I’m a huge fan of the Gears of War franchise, and have put countless hours into both titles in Epic Games’ Gears saga. Delta Squad member Augustus Cole’s days as a thrashball (the football-like sport played on the planet of Sera) player have always intrigued me. Imagine my delight when I saw that this fall, NECA would be releasing a statue of Cole in full thrashball gear. I got my first look at NECA’s statue at Toy Fair 2011, and I immediately knew that it was going to be the centerpiece of my Gears of War 3 action figure display. Though the figures are still not due out for a short while, I’ve got the statue now. Needless to say, the final product does not disappoint.
A form of this statue has already been released by NECA at San Diego Comic Con. Though both versions of Cole are cast in resin, the SDCC exclusive was given a bronzed look and limited to 100 pieces. The version I have on hand though is the full-color edition, which is due out later this fall. To be honest, I actually prefer this version to the bronze one because you get to see the amazing paint job that makes it look as if Cole just burst through your television and into your living room. Not many particulars are actually known about thrashball, but you can see that it’s some sort of a variation on American football. Players don shoulder pads, leg pads, and a helmet straight from the NFL equipment room. In fact, the only real differences between Cole and any number of professionals playing today are that he’s not wearing a jersey, and instead of cleats he wears combat boots. It’s a little odd, but that’s a design choice Epic went with when fashioning thrashball equipment.
Cole’e equipment is appropriately dinged up. At least I think it is. Having never seen a game of thrashball played, I can only assume the wear on his pads and stains on his pants are true to life. There’s some really great detail in the shoulder pads, and even though this statue is frozen in time, you get a good idea of just how flexible and wearable the equipment is. The sense of motion in Cole himself is also really strong. You get the idea that he’s just deflected a defender, and is now rushing down the field, presumably to score. Cole is stepping over some stone debris, though I’m not entirely certain as to whether that’s an obstacle that would be in his way on a thrashball field, or if it just provides a unique base for his pose.
The detailing of all the various armaments Cole wears onto the field of play is plentiful. From the laces on his boots and pads, to straps and padding on his forearms and gloves, the meticulous attention to the various accoutrements lead you to believe thrashball is a real thing. Even the dimpling on the ball is on point for what you expect from professional sport equipment. As for Cole’s actual musculature, he looks appropriately built. There aren’t any crazy muscles where there shouldn’t be, and there aren’t any unnecessary veins bulging forth from his arms or neck. Look at any still shot of a professional football player in a similar stance, and you’ll see just how perfectly Cole’s physical attributes are captured. Even though you can’t really get a great look at his face in the pictures I’ve taken, up close you can see how wonderfully Cole’s exclamation is captured. No doubt he’s shouting to celebrate his recent evasion of the opposite team, and the intensity and focus on the scoring zone are clearly seen in his eyes.
Now even though the bronze SDCC exclusive is a virtually identical statue, it’s missing the punch that the paint scheme and decals give this colored version. I’d wager someone at Epic Games is a Carolina Panthers fan, as Cole’s thrashball team, the Cougars, shares an awful lot in common with that current NFL franchise. Aside from both teams having cat mascots, the color schemes are so close that it’s hard not to see the inspiration. Perhaps I’m wrong, and the guys at Epic just like blue and black. It’s a mighty coincidence if that’s the case. Anyway, the colors work, and are a nice change of pace from the standard gun metal grey the COG soldiers typically wear. Upon close inspection, the decals on the helmet are very evidently decals. To those of you unfamiliar with sports, let me put you at ease. It’s a good thing. While NFL players don’t typically cover the back of their helmets with stickers, a lot of college athletes have helmets covered in them. Most programs give them to players as a reward for a great play or amassing certain statistics. If these decals had looked painted on, I would have been disappointed, but the accuracy of such a minute detail is very much appreciated.
What I really love most about this though, is how Heisman-like it is. An avid football fan, I appreciate when someone pays homage to one of the most respected and coveted awards in American sports. The good people at Epic Games and NECA clearly share similar sensibilities, and even though Cole is doing his own thing, the resemblance is more than happenstance to be sure. Even the few people I know that don’t play video games immediately recognized how much Cole has in common with the Heisman. That says a lot about how strong the sculpt is.
Even though Cole isn’t the most popular character in the franchise, I’m glad to see that he got his due with this statue. Always larger than life, Cole deserves a bit of the spotlight, and this statue certainly stands out. Die-hard Gears of War fans like myself will be thrilled to own this, and the statue will no doubt make a great conversation piece with envious friends. Sure to be the pièce de résistance of any Gears collection, NECA’s Thrashball Cole will be a welcome addition to many households this fall.
To top it all off, we’re giving a full-color Thrashball Cole Statue away. Check out our contest page for more details on how you can get your hands on this statue before anyone else.