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The Scout

Team Fortress 2
by yo go re

"Too. Much. Caffeine."

The youngest of eight boys from the south side of Boston, the Scout learned early how to solve problems with his fists. With seven older brothers on his side, fights tended to end before the runt of the litter could maneuver into punching distance, so the Scout trained himself to run. He ran everywhere, all the time, until he could beat his pack of mad dog siblings to the fray.

Never let it be said I don't know when to admit defeat. As revealed long ago, I wasn't able to get the Reliable Excavation Demolition versions of NECA's TF2 figures, so I went with the Builders League United recolors instead. Which I'm fine with, I like BLU better anyway. The problem is, Valve was notoriously uncooperative when it came to approving releases of the figures; RED series 3 was released in 2014, and their BLU counterparts didn't show up until 2018. Series 4 was released soon after, but three years later, there hasn't been even a hint that the repaints will ever exist. NECA seems fed up enough with Valve to have given up on the idea, meaning that if we want the last three mercenaries, we gotta go with an alternate color.

NECA's strength in trade is sculpting things that perfectly capture the look of whatever property they're meant to. But judged by their usual standards, the Scout is terrible. What's supposed to be a cocky smirk instead comes off like he lost part of his jaw to oral cancer. He's got sunken cheeks like a grandpa. He's "skinny Mason Verger." Heck, Sokka looks more like The Scout than The Scout does! (Wow, I'm shocked that that statement came back into play; who could have possibly foreseen?!)

The body is at least good. Scout's as thin as he should be, though standing him here by himself he feels a bit tall. He's not the shortest character in the game, but he feels like it, you know? So we do credit NECA for not making him smaller just because. Regardless of size, he's dressed apprpriately - that is to say, "like a baseball player." He's got a shirt-sleeved T-shirt, take on his hands, and slightly baggy pants that are tucked into his high socks. He wears short athletic shoes and has a messenger bag slung around his chest, both of which help suggest his speed (his base speed is about 17 miles per hour). He's got a ballcap and a microphone headset that covers his left ear... except it's missing the microphone part. It didn't fall out, it's just not included. NECA didn't make it.

Part of the reason I prefer BLU figures to RED is that the cooler color makes more of a contrast against the ruddy skin. Scout doesn't get any fancy apps for dust or soot or anything, but the grey apps on his little dog tags don't spill anywhere, even with the thin necklace holding them on. His pants are tan, which should have been the case even if NECA had been able to make the better one: unless Valve's patched it since the last time I played, BLU Scout uses RED Scout's trousers. The promo videos show Bluey wearing pants that are approproately tinted to match his shirt, but the in-game files still use the ones that match Red; the easiest way to tell is the belt loops, which match the rest of the pants on the red model but not on the blue. Just a fun trivia fact for you!

The articulation is pretty good. he has a balljointed neck and chest, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, and ankles, and swivel thighs. Most of them worked fine straight out of the package, but the left hip's swivel doesn't want to raise or lower the leg very smoothly. It's definitely enough to get him into most poses you'd want, such as running or taunting his opponents. Four series and seven figures in, we still wish the figures had come with Capture Point display bases to help keep them standing. At least being so skinny means the toy isn't heavy (no pun intended).

Scout comes with three accessories: his starting weapons. That means the same pistol the Engie came with, a double-barrelled Scattergun, and his dented aluminum Bat for melee range. The shotgun fits his right hand perfectly, while getting him to hold the pistol can be tricky. Neither hand is shaped to hold the bat, and he doesn't include any alternates. Even one extra hand, holding a can of "Bonk! Atomic Punch," would have been superb.

The set also includes a card (reproducing the Scout 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 Bonk Helm, one of those hats with canholders on the sides and a straw leading to his mouth. The BLU figure would have come with a different one if it had ever been released.

The Scout is probably definitely my least-played class in the game - I'm just not very good with him, and his abilities don't match my playstyle. But I was still looking forward to adding him to my lineup of toys. Even without my preferred team color, he'd be a lot better without the effed-up face and with his full headset.

-- 09/23/21

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