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Coming to a Shelf Near You: A Photo Tour of NECA’s Offices

Posted by Luke Brown On November - 20 - 2008

Want to see all the cool things we got to look at while we visited with NECA last week? Curious to know some of the things they have planned for the next few months? Hit the jump for a look at one of the coolest offices in the known world.

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Just under a dozen sculptors greeted us as we entered the office NECA calls home. While wandering around the central workspace, projects ranging from Street Fighter IV miniatures to Tickers from Gears of War 2 to a new Arnold as the T-800 sculpt from the recently acquired Terminator license were being handcrafted right before our eyes. It was easy to get lost in wide-eyed wonder seeing these things come to shape.

After a few minutes of gawking, Director of Product Development Randy Falk took us around the office to see not only everything they were currently working on, but a sort of history of the company as told through their products. With Gears of War 2 being the current gaming flavor of the month, we started out looking at the next wave in their line of figures from the Epic game.

After seeing the things NECA has planned for future series in the Gears line, it became apparent that the first two waves were just a glimpse into what the company has to offer. Not only do they have some sweet looking new figures coming, like Grenadiers, Boomers, and Lambent Locust (which illuminates when light is shined behind it), but there’s much more articulation in upcoming waves, and if you can believe it, even more detail. Since they’re able to work so closely with Epic, even so much as getting Epic’s own photo reference, NECA is able to produce figures that replicate the in-game counterparts nearly spot-on.

Before we go any further, I want to let you know all the figures you see here are generally about 10-12 inches tall. Part of the process for creating traditionally sized figures is sculpting them in large form, then when they are sent overseas for production, the figures are scaled down several times before the final process in greenlit. From Gears, we moved on to another big gaming license, Street Fighter IV. The first line, due early next year, will include Ken, Ryu, and Crimson Viper, and I can tell you these figures will be well worth the wait. Seeing them in the larger size not only shows how detailed the final figures will be, but also shows off the original coloring job. Often, when shrunken down the figures lose a bit of crispness in their paint applications. Seeing the original vision helps illustrate how much attention is paid to the source material.

The Street Fighter IV line will be in perfect scale to the popular, but discontinued, SOTA line, and will also have what NECA hopes are some improvements. Figures will have stronger joints in general, but will also feature ratchet joints to better hold action poses. NECA is also putting out miniatures (think Hasbro’s Super Hero Squad line) in two-packs pitting famous rivalries against one another. El Rey, Blanka, Vega, Ryu, Ken and Chun Li, to name a few, will be part of the line. Though the match-ups have yet to be announced, fans familiar with the series should be able to piece together who will be packaged together. NECA also has figures planned for other Capcom releases, like Bionic Commando and Resident Evil 5. Bionic Commando‘s Radd Spencer figure will have multiple points of articulation, and a working grappling hook built into the arm. Figures from the Resident Evil 5 line will be poseable to the extent of being able to replicate some of the team-up moves the game is touting. But NECA has a lot more to offer than just video game licenses.

Looking around the studio at various past lines, it’s easy to see why NECA is able to stay so busy. Their tastes in licenses ranges from cult hits like Army of Darkness and Lost Boys, to more commercial films like Pirates of the Caribbean and the Harry Potter saga. While admiring the oversized Kill Bill line, I noticed an O-Ren Ishii figure that wasn’t in my collection. I asked Randy why I haven’t seen that figure anywhere, and he filled me in on the difficulty they sometimes run into when making figures based on real people. I can’t imagine why Lucy Liu wouldn’t want a figure of herself from what could arguably be her most recognizable role, but she ended up saying no, and as a result, visiting NECA’s headquarters is the only way to see the figure in person.

After panning over the various lines of the many licenses they’ve made figures for, I asked Randy which figures fans request from NECA the most. While more figures in the Ghostbusters line, particularly of the actual Ghostbusters, are the ones mostly everyone wants to see, anything based on a Stephen King character also gets nods. Since their Hellraiser line put them on the action figure map, NECA has been pretty faithful to their horror/sci-fi fans in producing line after line of quality adaptations. Though they don’t have the license (yet), just thinking about a line featuring Carrie, Roland Deschain, or Jack Torrance gets me pretty excited. Hell, I’d even settle for a Ron Perlman figure from Sleepwalkers. Actually, probably not. But now that I think about it, a set of Stand By Me figures would pretty much make my life complete.

Throughout the sculpting area, various parts and pieces of figures are scattered amongst the men and women responsible for bringing so many famous characters into our homes. Noticing our interest in the various parts and pieces, Randy calls our attention to a series of tuperware containers. He opens one labeled Capcom, and shows us the Bionic Commando figure again, only this time we get to see the versions through each step of the production process. Figures are first molded overseas with just the shape and contour of the figure apparent to give NECA a look at what they can expect when their sculpt is shrunken down to six inches. After they approve that look, it moves on to another stage where the mold is just a bit tighter, but there’s still no articulation present. Again, NECA has to approve the way it looks to make sure what they’re producing looks like the original design.

Before figures are cast in plastic with articulation, there’s a final test run in resin, which casts the figures in all their detail, but with no paint. Here you can really see just how intricate the sculpts truly are in their greytone glory. What the figures in this stage lack in color, they make up for in crisp, clean lines. Randy takes the time to show us multiple characters in this phase. With each figure, it becomes more and more apparent how proud Randy is of not only the figures themselves, but the quality, care, and time each sculptor has put into his or her respective projects. Randy is quick to point out which of the people deep into their latest projects has put the piece we’re currently looking at together. He hardly ever uses the words “I” or “Me.” It’s clear every project they work on is as a team.

Before we go, Randy takes us into the design room, where box art, promotional pics, and the like, are shot and edited. Here we’re able to see resin casts of Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar from the Resident Evil 5 series, as well as the newest Jason from the upcoming remake of Friday the 13th. We get to see the photos and packaging for the previously announced “Marcus Fenix Chainsawing a Locust” 2-pack. If all goes to plan, the window will feature the trademark bloodsplatter the game is noted for. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s a nice little touch for fans of the game. Glancing at the computer desk, I happen to see prototypes of Coraline from the soon to be released feature film of the same name. The figures are near-perfect reproductions of their stop-motion brethren, and will not only come with different outfits, but interchangeable faces showing different emotions. Again, not a big deal, but another nice touch that shows how much NECA wants to give the most to fans of the franchises they’ve been licensed.

Randy mentions they’ve also just started talks with EA about making figures for some of their gaming franchises. While I doubt NECA will be putting their skills to use on figures from the litany of sport franchises the gaming company offers, one would think some of the more original IPs EA has recently started releasing would be at the top of the list. As for Randy’s personal dream project? There are a ton of properties he’d love to do (like Star Wars), but one stood out above the rest. Even though the license is clearly locked up for the foreseeable future, he would love for NECA to get a crack at making figures based on the Indiana Jones films. The most recent line came and went with nothing more than a whimper at retail, and to see quality 6-inch figures based on Raiders of the Lost Ark alone would be something I think just about every fanboy could get behind.

With that, we thanked everyone for letting us come out to see how NECA works, and headed back to Gamervision HQ. I know at least one of us was wishing we could go back every day just to sit and watch a figure come to life.

11 Responses so far
  1. Tony Said,

    Is the Reagan in bed – box set (pictured above), of the Exorcist coming out? If so when?

    Posted on December 10th, 2008 at 11:45 AM

  2. Luke Brown Said,

    The Exorcist Reagan in a bed is due early next year, from what they told us.

    Posted on December 10th, 2008 at 1:09 PM

  3. Wes Said,

    Wow, just wow. I saw a lot in there for Gears that just screams ‘more figures than we knew about!!’ I’m kinda curious if anyone has pointed this out yet to them – the majority of drones (99%) don’t have that shoulder pad that comes on all the drones (minus the ones in the 4 pack?) Heh.


    Posted on December 10th, 2008 at 3:04 PM

  4. Wlad Said,

    In one of those pics I can see the Alien Newborn from ‘Alien Resurrection’ and what appears to be the Dog Alien from ‘Alien 3′. Both of them previously unannounced. Can you guys tell us anything about those figures?

    Posted on December 10th, 2008 at 6:51 PM

  5. Luke Brown Said,

    @Wlad: We spent so much time checking out everything else, I must have missed noticing that. They didn’t mention anything about it while we were there, but I’ll see if I can find anything out.

    Posted on December 11th, 2008 at 8:51 AM

  6. Ed Said,

    Hey, is that the Devil May Cry Dante’s coat I see there? What’s going on with that guy?

    Posted on December 11th, 2008 at 10:43 PM

  7. Luke Brown Said,

    The Dante figure should actually be out soon. It’s a pretty neat looking figure, but for whatever reason we don’t have a good picture of it.

    Posted on December 12th, 2008 at 8:01 AM

  8. Nimy Said,

    Is that a McFarlane Halo toy next to the Gears of War stuff??

    Posted on December 13th, 2008 at 10:57 AM

  9. Ed Said,

    The Newborn and Alien Warrior are from the Kenner Alien: Resurrection line.

    Posted on December 14th, 2008 at 5:19 PM

  10. » Blog Archive » Happy One Year Anniversary To Us. Said,

    [...] the end of November, our friends at NECA invited us out to their home offices in northern Jersey to see what a day at NECA was like. Randy and the [...]

    Posted on March 29th, 2009 at 8:15 PM

  11. The Quarter Bin » Blog Archive » NECA Studio Visit – 25¢ Road Trip Said,

    [...] had visited with NECA before, but this was Josh’s first time seeing what the company’s studio was like. It can be [...]

    Posted on July 27th, 2011 at 3:47 PM

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