While Mattel's Harry Potter line was as poorly managed as everything else the company was putting out at the time, flooding the market with endless variations of The Boy Who Lived, Harry wasn't the only character making it to the shelves: they actually did a fairly good job with Professor Snape, as well. The first figure was incredibly hard to find, of course, and the second version had a cauldron permanently affixed to his torso, but he was out there.
NECA, surprisingly, didn't start milking this character right away.
Their HP line began with Goblet of Fire figures and followed up with an Order of the Phoenix assortment, but there was no Snape to be seen... unless you knew where to look.
With the threat of Voldemort mounting, Professor Snape must put aside his past and his personal feelings to aid the Order of the Phoenix.
The sculpt on the figure is mostly good. Snape is wearing his teaching robes, which drape down to the floor with realistic folds, and has a definite flow to show how the character is moving. The robe is a separate, removable piece that simple hangs over the figure. Beneath that, he's wearing a high-collared button-up frock coat, a black tie, black trousers and shoes, and a white shirt (though only the cuffs and collar are visisble). He has the look of a Victorian undertaker. Or a Nine Inch Nails fan.
So the clothes are all decent, but the face could use some work. The likeness is quite good from the front, but the profile view just seems... off, somehow. Oh, there's no question at all that this is Alan Rickman; there are just some small oddities. Head-on, we can clearly see Snape's barely restrained contempt, but from the side, he looks uncharacteristically worried or scared. The chin seems to stick out too far, but that could just be the angle of the head.
The biggest problem, really, is the paint. The clothes are fine, of course - it's hard to screw up black, and there are some minor application problems
with his white shirt, it's nothing glaring or instantly noticeable. The face, however, is a mess. I had to look at every figure in the store to find not the one that looked the best, but the one that looked the least bad. Snape is wearing more make-up than an emo kid, here. His lips are nearly purple, and the shadows painted on him - on his brow, under his mouth and beside his nose - are dark black lines. You should also watch out to make sure that the darker paint on his lower lids hasn't spilled into his eyes. With any luck, this was just a bad early batch, and later shipments will look better.
Snape stands 7¼" tall, and moves at the ankles, waist, shoulders, elbows, wrists and neck. It's unclear what kind of waistjoint he has - though it does have a bit of "play" in it, suggesting a balljoint, his coat is stiff plastic that makes it hard to tell. It could just be a loose peg joint. The arms have an interesting mix of articulation: the left arm has a balljointed shoulder and a swivel elbow; the right arm has a swivel shoulder and a hinged elbow. Once again, we see NECA smartly using whatever joints work best for the figure and the pose. Snape's neck is a balljoint, and though it may seem like the figure will be forever stuck in his dueling pose, you can actually do a bit more with him once the robe is off.
The figure includes a disc base, which he doesn't really need, and his wand. The books never specify what sort of wand Snape uses, but it is unsurprisingly black.
It's designed to fit in his right hand, but the paint is so thick there that getting it in place is a true chore. The detailing on the wand is nice, with a textured pattern on the handle for improved grip - considering how badly Snape wants to be the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, it would never do to have him lose his grip on the wand while dueling.
Snape is technically a part of Order of the Phoenix Series 2, which has't been released yet. So how is it that he's out now? Because NECA struck a special deal with Borders book stores - they got cases containing the Goblet of Fire Voldemort and Harry figures (available previously elsewhere) and this Snape, available only at their stores months before anywhere else. If you must have a Snape right now, go to Borders. If you wait for the real shipments, though, maybe the bad face paint will be corrected? One can only hope. But face it, you have to have a Severus Snape - after all, who wouldn't want 7" of Alan Rickman?