA plans on doing much more with the Valve license than just make action figures, though. The company is planning a wide variety of props and plush dolls as well. All of the Team Fortress 2 characters will be getting Muppet-like makeovers, and you really couldn’t ask for a better license to turn into plushes. The Pyro, Soldier, and Scout will be joined by a squishable headcrab from Half-Life. Fans wondering where the plush companion cube went from the Valve store now have an answer, as NECA will be making those now as well.
Above: The lights change colors, obviously
Of course, the show-stealer had to be the Portal gun replica NECA is producing. Life-sized, and perfect for getting science done around the house, the Portal gun will light up with blue and orange lights, and will even make the familiar sound effects that have haunted GLaDOS’ dreams. A final retail price and release window have yet to be finalized, but NECA expects the Portal gun to retail somewhere in the $130-200 range later this summer.
Above: Aperture Science doesn't recommend pointing the Portal Gun at living things
The company’s replica Lancers did well at a $100 price point, but lacked the working lights and sound effects that the Portal gun includes. Quantities will be very limited, but even the slightly high price point shouldn’t keep too many of the Valve faithful from successfully obtaining this awesome replica.
Above: NECA did a great job at bringing the artistic style of Borderlands to its figures
Valve toys weren’t the only hot ticket items at NECA’s booth. The long-awaited Claptrap returned, though this time even more Borderlands characters joined him.
Salvador (the Gunzerker), a Psycho Bandit, and an Assassin join the line-up, and once again, NECA’s impeccable sculptors, painters, and fabricators do a stellar job of bringing the cel-shaded game to life. Each of the Borderlands toys looks like it leapt straight out of the game. As you can see from the image above, NECA expects to have the Borderlands 2 figures on shelves this summer.
Above: It's good to see that old, grizzled Ezio is getting his own figure
It only takes looking one shelf over at the Assassin’s Creed figures to see yet another example of a completely different art style and game coming to life in a way that most toy companies could only dream of replicating.
The new Ezio, based on the older version from Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, fits perfectly in line with what came before, but still manages to be different enough that those of you with multiple Assassin’s Creed figures won’t mind adding yet another to your growing collection.
Above: We have a feeling that the blade doesn't really work
What’s even cooler is the hidden blade prop NECA revealed. While most fans will be content to enjoy just the action figures, there are those of us who wish to grow our gaming arsenal even further. The hidden blade would look perfect mounted on a wall next to Lancers, Portal guns, lightsabers, and any number of other geeky prop weapons sure to occupy valuable space in your living room.
If there was one area to be a bit disappointed by, it was the BioShock Infinite section. It’s not that NECA’s few items from the game aren’t looking solid. It’s just that we had hoped to see some of the game’s heroes or villains by now. Sadly that just wasn’t the case.
Above: Again, we have our doubts as to whether or not this would work
Finally getting to see the Skyhook was cool, as was the statuette of the angel holding the destroyed flag. If only Ken Levine and Irrational Games weren’t so dead set on keeping so much of Infinite a secret, perhaps NECA would have had some interesting figures on display as well. Hopefully there will be some movement on this license by the time SDCC 2012 rolls around this summer.
Though it’s tough to pick a winner when it comes to who had the best video game statues and toys at this year’s Toy Fair, NECA certainly makes a case for being the leader of the pack. That so many developers want to work with NECA stands as a testament to not only their quality, but to their commitment to making these figures affordable for fans. The sheer amount of licenses they have is overwhelming at times, and will likely burn a hole in many wallets over the course of the year.