3A’s Action Portable Round 2 Available Now!


Head over to Bambaland.com as fast as your kicks will carry you to snag/pre-order the 2nd coming of ThreeA’s popular 1/12 scale action portable action figures.

My instant buy of the group is the bambaland exclusive, Blind Cowboy/Ghost Horse set.

We reviewed the 1/6 version of the set a few years back and it remains on of our favorite things on the shelf! Check that out if you have any doubts.

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*Review* NECA Team Fortress 2 – Demoman and Pyro

INTRO

Ah.. sweet, sweet Team Fortress 2. It’s amazing how the vitality of this game has remained so high for so long since it’s release in ’07. With it’s Pixar-styled good looks, a touch of semi-graphic violence and the fantastic personalities of the playable classes, it’s like super glue disguised as magnets for FPS fans. Myself included. Valve did a bang up job releasing a plethora of introduction  trailers for each class that endeared them even more to current players and skyrocketed the popularity of the title to those who hadn’t yet dipped their toes in.

I’ve wanted someone, somewhere to make action figures of them since day one. The character designs are perfect for it. Whoever it was couldn’t skimp though. These couldn’t be tossed together for mass consumption.  Whoever tackled them would have to handle it just right to capture the true essence of each character. It couldn’t be some homage or “you get the idea” kind of deal. They had to be spot-on.

Well, look what we have here. Oh NECA, you sly fox you.

I got a chance to preview a few of their upcoming figures at SDCC last year and I couldn’t have been more excited for the first two releases, Pyro and Demoman, to hit my doorstep!

TF2 Heavy from SDCC 2012

PACKAGING

Despite Pyro selling out so quickly.. most likely before he was ever able to properly settle in at your local retail chain or toy shop, both he and Demoman share a fairly standard, retail-esque package scheme. A Bubble prison on a card with some bright artwork and fun stuff to read on the back. Readers may know of my preference for collector friendly packaging over bubble/card action.. not because I don’t like the way it looks.. but because it makes me destroy something I’d rather keep intact.

Anyway, it’s nice looking and you’ll know what to expect. The character renders on the front should give you a pretty good idea of how well NECA matched the character’s look.

Check out our unboxing vid right ‘chere!

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Pyro comes with a cool axe and of course, his massive flamethrower.

Demoman sports a set of extra hands, one with booze perma-fixed to his grip. He also comes with his two default guns, the grenade and a sticky grenade launchers.

Both come packed with an exclusive game code for unlocking special goodies in Team Fortress 2. I haven’t had a chance to try them yet, but if you do a quick google search you can probably find out what they do. (hint.. hint.. it’s hats)

THE BREAKDOWN

At first blush, amaze-balls. These guys look EXACTLY like their video game dopplegangers. NECA knocked the sculpts out of the park and truly captured everything, character-wise, I love about these TF2 characters.

The sharp, flat edged details give both these guys a truly animated look that I’ll say again, is ripped right from your computer screen. I wouldn’t be surprised if Valve provided NECA with the original 3D model assets to make this happen. They’re that perfect.

The paint job on each is also above reproach.. at least at first. Both have colorful accents that mirror that of their cell shaded, computerized brothers. Pryo gets the higher marks between the two as he arrived practically blemish free. I love how vibrant and perfectly painted the colors and decals on him turned out. The yellow/orange paint accents are particularly nice.

Demoman looked sharp as well.. at first. It only took a few seconds to see he had all sorts of paint problems straight away. There’s a thumb sized paint smudge on his belt that is an entirely different shade of grey than the surrounding area. It stands out like a sore.. well you know where I’m going. He also had several paint chips and blemishes as if someone at NECA couldn’t resist playing with him before packing up and sending him my way. It’s a shame for me, but you may not experience the same kind of issues with yours.

The accessories both guys come with look fantastic. They share the same spot-on accuracy for their in-game counterparts as the characters do themselves. There was some truly obvious care put into both the sculpt and paint app for everything here. Whatever science NECA’s dropping to make the colors look so.. cartoon-like.. they need to continue!

I love that Demo came with a hand sculpted with his signature bottle o’ booze. It’s silly and fun to pose him with it while an errant grenade launcher flops about carelessly in his other hand. It actually works out best to have his one hand holding the booze as getting him to hold either gun with two hands at once is quite a chore.

While the axe is cool on Pryo, I wasn’t able to get him to hold it with any real conviction. It seems his hands were more-or-less sculpted to support the flame thrower. It’s kinda of a shame, but doesn’t ruin the toy for me.. particularly since the flame thrower is so awesome looking!  While it wouldn’t be game accurate at all, I wish there was a place to store the axe on him when it’s not in his hand just to keep it around. I sorta wedged it in a loop on his back. Whatever, works.

At this point, I’m still really happy with these two. Despite Demo’s preopened paint problems, they still look fantastic.

Things started to stray a bit when it came time to pose them. Maybe I’m just not used to playing with figures that don’t share a similar articulation system so many toys other toys in this catagory adopt . Hot Toys, ThreeA, Play Arts Kai, Marvel Legends, they all have a general, however-many-points, articulated body system they’ve dumped tons of R&D and $$ into to support a wide range of character types. It hearkens back to the days of 80’s GI Joe figures which make them really easy to pick up and pose around as they bend and turn exactly as you’d expect.

This is not the case for this first pair from Team Red.

The short version of it is this, NECA obviously had to sacrifice articulation for sculpt preservation. I can’t fault that gameplan really, but for some reason they still managed to stuff a bunch of joints in each figure.. it’s just most of them don’t  seem to do a whole lot. At the end of the day, I was left wondering why they even bothered.

The long version is this..

Despite having two handed weapons, it’s really tough to get Demoman to hold his weapons as he should. Each launcher has two grips, but in order for him to hold them, you’ll have to push his arms beyond the limits of where they’re meant to go. Pyro can really only hold his flamethrower in one default position, and even then, it’s not that tight a grip. Demoman definitely has more range dexterity than Pyro, particularly in the legs and elbows. Pyro has a ball joint at his elbow, but the overlapping sculpt of the glove makes it completely useless/borderline pointless. Both bend at the waist (Pyro more than Demo) in a few different ways, which is nice, as it does add a little play to the figures.

Demoman’s legs and feet have to be the most frustrating I’ve run across in all my days of reviewing toys. They’re definitely heavily articulated which allows for a lot of leg positions, much more so than Pyro’s.. but they’re accurate to the game which means they’re also very thin. Demo is very top heavy.. which means he topples CRAZY easy. So while there’s a lot of moving bits of articulation in his legs, it seems to me that less would have been more in this case. It’s a little like trying to build a treehouse on top a sapling and then chipping chunks out of its base. The excessive joints really don’t help balance as much as they weaken how steadily he’ll stay standing once you finally do get him balanced.

If NECA had left out, at LEAST the mid food joint, that’d given him some extra stability. Instead, his upper body weight will eventually overpower the friction somewhere in the chain and he’ll fall flat on his face/butt.

It’s soft plastic, so it’ll just slowly bend until it gives in under his own weight. I watched this happen in what seemed like slow motion on several occasions.

Below is how Demoman chilled for 90% of the photoshoot. Drunk already.

At least Pyro was easy to balance. He’s a bit chunkier and less flexible than Demo is, but he stays in place pretty well. I think he only fell once throughout the entire photoshoot.  That being said, you’ll get maybe three good poses out of Pyro before you decided ones a keeper and just leave him in it.

His neck joint is a bit of mystery to me. It flips up and down and then swivels at a sharp angle. This can give him the the sort of head motion that a dog makes when it hears a funny noise.

“Ruh-Roh.”

Check out the video below to watch a grown man fiddle about with these two fine fellow’s wiggly parts.

THE FINAL WORD

I walked away from posing these two pretty frustrated. Basically all it resulted in was some more paint rubbing off. Sure, I managed to squeeze out a few poses here and there, but you should’ve seen all the ones I wanted to do, but couldn’t! Anything really dynamic I attempted always ended with Demoman getting friendly with the floor.

Believe me, I get it. NECA wanted to stay true to the look of characters, which is something I really wanted them to do. This meant sacrificing articulation in light of sculpt integrity. OK, fine.. but when you have joints in place that are by all accounts useless or work against stability, it’s time to go back to the drawing board for a minute. If these figures are going to be that limited articulation-wise anyway, then I say let them be limited. Simplify them and get rid of some of those excess joints so at the very least they can stand up soundly. Figure out what they NEED to do and ensure they can do it. If a character has pistol, make sure he can hold it firmly. If it’s a machine gun, make sure he can reach the grip and the stock with both hands. At the very least, make sure they can stand up on their own! If they’re too top heavy due to the their design, then provide a cool looking base for them to stand on. Heck, sell them separately (and cheaply)! Problem solved.

I didn’t find posing and reposing Demo or Pyro all that enjoyable. There’s just not a lot of play here.

However…

I still REALLY like these guys and would HIGHLY recommend you buy them. WHA-AT?

Am I crazy? Mayhaps.

Take away the fact that these are intended to be articulated toys and struggle to be so and you’re still left with some amazing looking figures. I plan to pose them in some stable, neutral pose on their own little shelf so there will be plenty of room for the other Team Fortress figures to join the ranks. Case in point, they look great. NECA knows it’s stuff and have successfully ripped their likeness from your GPU. I applaud them for that. Go in with the idea that these guys are for display and not something your going to mess around with on your desk and you’ll have a better experience with them.

Sure, I certainly wish these guys came out sporting either better or maybe simplified articulation, but they’re too good looking to ignore. If I can manage to get Demoman standing safely next to Pyro on the shelf, along with the rest of the crew, it’s going to be an amazing display.

I honestly can’t wait to collect the entirety of Team Red whenever NECA finally releases them…

and here’s hoping they’ll consider tossing in a figure stand or two when they do.

PROS:

  • These guys look EXACTLY like their in-game counterparts. A fantastic job by NECA that’ll bring a smile to your face.
  • The paint application was nigh perfect on Pyro and both share the great cell-shaded look straight from the game
  • Fun, game-accurate accessories (Pyro’s flamethrower is the bomb!)
  • Despite their low price, you feel like you’re getting a high quality product

CONS:

  • Articulation is poor, almost to the point of frustration. It’s either too much or too little.
  • Both are pretty top heavy, though Demoman takes the cake and is a complete pain to balance. NECA should have provided some TF2 figure stands with these guys

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ThreeA’s Epic WWR+WWRp Harold pack presale


Coming our way Feb 6th @ 9am (Hong Kong time so check your time zone) is ThreeA and Ashley Wood’s long awaited new massive bot, Harold. Harold will be available in 15 different color options with each pack including a WWR (1/6th) and a WWRp (1/12th) version of the tread rocking bot.

Price will be $300.00 a piece and he’s expected to be available for 24 hours at http://www.bambaland.com.

Check the chart below for all the color options that are going to be available.

*REVIEW* 3A RVHK Tomorrow King

INTRO

It’s been awhile since I’ve been so excited about getting a figure dropped on my doorstep. 3A’s ReVenture Hong Kong 2012 show held host of quite a few exclusives that only those lucky enough to attend the show could get their greedy little mits on. That is, until the remaining tiny allotment was released on bambaland.com about a week after the show wrapped. I was at a friends house, enjoying a cold beverage and some freshly made salsa when the sale went live. I logged into bamba and waited for the first tid bits to load. I knew it was going to be chaos trying to score ANYTHING and that most likely the thing I wanted most (an Old Guard) would also be the most impossibel to get. Exclusives began to trickle onto bambaland.. so far, no Old Gaurd. Each hit of f5 was another spinning beach ball of 5 minute limbo. Finally, the TK box art popped up. I speedily clicked “add to cart” only to be forced into pumping my brakes hard, treated with yet another loading screen some 8 minutes in length. “Come on, come on, come on.. big money.. BIG money.” I’m sure I was muttering something along those lines. Suddenly the message on the screen caused my heart to sink into my shoes. A “server error, server too busy try again later” screen popped up. Knowing how crazy people would be to score one oof these excluves, I knew it was over, that I’d lost out. I failed to score a Tomorrow King.

Just before I closed my screen, I noticed the URL address still read as if it was on my cart page. I decided to hit refresh instead of the back button to see what would happen. After what seemed yet another eternity of waiting, my cart screen loaded up with the stubborn TK still inside! Stunned, I quickly hit the pay/checkout button and watched with delight as my order processed.

Now he’s finally here, my Old Guard. My Tomorrow King.

PACKAGING

What TK worth his salt hasn’t come in a lovely illustrated box? OG is no different. The front is splashed with a dynamic AW painting with a color coded dot on the top to indicate whether you received the blue, black, red or yellow TK. I got red. On the back has something ripped from Ash’s sketchbook with kitty purring the word “Exclusive” in bold letters! Yup, it’s legit!

WHAT’S INCLUDED

I was hoping for a poster, but I’ll settle on just getting the figure. Sigh. 😉

Brass tax. You get your TK and his single trusty sword.

THE BREAKDOWN

3A’s Tomorrow King isn’t anything new. Many 3A collectors have at least one in their collection tucked away somewhere. There’s the Oyabun, Heavy TK, 7 Bones and Interloper to name the few. There hasn’t been much description of exactly how the Old Guard truly fit into Popbot lore (the storyline Tomorrow Kings originate from). The original Tomorrow Kings are often referred to as the “OGs” (Original Gangsta’s), so it’s fitting that “OG” in this case stands for Old Guard. It’s a nod to the original Tomorrow Kings that are so cherished and desired by 3A collectors the world over. Given the relative difficulty scoring these guys, that desire is likely not to diminish despite their new car smell.

There’s a definitive simple elegance that’s just shy perfection in the design of the Tomorrow King figures. It’s something most people who don’t collect or own one won’t pick up on. Heck, I didn’t really get it until earlier last year when 3A released (and shipped) the first of their 7 Bones TKs, Wasabi. With their clean, not overly fussy design and punk rock meets japanese ninja ethos, I don’t find it all that shocking that many think the TK is THE perfect action figure.

So while I assume the Old Guard is a return to that simple elegance of the original Tomorrow Kings, 3A didn’t simply sew up a new batch of shirts and send these guys on their way. The Old Guard actually has an all new body (One shared by the forthcoming/currently landing on doorsteps, Rothchild). Most noticeable is his slimmer silhouette with narrow shoulders. I’ve read some refer to it as the kid or teenager body. One even called it the Bieber body. I laughed at that. Here you can see standing side by side with Wasabi just how much of a visual difference it makes.

You can also see from the same pic that Old Guard’s tee is much more fitted than Wasabi’s.  I can’t say which I prefer as they both work well for the characters. I may give a slight edge to the new body as it seems to work better visually with the lean, mean fighting machines that TKs are suppose to be. But I like the look of variety between them!

The tee shirt itself is what some may feel is a smidge “porny” while others will claim it simply “art”.. whatever you want to call it.. it’s an image of some sort of visually decapitated women in panties and bandages with her boob hanging out. Honestly, of the four Old Guards it’s not my favorite. I like the red color a lot, but find the design on the black and yellow to be much more in tune with my personal style.

Visually, my RVHK score is a slam dunk. I love the orange hair and red shirt. The paint is nice, clothes run or snag free. The new slim profile looks fantastic. Head to toe, I’m digging the orange headed Bieber. So what else do we have here to mess with? Ah yes, articulation!

At first blush, it’d be easy to believe that the articulation is the same as it’s ever been. Knees and elbows are double jointed, wrist spin and twist (a little loosely for my taste). His torso bends in various places and his ankles have those love them or hate them double ball joints. The hands are the same sculpts we’ve seen for years on Tomorrow Kings. One hand molded for gripping the sheath, the other a little tighter to handle the hilt of the sword. Nothing new there.

Or is there? As much as I think the new slim bodies really enhance the overall look of the Old Guard TKs, I did find one little hiccup in it’s execution. I’d even call it a step backwards. Due to the decrease in torso real-estate, the head/neck has less room to wiggle. The head/neck of the OG’s are not redesigned to compensate for the smaller area at the neck joint. What this has done is prevent as full of a range of movement side to side (ear to shoulder) as previously possible.

In the picture above I’ve pushed both heads sideways as far as they’ll go and I think it’s pretty clear how much of a difference that extra space makes. It was probably not worth the effort/expense to 3A to develop an entirely new neck post just for the Old Guards, but it IS kind of a shame it’s even an issue.  I guess we’re to believe these guys are warrior ninja’s capable of all sorts of insane giant robot crushing acrobatics and limber twisty turny ninja skill.. as long as they don’t have to crane their necks too far.

Maybe they are much older than they look?

Other than that, I only have a few small nagging complaints here and there. The first, I mentioned before is the incredibly loose wrist joints. My Wasabi has had the same helicopter wrists since day one, so it’s not exclusive to the Old Guard. I’m sure some will have a lucky die roll and get perfectly taught wrists that can manage whatever pose you twist them in. My OG needs physical therapy. The other “ugh” I muttered came when I first put his sword in his hand. I realized that the blue wash used to get into the creases of his gloves was still wet! The paint wiped off the sword fine and there was no noticeable smudging on the gloves themselves, but it’s still a nuisance. This isn’t baked goods, we’re don’t need our toys piping hot still smelling of the oven.. the paint should be dry/cured before it hits our hands. Kyuuketsuki anyone?

FINAL THOUGHTS

I’m all about Tomorrow Kings and am thrilled to have one from 3A’s Hong Kong ReVenture in my possession. Though not my first pick, (that would have gone to blue or black) red looks just fantastic. In fact, amongst the blue and neutral tones of my other TKs, he really stands out.

Posing and snapping shots of Tomorrow Kings is always a lot of fun. The strength of their character really blooms when you find the right light, angle and pose. Their faces are practically without expression but sculpted in such a way that they lend themselves to whatever type of mood it is within your imagery that you’re trying to capture.

I wish I could say, “Everyone should go out and buy one of these guys right now at your local Toy Store!” But you and everyone else knows that’s impossible. The ebay prices are silly.. stupid even. I’ve seen more than one of these OGs up for almost a grand. I find that hard to stomach, not only because it’s a freaking toy!! BUT some of the ACTUAL OG Tomorrow Kings aren’t fetching those kind of prices. Unfortunately, the flip factor for these guys is pretty high and ebay is evidence of that. Douche-McGee’s came out by the truckloads to Hong Kong to buy these guys just to flip for extortion level prices. Instead of supporting these layman of the avid toy collector’s bile ducts, reach out to your favorite toy community. Be patient. Something will come up eventually. I doubt you’ll get a hand out and I’m sure you’ll end up paying a good deal more than the 90 stones or whatever these guys were at retail, but I can almost promise you’ll get better results dealing with collectors community than the sultans of ass-hattery on ebay.

The more I’ve played with this guy the more I realize I’ll probably be right there with you, holding my breath, abiding my time and waiting for that WTS post. Daddy needs a black and blue. 🙂

Pros:

  • Classic Tomorrow King design.
  • Fantastic toy to play with and shoot photos of.
  • Great quality and care throughout
  • New slimmer body/silhouette looks fantastic
  • Box Art

Cons:

  • Slim body lessens neck articulation substantially
  • Loose wrists
  • Do to exclusive status, they’re being flipped like there’s no Tomorrow… King. (whamp whamp)

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