This is a very cool figure. I just have to get out there and say this before I get to anything else. When NECA announced they had the license for Valve products, my first hopes were excessive amounts of Portal products. This, like the rest of their Valve related works, is a real labor of love full of accurate detail, accessories, and appearance. It’s NECA’s first endeavor into figures from the license; following Chell will be Atlas and P-Body, two highly requested figures, and after this recent release, I have no worries about the latter two. I haven’t seen many reviews of this figure yet, so I’ll try to cover the things I wanted to see before I tracked mine down. Without further ado, I give you our NECA Portal Chell Figure Review.
Chell is packaged in the tried-and true, slim NECA clamshell, If you know NECA (or McFarlane), you are familiar with this item. If you aren’t I suggest you start collecting NECA. The packaging provides a design that showcases the figure without distracting, gaudy box art for those who collect mint on card; however once it’s open, it stays that way. Upon slicing the plastic, you’ll find Chell, an accompanying Aperture Science Portal Device, stand, and the typical high quality background and accompanying wraparound for the packaging.
Chell stands at a comfortable 6.5″ tall, coming in a tad shorter than her universe counterpart Dr. Gordon Freeman. The sculpt is very good, expressing a more realistic visage of the game render, as you never really see her portrait while playing. Maybe it’s just me, but there is some peculiar resemblance to the actress Jennifer Lawrence of the Hunger Games; perhaps it’s my imagination. Her portrait is tired, yet determined, with hair sculpted to look tattered and mangled, pulled back into a ponytail for convenience. Some of said hair is part of the sculpt itself, extending across her forehead as opposed to hanging in front. This may or may not bother you; I found it to be unappealing in the package, yet once on a shelf, it looks fine.
Her garments are just as thrown together as her ponytail in their appearance. She wears an Aperture Science branded halter top, grey tank top under, and with what would seem to be a light blue sports bra beneath. Tied around her waist is the top portion of her orange one-piece testing uniform with white lining, which extends down to stop at the halfway point of her shin inside her fully realized long-fall boots. Along the side of her uniform is a matching white stripe, complementing the orange nicely, as well as worn-out red knee-patches.
Her long-fall boots require some mention, as they are very well done. They resemble a knee-high boots minus the heel. In their place is a curved band extending down from the calf of her boot, which comes down beneath her heel. They are white with black straps about the shin, and matching black toeboxes and highlights. Chell, unlike many NECA figures these days, comes packaged with a stand: however this justified. The design of the long-fall boots simply isn’t contusive to a figure standing on its own. They’re far too narrow and small to create enough surfaces to pose her. This is where the black plastic stand (resembling Aperture Laboratories floor tiles) comes in. It’s about 3″ by 3″ and pegs securely into Chell’s feet; simple and effective.
Admittedly the biggest draw is the mini Portal Gun. I’ll call it now – it’s competing for best accessory of the year. The rendition is spot on, looking just like its in-game counterpart. With a fantastic light up function that is both very bright, as well as incredibly novel, the ASHPD is an all-in-one package of awesome. I’d like to note the color is a true blue, not purple-like as it shows up in my photos. I feel bad, as there really isn’t much to explain beyond that, but once you actually hold it, use it and see it, the device really takes a normal figure, and makes it exceptional.
I have to make note of one thing I found that particularly bothered me on a few of the shelved figures. On her face it seemed like the mold had air pockets or something of the sort, as some of them featured what looked like streaking in the face, with actual depressed relief, so it obviously isn’t paint. I don’t know if that was an isolated incident in that case, but I think it was enough to warrant a mention.
Chell has a full range of articulation, including 16 points.
- Ball Jointed Head – Full range of movement you’d expect from a well-made ball joint
- Swivel…pony tail? – She features a pony tail that swivels a full 360o
- Swivel-hinged shoulders – She can reach a full 360o rotation and exceed a 180o line
- Swivel-hinged elbows – A full 360 o rotation is achievable, as well as flexion of her forearm to nearly 90o (she cannot hyperextend the joint backwards due to the sculpt)
- Ball jointed wrists – A generic ball joint provides 360o rotation, plus angular movement
- Ball-jointed abdomen – A joint that blends between her halter top and waist, it allows her to lean back, rotate, and bend forward
- Swivel Waist – 360 o rotation
- Swivel-hinged hips – Akin to NECA’s Rocky line, or Marvel Legends, this provides a full 360o rotation, some forward, reverse, and lateral movement, as the sculpt does restrict this
- Swivel thigh – Provides a 360o rotation directly connected to the hip swivel-hinge
- Swivel-hinged knees – Full 360 o rotation is achievable plus a knee flex to nearly 90o
Perhaps I am simply spoiled by the fantastic production on NECA’s Bioshock Infinite Elizabeth (Check out our review here!), but these figures seem to be extremely hit and miss. I was fairly fortunate, and the work is solid. The blue of her sports bra does not reach the edge of the halter top, but it is more noticeable in package than on display. However the variance among the case I saw warrants a statement. I found the hair to be splotchy on multiple figures, and the strand extending across her forehead was also an issue on some. The paint variance also spread to the skin on some of the eight I’ve seen, a few featuring blotches. The large areas of white are also susceptible to markings, but that’s the nature of the beast, especially when you’re trying to look clean.
Despite the discrepancy, I’d like to touch on a few good things.
- Facial Applications – They are very clean, with the lips smoothly defined in a light pink and her blue yes sharply applied, surrounded by a grey eye-shadow about them.
- Work Uniform – The orange and white are done with minimal to no slop.
- Decals – Very clean and legible, Aperture Industries logos adorn her chest and the ASHPD.
- Long-Fall boots –The paint lines are clean and crisp, the glossy white and black defined with little bleed, plus small details like the black lining along her calf are present.
- The Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device –The gloss white body is cleanly divided from the black arms, underlining, wires, and muzzle. There is no slop I could see.
Conclusively, where does that leave us?
- The wonderful Portal Gun is a great addition and definitely makes this a must have.
- The design is realized superbly and looks natural around your Valve items.
- A unique female character to add to your collection.
- The paint and mold are hit and miss. While that may have just been my case, it was enough that I had to take note while picking my product. Your mileage may vary here.
- Nothing specific. You can add paint here if the situation pertains to your product. This certainly presents an issue if you order your products.
- Not necessarily a recognizable character.
For Fans of the Game, Valve, or any Video Game Connoisseur
While Chell herself is a bit generic and certainly not very recognizable, (provided one isn’t familiar with the source material) they will undoubtedly know the Portal gun. While I do not think she will draw the attention for a random purchase by an uninformed shopper in comparison to Master Chief or Ezio Auditore, I do believe she will sell quickly because of her limited production nature and the fan base. As with Elizabeth, Chell is another female character to add to the mass of males that dominate most collections, so that is always a welcome touch. I know it sounds like I was a bit hard in places, but I really like this figure, a lot. It is, without question, a good piece.
Where to buy
UPDATE: Your best bet for picking one of these figures up is eBay. Click this link to search eBay for this NECA Portal Chell action figure.