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Night Fighter Robocop

by yo go re

The toy industry has changed. Gone are the days when a company could make a figure like Edward Scissorhands: a complex, multi-part figure with no re-use and no repaint potential. These days it's all about maximizing the profitability of your molds, and squeezing the most value out of a single sculpt. That's the way it is, and NECA have mastered the art of getting us to buy the same mold over and over.

As mentioned in the Battle-Damaged Robocop review, that was NECA's second figure of the character - but amazingly, the only things about it that were the same as the first release were the feet and hands, so it doesn't really fit into the "reused mold" thing, even if the underlying sculpt was the same. Their third Robocop release, though? Total re-use!

Luckily for us, the sculpt they're reusing is a good one. It's credited to the "NECA Team," rather than an individual sculptor, so we can only assume it was done in shifts. We know Tankman had a hand in it, though, because he was credited on the original. The proportions are true to the film, with the big square chest, the rounded high-rise shoulders and all the rest. Given NECA's almost fanatical devotion to screen-accuracy, this is likely the most accurate Robocop you'll ever see, short of a $300 Hot Toys offering.

This figure is called "Night Fighter Robocop," which really doesn't mean anything. [Other than he fights at night, yes? --ed.] The name, however, comes from 1989, back when Kenner was making toys based on the Robocop cartoon. In the second series of figures (aka, when they'd already exhausted every other cheesy 80s-style variant), they released "RoboCop Nightfighter" (yes, it was really spelt that way) who had this little bio on the back of the card: RoboCop [sic] special night gear makes him completely invisible to the evil Vandals gang. Nightfighter armor can be seen only by the Ultra Police troops.

In the cartoon, Robocop led the Ultra Police, and the Vandals were the bad guys, in case that wasn't clear. Anyway, that figure's gimmick was that he glowed in the dark, and this one follows suit. The entire thing is cast in GITD plastic, with black painted on top - mainly in solid patches around the joints, but there's a slight wash on the upper arms and the face, as well. Sadly, NECA didn't do the red eyeslit or the metallic blue highlights the original toy had; it would have defeated the purpose of an affordable repaint. Still looks pretty swanky, though.

That said, the star of this show is the packaging. While Robo is sold in the same kind of clamshell that NECA toys almost always get, the graphics are clearly inspired by the 1989 figure. The big red triangle in the corner, the portrait of the character... even the style of the burst exclaiming "Glows in the Dark" is the same! The grid/web pattern on the insert is taken from the space immediately behind the figure on the old card, too.

The back of the card is similarly retro. There's a photo in the upper right corner calling out the action features. A "cut, fold & save" portion runnning across the middle, and pictures of the other toys in the line at the bottom. Clearly, a lot of work went into re-creating Kenner's graphic design - NECA even did their own logo in the Kenner style! The original toy had a cap-firing feature that this one doesn't duplicate - and so there's a note on the packaging that caps are not included. Funny, funny stuff!

It may seem like this review has been more about the packaging than the toy inside, but that's okay, because this exclusive is more about the packaging than the toy inside. It's the normal Robocop, just done glow-in-the-dark instead of silver. His articulation and accessories are all the same, so they only difference is the GITD plastic, which isn't really enough to recommend it by itself. But take that same glowy figure and toss it in some artfully designed, throwback packaging? That's good fun!

-- 09/08/12

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