NECA's original Assassin's Creed figure was one of those "very good, but very hard to find" figures they did, just like the Ninja Gaiden guy and the original Kratos. Now we're getting figures from Assassin's Creed II, and they're much easier to find.
ACII has two figures to offer, not just one. Monkey Boy has already reviewed "Memory 01" - Ezio Auditore da Firenze -
and today we'll be reviewing Memory 02 - Ezio Master Assassin. As was said in that review, you don't have to have played the games to enjoy the toys, which is good, because everything I know about Ezio I learned by looking through the front of the clamshell. The back of the package doesn't even tell us any more about him!
Ezio was born in Florence, Italy, in 1459. Since Altair Ibn-La'Ahad was born in 1165, we can be reasonably assured that the two aren't immediate family. Yes, some people actually wondered that when the game was first announced. See, kids, this is why you need to pay attention in history class: anyone with even a basic education should be able to give you an estimate of how far apart the Crusades and the Renaissance are, and whether or not someone alive during one could be the father of someone alive during the other.
If this figure is to be believed, "Master Assassin" means getting a change from white clothes to black. Unfortunately, it isn't to be believed: while Master Assassin is a rank Ezio attains in the game, and he does get a new outfit, this isn't it. The true Master Assassin outfit would have longer robes, a different belt... far too many changes to list them all here. Heck, depending on the time period, it might not even be black! This figure instead represents the bonus outfit you could unlock by buying the Assassin's Creed II mobile game. [Or the "Game of the Year" edition --ed.]
When NECA first showed pictures of these prototypes
via their Twitter account, it was hard to tell how much of the sculpt was shared between the two figures. Now that we can compare them in person? The thighs, the skirt, the left arm, and the hood, cape and head. That's it. Everything else is a unique sculpt. And a beautiful sculpt it is! Scads of small, intricate designs decorate his armor - he wears plate on his chest, a large gardbrace over his shoulder, a vambrace on his right forearm, small plates on the back of his glove, fancy filigree panels on his shins and a bit of armor on his feet.
Actually, there seems to be a molding error with his left foot: it's significantly shorter than the right, and has a strange curve; I can't even say if this is a common thing, because the feet aren't visible in the package.
Canadian model Francisco Randez is the guy who lends his face to Ezio (and also to Altair, in the first game), and the sculpt certainly looks like him. Of course, it's hard to tell for sure, since so much of his face is covered by his hood. You have to tilt his head back and look at him from beneath if you want to see it at all. He does have the proper scar on his lip, though.
Memory 02 Ezio has all the same articulation as Memory 01 Ezio, which means he's very poseable. His knees have an
easier time bending backward than forward, which is odd. Since the left arm is the same mold, it has the same extending blade, but there's no equivalent on the right arm. Yes, Ezio has 10 throwing daggers sculpted onto his belt, but it's disappointing that he doesn't have any actual accessories: apparently so much money went into tooling the figure that NECA couldn't afford any weapons, but the fact remains that he's an assassin, and he really needs some killing tools to be complete. Include a bunch of weapons now, then repack him next year without any at their $10 pricepoint.
The paintwork on this figure is superb. I had some problems with White Ezio, but Black Ezio is nigh-flawless. The fine patterns on his clothes are the same as the first figure, but all his new armor is silver with a black wash to bring out the details. Overall, Ezio Master Assassin
has the better look, with his black clothes and the fancy armor - yes, the white version is similar to Altair, but the black stands out more. Personally, I like both versions; they're unique enough that they don't look like duplicates on the shelf.
As we said, it's much easier to find the Assassin's Creed II toys than it was to find the original Altair - you already know how Toys Я Us has been carrying a lot more NECA product, but the two Ezios have also appeared at Target, as well. Sure, it's a one-off, done to tie in with the release of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood, but it's still cool to see NECA stuff available at two of the Big Three. It turns out that videogame toys are actually a more reliable performer than the videogames themselves, and it's nice to see NECA being able to take advantage of that.