ThreeA Portal 2 Atlas and P-body Figure Review
I really like Portal 2. What's strange is that I've never finished the original Portal. Gasp. I know, right. Portal 2 just managed to capture my attention in ways the original didn't. I can't explain it. What I can explain, is how in playing Portal 2, I made two great new friends in Atlas and P-body. Co-op gaming helps my wife and me enjoy some quality time together, and stepping into the robotic feet of Atlas and P-body provided us with a great deal of fun. Well, fun for her. Somehow I kept being led to my death. Somehow. Anyway, when ThreeA revealed it would be bringing Aperture's test robots to life in sixth-scale, I immediately got excited. After getting my hands on them, I'm pretty thrilled with the results, even if there are a few flaws.
First, these figures are put together immaculately. By doing sixth-scale renditions, ThreeA is able to put every last minute detail to use, from wiring to joints and everything in between. To that end, the construction also makes Atlas and P-body rather fragile, despite the attention to detail. Surprisingly light, both figures offer more than adequate articulation, but out of the box, Atlas and P-body were a little stiff. There's no easy way to grab any of the limbs firmly, so it took a delicate touch to maneuver the arms and legs for the first time. As I worked the joints a bit more, it got easier to pose the two figures. Still, even after putting Atlas and P-body through the motions, I'm more than content to let them remain in rather static positions.
Atlas has a bit more bulk to his frame than the lanky P-body, and while that does make him a bit sturdier in design, it does offer a small issue--at least when it came to my particular figure. The shorter Aperture robot was originally designed with slightly bowed legs. While that doesn't pose a problem in a video game, in the physical realm, that can lead to issues with proper posture. The right leg on the figure I have is warped ever so slightly inward, causing Atlas to be virtually incapable of standing upright without some assistance. There's no flexibility in the knee, hip or ankle joints to offer any kind of solution on its own, and without placing a small steadying block between Atlas' feet (think 'Misery' without the hammer), he always leans right for a few moments before tipping completely over. It's a shame, too, because every other aspect of Atlas works just fine. If only he was capable of standing on his own two feet.
Fortunately, the single issue with P-body was far less frustrating. When I opened the box, there was a tiny half-moon piece just floating around inside. I couldn't figure out where it went at first, but then I discovered where it came from. Sometime between being placed in the box and arriving at my home, the base of P-body's inner frame, which helps hold his removable body in place, snapped off. One tiny dab of glue later, everything was smooth again. Despite his lean frame, P-body stands on his own and in different poses just fine. In fact, the only disadvantage P-body presents is an inability to hold the ASHPD properly. His three fingers, while each individually articulated, don't really allow him to grip the device in any way that's reliable. It can balance just fine, but one little nudge, and the ASHPD falls. If you were hoping to get P-body into an action pose without assistance from twist ties or something, it's going to be pretty tough.
Once you manage to track down the proper batteries (I recommend hitting up Radio Shack), you can drop them in the bodies of the figures to get the LED eyes working. Not only do both Atlas and P-body have light-up eyes, but you can also express different emotions with those eyes. It's not much, but the figures can be set with closed or open pupils, or even with the ability to change back and forth for as long as the figure is turned on. A simple button on the back of P-body and side of Atlas lets you control the options, and watching the robots come alive is really a delight. Combined with the articulated eye shutters, you can get creative with your figures. It adds some personality beyond just a simple single light, and really helps the two stand out in your collection. Both ASHPDs also light up, but in a single color. That's perfectly fine.
As to the paint application, I love the weathered look. These are robots that have repeatedly been put through the ringer at Aperture, and seeing the longterm effects of that testing on these figures just adds more depth to the character. Would a completely clean paint app have made sense? Maybe. It certainly wouldn't have looked as interesting though. So many other figures are focused on being pristine, it's nice to see ThreeA take a different approach, and make Atlas and P-body look used and worn. The other tiny details, such as Aperture logos and directions for use painted right on the bodies, all look tremendous. Each bit of detail only makes the story behind the robots stronger and more appealing.
I don't often talk about the packaging for figures, as I tend to tear it apart as soon as possible to get to the contents contained therein. This time however, I was notably delicate with the process. ThreeA's design team did a stellar job with the packaging. Each figure's box features a stark white top, with the only graphic being a technical drawing of either Atlas' or P-body's eye. The minimalist style works brilliantly, and also falls in line with the sparse scientific themes seen in Portal 2. That continues inside, where there is a design blueprint for each character placed above the thick Styrofoam shell. Outside of window boxes, most figures aren't packaged with the intent for the box to aid in the display presentation. Here you could just as easily have the boxes on display right alongside Atlas and P-body and not have it look gaudy or unnecessary.
There are so many great details on ThreeA's interpretations of Atlas and P-body, I notice new wrinkles every time I look at them. There are a few small flaws, made only greater by the somewhat steep (though comparable) price point, but the minimal issues are certainly not enough to dissuade me from recommending adding these two to your collection. My only advice would be to ensure you keep them encased or on a deep shelf. If I had to pick just one, even with the standing issues, Atlas just has a cooler aesthetic. P-body's great, too, but Atlas' bulk allows for more eye candy in the mechanics. Honestly though, you can't go wrong either way.
The ThreeA Portal 2 Atlas and P-body figures are available at specialty stores now for ~$190 each. Review samples were provided by ThreeA.