By Miguel Acuña
Many of us are familiar with the feeling of anger or rage. For the most part in our society, we have learned to control those emotions. To help alleviate some of those urges, we seek a release through physical activities, different kinds of vices, and various methods of calming meditation. One such way that people let go of that aggression is through video games. After a long day of school or work, you could come home and get a breath of relief through the perfect K.O., headshots or general evisceration of your enemies. Few games have ever provided as much satisfaction and gore as the God of War series. By giving in to your rage, the game allows you to get through every challenge and destroy every new boss or monster. 13 years after the original release of God of War, we are once again going to play as Kratos, the Ghost of Sparta, but in a new world, exploring a new adventure, and possibly taking on a new pantheon. Of course with a new game, comes new figures and merch. NECA was among one of the first companies to pick up the license for the new game and have already provided us with a new figure. Their last Kratos figure was the Ultimate Kratos, which was based on God of War III. This newly updated Kratos includes some modern sculpting and engineering, a few accessories and some great details. So before you rip the wings off of a harpy, take a look at the breakdown to see how the new figure holds up.
Round One – Packaging & Accessories
Packaging – NECA does a great job of making packaging that is almost as appealing as the figure itself. The box for Kratos has a clear window that shows off the figure, the accessories, and includes some great art from the game. The downside is that once you open the figure and remove him from the plastic tray, it’s a bit difficult to return him to his original state. Not possible, just difficult. The back of the packaging includes more art, a shot of the figure, and a list of highlights that Kratos brings to the table. Most gripes I have with the packaging are small and can be argued, but the one that does bother me a bit is the placement of the Playstation sticker. To claim this as official Playstation merchandise, NECA has slapped on a holographic sticker. The sticker itself is fine, but they placed it on the clear window, which obstructs some of the figure you are supposed to see, which was the point of the window in the first place. It does take up very little space and is more of an annoyance, but with so much space all over the packaging, I think they could have placed it somewhere else that wouldn’t distract from the clear window. Within the packaging, they also included a nice backdrop that can be removed and used for a bit more of a dynamic set up. 6.5/10
Accessories – Kratos comes with some well-done accessories but lacks some key components overall. He comes with his newly iconic Leviathan ax, his dagger, and the new shield. The shield can connect to his foreman via a hidden panel which pops out and allows the shield to be pegged in. The dagger itself is meant to be held by Kratos but is just a bit too small to sit comfortably in his hand without some careful posing. It’s better suited to be put into his sheath. The very famous Leviathan ax can either be stored on a ring on Kratos’ back or held in his hand. The ax comes apart in the middle to make it easier to slip into the open fist or for storage. The accessories do disappoint when you compare it to the Ultimate Kratos that was previously released. To help the figure reach god-like status, an alternate yelling head could have been included, alternate hands (grabbing, relaxed, and completely closed fists), or additional weapons. Obviously, the game has not come out yet at the time of this article, but I’m fairly sure there are more weapons beyond the ax, shield, and dagger. As Kratos is generally an angry guy, a screaming face would have a world of difference for this figure. 6.5/10
Round Two – Paint, Sculpt, and Articulation
Paint – A careful paint job can make the difference between a disappointing figure and one that easily becomes a collectible. The paint job can turn a piece of plastic into a small almost lifelike representation of your favorite character. For Kratos, the paint job comes close to perfect. There’s a clear distinction in tones and shadows all over his skin. It seems that the figure was molded in a flesh tone, which makes the white ash color look The skin has depth and almost every battle scar can be seen. There’s a bit of pink around certain scars which adds to the realism. The red used for his tattoo is bright and the perfect contrast to the overall tone. While the sculpt adds so much (more on that in a bit), there is an insane of amount of detail with the paint choices alone. There’s a great hammered silver on Kratos’ gauntlets, the leather used throughout has various browns to show off different kinds of leather used, and the gold highlighting on the satchel and different buckles actually seem like they’re thousands of years old. Where the paint falters is in smaller details such as the space between joints and in some sections of the red tattoo. Nothing too major that would bring down the score too much. 8.5/10
Sculpt – It’s immediately very evident that a lot of the love for this figure went into the sculpt and sculpted details. Literally, from head to toe, there are a multitude of incredible sculpting choices. There are wrinkles in Kratos’ forehead, scars and veins are molded throughout, the detail in sculpting shows off the difference between what would be fur and cloth, the handle of the ax has intricate designs which bleed onto the blade itself, and each scale of the shield is also sculpted. It’s these kind of details which will often make me take a moment and really contemplate how much time must have been spent on making these type of figures. Similar to the paintwork, the sculpt raises the figure from simple plastic to divinity. 9/10
Articulation – The packaging states that there are 36 points of articulation. This is true. However, some of those points work much better than others. 36 points are great, but there are a few points which if included, would have done wonders for this figure. He comes with a double ball peg neck, ball hinges in his shoulders, bicep cut, double-hinged elbows, ball hinge wrists, a single ball joint in his waist, ball joint hips, slight thigh cut, double jointed knees (hidden by knee pads), ankle hinge, and toe hinges. While all of this sounds great, the execution is a bit off. The kind of plastic used in certain areas limits the movement some and others need some hot water/air to loosen the joints. The joints that are missing are butterfly joints in the chest, a staple for any character this angry to help pull off screaming poses. The other joint would have been an ab crunch. Again, with someone who is iconic for fighting and destroying monsters, he needs as much freedom of movement as possible. The issues with the plastic are common for NECA figures. You’ll get some light warping in the packaging or there will just be quality control issues which result in either WAY too stiff joints or impossible loose joints. Thankfully, Kratos does not go to either extreme, but it is not as well done as could be. 7/10
The previous Ultimate Kratos was an awesome figure despite some proportions being a bit off in his physique and some issues with joints and pose-ability. It was a solid effort and one of the best Kratos figures to date. This updated figure, also despite his faults, is equally as amazing, if not better. The updated Kratos kicks the detail up to 11 and the slightly more realistic proportions and paint job brings this figure to a level that rivals an “Ultimate” figure. It would have been great to include some additional angry or yelling head sculpts or additional joints to recreate scenes straight from the game, but overall, it’s a great figure. Even if you’re not a fan of the God of War series, this is still an incredible figure and worth adding to your attention. If you ARE a fan, then it immediately becomes a must have. Kratos is available online, at Gamestop, and whatever toy stores have not gone bankrupt (sad face). For now, check out the gallery below! 7.5/10
So, until next time, and there will be a next time, enjoy the hunt!