Gears of War Series 2
Dominic Santiago

NECA Gears of War action figures

NECA's popular Player Select line has covered a number of different video games, but one of the more successful so far has been their Gears of War figures. Series 2 just started shipping recently, and includes Damon Baird, a second version of Marcus Fenix, a Theron Guard, a Theron Sentinal, and tonight's review - Dominic Santiago.

Dominic is the two man, right after Marcus Fenix, so his inclusion in the series is obviously critical. As much as I've always loved third person shooters, this is a game I have never played.  Probably something to do with not owning an Xbox.

However, lots and lots of other folks have, and the game is tremendously popular. Gears of War 2 is scheduled for release in just a few weeks, and should be a huge seller for Christmas.

It's no surprise then that NECA selected it as one of the games they'd cover with their Player Select line, and now with a full second series, it's certainly getting the attention it deserves.  You can find this second series of four figures individually at some retailers (including FYE and Hot Topic if you're lucky), and there's also a boxed set of all four that is a very good deal.

Packaging - ***1/2
Yep, even though they seem to have fallen out of favor a bit, I still love the clamshells. You'll need a sharp knift to get this figure out, and there's still way too many twisty ties once you do, but the clamshell holds up to peg and storage wear extremely well.

The package also has some nice personalized text on the back, along with graphics from the game itself.  It's just big enough for the figure and accessories, with very little wasted space or wasted plastic.

NECA Gears of War action figures

NECA Gears of War action figures
NECA Gears of War action figures
NECA Gears of War action figures
NECA Gears of War action figures
NECA Gears of War action figures
NECA Gears of War action figures

Sculpting - ****
While NECA (and a number of other manufacturers, big and small) have had some serious issues with their paint operations lately, their sculpts haven't had the same issues. Underneath the sometimes less than quality paint work has been some great sculpts, unable to find their way out.

The sculpting on Santiago is excellent, with tons of small detail work and a very accurate head sculpt.  Thankfully, the paint supports the terrific sculpt and allows it to come through.  More on that in the next section. Santiago stands just a hair over 7" tall.

In many ways, capturing a video game character is much easier than reproducing a real one.  The look is a bit more static, and is often given slightly excessive features to add personality to the character. That allows the sculptor to have features to focus on and highlight, allowing them to draw your eye to specific recognizable attributes.

That's very true here, but there's also a wonderful realism to the textured skin, stubble beard, and detailed hair that takes this figure above the average.

To reproduce true reality requires a lot of detail. Nothing should look like plain plastic, no matter how minor it might seem. Here, NECA shows how that works. They've given the metal plating a dimpled, carved look, with a softer, wrinkled appeance to the clothing and bags.  The skin has a slight texture, just enough to see in person but not enough to make him appear pock marked.

They used softer rubber for the gun holster, a very smart move.  The gun fits nicely in side, and even the little pegs that hold the flap shut work correctly, and quite easily.

They also went with the softer rubber for the shoulder pads, allowing the shoulders to have their full range of movement. These pads look just like the rest of the armor though, with no different in texture or detail.

This is one of the nicest sculpts in this scale I've seen this year, and I can only assume that fans of the game are going to be very pleased with the quality.

Paint - ***1/2
I honestly can't believe that this figure came out of the same plant as the recent Cult Classis series 7.  There's simply no comparsion between the quaity of the paint on this figure and the work on something like Stuntman Mike.

The paint work here, on the eyebrows, hair line, facial hair, and even the light stubble looks excellent. The skin tone is even and realistic, and the quality of the facial hair and stubble continues to impress me.  If they'd done this with the Stuntman Mike sculpt, he would have scored so much higher.

The excellent work extends to the body armor, where the weathering and damage is highlighted through the exceptional paint applications. Some of the wash might be a little heavy for you, depending on your tastes, and that's true for me. There's a bit more wash on the clothing than I think they need, but they have done an excellent job bringing out both the fantastic small detail sculpting as well as giving him a very realistic weathered appearance.

They've even used a variety of matte and gloss finishes to differentiate various items that would be made from different materials. For example, the boots and shin guards which would be a hard, protective material, are shiny and glossy.  The pouches on his legs, which would be a soft material, are matte.  This adds to that realism.

I do have a couple minor issues.  They put black paint down inside his ears to create false shadowing, and instead it just ends up looking like he really, really needs to invest in some Q Tips.

There's also a slightly different finish to the top half of his hair and the lower half. It's extremely minor though, and in fact both these issues are extremely minor. Considering how bad much of the paint work we've seen comng out of every mass market and specialty market company right now, these nits aren't enough sully an otherwise outstanding figure.

Articulation- ***
The articulation on this figure is surprisingly good. Just looking at the figure in the package, you might be led to believe that he's merely a Nerd Hummel. That couldn't be further from the truth.

He starts out with a ball jointed neck, which works fairly well although he does have a very thick neck that restricts the tilting function a bit.

He has ball jointed shoulders, and the soft rubber shoulder armor does not restrict the movement at all. There's a cut joint at the top of the bicep, and hidden under the gauntlets is a unique pin joint that allows the arm to move forward and back below the elbow, as well as turn left and right.  The arm articulation finishes off with ball jointed wrists.

All this arm articulation works well, allowing for plenty of arm poses especially with the guns, and yet it's all almost completely hidden from the eye.

There's a ball jointed waist, with a V cut hip, cut thighs, single pin knees, and a ankle joint that allows for at least very minor movement. This leg articulation is enough to give him a nice, natural stance, and you can adjust it enough by using all the joints together to get some very different looks. He's not going to take any deep stances, but the leg articulation was surprisingly useful.

Accessories - **1/2
There's not a ton of stuff here, but he has the most critcal items.

He's got the big Lancer Assault Rifle, with plenty of blood on the teeth of the blade. While it's cast in some fairly bendy plastic, it still has a tremendous amount of detail, and he can hold it nicely in one or both hands.

He also has the COG Snub Pistol, tucked away in the rubbery holster on his chest. This holster works quite well, and I had no issue getting the flap open or reattached. Like the assault rifle, the pistol fits great in his sculpted left hand.

The knife located in the sheath on his chest does not appear to be removable. I tried, and almost completely tore the handle off.

There's a small handle like piece that was also floating around free in the package. It looks like it broke off of something else, but I couldn't figure out where it was supposed to go - I'm sure one of my faithful readers will tell me what it's for.

EDIT - as anticipated, my helpful readers let me know that the handle should attach to the side of the assault riflle.  Thanks!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
There's no reason - beyond content perhaps - that your average 8 year old couldn't play with this figure.  He's plenty sturdy enough to handle any sandbox battles, with solid joints and heavy plastic.

Value - **1/2 by himself; *** as a boxed set
If you pick this guy up by himself, you can find him for around $15. For specialty market figures right now, that's about the average price.

However, you can get these guys for as cheap as $10 each as a boxed set (minus some accessories I believe), and that's a damn good deal right now.

Things To Watch Out For
I suspect that the paint quality will be pretty consistent, but it's still a good idea to check it out in advance if you can.

And while it seems like that knife should be removable, I don't think it is.  I practically ripped the handle off trying to get it out, so I'd leave it alone if I were you.

Overall - ***1/2
This is a series that isn't on my personal radar, since I'm not a big fan of the game. I thought they looked fine hanging on the peg, but as usual, seeing something in the package is nothing like having it out in your hands.  This figure is surprsingly nice, with articulation that works much better than I anticipated, and excellent sculpting and paint. Fans of the game should be very happy with these, and hopefully NECA will manage to produce a broad enough range of figures to make them satisfied.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***
Accessories - **1/2
Fun Factor - ***1/2
Value - **1/2 by himself; as boxed set ***
Overall -  ***1/2

Where to Buy -
I want to thank the guys at Krazy Kings of Toys for sending Dominic along for the review.  You can get him there for $15, or you can check out one of these fine sponsors:

- Things From Another World has the boxed set of all four wave 2 figures for just $40.

- CornerStoreComics has the set for $41.

- Urban Collector has the boxed set of all four figures for $43.

- Entertainment Earth has the boxed set for $50.

- YouBuyNow has this figure for $15.

- in the UK, Forbidden Planet has them for 28 GBP for the set of four, or 11 GBP for this particular figure.

- you can search ebay using the sponsor

Related Links -
This is the first Gears of War product I've covered!

Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

Reader Ratings!
Here's your chance to weigh in!  Select your rating for this figure(s) to the right.  Yea, it's a five star system and not a four star system like mine, but it's the best I've been able to come up with so far.  You can only rate once from any particular IP.  Averaging and Converting to a five star system for comparison is: 4.375

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NECA Gears of War action figures

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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