Thursday, March 27, 2014

Fundraising Week: Toy Review – RoboCop ED-209 from NECA

As I outlined in last week’s desperate plea for money, Needless Things needs your help.
It’s getting even more expensive to run this website and has gotten to the point where I quite frankly can’t justify paying what the various servers and hosts want. So in the post linked above I explained the situation and asked if you folks could help out by buying merch from here:
Straight-up donating dollars here:
Or just by sharing these fundraising posts all over the internet.

And here’s a thing I’m going to try:

The Needless Things Mystery Box!

It could be toys, comics, books, t-shirts I’ve worn once or never (that have been laundered! Or not if you’re weird!), or any one of a number of weird tchotchkes laying around the Phantom Zone. There will be a Needless Things sticker (or three) in every box.


Finally, each Mystery Box will include a M.U.S.C.L.E decoration put together by me! That's right – I used my own two hands and a pair of needle nose pliers to screw an eyelet into each and every one.

WOW! What a bunch of work that was!

Simply go to needlessthings.storenvy.com and order yourself one (or more!) Mystery Box! Believe me – I have a ton of cool stuff just sitting around the Phantom Zone.


Finally, if you are band or have a website or sell some kind of service or something; I am selling ad space on Needless Things. For twenty bucks you get one of the attractive buttons on the right sidebar for one year. ONE WHOLE YEAR! That means every person that sees me at a con, wrestling event, or live podcast that decides to check out the site will see YOUR ad. They will be positioned first-come, first-serve; so get your request in now to be closer to the top. OR you can pay a little more and get preferred placement.

To arrange for an ad, e-mail me at the address in my Facebook badge in the sidebar, or simply message me on Facebook.
I’m going to try mentioning this every day this week and see what happens. If I don’t raise the funds needed to keep things going… well, I don’t know. I love writing for the site and I love doing the podcasts even more, but it might be nice to have all that time and money. Doing this is essentially a second full time job that doesn’t pay me anything. Quite the opposite, as a matter of fact.

But what I really want is to be able to afford better hosting so that I can do more. More episodes of the podcast. More con reports. More everything. If you guys enjoy Needless Things and would like more, do one or all of the things above.


In order to show you what you’ll be getting, I will be spending the whole week running down my favorite Needless Things posts from the past several years. Each day will feature a different category of posts so you can see just how many things we do here.

I think I’ve spoken more than enough about my love for RoboCop. It’s a perfect movie and I guess I’ll by pretty much anything that NECA decides to release. Like, say, a “Melting Emil Antonowsky” figure.

But so far all we have is RoboCop, Battle Damaged RoboCop, RoboCop With Spring-Loaded Holster, Video Game RoboCop, and ED-209. RoboCop With Jet Pack and Huge Cannon Thing is coming later this year. That’s not bad, really. As much as I want figures of every single character from the movie, I recognize that likeness rights are going to prevent that from happening.

Fortunately, ED-209 had a shitty agent and NECA was able to make a figure without securing rights.

This was the first larger-scale figure I considered buying from NECA. While I’ve been very happy with their 7” scale releases for the past year or so, I’m still a bit wary of the company because of the few years where they were producing some poorly thought-out figures. I didn’t feel confident that they would move into a new size without some growing pains.
Oddly enough, as much as I wanted this figure, I ended up getting the Spider Gremlin first. It’s odd because I only have a couple of other Gremlins figures and I really hate spiders. It’s an amazing figure (which I will get around to reviewing soon) and it gave me confidence enough to ask the comic shop to order ED.

FIRST GLANCE

The box is pretty big, but compared to the Spider Gremlin it doesn’t seem that way. The figure itself is all angles and clean lines. The sculpt looks beautiful. It’s one of those toys that looks like it might be metal even though you know it’s plastic.
PACKAGING

The painting on the front is beautiful. The box front looks like what a toy from the 1997 depicted in RoboCop would be packaged in. If that makes any sense. The art is by Jason Edmiston, who got a credit on the box. This is something I haven’t seen before from NECA. I will always admire their habit of crediting their creators.

The top of the box has some slick graphics with the OCP logo while the sides feature pictures of the toy.

The bottom has those creator credits that I am so fond of.

I’ve never seen a toy packaged quite like this before:
It just looks like it’s standing in some kind of packing crate, ready to deploy. The toy was very securely fastened in the cardboard insert, so I wasn’t worried about breakage.
Halt, citizen. This course of action could result in… trouble.”
LOOKS

Without this toy I never would have realized just how detailed the ED-209 units are. While a lot of it is armor plating, there are a ton of wires and gizmos all over. It does look like a functioning thing as opposed to just a fantasy robot.
The main chassis has the maw-like opening in the front, which is the source of the first problem with this toy. There is a molded piece inside of the opening that has a bunch of detailed parts – wires, vents, and a plate. It’s glued into my ED crooked:
It looks fucking terrible up close and in this picture, but from afar it isn’t a big deal. Not a big enough deal to try and mess with a return, anyway. If I could just go to a store and swap it out I probably would, but these larger NECA items can really only be had through Previews or an online store. Toys R Us seems to be shying away from them.
Otherwise the “head” looks fantastic. The mesh canopy or whatever on top (that I so wish was removable to expose the brains and inner circuitry of this robot but I know it shouldn’t be because we never saw that in the movie) is finely detailed and a great matte black that contrasts the rest of the machine. Behind that are some hoses that actually stand separately from the housing. There are rivets all over this thing that look like actual, functional rivets. But they’re just sculpted in. The exhaust vents on the back have a little painted grime that looks nice.
The arms are big honkin’ cannons. The shoulder flaps are attached to the body with hinges and can move up and down to allow the arms to move more freely. I admit – I never paid that much attention to what these arms actually looked like. I just knew they were thick and stumpy and shot bullets and rockets. People – there’s a ton of stuff going on here. The “elbows” have massive gear joints and wires that are separate from the sculpt. Beyond those elbows each arm is different.
The left arm has two massive cannons with a ton of little wires running between them. This is problem number two – one of the wires came loose on mine. It’s very tiny and I do not possess the manual dexterity to get it back into its socket. 
This is an actual wire, so it has lots of little ends coming out of the tubing. Other than that this arm looks awesome. There is a large housing for ammunition on either side – one for each cannon.
The right arm has a different cannon setup with only one ammunition housing. The other spot is taken up by an articulated rocket launcher. The housing has a detailed sculpt and there are three (non-removable) rockets inside. This arm also has a pretty hilarious deco:
Danger – You could lose two fingers!”
The accordion-looking part that the body is seated on is very simple, but for whatever reason I think it looks cool. There’s not much to the “torso” of this robot, but I do like that texture. It gives the appearance of a cover over a moving part.
The legs are thick and bulky and have all kinds of panels and wiring sculpted on. The pistons on the reverse articulated knees look thick and powerful. The bottoms of the feet have treads and plating:
The only thing I don’t like here is that the boxy knee joint at the back of the leg is a different colored plastic from the rest of the figure. I can’t speak to whether this is accurate or a bad use of plastics, but I’m leaning towards the latter. Still, overall the colors look good.
There’s a ton of small, painted detail on various wires, warning signs, and parts that would probably light up if this were a much more expensive and larger toy. Overall the paint and color are flawless. There’s paint in several places that NECA could have probably gotten away with skipping.

ACCESSORIES

ED-209 didn’t come with any accessories. I suppose they could have thrown in some battle-damaged swappable parts, but that would have probably cost a lot more. I would imagine if this toy does well enough we’ll see a battle-damaged ED-209. That would be a lot of fun. I think NECA could probably come up with a way to do one figure that can have the look of the various blown-up and trashed ED-209 units seen in the movie.
FUN

If it weren’t for the electronics this toy wouldn’t be a whole lot of fun. I feel like they didn’t quite nail the articulation.
I feel like the arms should be on ball joints. There’s one scene where an ED goes into aggressor mode and its arms sort of drop down in a way that this toy cannot recreate. The toes are not articulated, which is disappointing. And the knees don’t bend. They swivel and the pistons in the back do…
Let me just run down the articulation. Then I’ll talk about those pistons.
The turret/body/head or whatever is on a swivel.
The shoulders are swivels.
The elbows are pivots with swivels at the “bicep” and “wrist”.
The rocket launcher is confounding me. There is a plate sticking up in front of it and the launcher is on some sort of hinge so that it can raise, but I can’t figure out how it comes all the way up. I’m afraid to mess with it too much because the plastic is fairly thin and rigid and I don’t want to just yank the thing off.
There are swivels at the tops of the knees.
The knee “boxes” move up and down on the pistons, but it is hard and scary to move them. The left one moved easily enough until I got close to the top of the piston. Then it just stopped. The right one would not budge at all while I was taking pictures. I tried again later and managed to move it, but it wasn’t easy. And once I got the pistons loosened up, they still didn’t move any more easily. I pulled the knees up to a certain point and have just left them there.
Also, there are clips on either side of each knee. They seem designed to hold the pistons in place, but feel extremely fragile.
ED-209 can be posed a good bit, but not quite as much as I feel like it should.
The electronics save the day, though. I’ll let the sound effects speak for themselves:

So you can’t do a whole lot posing-wise, but if you’re like me those sounds will provide lots of entertainment.

OVERALL

ED-209 is a pretty darn good toy, but I think NECA could have done better. It just isn’t quite as much fun as it should have been.
But on the bright side, it is huge, it looks beautiful, and those sound effects are rad.
If you love RoboCop like I do this toy is a must-have and will make you happy enough to justify the $69.99 price tag (or less if you’re clever). But that’s if you can get your hands on one with no defects like mine had. I think it would have been a shade more reasonable to charge $54.99 for this one, but I suppose those electronics have to count for something. NECA doesn’t do a whole lot with sound chips at this scale. This would have been a “4” without the broken wire, difficult joints, and misaligned “maw” piece.
3 out of 5
Prices are already going up on ED-209, so if you want one, act fast. Online stores are likely to be your only option here. BigBad and Entertainment Earth would be my first stops, as Amazon prices are already averaging around $75, which you do not want to pay.
Here’s a new thing:
DICK MOVE
So – if I had to choose between ED-209 and Tuesday’s Giant Size Godzilla, which would I recommend?
This is assuming that you were getting samples that nothing was broken on and that worked exactly as intended.
I’d have to go with Godzilla. Not only is it a massive toy for twenty bucks cheaper, it isn’t going to break on you. ED might if you’re not careful. Yeah, it would be nice if Godzilla had sound, but I’ve played with him a lot more than I have with ED. And Godzilla isn’t even as articulated.
SIZE MATTERS.


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