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by yo go re

You know what it means to get Matteled - but it may be time for us to coin the phrase "getting NECA'd."

The CL4P-TP Unit - locally known as "Claptrap" has become a ubiquitous fixture of life on Pandora. The Claptraps serve many purposes, including, but not limited to: dancing, opening doors, getting shot, humping the air, bounty board maintenance, dancing, exploding, sparking a robot revolution with the intent of destroying all of humanity and crushing all flesh-based life forms under their indifferent rubber wheels, and also dancing.

Getting NECA'd doesn't have the same negative connotation as getting Matteled - in fact, it's quite good. It means "buying a toy from a game you've never played or a movie you've never seen, just because NECA made it and you know the product is going to be good." A major chunk of my toy collection falls into that category, because if I spent money on every game I wanted to play, I'd have no money for toys, and then where would we be? I'd have no toys, and you'd have no reviews. We'd all be missing out!

Claptrap, here, is the mascot of the Borderlands series.
Sure, the Bandit is the one who gets put on the covers, but it's Claptrap who serves as the face of the game. The "Pandora" mentioned in the bio is not the one you're thinking of, but rather a distant planet full of crazy wildlife and murderous marauders. And also these robots, which are built by the Hyperion corporation and scattered around the countryside.

Rather than being a humanoid robot, Claptrap is sort of an inverted pyramid with a single rubber tire to roll around on. Well, rubber in the game; it's plastic here. The 'bot has two thin arms that terminate in little clamps, and his face is nothing more than a single large "eye" formed by a rotating lens in the middle of its head. How cute!

Long into its development, Borderlands was planned to be a typical brown and gray shooter, but Gearbox Software decided they actually wanted to stand out from the crowd, so the company's cofounder locked himself away and pounded out a demo of the new cel-shaded artstyle. Considering NECA's previous experience with the style, it's no surprise that the paint on Claptrap manages to look so much like the game. He's mainly yellow with a white stripe around his middle, so he looks like WALL•E's cousin or something. There are spots where the white paint is wearing away, showing the yellow beneath, and other spots where the yellow has given way to bare silver; and of course, all the edges are outlined in black. It's all painted well, creating the look of a robot that's been left out in the elements, not a toy that's been painted with spots.

Claptrap's articulation is great, too. He doesn't look like he'd move much, since most of his body is a solid quadrilateral, but there are swivel/hinge shoulders and hinged elbows, so at least the arms move well. They are very skinny, though, so be careful that nothing snaps. It seems like the biceps should swivel, but they don't. There are hinged flaps over the shoulders, and another over the eye that allows you to sort of create different expressions. The eye itself is balljointed, but it's incredibly stiff. The wheel turns, and can be moved up and down, turned side-to-side, or even tilted thanks to the two struts that hold it. The antenna on top of the robot can be extended (it's pushed down into the body in the package so it doesn't snap off), and in a completely undocumented feature, a little storage tray on Claptrap's front slides open.

When this figure was first announced (at Toy Fair 20-freaking-10!!), it was planned to have soundclips from the game. That got cut somewhere in the intervening years before its eventual release, but I honestly don't mind. The electronics would have been housed in a desert base, since Claptrap can't actually stand by himself. The final release still includes a base, but it's smaller and flatter. It gets the same cel shading as the rest of the figure, and is sculpted with a sandy texture and big tire treads that match Claptrap's wheel. He's held up by a thin black peg that fits into his back - sadly, it doesn't fit in very far, so if you bump the figure too hard, he'll fall over.

It may have taken forever, but the Borderlands figures finally made it out. Claptrap sold much faster than his case-mate, the Bandit, to the point that TRU isn't interested in any other humans - not even the four player classes. But there's a blue Claptrap repaint that just came out recently, packed in solid cases by himself, so you do have a shot at finding one. Even if you've never played Borderlands, Claptrap is a cool figure. NECA'd again!

-- 03/03/13

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