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NECA Player Select Soul Reaver
Raziel

   

"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."

Well known customizer and collector Jin Saotome checks in tonight with a review of both Soul Reaver Raziel figures from NECA - tell us all about it, Jin!

With the market for collectible action figures declining and the video game industry booming, itís not looking too great for our plastic friends. Specialty shops have either disappeared or reduced their figure selection to nil and companies like McFarlane and Mezco are being forced to play the mass-market-retailerís game to survive. However one company still stands strong in the specialty market and thatís NECA. Their figure selection is growing better with every new release and they have a secret weapon against the video game boom: Make figures from those popular video games! I mean if you canít beat them, at least ride on the coattails. McFarlane Toys did this with Halo 3 and it was a huge success. NECA has all sorts of licenses and can put out a series with just one or two figures in the assortment.

NECAís Player Select line has seen characters such as Agent 47 from Hitman, Lara Croft, Altair from Assassinís Creed, Kratos, and more. Iím a big video game fan when it comes to certain characters and would sell my mother for a good Bionic Commando. However I have no bias on the two figures Iím reviewing tonight; regular Raziel and his Spectral Plane version. Iíve never played the game Soul Reaver past the demo version to be honest and that was years ago. Also Iím not a huge fan of NECAís player select line because it always chose sculpt over articulation and the scale is 7Ē, not fitting in with my DC or Mavel stuff. Iíll admit I only bought these figures to swipe their energy blasts and torch accessories for customizing. So how do the Raziel twins strike me now that Iíve opened them up? Letís find out.






Packaging: ****
Cool, itís a blister card, weíve seen these before right? But this one is streamlined to take up less space. Itís really freaking tough too because I crushed the heck outta the front end when I set my camera post down on it by accident and it popped right back into shape. The graphic art on the package is great. You get a cool wheel design on the front with vampiric writing/runes that details everything Raziel comes with. On the side is a little picture of the character, ĎMaterial Plane Razielí or ĎSpectral Planeí. On the back is a cool and cryptic bio for him and great artwork once again showing both figures in nice poses and lighting. The package shows off plenty of the figure inside so you can inspect them. All that combined and Iím gonna have to give this a 4-star rating for a clamshell. Iím all for collector-friendly boxes but I wouldnít mind seeing all my figures come like this.

Sculpt: Regular and Spectral Raziel- ****
NECA went all out on the sculpting here! Razielís body is sinewy and thin, almost like an anatomy model that just shows muscle without the skin and each fiber is sharply represented. His bandages on his upper arms have a tiny woven texture, his lower arm bandages a different gritty texture, his face covering yet another texture, and his armored greaves even more texture! The hair is a soft rubber and flows great with tiny strands everywhere. Often rubber hair can have a soft-sculpt look to it without much detail. Not here. His wings are a cool flexible plastic and you can see all the veins and shredded detail to them.

Whatís really neat is that if you pop off his head you can remove the cowl and expose his ghastly mug. Heís missing his lower jaw just like in the game and has all sorts of sharp detaling on his teeth and skeletal structure thatís present. Since his cowl is pretty much standard for him I wonít call it an accessory and will mention it here. Itís made of soft rubber so you can turn his head about inside. There was an old Raziel figure done by BBI which featured a hard plastic, snap-together cowl that limited his head motion. This one blows that away. I couldnít find anything bad about the sculpt here, it even flows with the articulation and doesnít look like they chopped up a statue, as many other NECA figures do.

Spectral Plane Raziel has the exact same sculpt with one difference, his cowl is pulled away from his face as if he was exposing his lower jaw to frighten someone. I believe this was his soul/lifeforce-sucking move in the game and the cowl looks just right with the little pull-points you can line up with his clawtips. Of course It needs his hands there to be effective but thatís the whole point of the sculpt, itís in action. So no complaints here. Whatís that mean? Four stars yet againÖ.

Paint: Regular and Spectral Raziel; ****
I know what youíre thinking, Jinís just giving Raz the benefit of the doubt so far. Three four star ratings, he has to be in a generous mood. Tackling the paint here is easy. Itís perfect. No really folks, Iím stunned. Material World Raziel features deep, solid colors like his blues and whites that donít bleed anywhere. Heís been given Ďcomic linesí like the TMNT figures, black lining in the main segments of his body like his biceps and leg muscles. But nothing bleeds, Iím still amazed! The black, white, and blue all sit next to each other perfectly. Then thereís the airbrushing effect that change his skin tone from blue to a purple hue.

All his armor and bandages have just the right amount of wash and highlight making them look very realistic, and his cowl has a cool Ďdustyí look to it like a travelers coat would. His wings have a great shading effect to them changing from blue to purple along the lower edges. Razielís face is crisp and creepy, showing off his pure white eyes and pearly white teeth. He looks great from any angle with his cowl on or off.

Spectral Plane Raziel is made of clear plastic so youíd suspect his paint apps would be lessened to show that see-through quality, right? Wrong. NECA has replicated the majority of his paint ops using translucent paint and gave him the same level of detail, sans the black lines, that regular Raz has. It gives him a ghostly, almost faded look and when you put a light source behind him really stands out! Even his bandages and armor are translucently painted. The only solid paint apps on him are the two black marks under his eyes and the eyes themselves making him look really creepy. No paint flaws and perfect application with 0 Ďmolded in colorí look. Four stars again.

Articulation - Regular and Spectral Realm Raziel; ****
Wait, this canít be right. He doesnít have ML articulation with those double-joints so he canít get a four-star-rating here! But itís true, whatís there in his articulation provides exactly the amount of movement he needs and doesnít ruin the sculpt. He has a ball jointed neck with wonderful range seeing as he has no lower jaw to get in the way, ball shoulders and bicep, pin arms, ball wrists, one set of hands has articulated claws, a ball middle torso with great range, ball hips and thighs, pin knees, and ball/pin ankles. This means you can pose him just about any way you want. Since his cowl is soft rubber you can get much better range out of him arms with it on and perfect range with it off, even accomplishing an above-the-head-sword-strike pose. And his wings are articulated too with sturdy ball joints that snap into his back.

Yes, NECA has proven themselves with the TMNT figures and now with Raziel. I hear their upcoming Ninja Gaiden Ryu Hayabusa figure is just as articulated too! This is a great continuing theme for their figures because now they are indeed true action figures, not just action-statues. Oh and if you were wondering Spectral Az has the same articulation as regular Az. That four star rating comes from an untainted perspective on how his articulation works with the sculpt and provides a great look and range to his character. Well played RazÖ well played.

Accessories: Regular and Spectral Raziel; ****
According to the packages both Raziels come with a torch, 2 sets of hands, a Soul Reaver Wraith Blade that looks like an energy blast to me, and an interchangeable shroud. I covered the shroud, er, cowl as I was calling it, in the sculpt section because really itís part of his character. I always consider an accessory something that you could leave off of a character without messing up the look. His torch is a combination of clear plastic flames and a solid base. This is perhaps the nicest torch Iíve seen with the clear yellow plastic fading completely clear near the top and the handle painted to look like a nice worn wood.

Raz comes with a set of hands that has articulated fingers and one static set with more of a spread-claw look. But since he came with one of each attached in the package I donít know which set is the accessory and which one should be the regular set! So Iíll just cover them as nice looking hands and the spread-claw set is the one you attach the Energy blÖ er, ĎWraith Bladeí to. Coming to the blade it was the real reason I picked these two figures up in the first place. This is a nice looking accessory made up of two pieces of swirling clear plastic. Regular Raz comes with a blue one and Spec Raz comes with a glossier green one. They fit snugly onto his claw, donít droop, and have lightly airbrushed hues.

Also thereís a separate Ďswirlí of energy that can be wrapped around his arm that they donít mention on the package. Itís made of the same kind of clear plastic that the blade is but doesnít plug in anywhere. A freebie! Since itís flexible you could wrap this around his leg, neck, anywhere a swirl of spectral energy would hang out. So we have a set of great accessories that complement the figure, make sense for the character according to the game, and a freebie thrown in. Both Razís come with the same accessories as well. Four stars seems to be the running theme here.

Fun factor- ****
This figure(s) rocks and depending on if your kid knows who he is, he could be portrayed as either a monster of the hero. The accessories can be used with different figures if you want and swapping pieces around is always fun. He has great articulation and a nice colorful paint job. The figure as far as I can tell is really durable with thick pins so you donít have to worry about letting your kids play with him. Oh they might pop off a head or hand here but they pop right back on. Iím still getting a kick out of making Raz perch on my desk or blast his clone away with an arm outstretched.

Value: ****
Either figure will run you $12-$14 depending on where you find them. I bought them as a set and got a few bucks shaved off. Now normally Iíd compare him to a $10 Marvel legends figure but letís be realistic here. Youíre getting a specialty larger figure with full accessories, perfectly articulated, with a full spread of paint ops, and quality construction. Thatís worth $20 in my book because I pay that for those Final Fantasy figures, and theyíre molded in color for the most part! Raziel here, either of them, is a work of art.

Things to Watch Out For -
Nuthin! You might think his wing-posts could break because theyíre so thin but theyíre made of some sort of super-plastic. I wasnít even able to break them when I tried, much stronger than ABS and with a little give. I couldnít get any of the joints to loosen or anything to fall off. The paint apparently is really durable as well and even tho regular Raz has a matte finish it doesnít pick up marks from other things.

Overall: ****
This is how you make a figure folks. Period. NECA has shown us they can blow the completion out of the water with their earlier TMNT figures and now redoubled their efforts with Raziel from their Player Select line. I had no expectations about these figures and they turned out to be one of my favorites so far. Sculpt works with articulation which is accented by great paint apps and given a good set of accessories to finish. You canít beat that, at least not yet. Now Iím really looking forward to the Ryu Hayabusa Ninja Gaiden figure coming out, if Raz here is any indication on how theyíll be continuing their Player Select line. I just wish the earlier figures like Lara Croft and Hitman were given this kind of treatment.

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

Score Recap:
Packaging- ****
Sculpt- Regular and Spectral Raziel- ****
Paint- Regular and Spectral Raziel; ****
Articulation- Regular and Spectral Realm Raziel; ****
Accessories- Regular and Spectral Raziel; ****
Fun Factor - ****
Value- ****
Overall- ****
 


Figure from the collection of Jin Saotome.

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