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ATLAS

Portal 2
by yo go re

Remember in the Chell review when I said I hadn't played Portal 2 yet because you - yes, you reading this sentence right now and thinking "surely he can't possibly mean me" - hadn't yet taken pity on me and sent me a Steam code for it? Yeah, that's still true, so I don't know anything about this ambulatory ping pong ball.

[Update: in 2017, I finally got a copy of the game.]

Whether you're a mega-science corporation with decades of test experience, or a young scientist with big dreams, liberating your first test subjects from non-testing with a chloroform-soaked rag, take that first brave scientific step into non-human collaborative testing with the ATLAS model - built from the finest Personality Core scraps fished out of our Pneumatic Diversity Vents.

ATLAS (yes, it's written in all-caps; no, we don't know if it stands for something) and his (yes, the robots have gender) partner P-body are the player characters in Portal 2's multiplayer campaign. The characters were originally going to be "Chell and Mel," a blue pallete swap of the normal Chell model, but then it wouldn't have made sense when one human died/respawned and the other didn't. Robots to the rescue!

Even if you're some kind of degenerate loser who's only ever played the original Portal (you utter savage), you'll still recognize the core of ATLAS's body: perfectly spherical, a single glowing eye in the center... yeah, that's something we've seen before. Just imagine it with convenient carrying handles, and shouting at/pleading with you while you cold-heartedly murder it (you monster).

The rest of the body isn't precisely anything we've seen before, but all the pieces match the aesthetic of the Aperture Laboratories technology we've seen before - ASHPDs, Long Fall Boots, Weighted Storage Cubes, Heavy Duty Super-Colliding Super Buttons, Vital Apparatus Vents, Emancipation Grills, Unstationary Scaffolds, Victory Lifts, the launchers and catchers for High Energy Pellets, Chamberlocks (aka "elevators"), Switches, and all the things in the Relaxation Vault (bed, toilet, desk and radio). In other words, there's enough smooth white plastic to give the biggest Apple fanboy a rager. It's all attached to black pistons and gray frames, like the moving walls. Basically, he looks like a test chamber come to life.

His central "body" is surrounded by four nearly identical paddle-shaped plates: two support the arms, while the other two lead into the legs. Five real pistons form the "shoulders," and four act as the hips. A word of warning: these will break. I've lucked out, in that only one piston on each shoulder was glued in place and broke instead of moving, but as far as ATLASes go, that's like hitting the lottery. We have yet to hear a report of anyone who bought an ATLAS and didn't have something broken - like everybody who's ever gone on a date with you, it's merely a question of settling for the least amount of imperfections one can hope for. You know, mitigating the flaws.

But even with snapped pistons, the shoulders are still quite poseable. They move back and forth well, and even out to the sides a little. Really? That's why we're not too upset with these breaks, because (so far) they don't hurt the figure. He also has hinged elbows, balljointed wrists, piston hips, hinged knees, hinged ankles, and hinged toes. The flap on the forehead is hinged, and the ball is mounted in a gyroscope that allows you to move it left-to-right, and up-and-down. Plus, the actual eye can be moved around in the socket, allowing ATLAS to look different directions no matter how you pose him.

ATLAS comes with his portal gun - you can tell it's his by the blue stripes on the top. It's the same sculpt as Chell's, which is fine, but NECA differentiated it by putting a different color of LED inside it! Rather than pale blue, it shines a bright magenta. Because ATLAS is a robot, he also lights up: a button hidden on the ball ignites a blinding blue light shining straight out of the center of his face. It's a lot of fun, and adds some personality to the toy.

Even though you have approximately a 105% chance of getting a broken toy when you buy this figure, we still recommend it. Why? Because it's so unusual and fun, that's why! Just, as soon as you get it, make sure you open it and mess around with it to find out just how bad your breaks are going to be: if they're minor, you can still enjoy the toy despite them; if they're major, you can return it quickly and try again. This is definitely more of a collector's piece than a toy, but with that in mind, ATLAS doesn't disappoint.

-- 08/09/14


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