NECA has made great use of several gaming licenses including BioShock, Assassin’s Creed, and Gears of War, so it came as no surprise when they announced they would be creating a line of action figures for the Borderlands franchise. It was also less than shocking, given NECA’s track record, that both pieces from the first series benefit from outstanding sculpts and killer paint work. Let’s check out their take on two of Pandora’s most familiar faces and go in depth with this excellent addition to NECA’s Player Select line.
Borderlands is full of various iterations of the Psycho Bandit and this figure perfectly captures not only the villains’ likeness, but also their insane persona. The sculpt of this figure coupled with the manner in which the joints were engineered totally convey the posture and movement that these characters display in-game. The main contributor to this is one of the most well-designed upper torso joints I’ve seen, allowing Psycho Bandit to either lean back dramatically or slump forward for a super creepy effect. His head sits on an equally useful ball-joint which allows for a full range of movement (including some really great tilting that works wonders for driving home that haunted look) which compliments the torso well for some really spectacular poses. Shoulders and elbows are outfitted with hinge/spin joints and the wrists have ball joints as well, allowing him to brandish his weapon in any number of ways. The hips use a hinged setup similar to the DC Universe Classics line and the ball-jointed ankles and swivel/hinge knees round out the legs. Lastly, a rotating waist completes a figure loaded with articulation – enough to replicate many a murderous rampage to be carried out on Pandora’s hapless travelers. Keeping with the style of the game’s source material, NECA’s paint work employs a heavy ink-lined style that replicates a cel-shaded appearance. It works beautifully here and really separates these figures from other video game toy lines. As brilliant as these ink outlines look as they accentuate every nearly every fold and wrinkle, it’s easy to overlook the subtle detail that went into the sculpt. The spinal column has realistically raised bumps as do the bones in his hands. The rebreather and mask offer superb fine detail that you can only appreciate when inspecting it up close and, when you do, you notice just how empty and soulless his eyes look thanks to a an eerie, soft dab of blue set deep in the sockets. The color palette in general is rather eye-catching, using orange, blue, and silver tones that really pop.
As stellar as the figure itself is, Psycho Bandit’s accessory really seals the deal on this one. As bandits favor unconventional melee weapons in Borderlands, he comes packaged with a menacing-looking rotary saw blade attached to what appears to be repurposed motorcycle handle. The blade can be rotated and the handle, including with the throttle piece, fits perfectly into either hand. Topping it off is a bit of drybrushing that gives it a really worn, rusty, bloodied appearance. Great, great job on this one overall.
Then we have CL4P-TP, otherwise referred to as Claptrap – Pandora’s fast-talking, beat-boxing, disco-dancing, bad-luck-having, robotic steward. He’s got a rather unique design for sure as he’s far from a humanoid bot, leaving NECA with the interesting task of trying to build a toy that’s both game-accurate and fun to play around with. They’ve largely succeeded here, creating a figure that’s visually engaging while hiding a number of subtle articulation points which are not immediately apparent. Claptrap has hinged doors over his eyepiece and over each arm which can be opened to any position and will stay in place once they’re set. His elbows are hinged and the shoulder joints swivel and spin but, given that they are quite thin, take care when waking up these joints if they stick. While I had no problem with mine out of the package, I feel like forcing a notoriously stuck joint on one of these could cause damage. The eyepiece on mine was slightly stuck in place and, upon opening it, didn’t realize that it actually moved around freely in its socket. It also took me a bit to realize that there is an antennae on the top of the figure when can be extended upwards and a tiny drawer on his midsection that can be pulled open (the one where he retrieves an ECHO HUD from at the beginning of the game – nice little detail there). A fair amount of attention was paid to his tire setup as well, which is connected to a pair of ball-jointed shocks that allow for a decent range of movement considering its placement is largely inside of the figure.
Again, the paint here apes Borderlands’ dark outlines and high-contrast textures and NECA pulled it off wonderfully. The worn and chipped appearance of Claptrap’s finish look great as do the tiny panels they added (painted in a metallic silver) that look like prior repairs and patch jobs. The tire treads even have a light wash of brown splashed on to give the effect of dirt and grime. The more time you take to look at Claptrap, the more you realize just how much time and hard work goes into producing one of NECA’s figures. The only thing I can find to complain about here is in regards to the base. The base itself looks great, featuring the same ink lines and aesthetic present in the toys and including some great detail like tire tracks that match Claptrap’s treads. The problem is that he’s held onto the stand by a fairly weak plastic tab that only extends into the figure a fraction of an inch. It works absolutely fine, but if you accidentally jostle the stand the slightest bit, Claptrap will faceplant right off the thing. A minor concern for sure and one that in no way diminishes the quality of the figure itself – it just would have been nice to see the base engineered to hold him in place a bit more securely.
Series One is, without a doubt, worth picking up and, if you’re a fan of the game, an absolute no-brainer. They look incredible and will keep you company during those long play sessions of Gearbox’s Borderlands 2 for PS3 and Xbox 360 this September. With an amazing-looking second series on the horizon, NECA is building yet another knockout collection and (with the sheer amount of interesting character designs and grotesque monsters in the Borderlands universe) there is certainly no shortage of material to pull from.