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NECA Player Select
Ryu Hayabusa, Bionic Commando, and Simon Belmont

Player Select action figures from NECA

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jin Saotome checks in with a guest review of several recent NECA figures from their Player Select series - take it away, Jin!

Thanks Mike for letting me host another review! This one covers three of NECA’s newest Player Select figures. Well, I think they’re Player Select figures, you see sometimes NECA just ships a whole case of one figure so they really don’t come in a series of different characters like you’d see with Marvel Legends or DC Universe. (Except for Castlevania’s Simon Belmont who had three other figures in the series.) So some figures will be stand-alone case packs, others will have a series like Gears of War. It’s kinda confusing at times but they all have similar sized and styled packaging so you won’t miss them on the shelf.

Here we look at Ryu Hayabusa from Ninja Gaiden II, Simon Belmont from Castlevania, and Bionic Commando from the new Bionic Commando Rearmed game coming out. These are all done in the 7” scale so right off the bat know there’s nothing really out there in that size other than the player select figures they’ve released in the past and other 7” NECA lines like Cult Classics I believe. The off- scale won’t affect the overall scores however.

Player Select action figures from NECA

Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA

Packaging - ***
Clamshells are durable, usually display the figure inside nicely, and space friendly. These packages are no different with a taller, thinner shape to them. The graphics are unique to the figure and give you an accessory list, Bio of the character on the back, and some neat artwork usually styled like the artwork in the actual game including the font. I just took a picture of Radd’s package (that’s Bionic Commando there) as the others are pretty similar. Nothing amazing or unique, but nothing lacking here either.

Sculpting - Ryu ****; Simon ***; Radd **1/2
Let’s start with the best of the bunch, the legendary Ryu Hayabusa! Tho some of you remember him from the 16 bit NES games wearing all blue, Ryu has received an outfit upgrade during his return to the Xbox/Playstation many years ago. The sculpting is immaculate here in areas such as the honeycombed undersuit he has and the tiny buckles sculpted on to the armor. His proportions are perfect and the detail on his headpiece is amazing, all sorts of organic-steel layers can be seen. His scarf also has a realistic fabric texture sculpted to it and hangs well, permanently attached at the front, loose at the back of his neck.

Simon Belmont of Castlevania shows off some great detail as well with his leather armor and furry boots. There’s plenty of little brass rivets and he has a very serious sculpted face with flowing hair. There are tiny buckles across his chest and really detailed lacing at his midsection, almost like a corset, heh. Make your jokes now. Those furry boots are convincing enough with belts, stitching, and the shaggy tops all done with great attention to detail. So why not four stars? It’s somewhat of an articulation issue but still affects the sculpt.. Simon here has cut elbows. And with any cut joint you’re bound to have an odd-looking sculpt when the arm is turned out from its original position. Fortunately it doesn’t look absolutely horrible, just awkward at times especially with the left arm and the gap there. But this is one of the earlier Player Select figures and their Ryu has proper hinge elbows. Maybe they’ve ditched those nasty cut joints in their newer figures..

And here we come to their newest, Radd Spencer, the dread-headed hero of Bionic Commando Rearmed. Right away you’ll notice the detailed bionic arm sculpt complete with flexible hoses, rivets, and tech detailing. Radd’s tank top looks great with vertical fabric lines running down it and his pants have a realistic woven sculpt to them. Same for his armored boots, everything is textured to some extent, even his skin. Radd’s dreads hang naturally looking and he has a steely eyed expression, or a stoned one, depending on what angle you catch him at.

And then comes the kicker… the moment you move his right elbow the dreaded cut joint returns and this time it’s a doozy. The cut is so far off where they placed it that two huge, flat sections of his elbow slide out in to view at any position other than the original. This isn’t like Simon’s cut elbow where it was placed on a natural midsection of a muscle, no, it’s right smack in the middle and severely detracts from the overall look of the figure. What happened here? I suspect the factory in China had a hand in this, perhaps placing a cut where there was none designated. Who knows.

Paint - Ryu ****; Simon ***; Rad ****
Paint apps is where NECA really shines these days, up to par with McFarlane in its glory days in many occasion. Sometimes it’s hit and miss with a particular character but with Ryu they nailed it. Mr Hayabusa is primarily cast in black plastic but with the honeycomb undersuit sections painted a glossy black and dark-to-gray-blue shading airbrushed as highlights. This lends itself to a very ‘modern ninja’ look and works for the character. Other detail like the eyes are spot on, deadly serious looking and the headpiece above them done with a wash and metallic effects. There’s no slop and even his scarf was given a light dusting to bring out the texture. As I always say, a great paint job can make a great sculpt even better.

Simon Belmont is a winner for the most part too with realistic, leathery browns and reds. His skin tone is a perfect bronze with nice muscle shading and his face has a nice blend of stubble wash that turns dark red to gray. You also get really nice gold trim and tiny rivets painted there along with his boots that have a series of washes over the fur and main boot colors to help blend them together. The wash they used for his red corset-midsection is a gloss black and is the only thing shiny at that, looking kind of odd next to the rest of the paint which is all matte. You’ll either love it or hate it depending on what you think the material would actually be made of.

Bionic Commando’s saving grace here is the fact he has a really, really nice paintjob, so detailed I’ll honestly say it’s too detailed in places. Radd’s skin is more solid colored than Simon’s but still with a nice dual-tone to the muscles. His tank top has a black wash to it that’s just perfect, not overbearing. There’s even sweat stains at the edges, ew. The pants have a square-pixel type of camouflage painted on them and have a dried-on-mud-brown tone as well. The wash and drybrushed highlights on Radd’s boots brings out the textured sculpt to them very well. Remember his wonky right arm? Lift it up and you’ll see a painted patch of sweaty, glossy, armpit-hair. Yep! All commandos come with that, didn’t you get the memo? I guess that’s what’s staining his tank top. Oh, he also has little Airforce-like tattoos on both shoulders.

Articulation - Ryu ****; Simon **1/2; Radd ***
Kicking off our articulation section is Ryu, who again is the big winner. You can put him in so many great positions and he has an absolutely wonderful range of motion on every part of his body! This is Marvel Legends articulation right here, double-jointed knees/elbows, ball wrists, shoulders, a double ball neck, ab crunch, cut waist, full ball hips, rotating/pivot ankle and even toes! The neck joint needs to be mentioned here because of how simply great it was designed. The base of his neck that attached to his chest can turn and pivot back and forth, but on top of that Ryu has a full double-ball joint that connects to the head. This means you can make him lean forward and look straight ahead, even tilt his head while you do this. With all those joints you can get him into squatting poses and literally every pose you see in the game. Bravo NECA!

Simon fares ok in the articulation department but suffers at range of movement because of his design. He has a ball neck but his hair is solid and restricts him from looking up. His waist is really up at his chest serving as the ab cruch as well. But he can’t turn to the left or right too far without locking up. Ball shoulders with cut bicepts are a nice compliment but his left shoulderpad gets in the way of that and the cut elbows don’t do a whole lot. Nice ball wrists however. Moving lower we find that Simon has V-crotch but cut hips that would allow for proper sitting if it weren’t for his furry skirt and crotch armor getting in the way. Hinged knees and really good ball ankles help him out with standing poses however. Just don’t expect to mimic his jumping in the game.

Speaking of jumping, Bionic Commando couldn’t jump in the original game if you’ll remember. But NECA still gave him some great ankles with all sorts of movement range and really well hidden knee joints. Even the cut thigh joints are well hidden in the fabric and he has the hinged DC Universe hip-thing going for him so you can get some decent leg poses. Unfortunately from the waist up is a different story. While he does have a nice cut waist his ball jointed neck is totally hindered by his dreads that are made of hard plastic. I won’t mention his right elbow again but here I was hoping his bionic arm could move in all sorts of positions. Not exactly, all those hoses, tho flexible, get in the way and he doesn’t have a bicep swivel at all. But the arm does have some super articulated bionic fingers. Each finger has three hinge joints meaning you can curl them up into a fist or stretch them out to grab on to something. They’re quite stiff but he can’t hang or anything with the grip. There’s even an oddly placed thumb on the arm that’s equally articulated.

Accessories - Ryu *** or **; Simon ****; Radd **
Ryu comes with his Dragon Sword, yay! If you’ll remember it was always his starting weapon in the game and has been replicated pretty nicely here and fits in to the removable scabbard on his back. It has a blood groove and detailed handle wrapping complete with golden tsuba, otherwise known as the handle guard. He also comes with two gigantic bladed tonfu (nightsticks) that he can grasp with the extra set of hands included. They’re not painted that great and the bladed edges are a sharp serrated plastic, and can cut you pretty easily if you were to slide your finger across it! They’re just too large and odd-looking though and I would of much preferred his scythe from the game.

So why the three or two stars? Ryu also comes with three kunai (throwing daggers), maybe. Early figures don’t have them as the factory in China forgot to include them, but if you contact NECA’s customer service they’ll send you some no charge. I’m told that later shipments of Ryu will have his daggers, so three stars if you get all the accessories included.

Simon blows everyone here away in the accessory department I’m happy to say. First you get his trademark whip. Simon has this sucker in every game and it’s done in a flexible plastic that still holds a good shape in mid air, painted well with little brass looking tips. But you also get his flail with its spikey head and attached to a real metal chain! But what if Simon needs to get up close and personal? You also get a Conan-esq sword that slips into the right sheathe and a matching dagger in the left sheathe. But wait, order in the next ten minutes and you’ll also get Simon’s boomerang, another pair of hands, an exlir bottle, and CANDLES! Yes, now you too can recreate Simon whipping the candles that drop his powerups just like in the game! Man, that’s a lot of accessories.

Poor Radd got shafted in this area however. He gets a gun, and a funky looking one at that. It’s some sort of pistol with an odd front attachment that looks like breather tubes and an extended clip. And that’s it. 

Action Feature - Radd ***;  Ryu/Simon, bupkis
And here’s what you’ve been wondering, yes Radd’s bionic arm extends, and it does it in a pretty nifty way. Pull on the hand and it comes off with a foot-long cord attached to it. Remember the odd thumb? That’s the crank you use to reel it back in and it works rather well. So now you can recreate those swinging scenes and grapple bad guys from across a pit. Usually I don’t like action features unless it’s a character-specific one, just like this is. Nice!

Fun Factor - Ryu ****; Simon ***; Radd ***
These are all characters from video games that young or old players will recognize. Some like Ryu are more fun to play with than others because let’s face it, every kid loves ninjas! Simon is pretty barbarian looking and Radd is your odd guy in the pack. Putting these guys in game scenes will keep you busy and most look good sitting there on your desk/display case. Ryu is sturdy enough to have your kid play with him but I’d be careful about Simon and Radd as they have delicate pieces.

Value - Ryu****; Simon ****; Radd **
$13-16 is what you’ll pay for these separately and that’s the going rate for NECA figures, love it or hate it. Ryu is a must-buy folks. It’s the first decent Ryu Hayabusa we’ve had so far and his sculpt/articulation alone is worth the price. Simon is worth it just to have all the nifty stuff he comes with and pose him whipping at his candles. Radd, well, if you’re a Bionic Commando fan and you have to have him... but it’s a judgment call. The right arm cut can kill it for many people along with the so-so bionic arm articulation.

Things to Watch Out For - You will lose Ryu’s throwing daggers unless you tuck them into the sheathes on his leg. They’re tiny! You can also cut yourself on the tonfu edges. Simon’s sword, dagger, and right shoulder pad are made of thin plastic and you could snap these with too much force. Radd’s finger hinges can pop apart with too much force and the cord for his bionic arm is just a twine so be careful swinging him around.

Overall - Ryu ****; Simon ***1/2; Radd **1/2
Ryu is a great combination of all the things in general and that makes for a great figure. Simon is heavy in accessories but so-so in everything else. Radd should be just as his name implies but leaves you wanting more. And cursing that right arm.. grr. I’d go out of the way to pick up Ryu and hope to find the others on a peg someday.

This is Jin Saotome saying thanks for checking out the review and look forward to more!

Score Recap -
Packaging - ***
Sculpting - Ryu ****; Simon ***; Radd **1/2
Paint - Ryu ****; Simon ***; Rad ****
Articulation - Ryu ****; Simon **1/2; Radd ***
Accessories - Ryu *** or **; Simon ****; Radd **
Action Feature - Radd ***;  Ryu/Simon, bupkis
Fun Factor - Ryu ****; Simon ***; Radd ***
Value - Ryu****; Simon ****; Radd **
Overall - Ryu****; Simon ***1/2; Radd **1/2

Player Select action figures from NECA
Player Select action figures from NECA


Player Select action figures from NECA


Figure from the collection of Jonathan Mullins.

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