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Grayson Hunt

Bulletstorm
by yo go re

We're all used to buying toys from videogames we've never played - we call it "getting NECA'd." But in most of those cases, the game is at least recognizable. Sometimes, if not for the toy, no one would even remember the game existed.

Grayson Hunt, leader of the elite, crush-your-world-into-null-space squad: Dead Echo. Or at least he was, until betrayed by command. Now a banished space pirate, he trusts no one but his squad. He is determined to be the only master of his destiny. Usually drunk, always fighting, Gray's primary battle is with himself.

Wow, a grimdark loner responsible for the safety and survival of his band of brothers? Haven't seen that before! Bulletstorm is another generic cover-based FPS, more famous for Fox News' transparent attempt to distract its gullible viewers by manufacturing a controversy about the silly double-entendre names used for the game's achievements. It apparently tried to cover for its lack of originality (chest high walls! lots of brown!) by being a "funny" game, but other than a couple genuinely humorous lines, it fails as hard as Duke Nukem Forever.

Graydon Creed... sorry, Grayson Hunt couldn't look more like Wolverine if he was wearing yellow spandex and starring in nine books with "Marvel" on their cover. He's got the wavy black hair, the huge sideburns, and a darker muzzle of stubble than even Homer Simpson. He's even voiced by Steven Blum, who's been Wolverine more times than Hugh Jackman.

Like every character in every shooter since Gears of War became the thing to copy, Graydon is wearing a bulky suit of colorless armor. His appears to be more "thick leather" than "metal plating," so it's covered with snaps and zippers instead of rivets and welds. Seriously, what's with those zippers? They're all in places where they can't actually zip closed. It was clearly done at the design stage to add a little free detail to the character, but there's no thought behind it other than "hey, we need to break up this brown somehow. Let's zipper!" He has a strip of metal over his toes, a single metal kneepad, and hip plates that come straight from the first draft of COG Soldier armor. How creative. He has a belt buckle with a longhorn cow skull (because even in space, it's important for people to signal that they're a-holes from a mile away), a pair of fingerless gloves, and he either has a backpack or a hump that would make Richard III say "damn, son, you should get that looked at!" The design may be generic scraps over leftover products, but that's the game's fault, not NECA's. Adrienne Smith and Kyle Windrix did a terrific job sculpting him.

The articulation is good. Johnny Bulletstorm has balljointed ankles, swivel/hinge knees, swivel thighs, H-hips, swivel waist, balljointed wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, a swivel right bicep, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. All the points of articulation move well, and are stiff enough that he won't be flopping around under his own weight or that of his accessories. Not that he actually has all his accessories.

He's got his Peacemaker Carbine, the game's "main" gun. The packaging credits Jeff Richards with the accessories, and he did a lovely job turning a digital boomstick into a real object. It's a big, impressive piece of hardware with a heavy grip, a clearly identifiable ammo clip, and some sort of large lever that swings underneath from the back to the front. He also has a pair of goggles that can fit over his eyes or be slung around his neck as you prefer.

What he doesn't have is his energy leash, the game's one unique gimmick... as long as you ignore the Grapple Beam from Metroid Prime and the Pop-it Lasso from Little Big Planet. Using the leash, Grayson can grab his enemies and pull them toward him for some slow-motion bullet-lovin'. Though he's sculpted with the device that creates the leash (it's the thing on the back of his left hand), he doesn't come with the leash itself. The closest we get is that there's an image of the thing printed on the paper insert behind the figure.

Bulletstorm is a fun enough game for what it is (a big idiot fratboy of a game with a nonsensical tonal shift into seriousness near the end), but nothing groundbreaking. And the toy NECA made suits that game perfectly: it's created with an appreciable level of skill, but it just doesn't "pop," somehow. The figure came out in 2011, and you can still walkinto any Toys Я Us and find multiples of him hanging around. Next time you've got the "I haven't bought anything in a while" itch, give Grayson a try. He's not a spectacular figure, but his genericness works in his favor - he'll look right at home any kind of outer-spacey fighting force, whether it's Gears of War or Aliens. He's not much by himself, but as a scene-filler? He's a good one.

-- 09/15/13


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