Marcus, Damon, And Clayton Get Shrunk...
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Everyone knows Gears of War, the third-person shooter franchise pitting gritty COG (Coalition of Ordered Governments) soldiers against the threat of the Locust Horde and other terrors. The unique characters and immersive game play made the first game an instant hit, and in the six years since there have been three sequels and a multitude of spinoff products of all kinds. Of course, our Figures.com faithful are well aware of another Gears of War creation, NECA’s incredible 7 inch figure series that has been running for years. Now, NECA has debuted a whole new line of COGs in a scale that’s sure to bring a whole new group of collectors into the fold: 3 ¾ inches! Since that’s my preferred scale, I was especially interested in checking out these figures, so let’s see what the first series brings, shall we?
The new Gears figures come on standard J-hook cards with really eye-catching artwork. They share the standard red COG logo at the top left and a blasted battlefield behind the figure tray. On the bottom left corner is a portrait of the individual character, and in front of the figure is his name and a notation of which weapon he wields. The figures themselves are held securely in really big, heavy duty plastic coffins and you can see everything before you buy.
The back of each card has the same top section with Gears of War logo and thumbnails of the three characters in Series 1, and then a unique biography at the bottom with quite a bit of information.
All COGs are badass bruisers, but NECA picked a particularly powerful trio to start off this new line: Marcus Fenix, Damon Baird, and Clayton Carmine. Accurately reflecting their looks from the video games, these figures are beefy and powerfully built, standing between 3 ¾ and just over 4 inches tall. Like their 7 inch brothers in arms these figures have incredible levels of sculpted detail while also packing in useful articulation so you can pose them standing at attention or beating up your other 3 ¾ inch figures.
NECA always does a great job when it comes to sculpting their figures, but in the case of these figures it’s pretty remarkable. The COG soldiers each wear the same basic outfit consisting of heavy boots, pants with pouches, a belt, torso armor, and forearm trappings ending in fingerless gloves. While a lot of toy lines would re-use the majority of the parts for such figures, each Gear has tons of unique details and tooling while re-using a bare minimum. Every inch of the clothing and armor is intricately sculpted with vast amounts of layers, wrapping, panels, pouches and pockets, belts, armor segments, and much more. The sculpting extends in the round, with fantastic details on the figures’ back armor as well. Of course, all three figures have unique head sculpts as well. Marcus and Damon are game-accurate with stern expressions and their individual accoutrements (bandana on Fenix and goggles on Baird), while Clayton wears the really cool-looking helmet which also makes that figure ideal for customizing and army building. Randy of NECA recently said that they wouldn’t be able to do Predator in 3 ¾ inch because of the detail that would be required, but looking at these figures I’m not sure that’s really a concern.
A word that comes up frequently with regards to Gears of War the games and the figures is “gritty.” It’s definitely a “war is hell” environment, and the characters reflect that. These smaller figures bring to life the looks of these hardened soldiers with highly detailed paint jobs that are themselves dirty and gritty. Uniformity is not a major concern in the COG army, and so each character has different colors and accents on his clothing and armor. Marcus has dark brown pants, gray boots, brown belt with gray buckle, and gray armor with a dark brown shirt underneath it. Meanwhile, the Delta Squad leader has tons of paint variations and gradations along with yellow armor accents, bright blue eyes, the white skull on his bandana, and of course the tattoo on his right arm. Clayton is a more overall brownish-gray with subtle differences on the various parts, but adds some bright yellow on the shells attached to his legs and of course the metallic blue highlights on his chest and helmet, the latter of which really pops with swaths of dark blue and eyes of a lighter shade ringed with silver. He too has tons of tattoos on the darker skin tone of his arms. Finally there’s Damon who wears the lightest outfit featuring tan pants and silver torso sections. He too has lots of variations and additional colors with black and light blue on his chest and back, blue eyes, and bright blue goggle lenses. All three soldiers have dark washes and spots of wear and grime to reflect their hard lives.
3 ¾ inch figures can be hit or miss when it comes to articulation; this is the scale that popularized the 5-point scheme as well as the “super-articulated.” The Gears of War figures fall somewhere in the middle, with some really nice hidden joints and solid poseability. The three figures have the same articulation scheme with ball jointed necks, ball-jointed shoulders, hinged elbows, rotating and hinged wrists, ball-jointed waists, forward/back and side hinged hips, rotating thighs, and ball-jointed knees. That’s good enough for a decent range of posing options, notably standing at attention and firing their Lancers one-handed. It’s interesting that the lack of ankle articulation (not easily done with the Gears’ massively thick boots) doesn’t really hurt the figures since the boots are so heavy that they balance very well. The only thing that hinders the figures is the absence of rotation on the upper arms either through a bicep or ball-jointed elbow; as is they can’t easily hold or fire their Lancers with both hands. It’s certainly not a deal-breaker, but maybe something NECA can add in the future.
Each Delta Squad member comes with one accessory, the only thing a Gear needs: his Lancer! In Series 1 there are two styles of this iconic weapon. Marcus and Damon each wield the Retro Lancer, a long dark assault rifle with its large clip, wrapped forward handle, and distinctive bayonet with its silver blade. On the other hand, Clayton comes with a standard (Mk. 2) Lancer, a more futuristic silver rifle with intricate parts, a “newer” look, and the awesome chainsaw bayonet that’s spattered with blood. All of the soldiers can hold their Lancers well in their right hands, with trigger fingers fitting snugly. The Lancers also have a small post on their inner surface which plugs into the figures’ backs for storage.
NECA has really done an impressive job with these 3 ¾ inch Gears figures, which is not surprising considering how popular and well-received their larger scale has been over the years. I must confess that despite how cool those figures are I’ve never purchased them, but as a 3 ¾ inch fan I’m eager to collect this new line and look forward to future releases. These are solid figures with fantastic sculpts and good paint and articulation, and they work great alongside other same scale figures as rough and tumble soldiers or roughnecks. Series 1 is available now (I just saw them at my local Toys R Us today) for around $12, so if you’re a Gears-head or small scale figure collector I highly suggest you check them out. Meanwhile, Series 2, featuring fan favorites Cole and Dom in addition to another Marcus, will be arriving this summer.
Review and Photos by Scott Rubin
Review Samples Courtesy of NECA