Review: NECA Portal 2 Atlas and P-Body

I have a strange habit of seeing NECA toys from various franchises, usually video games, and buying them just because the toy looks cool without having played the video game. I did this with Gordon Freeman from Half-Life, the Heavy from Team Fortress 2, and Chell from Portal 2. While Half-Life and TF2 I have yet to get around to, I did eventually find Portal 2 for a decent price and got to play it. However, I did not get a chance to play the game’s co-op multiplayer. So, when I saw NECA’s Atlas and P-Body on TRU shelves and bought them, in a way, the trend continues.

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Atlas

Atlas’s design is basically a Core with arms and leg armatures bolted on, and seems to be the function of “Player 1” in multiplayer. I love the mechanical designs of Portal, with smooth, round white panels covering mechanical detail everywhere, and Atlas reflects that fairly well in the figure’s sculpt. Unfortunately, my Atlas’s legs were bent awkwardly in package, and he has issues standing. This could be remedied by adjusting the leg joints, but this exposes the figure’s downfall: articulation.

Instead of giving the figure normal joints for the shoulders and hips and leaving the hydraulic design simply cosmetic, NECA opted to make the hydraulics functional with five ball jointed pistons on each shoulder and three on the hips. It’s a neat concept, but it utterly fails in practice. When I first tried to pose him, I expected much more articulation from the shoulders because it looks like it should move fairly well with all the ball joints involved, but I ended up snapping one of the pistons. The best you can do is wiggle his arms and legs, which is a huge bummer. His elbows and knees are simple hinge joints and work well enough, though without hips his knees are effectively useless (and incredibly loose on mine). The simply hinged ankles don’t help much, either, especially with the bent shins on mine. His hands are nice, with a good ball jointed wrist and ball jointed thumb.

Atlas does win back some points for having a fantastic blue LED for his eye. The button is well-hidden on the side of his central sphere (which can move left, right, and down with ease, but the flap above his eye prevents him from looking up), and when activated looks amazing. I didn’t even realize this was a feature until I opened these guys, and it really does sell the figures. Speaking of LEDs, Atlas comes with his own Handheld Portal Device as his sole accessory. It’s the same as Chell’s portal gun, but with blue stripes and a purple light rather than blue. The light on mine is a little touchy and doesn’t like to stay on, but it looks good enough. He can hold it… decently. It’s a bit difficult to cram into his hand, but it stays well enough, just at an odd angle. The garbage arm articulation makes it difficult for him to hold the gun in any way that looks natural, though.

Update: After taking yet another fall during taking these pictures, one of the claws on Atlas’s Portal gun snapped off. Be careful these guys, particularly the thin parts!)

P-Body

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Based on a Turret, P-Body is a lot taller than her squat companion, and has as sharp a sculpt as Atlas. Unlike my Atlas, however, this P-Body’s arms and legs are relatively straight and normal, but the right elbow on mine tends to unpeg itself, which is frustrating.

As far as articulation goes, at a glance, it seems largely the same as Atlas’s, with the same utterly failed shoulder and hip movement to maintain functionality of the hydraulics… but if you look, you see that P-Body ‘s pistons lack ball joints and are merely sculpted in place. This had me utterly confused until I tried to move the arm and realized that the white shoulder panel is actually attached to the body via a rotating joint, which allows her arms to actually rotate back and forth. This is a simple and effective solution and I can’t fathom why it wasn’t used for Atlas’s shoulders as well, especially since the swivel joint seems like it would cost much less than the pistons as far as parts count goes. Unfortunately, P-Body’s hips go back to the lame hydraulic joints, but still manage to not suck by having a central ball joint for solidity. You can get a decent walking pose, but that’s it. The decision is even more frustrating here, as the better solution is utilized on the same toy! Like Atlas, she has swivels for ankles and toes and ball jointed wrists and thumbs. P-Body also gets an ab crunch on account of her design. Yay.

Just like her counterpart, P-Body gets a brilliant LED for her orange optic and it looks gorgeous. The activation button isn’t as cleverly placed as Atlas’s, just being on her back, but that really doesn’t matter. P-Body’s orange-striped portal gun is included, though like the rest of the tampo’d-on orange details, it looks more brown than orange. Nonetheless, the Handheld Portal Device lights up with a surprisingly bright red LED. Thanks to her much-improved arms, P-Body can hold her gun much more effectively than Atlas, but don’t expect a whole lot of variety.

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Overall

Atlas and P-Body are somewhat mediocre toys, which is a real shame considering how impressive NECA’s Chell turned out to be. It seems like the downfall for these figures was the stupid decision to keep the hydraulics functional for articulation, which utterly fails and neuters the articulation. I could maybe forgive the design choice if a sort of bicep swivel was included to help with gun-holding, but sadly there is no such positive. What’s even more frustrating is that the far superior simple swivel joint was used for P-Body’s shoulders… yet the limited hydraulics were still used for the hips. What gives? Were the designers so intent on including that feature that they sacrificed decent articulation? Regardless, Atlas and P-Body do look great just standing together (assuming you can get them to stand; why not include a base like Chell?), and the well-done LED gimmicks really are the saving grace of these figures. $24.99 seems to be retail for these, so are they worth $50 together? Maybe. If you can get them for maybe $20 each, I would recommend them just for the cool LEDs. Don’t pay over retail for them, though.

Where to Buy

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