Player Select: Dead Space 2
Finding out about and getting into a single video game amidst the sea of titles being published right now can be daunting. My time these days is limited, so a game really has to catch my eye to draw me in for the purchase. Or I can buy a cool action figure and send that whole theory to hell.
I don’t really play Survival Horror, but in 2008, I bought the NECA Player Select Isaac Clarke SDCC Unitology figure from NECA’s Amazon page. After being wowed by the figure I played the game and to my surprise I loved it. Great action, logical progression of story, amazing design from level to character, and an “Event Horizon” kind of feel that a nerd like me can’t help but fall in love with.
The sequel has just been released to much fanfare and the rights to the toys have once again been snatched by NECA. This is Isaac Clarke as he appears in Dead Space 2. Let’s take a look.
NECA continues its long-held tradition of hard to open clamshells.
It’s a pretty box, with great photography of the toy and displays the other figure from the game along with a tad bit of info about the new game. I like that it tells you the features and items included in the box, but I absolutely have to knock points for the insert covering half of the entire figure in the package.
I’m not sure if this was done as a trick to fool parents into missing some of the gory details of the figure’s paint job or if it was just really poor package design, but I never appreciate not being able to see what I’m spending my semi-hard-earned cash on.
“Have you ever seen fire in zero gravity? It’s beautiful.” – Miller, Event Horizon
Isaac here sports a really well-done sculpt. While I think some of the details could be etched a little deeper, overall it all works very nicely.
The suit design is very different this time around, dropping the rounded, quasi-steampunk look for a more sophisticated, modern, and hard-edged form. Some people have said that the new suit makes him look like a Gundam, but I disagree. I think he looks like Isaac in a new suit, with that trademark slightly hunched posture giving him away.
Isaac is supposed to be an engineer, and the suit looks appropriately tech-y, with tiny details like panel lines and even a protective mesh suit underneath the armor. The shoes have a really great new addition in the form of boot jets, so he’s not just coasting aimlessly through space anymore, sort of like the mini-jets on the Vipers from BSG. Like fine-tuning.
He’s got that familiar head’s-up display unit on his chest, which is much beefier this time around and is crafted in very sturdy plastic. There are also many panels on this figure that look like rigid plastic, but are actually quite soft and make the figure feel like a durable piece, which puts my mind at ease about him taking a fall off the shelf.
It’s worth mentioning that the back contains 6 screws for the light-up feature. It doesn’t bother me; I think the gimmick is a necessity and I’m willing to sacrifice the sculpt a bit for that, but to each his own.
Isaac comes with his new and improved Plasma Cutter. In the game, the gun’s nose can be rotated 90 degrees to allow for vertical or horizontal dismemberment. God, I love saying that. The feature wasn’t done on the original Isaac, but I’m happy to say NECA included it with this release.
The barrel rotates a full 360 degrees and the peg keeps it quite secure. It also fits in his hand quite well, with his finger slipping just over the trigger:
I love little details like that. His left hand is sculpted open, so you can clearly see his map device also—a nice touch for fans who like to re-create poses from the game.
When I score a figure’s paint, it’s usually less on specifics and more about the general feel of the character. On that note, I really love the paint on Isaac.
He’s loaded down with painted detail, from the slight weathering on the armor, the wash over the mesh to create depth, and the gore effects that show Isaac’s been in the sheezy.
In particular, I love that his dominant gun hand has blood splatter while his left hand does not. It’s a little detail, but it makes enough sense seeing as how a lot of the combat in the game is done at VERY close range.
This is a good demonstration of what I mean about the feel of the character. On close inspection, you see that there is a little paint rub (could be weathering, but doubtful), a little overspray, and a little slop. But when you look at the whole picture, with the blood-covered boots indicative of his stomp maneuver in the game, I think NECA did a great job. There is going to be some slop, but the idea of the character is right, so I can cut them some slack.
Plus those photos are like a bajillion percent zoom 🙂
I can’t speak to the total accuracy as I have only played the demo for the sequel, but it looks pretty good to me.
Isaac is loaded with some really nice articulation that allows for a lot of personality in the figure. His joints allow for not only those moves that not only show off the action of the game, but also the subtlety of the horror—that creeping feeling knowing something else is just around the corner.
There some misconceptions being spread by reviewers so I want to clear some things up. Number one is that Isaac DOES feature a ball and socket head as illustrated below.
However, big no-no here, the articulation is limited to a swivel with very light tilt due to the shape of the bottom of the helmet. I’m sure I could clear this up with some very light dremel work, but that’s not my job. Everybody knows I put babies on spikes for a living. Yeesh.
One thing I do really like is the ball-jointed feet. I don’t know if they’re simple ball and socket or double balls, but they get the job done with deep stances remaining sturdy with feet flat on the ground, not to mention crouches which are key to the character.
All in all, he’s got a limited ball neck, swivel hinge shoulders and elbows, swivel waist, ball wrists, swivel hinge hips of the Mattel variety (but not so damned ugly), swivel thighs, swivel hinge knees, and the aforementioned ball feet that give some nice balancing options.
The only thing I miss from the original Isaac figure is the left arm swivel bicep, which allowed him to easily grasp the Plasma Cutter with two hands like a pistol. This one’s elbow joint should do the trick, but doesn’t have the clearance to the left and right of the joint to be useful. Since it’s the weapon they chose to give him and he can’t hold like he does in game, I have to knock off some points.
Overall the articulation works and is well-hidden. If the neck and elbows worked the way they should, he would have been near-perfect in this category.
So here’s what it boils down to.
I got this guy for 14.99 at Cornerstorecomics. With the addition of an accessory, he’s beating out most of your DC Universe figures already. Add in a unique sculpt and light up feature and I think 15 bucks is a great deal.
One really neat thing about the Dead Space suits is the helmet and spine lights, the former providing visibility in the dark corners of the game, and the latter working as your health meter. There’s no active Head’s-Up Display in the game—it’s all generated by Isaac to keep you in the action, so this addition adds a lot to the figure.
Both Isaacs are fantastic examples of that line that NECA likes to blur between beautiful statues and articulated action figures. With his articulation problems, I could say he’s not worth it, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better deal on a figure with this much articulation, paint, and gimmicks. I don’t know how they manage to keep the prices so low, being such a smaller company than, say, Hasbro or Mattel, but thanks NECA. DS1 Isaac approves.
Isaac Clarke is a really great action figure with nice poseability, a great sculpt, and kickass light-up feature. He’s sturdy, with tight joints and a great paint job as well.
He’s got a few flaws that keep him from being a 9 or 10, but if you like the game or even just the Dead Space aesthetic, I’d say you can’t go wrong with NECA’s Isaac Clarke. Another hit for the Player Select line, still my favorite toy line available.
Thanks for reading and as always, it’s just a toy. Open the darned thing.