Just before San Diego Comic Con, we had the opportunity to visit with our good friends at NECA to see what they were bringing to the biggest comic and pop culture convention of the year. Needless to say, what we saw vastly exceeded our expectations. From Evil Dead to Rocky to Predator to Resident Evil, Assassin’s Creed, and Valve, what NECA’s got in store for 2011 and beyond is quite amazing.
I had visited with NECA before, but this was Josh’s first time seeing what the company’s studio was like. It can be quite overwhelming when you first enter the rather plain-looking building where all the action figure magic happens. Upon entering, you find yourself greeted by the lengthy table all of NECA’s sculptors and painters call home. Surrounded by their own collections of action figures, which are far too numerable to actually count, each of the employees has his or her distinctive personality on display for all to see. Whether it’s a love of high-end Japanese movie figures, some classic throwbacks like Power Lords, or the latest DC and Marvel figures, no one working at NECA is at a lack for toys.
Of course, once you take in the entire office space, you’re able to see much more than just what everyone has worked on. Lining the walls, floors (because they were packing for SDCC), and nearly every crevice of the office are the painted sculpts NECA has created. Virtually every single line has a spot of its own, and seeing all their action figures together in one area makes for an impressive visual. What makes it so outstanding is how every figure is perfectly posed to look cooler than the figure next to it.
Before we started talking with everyone about what new licenses they were working on, I took a moment to look over everything that had come before. NECA has never been one to shy away from a license they felt they could do justice, so it’s really cool to see xenomorphs from Aliens standing at the ready next to Ash from Army of Darkness and Jareth from Labyrinth. That, coupled with wave after wave of Gears of War characters standing next to Harry Potter and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, makes it easy to find yourself slipping into a bit of geek overload. As great as it is to just stand and stare wide-eyed and open-mouthed, we weren’t just visiting NECA to gawk. We were there to see the latest and greatest.
By now, many of you have probably seen or at least heard about NECA’s upcoming lines, including Evil Dead 2, Rocky, and Valve. We got to see just about all of these lines up close and in-progress. Evil Dead 2 has been a personal favorite of mine since the summer I discovered it with my good friend Jim. We must’ve watched that movie a dozen times that weekend, and seeing these figures immediately brought me back to those days. NECA’s figures have never been known for a lack of detail, but it’s impressive seeing them give that same painstaking attention to a character in plainclothes. Ash hasn’t ever been the snappiest of dressers, but there’s a lot of care going into making each Ash a distinctively different figure for every fan.
What really caught my eye this time around were the Rocky figures several of the staff were working on. It’s hard not to appreciate a blue-collar hero like Rocky Balboa, but it’s even harder not to appreciate how fantastic both the Rocky and Apollo Creed figures look. While we were present, we got to see several different heads in various stages of punishment being painted. The team had been working a few different versions of Sly Stallone’s head to get him just right, and if what we saw was the final version, NECA came pretty damn close. Though only the figures from the first film were currently being worked on, fans of the film franchise should have plenty to look forward to in the coming year with plenty of memorable characters making their NECA action figure debut.
Unfortunately, I have some bad news. There will be no figure made for the robot Rocky got Paulie for his birthday in Rocky IV. There won’t be a Paulie either, but clearly the more devastating announcement is that there will be no robot. Clearly some kind of anti-birthday statement by NECA.
In addition to some newly announced licenses being worked on, we also got to see some previously revealed figures mid-sculpt. There were a few Assassin’s Creed figures being detailed, including an eagle that will come with Ezio for the new game. We got to see some intricate work being done on the Vector figure from Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City. As great as it is to see the final products, watching how each fiber of the kevlar body armor is slowly and surely put in place is just as awe-inspiring. You tend to take for granted just how much time and energy goes into a figure. I really only started paying attention to how much detail there was on an action figure the last time we came to visit, and it’s amazing to see that despite nearly every other company going smaller and less detailed, NECA is actually upping the ante.
Seeing all the Lost Predators from the end of Predator 2 lined up was quite astonishing. I hadn’t seen the end of that movie in a long time, and to see all the various Predators that were only on screen for a few brief moments together in one place was great. Fans of the franchise have been eagerly anticipating these figures, and they won’t be disappointed in the least. But of course, action figures aren’t all that NECA makes. They’ve had a lot of success with their reproduction weaponry, particularly the weapons from Gears of War. Josh got his hands on the Retro Lancer, which dwarfs the standard issue Lancer in both size and weight. He also got to wield the Butcher Machete, which was no small task for those frail arms of his. I know I can’t wait until these replicas are released. They’ll look great in my living room.
We can’t thank Randy and the rest of the team at NECA enough for the time they spent with us that day. Not only do these guys and girls make some of the best action figures on the market, but they’re also all incredibly nice people who love talking about their craft and toys in general. While we only caught but a glimpse of what NECA’s got in store for the next year or so, we heard even more plans are in place for some truly outstanding licenses. Sadly, we can’t talk about any of that stuff, but we do have a few more surprises for all of you.
Tomorrow, we’ll be exclusively unveiling the first images of NECA’s Gordon Freeman figure from Valve’s Half-Life 2. We’re also going to be having a huge giveaway contest next week, which includes all of NECA’s San Diego Comic Con exclusives. Yes, including a Thrashball Cole statue from Gears of War 3. We’ve also got a big video interview with all the NECA staff coming up, so be sure to check back tomorrow and beyond for more from NECA.