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Wizard World Philly 09: A Look Ahead With NECA

Posted by Luke Brown On June - 20 - 2009

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NECA’s Randy Falk held court over attendees at Wizard World Philadelphia to deliver the news about the company’s plans for the rest of the year. Read on for more on Gears of War, Twilight and what’s this about BioShock figures?

Despite some technical difficulties and the strangest lighting problems I’ve ever seen (the lights would literally flicker on and off on their own at random intervals), NECA’s Director of Product Development Randy Falk guided a group of patient fans through the various upcoming lines of action figures the company would be producing. The slideshow presentation started with a look at figures that were announced previously, but haven’t yet made it into stores.

The second wave of Street Fighter IV figures features Akuma, Chun Li, and Guile, and should be in stores in July. Later this fall, they plan to release two sets of repaints emulating the different costume color schemes players can unlock in the game. One set of color changes will be exclusive to Toys ‘R Us, while all other retailers will get a completely different set of variants.

Gears of War‘s next series will focus on the upcoming “Dark Corners” expansion. Both Marcus and Dom will get new figures, only this time they’ll be in Theron Guard disguises. Two new Locust figures, a Grenadier Elite and a Grenadier Flamethrower, will also be included in the line. Those figures are also due to ship in July to coincide with the release of the DLC.

As Randy introduced the company’s San Diego Comic Con exclusives, he made a point to inform everyone that all the exclusives would also be available on Amazon.com for anyone who couldn’t make it to the convention. The figures would be the same price ($20, the only extra cost would be Amazon’s shipping), and would go on sale at the start of the con. Quantities would still be limited, but at least fans would have the opportunity to pay fair prices instead of outrageous Ebay ones. The five exclusive figures are TMNT‘s  April O’Neil with two Mousers, SFIV‘s Guile in a Charlie outfit, Dead Space‘s Issac Clarke in the Unitology Suit, the Lambent Locust from Gears of War, and a new Coraline figure in a star-spangled sweater.

Attendees also got the first official glimpses of NECA’s new vinyl/Muggs-inspired line, Batsu. Wave one, which will focus on Gears of War, features Marcus, Dom, and a Locust in a more lighthearted vein. Planned future lines will include the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Street Fighter. Expect to see that first series in specialty stores in late August.

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Also coming in August will be the second series of the Terminator 2: Judgment Day line. All three figures will be inspired from major action set-pieces in the film. Cyberdyne Showdown T-800 comes complete with grenade launcher, chain-gun, and shotgun, while the Final Battle T-800 will come sans arm and with two different heads of varying damage, along with several weapon accessories. A 12″ version of the Final Battle figure will also be released, and will come complete with LED lights in the head so the endoskeleton’s eye will be illuminated.

The next Tim Burton film, 9, will also get a line of figures featuring the CGI characters this August. The title character, 9, along with a figure of the character 1, will make up the first series. The figures will feature wire armitures for articulation so as not to disrupt the unique ragdoll look of the characters. There are a few series planned, each consisting of two figures.

Fans of Dead Space can expect the standard costume version of Issac Clarke to arrive this September. The figure will also have a bloody variant and 20 points of articulation. There aren’t currently any plans to expand the series with necromorphs.

Coming this winter fans of the Twilight films can look forward to a line based on the sequel, New Moon. Four figures, including Edward, Bella, Alice and Jacob will be made available. The mostly male crowd was rather indifferent, but I’m sure somewhere there’s a fourteen-year old girl reading this that just jumped out of her chair.

Switching gears, Randy then unveiled Series 5 of NECA’s Gears of War figures. Colonel Hoffman and the Boomer make their debuts. Randy assured the crowd that the Boomer would be to scale with the rest of the line, so you can expect that figure to be rather huge.

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Randy then announced three brand-new, never before revealed licenses. The first: BioShock. Series 1, which is due to come out along with the sequel in October, will feature the Big Daddy Bouncer and the Big Sister. While they weren’t able to show us any actual images, Randy mentioned that the line was one of the most complex they’ve ever worked on, and the figures, at least in the first wave, were massive. Other figures planned include a Big Daddy Rosie, Splicers, and the Big Daddy Player from BioShock 2. He hopes to have the whole set on display at their booth at this year’s San Diego Comic Con.

Two other gaming licenses revealed today were Dante’s Inferno and Army of Two. While the lines are quite a ways off, Randy was able to spill a few details on the Army of Two figures. Both Salem and Rios would be included in the set, and the figures would have multiple points of articulation, a bunch of weapons, and masks that would lift to reveal the actual character’s faces. NECA is also planning some exclusive variants with different paint jobs on the masks like players could unlock in the game. Images for both lines will be coming out in a few weeks.

The panel then opened up to questions from the crowd.

- Do you find the retail climate to be creatively stifling? In some ways yes. We find that we have to be more resourceful. For the Terminator line they have 4 figures, and they tried to plan out which figures they wanted to do ahead of time so they could possibly reuse parts like torsos and arms to save time and money. They have to find the best way to make it accurate, and at the same time save money.
- Other props you’d like to do? Hammerburst, from GoW. Some stuff from Street Fighter like Vega’s mask or Chun Li’s bracelets. They thought about some stuff from Castlevania like the morningstar or the cross and holy water. The replica business isn’t really strong, and the products are more expensive to produce, but the numbers are small so it’s not really a focus for them right now.
- They would have loved to had more LED lights and moving parts on the replica Lancer, but the production costs would have been too great.
- Any chance of Fallout stuff? Thought about it, but our slate’s pretty full.
- Any plans for God of War 3? We’ve sent out a prototype, but they’ve pretty much confirmed the game wont be out til next year, so that’s a little farther down the road. They’d love to do some of the creatures, but from an economic reason its tough. A lot of characters from Gears lend themselves to the same parts, so you could have a couple different Locusts, and have to sculpt less than you would with God of War’s creatures which are much more varied.
- They’ve debated raising prices to compensate for some more fringe-like figures, but they like keeping things in the $13-15 price range.
- They had considered Left 4 Dead, but they’ve noticed from other companies that characters in plain clothes just don’t sell that well.
- More Resident Evil 5 figures? Maybe. RE4 had a lot more in it that was toy worthy compared to 5. Capcom helped decide those three figures they ended up putting out. One of the things that may prevent us from doing more RE5 figures are the games coming to the Wii… But they may be redoing some of the classic figures in a new version to tie into the new game releases -  Leon Kennedy in Raccoon City Poice Dept gear… Chris Redfield in STARS garb…
- A new Harry Potter and the Halfblood Prince series will be unveiled at SDCC.
- As for licenses they’d love to take a crack at: Metal Gear, Brutal Legend, Clash of the Titans, and after seeing the latest game footage from Splinter Cell Conviction, Sam Fisher are all on their minds, but absolutely nothing is set in stone.

On that note, it was time to go. Be sure to check back early next week for our interview with Randy about several of the announcements made today.

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