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The Sniper

Team Fortress 2
by yo go re

"Pink Cloud of Death."

Half rugged outdoorsman, half alien observer, this taciturn strip of beef jerky has spent the better part of his life alone in the bush, slow baking under the Australian sun.

Yes he has, but he's not actually Australian: Australians are muscular, shirtless brutes with big mustaches and chest hair shaped like their native country. They love brawling and heavy drinking, often at the same time and to the same deadly extent. But while the other children were fistfighting, Sniper would hide in a tree and throw rocks at them. Also he never grew a mustache. This is because when he was just an infant, his parents discovered their home was dying, so Baby Mun-Dee ended up in a rocket aimed to the stars... but, it was a very poorly built rocket, so it crashed a mile away in Australia. Sniper is from New Zealand.

We begin with one of the things that's wrong with this figure: the head. It's not the wrong shape, like Scout's, and it's not the wrong size, like Medic's, but it's still wrong. They forgot one of his defining features! Where are his glasses, NECA? He takes his hat off more than he takes his glasses, but you included that. Now, we've been making action figure glasses for years, but Mick Mundy wears shades, so that'll be slightly more difficult.

Team Fortess 2 gave all its classes unique silhouettes, so you could identify enemies at a glance even from a distance. Sniper is the same basic size and shape as his nemesis, the Spy (similar to the way Demo and Soldier are close in stature), but he has the advantage of wearing a Slouch Hat. He's got a team-colored dress shirt on beneath his vest - Reliable Excavation Demolition in this case, rather than the Builders League United I would have preferred. The sleeves are rolled up to the elbows, and the collar is open just enough to reveal a grey undershirt. He's wearing plain trousers that come down over the top of his boots, and has a single fingerless glove on his left hand.

Actually, that's an interesting quirk of Sniper's design: in any shot of the character, whether promotional or captured in-game, he's only wearing that one glove; but viewed from first-person (aka, "when you're playing him") he's got two. The game's been out now for 14 years (and 11 days - it was released on October 10, 2007), so surely Valve must have noticed this weird little glitch at some point, and yet have never bothered to update it. Because honestly, who would even care? If you're seeing your hands, you're not looking down your scope; and if you're not looking down your scope, what good are you as a Sniper?

The articulation is a little outdated, but only because NECA has continued to innovate with their designs, while this sculpt was created years ago. Mick's got a balljointed head, chest, and ankles, swivel thighs, and then swivel/hinge joints for everything else: the shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees. Everything moved well just out of the package, with none of the joints being stuck or even stiff. You can't really get him to do any of his taunts - the closest would be the one where he just drops his rifle a bit and waves at whoever he just shot, but the left hand isn't open to wave (and the set doesn't include any alternates). There really aren't a ton of unique Sniper taunts - plenty that are shared with other classes, but only a few for Mick himself, and most of those involve holding some prop this toy doesn't get.

If you look back at the previous eight figures (and six repaints), they've all made at least a little effort to arm up their characters with their signature weapon as well as at least one alt. Some characters even got their primary, secondary, and melee weapons! Sniper... gets his rifle. Literally nothing else. No SMG, no Kukri, no backpack, no Jarate, not even alternate hands. There's a thing on his back that looks like it would be a sheath for the kukri, but here just hangs empty. It's not for his gun, because there's no way that monster is fitting in there. The gun has a hinged cap over the lens, but it's one of those hinges that has an actual miniscule pin running through the center of it, ready to disappear the instant you accidentally drop the rifle even once.

The set also includes a card (reproducing the Sniper poster art) that has a special code you can redeem for a free in-game item. Yes, everybody gets the same item. And since this is Team Fortress 2, the item is a hat. Specifically, the Master's Yellow Belt, a rather boring headband. The BLU figure would have come with a different one if it had ever been released.

In the Meet the Sniper video, Mick is arguing on the phone with his dad about the difference between being a crazed gunman and being an assassin, then follows up with the memorable line, "professionals have standards." Which is absolutely an ironic thing to say in regards to this figure in particular, and these final three TF2 figures in general. NECA is known for a certain standard of quality and accuracy, and none of these figures have met it. Scout, Medic, and Sniper have all felt exceptionally halfassed, especially with Sniper missing two pieces - the kukri and his dang glasses - he unquestionably should have had. Like we said before, it feels like NECA's just fed up with the entire process of trying to get Valve to approve anything and is just shoving these last releases out the door so they can finally be done with them, whether or not the toys are up to the level they should be.

-- 10/21/21

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