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Review of Cato, Rue - Hunger Games series 2 action figures

NECA
Date Published:
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Overall Average Rating: 2.5 out of 4

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Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Introduction

We're big fans of the Hunger Games around our house - three members have read all the books, everyone has seen the film at least once, and my daughter holds the record with six viewings. She's even going to be Katniss for Halloween, although finding a kid's size costume has been tough.

NECA was the only company smart enough to pick up on what has proven to be an excellent license across the board. Of course, the action figures haven't been the main thrust, and some of the choices have been weird (the District 12 bow as a prop replica instead of the Games bow?), but there's no doubt they've done it well overall.

Series 2 of the action figures is now out at the stores, and there's four figures in total. There's a new Katniss and Peeta, as you'd expect, and they are done up this time in their training outfits. There's also the two figures that are the subject of tonight's review - Rue and Cato. These two ended up a Toys R Us exclusive, where they are running $18 each.

Click on the image below for a Life Size version
Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Packaging - ***1/2
I like clam shells, and NECA is really the only company left doing them right. You'll need a serious blade to get the figures out - and even with an impenetrable case there's still a damn twisty holding each in - but the case can hold up to wear really well.

The interior card art is nice, and there's some basic character personalization. There's the silver Toys R Us exclusive sticker as well.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Sculpting - ***
Thees are a 6 - 7" scale - Rue is about 5 1/2" tall, while Cato (one of the largest kids in the Games) is about 6 3/4".

My daughter, the Hunger Games fan, saw these and said "they don't look anything like the characters". I think she was being a bit harsh, but they aren't as good as some past portraits we've seen.

Rue is the better of the two, and I do think that anyone that sees her will recognize the character. Cato is decent enough, but the work on his face and ears is a bit more rough, and like the previous Peeta figure, the neck and lower jaw are too large.

The work on the clothing and bodies is better, with good textures and realistic wrinkles and folds. Small details are well done, especially on the boots.

They both stand well on their own, a key aspect when there's so little leg articulation.

They both also have sculpted right hands designed to hold something - sadly, neither comes with anything to hold.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Paint - ***
There have been times when NECA's paint work has been atrocious - other times, it's been outstanding. This time around, we get something in the middle.

The applications on the portraits are decent, but not exceptional. The face work is good, with an even skin tone and clean eyes, but the skin work on the hands and arms (in Cato's case) is a bit gloppy and uneven. Then there's the blue striping on the jacket - step back and it doesn't look too bad, but on close inspection (even with the nekkid eye) you'll notice a very sloppy edge pretty much all around.

While the paint has a few issues, it is better than some of the more recent Harry Potter releases, and is a step in the right direction.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Articulation - Rue ***; Cato **1/2
These aren't super poseable, but you can get them to take a couple key stances and keep them upright.

The necks are ball joints, and Rue's works terrific. Cato's not so much, and this lack of tilt and lean action ends up dropping him a half star below Rue.

There's the usual 'NECA' shoulders, sort of a pin and disc ball joint. There's also cut wrists and pin/disc elbows, which makes the arms the most poseable aspect.
To round out the legs, there's a cut waist and cut boot tops. That's enough to maintain an even center of gravity, but you better like the general leg pose they are sculpted with since it isn't going to change.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Accessories - Bupkis
With all the weapons, packs and other accouterments that were seen in the movie, you'd expect SOMETHING to be included. You'd be disappointed. 

There's not a spear, a knife, or even a rock. Re-using the spear included with the series 1 Peeta with Rue might have been a tad tacky, but something was really necessary. At this price point, no accessories is going to be a bit hit to the Overall.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Fun Factor - **1/2
These aren't really toys. They aren't quite Nerd Hummels either, but with the limited articulation they're pretty close. With no accessories at all, these are even less fun to play with. They're for the older fan who wants the characters on their shelf, not in their sandbox.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Value - **
You could come up with the first series for around $15 if you worked at it. Since these are exclusives, you're probably going to get stuck paying the $17 retail. With no accessories, it's hard to say they're really worth that much green.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Things to Watch Out For -
I suspect that the paint work will vary on these across the run, so when you pick them out on the shelf, take your time and get the best you can find.

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Overall - **1/2
These aren't terrible figures, but with average sculpts and paint, no accessories and a fairly high price tag, they take a hit overall.

While NECA did great with a plethora of Hunger Games merchandise at every retailer, I don't think the figures have done particularly well. It's a pity, but we may not see any other tributes, at least until next year when things start heating up for the release of Catching Fire.

Score Recap (out of ****):
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - Rue ***; Cato **1/2
Accessories - Bupkis
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **
Overall - **1/2

Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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Where to Buy 
Your best bet is, of course, Toys R Us. That's where these two are an exclusive, and they run $17 each.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
Other reviews include series 1 of the figures. Sadly, no higher end companies have announced anything yet.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

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Hunger Games Cato, Rue action figures by NECA

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This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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