Epic sci-fi adventure game tailor-made for action figures...

In the multi-billion dollar next-gen console war, good video game design plays a very crucial role. Often a deciding factor in which system a consumer will purchase, game companies are pushing the creative envelope, each striving for more realistic graphics and the latest in innovative game play. BioWare's MASS EFFECT is one such game, the first in a long-hyped trilogy recently released for the Xbox 360.

Taking its cue from countless science fiction books and movies, Mass Effect is a cumulation of the best the genre has to offer. The action RPG plays out like a 40 hour-long motion picture, starring you as a human soldier named Commander Shepard. Players may choose to be female or male and customizing options range from a host of facial features, character classes and colorful backgrounds; all of which influence dialogue throughout the game. And dialogue this game features in bucket loads; rich in story and delivered by some of the finest voice actors today.

Mass Effect is a story of political intrigue, planet exploration and galactic conflict. Missions vary from vast to small, each of their outcomes decided by an ingenious "choose your own adventure" dialogue system or via intense first-person combat. All this unfolds with some of the most amazing graphics ever seen in a video game; from the gorgeous architecture of the Citadel, vibrant armor and slick weaponry, to a galaxy full of exotic alien species.

Mass Effect's design is so engaging that collectibles based on it are a must. HyperChild already sees the potential in this title, with a series of finely crafted resin statues slated for release this year. Toy companies such as NECA or McFarlane need to follow suit, preferably delivering fans fully (or semi-) articulated 6-inch scale action figures of Mass Effect's intriguing characters.

The toy line could be released over the year as three, four figure assortments. Multiple color variants and exclusives would be included with each wave to cover the vast array of armor classes. These could include a Commander Shepard in desert camo "Scorpion" light armor or Wrex in flaming red "Colossus" heavy armor. The armor choices for both standard and exclusive figures is truly extensive, their designs alone providing plenty of variety to the toy line.

Each series would be broken down to include one main character, two supporting characters, and one Geth warrior, the cybernetic one-eyed bad guys of the game. This would allow collectors the opportunity to acquire not only Shepard (of both sexes) and his archnemesis Saren, but all six away team party members and an army of the cool-looking Geths for them to battle. My proposed line-up as follows:

Series 1

Human (Male) - Commander Shepard

Krogan - Wrex

Quarian - Tali

Geth Foot Soldier

Series 2

Human (Female) - Commander Shepard

Turian - Garrus Vakarian

Human (Male) - Kaidan Alenko

Geth "Crawler"

Series 3

Turian - Saren

Asari - Liara T'Soni

Human (Female) - Ashley Williams

Heavy Geth Shock Trooper

Each character figure would include an arsenal of firearms, consisting of a pistol, collapsible assault rifle, shotgun and sniper rifle. These figures would feature powerful hidden magnets in their guns and backs allowing you to stow their weapons, just like in the game. Other accessories could include removeable helmets and possible display bases. The latter can be simply titled or fully sculpted to reflect a strange alien world.

If the toy line was successful enough (strong sales of the game imply that it would be), future assortments could be added to include the many sub-races, such as the Salarian, Volus... perhaps a deluxe Geth Walker. The galaxy is the limit with this toy line. Companies could even branch out with collectible mini-vehicle replicas of the spaceship Normandy and the planet-roving Mako or expand with a role-play assault rifle with light-up effects and sounds.

While Mass Effect is far from a perfect game (it does have some annoying technical glitches), it is one of the most beautiful and epic video games I have played in years. Diverse in story and design, Mass Effect is tailor-made for action figures. With two more games on the horizon, the timing for Mass Effect toys is NOW.

By Jeff Saylor

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