ADVANCE LOOK: NECA's Borderlands Series 1
What a long, strange trip it's been...
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By now you've most likely seen the over 80 new photos I've taken of NECA's long anticipated Borderlands Series 1 action figures (if not, check 'em out HERE). I was going to dive right into a review of these fantastic figs, but I realized there's a story to tell first. A tale of a perilous journey with the promise of an amazing reward at the end (sounds a little like the game itself, doesn't it?).
The CL4P-TP unit - better known as "Claptrap" - means a lot to players of Borderlands. Not only is he the first character to greet you on Pandora ("Hello, traveler!"), but the spunky 'bot is a constant source of amusement as the game's leading jester. From hilarious antics such as breakdancing, to leading a "Robot Revolution" in his own downloadable game, fans quickly fell in love with Claptrap and the comedy he provided. Needless to say, gamers were ecstatic when NECA announced in 2010 that a Claptap action figure was on the way. Hell, even Claptrap himself was excited (read our interview with him HERE). I was pretty stoked to get my hands on the figure as well. Not only do I adore the character in the game like every other fan, but I hold a personal attachment to him: I actually KNOW Claptrap. More on that later...
A mix of bad luck and timing has held the little guy up. Factory problems were initially to blame, bumping Claptrap's release off by months. Once the factory issues were ironed out, an early 2011 release date was planned... but then something unexpected happened. NECA received early word that something big was on the way: Borderlands 2. The timing couldn't be better, so the decision was made to debut Claptrap ahead of the new game in 2012... along with MORE Borderlands figures!
Arriving next month in May, Borderlands Series 1 delivers at long last Claptrap along with Pandora's most common threat, the warrior of the wasteland, the Psycho Bandit. Finally getting my hands on these figures has certainly been the rewarding part of my story, but here's the truly crazy part. After playing Borderlands for days (weeks?) on end, I finally reached the closing credits. Yes, I actually do read these (and the cool music from DJ Champion certainly didn't hurt). Long story short, the voice actor for Claptrap caught my attention: David Eddings. David's the current VP of Business Development & Licensing at Gearbox Software, but how I know him is from a little ol' toy company called Radioactive Clown. Remember their cool Unreal Tournament action figures from back in 2003? Same David Eddings. I have to say I was completely blown away by the news. It's not everyday that you laugh your butt off because of a character in a video game only to find out later that you actually know that person doing the talking (granted, with sound effects). Crazy...
So back to the figures... Was it worth the wait? You bet. The first thing that'll strike you is the phenomenal paint deco on the pair. These figures perfectly capture the cartoony cell shading of Borderlands to a tee. Cartoon figures are nothing new, but usually they are defined by a softer sculpt, not via paint work alone. Sculpt does play a hand in making these figures look as if they stepped out of the game though, a good example being the knife attached to Psycho Bandit's side. It's like a cardboard cutout!
Sculpt and paint apps aside, it's the articulation on these figures that's going to blow collectors away. For Psycho Bandit - which, by the way, stands a NECA standard of 7-inches tall - you get the following:
- Ball-jointed head for some very expressive poses
- Ball-jointed/ hinged shoulders, elbows and wrists
- A hinged upper torso for great ab crunches
- Swivel waist
- Ball-jointed/ hinged thighs for wide and varied display stances
- Swivel/hinged knees
- Ball-jointed feet
With his included "buzz axe" weapon accessory (with spinning blade), fans will be able to strike the Psycho Bandit in about any pose their hearts desire. A really fun figure to play around with (and admire).
Claptrap, measuring in at 4 1/2 inches tall (6" with antenna extended), is no less impressive in the articulation department. Let me count the ways he can move ("Unce! Unce! Unce! Unce! Ooo, oh check me out. Unce! Unce! Unce! Unce! Oh, come on get down."):
- Extending antenna
- Rolling wheel
- Shocks that attach to the wheel can push up or down
- Hinged shoulder flaps
- Hinged eye visor flap
- Ball-jointed shoulders
- Hinged/ swivel elbows
When not dancin', Claptrap comes with a display base that resembles a piece of Pandora's vast desert. Simply plug the included plastic black rod into Claptrap's back and into the hole on the base and voilą!, it's display time. Sadly, the much talked about sound feature on Claptrap was omitted. Hopefully, if sales are good, we'll see a talking Claptrap in the future. I never say never because hey, who would have thought we'd get a BioShock Big Daddy Bouncer with a light-up LED feature? Think positive and buy many Borderlands figures - anything is possible!
It's hard for me not to gush about NECA. Not only does this company just happen to make figures from all my favorite video games, but these figures almost always come out amazing. Borderlands is no exception. It's a game that had me playing for months after I already "beat" it; leveling up with wild weapons and taking on Pandora in co-op and its numerous downloadable add-ons. To have action figures from a game this awesome is a dream come true. Actually knowing Claptrap? Priceless.
Borderlands Series 1 hits retail next month. Then, come August, Borderlands Series 2 will debut with two all-new characters from the sure-to-be-hot sequel: Zer0 the Assassin and Salvador the Gunzerker. Check out our Toy Fair story HERE for more details.
Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor
Review Samples Courtesy of NECA
Re: ADVANCE LOOK: NECA's Borderlands Series 1
I know absolutely nothng about this game but my Mutant Earth guys NEED that buzz axe!
And wow, so that's what happened to Radioactive Clown!
Re: ADVANCE LOOK: NECA's Borderlands Series 1
Yeah, David worked in the game industry before he started Radioactive Clown. Pretty much WHY he started it - his love of games. But they never really took off, so he went back into the game industry (if he ever left at all). Anyways, it's a small world.