I first read about the PS3/XBOX/PC game, Dead Space quite a while ago and, regretfully, I've yet to play it. What struck me about what I'd read was that you play an entire action shooter, set in a very 1979 Alien film-like setting, as a mechanic, Isaac Clarke, with mainly tools with which to fight. Not being a well trained super soldier is always a more engaging premise.
This year, when I heard NECA secured the license to produce Dead Space figures, I knew they'd do the fans of Dead Space proud after seeing their outstanding work on several games including Gears of War and Street Fighter IV. What I didn't know, is that thanks to their San Diego Comic Con exclusive debut of Isaac Clarke, that I'd be drooling over their creation. It was only a few weeks before the Con when I read that the average, 8" scale Isaac Clarke, in keeping with the game's aesthetic, would feature LED lights in his head and torso.
I've never seen that before in an 8" figure. Needless to say, I made sure I got one.
Issac Clarke is made out of a dense plastic that carries some good weight without being clunky. Its one of my most common praises of NECA, they do not use weak, rubbery plastic like most mainstream companies. The sculpt is impressive as always. Clarke's suit is very simple in its very utilitarian style design. NECA has given it some good texture to keep him from looking like he's in a one piece body suit. The areas that are clearly meant to be fabric LOOK like fabric and the parts that are clearly meant to be metal (or whatever super plastics we may use in a space travel filled future) have a good solidarity to them.
Let's talk little details. There are all sorts of things happening all over Clarke's suit. I've since looked at quite a bit of material from Dead Space and this suit seems very game accurate. His left wrist and hand have a bit of tech looking equipment bits that are intricately sculpted and cleanly painted. Even the boots received some little extras.
My favorite detail, and its one most companies would have skipped or not really paid much attention to, is his little chest plate heads up display. The plate protrudes from his chest presumably so he can quickly look down at whatever data he needs while still having both hands free to fix what needs fixin'. Its astounding. The plate has a clear greenish tint plastic with some sort of text on it to simulate the holographic projection look of most of the computer interfaces of Dead Space. Its the sort of clever little detail you find and think, 'wow, they could have totally skipped this and no one would have complained, and yet they made sure it was there in perfect detail'. It truly is a commitment to detail I wish a certain company producing movie "accurate" figures from one of my favorite films ::cough::ghostbusters::cough:: would take a cue from. This level of caring about delivering the best representation of a fan's beloved property creates brand loyalty you can't buy.
Clarke features numerous points of articulation including a ball jointed head and shoulders, cut biceps, cut/hinge elbows and knees, cut wrists, waist, double hinge hips (for forward, back and out to side movement), and hinged ankles. I love that we live in an era of toys where that is only slightly above standard. The standard for articulation is in a fantastic place all over the wonderful world of action figures.
The paint, as you can clearly see from the photos already, is equally noteworthy. Some companies would have just painted him all black. Some companies would have allowed that black to have far too much sheen and negate the feeling that Clarke jumped right off the screen. Here NECA has multiple tones of black and dark grays to make their sculpting really pop and enhance all of the little details. The standard version of Clarke, available this fall, will feature a more bronze/brown paint scheme representing the suit he starts the game in. Apparently he upgrades suits when needed, sort of like all those mainstream rollerblade in lava lazers ninja Batman figures we've seen over the years. Only Clarke's are actually functional in the context of the game.
Here we have Clarke in his Unitology suit. In the game, Unitology is an obvious reference to Scientology and is appropriately portrayed as a cult. Clarke's suit is covered in symbols from this cult. I'm not sure how NECA did these, I'm assuming its some sort of stamp. However they did it, each character is as clear and crisp as if they were typed onto him. I've found that there is actually a translator for this code (a is this, b is this) and will someday, when I'm really bored, actually see if the symbols spell out anything or are just really awesome looking gibberish. Being NECA, I wouldn't be surprised if it said something.
Clarke uses a bunch of different tools in the game but here only comes with one. I'm assuming that was to keep the cost down to make room for his best feature, which I'll get to in a moment and then it's price tag. I'm unsure of what it's called but when I read about it on the game's Wikia page, it is apparently a super advanced sort of nail gun which can shoot three bolts in a vertical line or, if you were to switch to its secondary mode, a horizontal line. The plastic version that Clarke comes with doesn't switch to this horizontal mode. That would have been cool, but honestly, no big deal. You'd have to ask a die hard Dead Space fan whether or not that hick up would be enough to make them not want this figure. I'm sure they'd let it slide. The gun is also covered in the Unitology symbols and fits into his hand quite well. It has a mean look and really ads to Clarke's menacing appearance (which... is odd for a mechanic, but I like it so I'm not gonna get into an art versus total functionality debate with myself about it). I'm sure they will make many of Clarke's suits and each will come with his various tools so that by the end of the run, you'd have all of his better suits and tools to swap around.
I recently ripped into, just a little, another company for not providing ENOUGH accessories for their price tag. It might appear that I'm going easy on Clarke. Well that other figure did not feature an LED light (and it would have been one awesome figure if it did!). Most of the gameplay of Dead Space happens throughout a powered down and very dark star ship (borrowing from Alien for its excellent use of the combo claustrophobia/darkness threat). Within that dark, the main light source just happens to be, well, you. NECA obviously realizing what an important character this minimal lighting was on its own, Clarke features not only a light up face plate but back tubing as well. Apparently the developers wanted as little stat related text on their screen as possible so your health meter is the light up tube down Clarke's back. The fuller the tube, the better his health. Ingenious little idea. And NECA nails it here.
As you can see, the light is bright and full in any condition, as only an LED can truly deliver. The left side photos were taken in an all white kitchen heavily saturated in day light. The photos on the right feature him in the much more game appropriate lighting of... my darkened bathroom. NECA even made an already raised section of his spine plates the switch for the LED's so that it does not show up upon inspection. It also has two modes: push it straight in to turn it on and release to turn it off OR push the switch in and slightly up to have the LED stay on.
And the most amazing thing about all this... I'm going to sound like an infomercial... oh well... You get the amazing sculpt, the dense plastic, the high level of articulation, the crisp, well thought out and painted details AND a couple of LED lights for a whopping... twenty dollars. $20!!!
Standard mainstream Con figure prices. NECA has maintained a $20 price tag on, I believe, all of their comic con figures and, in this tough economy where even a company with NECA's big name licenses is forced to keep costs down, they maintain a commitment to making affordable exclusives. Even when they light the hell up.
I'm looking forward to getting some other versions of Clarke. The fall release figure is pretty nice looking and will feature a bloody variant with a different weapon. Oh yeah, those will light up too.