Toy Review: NECA’s The Boys Series 1 Homelander and Starlight
In the world of The Boys, the sinister Vought corporation markets the hell out of super-team The Seven, casting them in movies, commercials, and even real-life military contracts. The public, naturally, assumes they’re the good guys. In our world, action figures of The Seven get made by NECA, known for creating toys based on horror movie monsters. There’s much more of a sense of irony involved, though they still look like typical superhero toys on the surface. It’s notable that even though the “supes” mostly function as villains in the TV show, they’re still, even in our reality, more marketable than the heroes. The Boys series 1 is hitting shelves now, and NECA more or less announced series 2 in July…and still none of the actual “boys” of the title seem en route. Butcher and Hughie may take a backseat for a while.
Who can blame them, really? The supes have much cooler outfits. And there’s no more memorable character on the show than Homelander, the murderous fascist pervert who hides in plain sight under a patriotic gimmick. For NECA’s The Boys series 1, he’s paired with Starlight, the most noble of The Seven. A good Christian heartland girl in intent, she becomes jaded on all counts upon realizing that Christianity and super-heroics are basically marketing gimmicks as far as her employers are concerned. And as a willing mole, she finds herself pitted against the group.
NECA has wanted a piece of the superhero toy pie for a while, but as a smaller, collector-focused company will likely never score Marvel or DC in the popular small scales. Last year they grabbed Defenders of the Earth and its related King Features Syndicate characters. The Boys feels like an even more perfect fit for a company that has made every Freddy Krueger variant there is.
The first thing anyone will notice about the Homelander and Starlight figures is that the likenesses are phenomenal. Erin Moriarty’s all-American beauty is captured nigh-perfectly in Starlight’s two head sculpts, with the only minor flaw being a mold-line in her hair that can be seen in closeup photos and not much else. Lonely collectors who pick up attractive toy likenesses to fuel their fantasies — yes, they exist — will feel served.
Homelander’s a more interesting case, because his likeness seems to literally change when photographed. Such simple things as a camera flash feel like they alter his entire expression. This may be a great testament to Antony Starr’s performance. It also, however, makes it harder to capture the accuracy of the toy itself. What is certain is that NECA has improved their heat vision effect since the Superman vs. Alien set. Rather than crafting a hole in his head, the sculp allows the eye beams to plug into Homelander’s pupils. And without it, he simply looks allergic to something nearby. That aside, he also includes annoyed and bemused heads.
With the three heads, alternate hands, and heat vision blast, Homelander feels more “ultimate” than Starlight, who only comes with extra powered-up head and swap-out forearms. Ultimates almost by definition tend to include lots of accessories, though they’ve also been a way for toy companies to justify mandatory price hikes with more deluxe packaging. Starlight feels it more than most, though it’s possible the elaborately decorated (and soft) capes cost NECA more than most such details. $34.99 seems a steep price when compared to, say, Predators with a ton of gear.
To be clear, the forearms include swap-out hands as well, in open or fist poses. And they allow for running changes in her costume, depending whether one prefers the extra gold deco bordering the star logos, or not. Note that her top has no such feature. Anyone wanting the more revealing Vought costume will have to wait for a whole new figure (convention exclusive?). It may be prudent to pick a forearm style early on and stick with it, however. Like the Defenders of the Earth hands, these create paint scrapes when switching out.
Articulation is the NECA norm, minus any usable mid-torso joint on Homelander. (There may be one, but if so it’s restricted by his torso overlay.) Some collectors aren’t happy with the way knee joints look on the female figures, but along with the open hands, they allow Starlight to strike a prayer pose most figures can’t achieve.
Take note also of the layered effect in her skirt, like a white print over a starry one. A nice close-up detail that’s easy to miss. Likewise, the translucent gold overlay on Homelander’s forearms makes for a nifty sheen.
One detail that fans picked up on early is that Homelander’s legs look a little weird. His thighs, to be precise, look disproportionately large relative to his calves and feet. Here’s the thing — that’s actually accurate. Track down any full-body shots of Homelander online, and see for yourself. TV shows rarely do full-body shots, so it’s not as noticeable. And incidentally, the character in the comics is also drawn with similar leg proportions.
He will ultimately scale well with similar recent figures from other companies. Want a team-up of patriotic jerks? It can be done. Though it may also make a consumer wonder if the one figure is worth a full $10 more than the other.
(See how a flash affects his expression?)
With A-Train and Black Noir set for series 2, it might be a while until The Seven are complete. And with their rotating roster, who knows which version of the lineup we’ll finally see? Transparent seems unlikely, and Stormfront may feel uniquely problematic to some retailers. But presumably the Deep and Queen Maeve are eventual candidates.
While NECA figures typically feature packaging inserts with photo-style backdrops, The Boys packaging is all based around the costume designs. So the inserts in series one simply use a design that’s like super-suit mesh up close. Same style for both figures, but in different colors. Meanwhile, the outer boxes look completely different, showcasing the distinction between costumes rather than their similarities.
Homelander and Starlight initially arrived as Walmart exclusive launches, but now are available at most collectibles outlets. Entertainment Earth has both for $34.99 each. Yes, that seems steep, but it’s also quickly becoming a new normal. Hate the game rather than the players. (Superhero Hype is part of the Entertainment Earth affiliate network, and earns fees based on purchases made through site links.)
Take a look through the gallery below for more images and details. Then let us know what you think in comments.
Recommended Reading: The Boys Omnibus Vol. 3
Toy Review: NECA's The Boys Series 1 Homelander and Starlight
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