Soul Caliber II Necrid

I'm doing something slightly different tonight - it's a point/counterpoint guest review between myself and Yik-Hai Chan.  We cover the Soul Caliber II Necrid figure together, but Yik did the photos.  You see, Yik loves this figure, and me, well, I donít hate it, but I'm less than awed. So this was a perfect opportunity to throw two opinions together! Letís start by having Yik introduce us to the line:

Necrid is a Todd McFarlane designed character. However, heís not a character from his top selling comic, Spawn, nor is part of the Image universe by any way. Heís a character designed and created exclusively for the sequel to the best weapon based beat-em up around, Soul Calibur II. Todd McFarlane Productions and video game veterans, Namco joined their expert knowledge where Namco created a game where you not only could play as Necrid but also the legendary Spawn himself (only on the X-Box), while TMP put their sculpting hands to the test to create an action figure line. There was no doubt that Necrid would get the action figure treatment.

Packaging - Yik ****, Michael ***1/2
Yik - Soul Calibur II was announced to be TMPís experimental line. Not only did they decided to give this line a 4-inch scale but they decided to package these in ďlittleĒ window-display boxes rather then the regular blister packs that they were accustomed to using. Looking back at when they said ďlittleĒ, Iím not sure if they were joking, as these boxes are anything but small. Sure, the actual length and width measure 9Ē by 5.5Ē, but the depth of the box is another 5.5Ē. Itís not a problem for those that keep MOC as its easy enough to hang these. The box may be big, but thatís what I really like about it. For starters, itís collector-friendly. Open the box, undo the twisty ties and there you go. Iíve decided to keep it in box and I put it all back very easily. The window display goes across two sides of the box while thereís another panel on the top so you can see the figure clearly. The graphics are nice and are specific for each character. On the left side of the box with no window panel, thereís a full blown picture of Necrid so you can see which figure is on the peg/shelf very easily. I also think the Ďcharacter selectí style display on the other side with the face of the character highlighted is quite cleverly done. The major problem I have with this box is the lack of specific information on the character in question on the back, which is usual for McFarlane packaging.

Michael - The packages arenít bad looking, just larger and bulkier than was really necessary. The graphics and text are good, and you can see most of the figure easily. Theyíll be tough for MIBBerís to store long term, since they take up a hefty amount of real estate, but the collector friendly aspects go a long way to overcoming any short falls. Yik and I donít disagree too much on these, but I still would have preferred clamshells.

Sculpting - Yik ****, Michael **1/2
Yik - Being an ĎUltra Action Figureí sculpted by TMP, you wouldnít expect anything less then brilliant in this category. Yes, the sculpting is fantastic. From the scales, boils and jagged features on the body to the plated armor to the texture on his clothing, everything is sculpted with exceptional detail. Seeing as this is a 4-inch scale figure, you wouldnít expect this amount of detail but its all there. If you, for example, check out the claw, its possible to make out the scale-like texture around each claw as well as the actual patterns on each claw. When you compare this sculpt to the actual video game version of Necrid on the box, you can clearly see the amount of extra detail that McFarlane have added which cannot be seen in a video game to date. Theyíve taken this character to the next level and hopefully theyíve done the same for Namcoís characters.

Michael - hey, itís McToys. Does the sculpt look fantastic? Yes - in this scale. Let me say that again - in this scale. And thatís why Iím hitting them so hard in this category.

The decision to reduce the scale with this line was a very bad idea. Displayers like consistency across their display. If this shelf is Simpsons, and this shelf is Spawn, itís not really that important that both shelves be consistent. But the display looks less neat, less clean and less compelling if I have mini Simpsons, 9Ē Simpsons, and World of Springfield figures mixed together on the same shelf. The same will be true for Spawn.

Okay, so these technically arenít Spawn, but Mcfarlane collectors will want to put them together with other Mcfarlane figures, and they are going to be put off by the change in scale. Thereís nothing inherently wrong with change, but the change as to have a reason beyond a whim. Letís consider the conversation - ďHey, letís do Soul Caliber figures!Ē ďThatís a great idea!Ē ďI wonder what people would think if we made them 4Ē instead of 7?Ē ďLetís find out!Ē. Iím sure thatís not the reason they went with a 4Ē scale, but at times that appears to be what they want you to think.

No, I donít think this was change for no reason - money is the root of all bad decisions. Dropping the figures in size means less cost, both in tooling and unit cost. That should translate into a lower price, which it did (Iíll get into that more during the value section), but is that something that the collectors welcomed? Or even cared enough about to warrant this drastic of a change? No, I donít think the change was driven by a desire to save you money, because if it was, youíd be saving more than two or three bucks.

Nope, I suspect that the real problem was that if they had made these 7Ē, with the kind of articulation youíd expect in that scale, with the number of accessories youíve come to expect, that they wouldnít have been able to sell at the $10 - $12 price range. Instead, Iím betting the low production run and all the extras that we come to expect from any McToys line would have driven the regular price closer to $15, and they new that wasnít going to fly. What to do? Cut the scale. You wonít expect as much articulation, saving even more money in costs.

I for one am hoping that this will turn into a failed experiment. I donít want Mcfarlane getting the license to an upcoming film based on their past work, and then getting stuck with 4Ē statues instead of 7Ē figures.

Paint - Yik ****, Michael ***1/2
Yik - Another top scoring point. McFarlane have used a number of colors which had worked very well. For the main body, thereís a mixture of light brown and red mainly around the jagged features and the claws. A dark brown has been used to clearly show the different levels of scales especially round the claw. The two things I like most about the paint is the authentic metallic look given to the armor plating and the chest plating which also has a sphere which has been beautifully painted in a mix of blue and navy. Thereís also no sloppy painting or bleed that Iíve noticed. My only criticism is for the color that the straps for the armor is painted an identical colour to the body color which makes it almost unnoticeable.

Michael - I have very few issues with the paint application, particularly on Necrid, and Iím in agreement with Yik on most points. I really dig the bright color of the sphere, and it offsets the dark and drab colors of this figure nicely. There isnít the level of detail Iíd like to see in a figure this scale, but the work that is here is well done.

Articulation - Yik **, Michael **
Yik - One of the things that McFarlane have lacked since last years Spawn 23 line is articulation. Skullsplitter had amazing articulation. Necrid, unfortunately, doesnít have anything near the amount that he had. The figure has a total of 5 points (one neck, two left arm, one right arm, one waist). Being a smaller scale, I would have hoped McFarlane had found a way to hide the gritty articulation but I guess not. All very standard points but nothing that could truly alter Necridís pose.

Michael - Hereís a category Yik and I are in agreement on. While the number of points of articulation on Necrid arenít terrible, they certainly arenít above average against the rest of the market. Any time a figure has only one more point of articulation than Homer Simpson, your well below the average for what should be a dynamic character. Mezcoís Underworld figures may have lacked something in the sculpt department, but they were all well articulated in a 4Ē scale.

Accessories - Yik **1/2, Michael **
Yik - The main accessory that is provided is a standard Soul Calibur II rotating base. The base is sculpted in the style of the floor of one of the fighting arenas. Along with the base is a background card you can fix on the side of the base. Nothing all that exciting but you can also use these holes to wall mount the base rather then use the background. Thereís also a small rotating lever you can use to rotate the figure. Being a weapon based game, you would expect the figure to also come with a weapon or two. Although Iíve not played or bought the game, Iím not sure if Necridís main weapon is his claw. I do know that the game does allow characters to upgrade and change their weapons in one of the gaming modes (Weapon Master I believe). So a few interchangeable claws may have been appropriate if Necrid doesnít carry a weapon himself.

Michael - Yik is being more generous than I can be at this price point. The base is alright, but considering itís used across the line, it qualifies as a re-used accessory. And when youíre only getting one, itís re-used, and there were so many weapon possibilities that went unused, itís tough to get an above average score in this category.

Value - Yik ***, Michael **
Yik - I bought this figure for £7.99 in the UK while the US can easily get one of these for $7.99. Its definitely worth the cash as the box at first glance is big and for $8, it seems like a bargain, which it actually is. People in the UK take note, Iíve seen that a lot of online places are charging about £11 for these while when I went to my local Forbidden Planet, some of the figures had a £7.99 sticker while others had a £12.99. Make sure you donít end up paying more then £10 for any of these figures (except the Gamestop or EB Exclusive Spawns).

Michael - I can buy the usual Mcfarlane figure, including any of the Matrix or Terminator figures, for $10. If I have to break down and buy them at EB, they can cost $11 - $12, depending on the phase of the moon it seems. Here Iím getting a figure half the size, with almost nothing in the accessory department and less than exciting articulation (the Ďstatueí that is Morpheus has better articulation). And Iím only saving $2 or $3? Hey, put these out at $6 each, and weíll talk about real value.

As I said before, Iím betting the run is pretty small on this line, thus the fixed costs have fewer figures to be spread across. Thatís not the average consumers issue though, and their perception of value wonít be based on it.

Overall - Yik ****, Michael **1/2
Yik - I love this figure. Mainly because I love the box but the figure itself is amazing, sculpt-wise and paint-wise. I really want to just buy Soul Calibur II and play as this guy and see if heís as good as the figure. Although this figure wonít go with your other figures and I would probably have preferred these figures in the 6-7 inch scale, for just $8, buy the rest of the set.

Michael - I hate this figure. Okay, not really - Necrid is really one of the best of the set. I am disappointed to see the drop in scale, although Iím betting there are people that will welcome it. Even if you do welcome it and hope for more figures in this smaller scale, you have to hope that you wonít be paying $8 each for them, at least not with this limited of articulation and accessories.

Where to Buy - 
UK - Two reliable places are Forbidden Planet International or Epic Heroes.  In the States, you have the EBGames and Gamestop stores, along with on-line options:

- EBGames online has the figures available for $8 each plus shipping.

Figures from the collection of Yik-Hai Chan.

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