Tuesday, May 15, 2012

NECA Limited Edition Portal Gun: In-Depth Review (w/ Pics)

NECA Limited Edition Portal Gun

Disclaimer: Many of my reviews end with me stating that perceived quality has much to do with how much a fan someone is of a particular product. As such, I feel that I should note that I am not a very big fan of Portal. This replica was a birthday gift for my girlfriend (she’s the huge fan) and because of my relative lack of fandom for the series, my review may seem a bit harsher than what a fan would say of the same product. And without further ado…

The Packaging:

The box was in terrible condition when it arrived.

Is that a tear in the middle?
I’m guessing that the damage seen is mostly Neca’s fault. The replica box was seemingly shipped to Amazon from Neca without any outer box to protect it. I get the impression that this is what happened because the box is covered in shipping labels referring to a shipment from Neca to Amazon. Amazon’s shipment, however, was respectfully done. The damaged and label riddled Neca box came shipped in a larger box with an appropriate amount of packing paper.
Generally, this damage wouldn’t be much of an issue, but when you are dealing with a Limited Run of 5,000 that is under heavy demand by a collector market, the rules become far stricter. For Neca to ship its collector’s item without an outer box to protect it is in very poor taste and shows little respect for the types of customers that are purchasing its product. Putting actual shipping stickers on said box only adds to that disrespect.
In regards to the contents of the box, they are presumably sufficient to protect the product inside. The gun is placed in a plastic bag (with a small piece of bubble wrap to protect the gun barrel’s end), which is then surrounded by molded Styrofoam. No pomp or circumstance is visible in this purely functional package.

In keeping with function, the graphics on the box do well to showcase the contents of the replica without doing much else. Though this is standard, a replica of a valve product should probably have come with some clever jokes like “gun does not fire actual portals,” or “please use portals responsibly,” or “cake not included.” You get the idea.
This is easily the worst packaging I have reviewed so far. 

Certificate of Authenticity:

Along with the included Portal Gun, the box contains a set of instructions that show you how to insert the batteries. And that’s it. This highly sought after limited run does NOT include a certificate of authenticity. Nor does the gun come with any indication that you have received a specific edition number of this limited run. 

Certificate of "How to put in Batteries"

Even my PDP-made Mortal Kombat stick came with one some sort of limited run indication.

A Limited Run done right

The omission of such an indicator is, again, a sign that NECA is not properly handling the nature of its Portal Gun release.

Build Quality:

Wow does this thing feel cheap.

A few important notes first. Upon opening the package, I noticed the following problems.

1) The top “hook thingy” has an odd problem with cut marks and sloppy glue (which looks white and tacky against the black plastic) where the tubing connects with the hook. How this made it past quality control is beyond me. 

Seriously NECA???

2) A section of the top hook was actually disconnected when the product came. It was easily fixed and reattached with glue, but it should never have shipped in such a state.

3) The area where the right tube connects with the gun also has this white glue slop. 


4) The inside part of the gun was improperly set into place against the white shell. The left side of the shell was not as well set against the gun as the right side. Again, this was easily fixed with glue, but the problem should never have been an issue. 

Right Side Alright!

Left Side... C'mon NECA

Nice and Crooked NECA

Good Thing I Was Able to Fix it

All those problems are not necessarily a problem with build quality, though. Those are issues of poor quality control. Issues that I find so embarrassing that maybe NECA should have considered putting a complimentary bottle of Krazy Glue in the box.

Should've come with one "o" these

In regards to the build quality, things don’t get much better. The plastic itself is very cheap feeling. The closest I can compare it to is the kind of plastic that you expect from a Nerf gun. Not only that, but the gun’s plastic creaks as it moves/shifts when you pick the gun up. It feels almost as if the gun would eventually warp or crack under its own weight if it was ever held from just the handle for a long enough period of time.

Lights and Sounds:

Booya. Finally, something to be happy about. The light up features are fantastic. The different lights are activated by using a thumb switch on the handle. The switch has three positions. In the Up position, the lights are orange, in the neutral position, the lights are off, and in the Down position, the lights are blue. To NECA’s credit, they seem to have found the PERFECT shades of blue and orange to match with Valve’s software incarnation of the gun. 

Slick Blue

Blue is still Cooler

Along with the blue and orange, there are three red lights on the hook-things at the gun’s barrel. I don’t remember them from the game, but they certainly look cool. They light up in any thumb-switch position except for the neutral one.
The sounds sound nice, clear, loud, and appropriate. The blue and orange portals each have a different sound. It’s a nice touch that I wasn’t really expecting.
As a final note, the gun uses three batteries that are to be housed in the handle portion. There is an easily stripped screw holding it in place. The battereies, sadly, are not included. However, seeing as this is a collector’s item that some people may never unbox, it is probably for the best that batteries (which can leak over time) are not part of the package.

The “Look:”

This may be the most important part of the review. Even when all the deficits of the product are taken into account, the look of this replica is striking. It looks as though NECA was able to just reach into the computer screen and pull out the actual gun. Though this is usually an impressive enough feat, with a design as peculiar as the portal gun, the authenticity of its appearance is to be very much commended.

Overall (the fandom factor):

As already stated, the gun looks amazing. It is also, sadly, a look that owes a lot to smoke and mirrors. The quality control was terrible. The build quality is questionable. The packaging is functional and boring. And the lack of a Certificate of Authenticity is wholly disappointing. This is the kind of product that I would easily value at 50 to 60 bucks. It is certainly not worth the 140 that NECA was asking. And it is really really really not worth what this thing is going for on ebay.

That said, the fandom factor will go a long way in making this dud seem like a stud. The smoke and mirrors, at least for my girlfriend, were more than successful in making this a must have item for her. She’d probably even think it’s worth NECA’s asking price.

So, all failures aside, this one is definitely only for the super fans (and evil scalpers). Everyone else, stay far far away.

Final Note: If someone from NECA is reading this and finds that the quality of the product I received was not representative of what I was supposed to have received, I encourage you to send me a new gun for a future review.

Everyone else, thanks for reading.

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