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Left 4 Dead
by Shocka

I play a lot of videogames. A lot of videogames. Between games I play for review, all the new releases I get through, and the multiplayer games I take to with my friends, there is one series I have put more time into than any other game/series over the past decade, and that's Left 4 Dead. Valve's phenomenal four-player action-horror series has serious staying power, first with the initial campaigns in each game, then with the hundreds upon hundreds of downloadable maps, and then with the additional multiplayer modes. I have played literally hundreds of hours of this series, and am still finding new things to love about it.

This strain of the Green Flu transforms the living into a giant bloated bag of boils. While not particularly fast, they can spew zombie attracting bile from a distance. Let them get in close and if you pop 'em - you are covered in bile. Your only hope against the Boomer is to shoot one from a safe distance. If they do cover you in bile, make sure your teammates help protect you. Not only does the bile make you the main attraction for nearby zombies; you will also be blinded.

One of the best features of the series isn't even that well known, and that's the competitive multiplayer. In Versus mode, one team controls the human survivor characters, and the other gets to play as one of the special zombie characters. I'm a big fan of first person games that offer non-shooting experiences, and Valve's game excels at this: there is little more awesome than controlling the big fat Boomer zombie and vomiting all over a group of your friends, spelling their demise with puke.

A huge proponent of Valve action figures, I've been incredibly pleased that NECA stepped up to the plate and has been bringing their A-game, and my absolute favorite of all of their offerings has been that disgusting fat bastard. The Boomer is a terrific, huge action figure, and one of my top toys of 2012. He comes in a fantastic and big clamshell, which demonstrates his size, as well as one of the best features of the toy - the exploding torso - with him disassembled in the package, surrounded by the terrific art from the game. That disassembly is because the Boomer features a special feature, one that isn't quite an "action feature" but is very close - the midsection of the Boomer comes apart with an interchangeable "exploded" piece that affixes to his legs, rendering him the post-explosion Boomer one witnesses after taking the zombie menace down. It's an amazing feature that makes me consider two of these toys for display, one in the permenanetly exploded states.

Opening the package, one quickly has their gross, sweaty socks knocked off by just how perfect his sculpt is - this is the exact same character model from the game immortalized in plastic, featuring every foul, horrible detail. The Boomer stands just under 7" tall, making him in scale with the other NECA Valve toys and making him ideal to fit alongside any other zombie toy you own.

NECA has the paint aps to match the terrific sulpt. The Boomer is painted spectacularly, using lots of individual touches around his sores and all over his wrinkly clothes to bring out the detail. There's a sheen to the paint which makes the sores look really gross, and his clothes all sweaty. Nasty!! Again, it's all picture-perfect from the game. I must make special mention of the exploded-guts attachment, which features such glorious, glimmering splatter. It's awful, and the best.

But it doesn't stop here - the Boomer is also incredibly articulated, featuring no less than 14 balljoints - at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, midsection, neck, hips, knees and feet. Because this guy is so top heavy, I'd have been opposed to articulation in his lower half - I'm usually more fond of statueqsue bottom halves that allow the toy to keep standing - but all of the articulation here is strong enough that it keeps him from toppling! It's also useful articulation, giving him a bunch of poses and expressions - NECA have knocked it out of the park. And, just when you think it can't get any better, his mouth even opens!! There's a hinge at the jaw that allows you to have him in his general closed-mouth scowling look, or with his disgusting mouth all the way open, vomiting all over everything. It's superb.

The Boomer is one of those must-own action figures, an exceptional piece that so perfectly captures the character, and then goes beyond to have amazing articulation and playability, as well as features like the movable mouth and exploding-attachment. This is even a toy that appeals to non-videogame fans, as he fits in perfectly with any other zombie toys as the archetypal fat-guy-zombie. This guy rocks, and I really hope we get more of the Left 4 Dead zombies.

-- 10/06/13

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