This August brings yet another amazing entry into NECA's Gears of War line. This will be Part 1 since it will only be covering Marcus Fenix and Dominique Santiago in Theron Disguise and one of my new favorites, the Tickers. As soon as I get my hands on the Grenadier Locust and Flamethrower Grenadier, I'll be posting my review for them as Part 2.
First up are Marcus and Dom in Theron disguise. Xbox Live recently released a deleted mission from Gears of War 2 in which they don Theron armor while attempting to infiltrate Locust territory. When preview photos of the figures were released, I pretty much figured I would skip them. Once I actually saw the figures on the rack however, I just couldn't leave them. I'll admit having a weak spot for disguised characters (or characters that break away from their standard duds) and these two are pretty hilarious and carry more details that I'd have thought.
for comparison: original Theron (post my repainting)
Usually when a company makes a character dressed in a disguise, especially a helmeted one, they simply take the body of the outfit and plop an old head on its neck, pack in a removable helmet that just never sits right and calls it a day.
NECA here has reused the Theron torso and legs as well as the unhelmeted heads of Dom and Marcus. The neck line of the torso is retooled appropriately considering its a human in bulky Theron armor pulled over their own COG armor. The effect is much more obvious on the arms. As Theron have only shoulder plates and arm bracers, that leaves the entire bicep area exposed. It is this exposed area that allows you to see Marcus' armor showing through and Dom's tattoo of his recently proven to be deceased wife, Maria. Let me just add that that tattoo is just as impressive the second time around.
Also packed in with each of them are secondary heads with the Theron Sentinel helmet. Sentinels are sort of like Theron supervisors and are only discernable because of the helmets. That's surely better than running around with a clearly exposed human head when infiltrating a bunch of hulking gray Locusts, but its still not much of a disguise and that's why I ultimately love them. The disguise is clearly only meant to work at a distance. Its pretty hilarious and I'm glad I grabbed them.
Accessories include the alternate heads and lancer rifles with all of their usual little weapon details like the perfectly stamped COG skull on the side.
The paints and sculpts are just as solid as they were the first time around with body/leg articulation being consistent with the previous released Theron guard. Neck and arm articulation is consistent with the current version of Marcus and Dom. They're great figures that really exceeded my expectations, especially for a mere $13.99 each if you can find them at Toys R Us (which isn't that hard, go mid week early and you should be able to find them).
The little Tickers I must say I probably love TOO much. In the game they are nasty canine sized bug creatures that run up to enemies and detonate. Living bombs essentially.
Sculpting on these is absolutely amazing. Tons of bits of muscle connective tissue, textures, detailed sinewy arms and vicious teeth. The tops of their flat, fluke like heads has a bumpy feel to them while much of the body is a maze of wrinkles.
The metal tank on/in their backs is especially detailed. The paint on these back packs are outstanding and I have to say the best weathering and metal fatigue NECA has yet released. Even the backs of them are incredibly intricate. The tank canister itself is slightly clear which adds an interesting touch.
The Tickers possess an impressive amount of articulation for what's basically a big bug. All four of its stubby back legs are ball jointed at their sockets allowing for a variety of stances. I have one crouched as if to pounce and one rearing up. The upper arms are ball jointed as well with swivel cuts just above the elbow and at the wrists. Their jaws are also hinged for various degrees of biting.
NECA attempted to recreate the fast manner in which these little beasties attack by including small wheels under the body that feature a pull back and let go race car like ability. The legs, if not positioned out far enough, will catch and slow the Ticker down. The feature in general does not work as well as it should. I'll admit, as dumb as it may sound, I was looking forward to having Ticker races across my pho-wood floors (sounds like good party game to me) so I'm kind of bummed it doesn't. I also figured they would make the jaw/teeth chatter as it raced along since they're called "Tickers" for a reason, in the game they click their teeth rapidly before attacking. Also, the fact that the canister of the back piece is slightly opaque makes me wonder why they didn't make it spark (they are bombs) as it raced across the floor like a lot of toy ray guns did back in the day. Its kind of odd that that part is clear at all so perhaps it was a consideration at some point.
If the feature doesn't catch your fancy at all however, NECA was nice enough to make the main stabilizing leg/wheel (think Artoo Detoo's spare leg) retractable into the body via small hatch. I think that was a very nice consideration for those who despised the action feature (I'm sure their were some, I wasn't one of them... TICKER RACES!!!).
Examples with it retracted and out:
At $13.99, NECA should have either nailed the action feature (with chattery teeth/sparks) or scrapped it and released these in a two pack format. Two packs would have suited me just fine, especially because I do love the figure and would like an army of them. Seeing as these are clearly for adults, action features will only be appreciated for a few minutes of amusement before the Ticker ends up on its rightful shelf space. Perhaps they'll release one of their $40 boxed sets with 5 featureless Tickers. I'm certainly down for that and I'd hope other fans would be as well. Its a very well done figure and I've already bought two.
That being said, NECA is going to release a Boomer in their next wave that will apparently be as big as it should be and they're not charging more for it (as far as I know as of writing this). The Ticker situation is a very small gripe for some very good value they've given Gears fans since this line started (which wasn't THAT long ago in toy years, spring of last year I believe). Especially the $40 Delta Squad box with tons of weapons and an exclusive Hammer of Dawn weapon or the Locust Hive box with seven heads (two of which are exclusive and one that was almost impossible to get the first chance)*. The Ticker is a gorgeous figure and I highly recommend getting at least one. If the value doesn't cut it for you, hope for a box set later on. I for one want around five and I'll just grab them off the peg "in case". If they release a box set later, I may grab that too. Seriously, Ticker Army! I'm all about it!
Check them out and let me know what you think. And be on the lookout for Series 5 in October with a new COG Trooper, Col. Hoffman, a Bloodmount rider AND my favorite Locust, the BOOMER!
*I'll be reviewing the Locust Hive box set hopefully by the weekend. Great set.