Of the toy companies currently vying for my attention, none grab my attention like NECA can. Their shelf in Toy Kingdom is by far my favorite section and I always make a stop there to see if anything new has come out.
I follow this brand because of the quality of their figures. Just check out the TMNT classic figures from 2008. That line was voted best toy of the year, beating out many more well established lines and franchises. While NECA started slow with alot of (arguably) boring statuary, their God of War figures blew me away with some serious articulation.
I was holding off purchasing these two since cutting back my toy purchases in preparation for Masterpiece Grimlock, but with my sister's help, I got both the Ninja Gaiden Ryu figure and the Bionic Commando Rad figure. It's hard to pass on NECA figures because demand isn't like that of Marvel or Transformers toys; supplies are limited. Kratos or TMNT toys, for examply now demand 2x retail price and you can only get them from re-sellers. The two I'm reviewing here are still available in Greenhills toystores and Toy Kingdom/Toys R Us so hurry if you decide to buy them.
Both these toys are based on popular video games (I had all 3 of the 8-bit NES Ninja Gaiden games, but never did play Bionic Commando) and are part of the Player Select line of figures. The early figures in the line (Hitman, Tomb Rader) were desktop statuary with cut joins, so I was glad when the Soul Reaver and Assassin's Creed figures were released with the same points of articulation that Kratos had.
All the Player Select figures come in a clamshell with inserted graphics. Some collectors hate this type of packaging but I love them. They protect the figures well and don't waste a whole lot of space. There are a couple of twisties, but thankfully, they're easily undone. The inserts are nicely done, though NECA's layout artists might want to read up on typography. It's hard as hell to read some of it.
As a plus, both the figures' inserts include a panel that makes a nice display background. Paste it on a bit of board, stick your toy in front of it and BAM! wow your friends. That is, of course, if your friends are as equally geeky as you. In my experience, when people learn you spend time thinking about things like displays and dioramas, you get tuned out faster than "Kailangan pa i-memorize yan?!".
Out of the box, the toys are nicely done. Sculpt is top notch on both of them. If I were asked to be objective, I'd have to say Rad is the better of the two since he's got the hair, the face, the texture, and all the doohickery on his arm. If asked my honest opinion, I'd pick Ryu. He's got all kind of ninjaness covering him from head to toe, from buckles, to straps, to throwing daggers!
Which brings us to accessories. Rad is at a loss here, since all he gets is a dinky gun. Thankfully, the thing fits perfectly in his hand. It's not loose and it's not hard to slip into his palm. Though his arm isn't technically an accessory, I feel it should be included since the claw is detachable and has a working winch! How's that for an action feature? He's too heavy for the claw to hold him, expecially with the extra articulation that NECA worked in, but it's the thought that counts.
Ryu is a different story. He's got alot of accessories. two extra hands, two "tonfas", three throwing daggers, a sword and scabbard, and his scarf. While technically, his scabbard and scarf aren't removable, they are molded separately and with a little knife work, you could probably get both off.
Articulation wise, Ryu also wins. If you thought the Turtles and Raziel had great jointery, think again. This guy has Marvel Legends articulation. There are a few hiccups though. His shoulders are my main gripe, since they only swing out about 20 degrees. Because of it, some poses are going to be impossible to achieve. I'm also still waiting for the day when I can put a figure in a nice crouching pose.
Sadly, Rad is a throw back to the old days. With the exception of his ball-joint neck, his joints are all limited to 20 degree arcs. he's basically only good for display in a handful of positions. And why for the love of Pete does he have a cut joint at his elbow?
So cyborg or demon ninja? Well it was no contest. Ryu from Ninja Gaiden wins 2 to 3 over the Bionic Commando. I'd recommend the Ninja Gaiden fgure for any toy collector who wants a good 7" scale ninja figure, but only true Bionic Commando fans should get Rad. His playability suffers alot, and his superior sculpt isn't spectacular enough to win out.