Pros: Da Bears!
Cons: doesn't move, no unconscious Packers to leave at his feet
With this review, I'll sort of be breaking new ground, so I hope you'll bear with me (and pardon that pun) as we go. I've certainly done a toy review or two in my time, but I haven't reviewed any sports figures until now. First, a little backstory:
While I've never really been a big sports fan, I've always liked the Bears. All the Chicago teams, actually, and I have no idea why; they've just always been my favorites. And living in Redskins/Ravens land, it's all the stranger. So, being a fan of both toys and the Bears, I had a passing interest in Hasbro's Starting Line-Up figures.
Unfortunately, the SLUs were horrible toys. They bore not even a passing resemblance to the player they claimed to represent, and often barely even seemed human; there was no musculature to speak of, and molds of sadly static poses were used and reused. Often several players in a line would have the same body parts, just painted to their team's colors. Wide receivers and kickers would be as bulky as linebackers and corners. It was an awful situation. And then came McFarlane.
A big hockey fan, Todd McFarlane wanted to produce figures based on his favorite sport. However, Hasbro held the NHL license, which granted them rights to team logos and names. Not one to be daunted for long, Todd struck a deal with the National Hockey League Players' Association; through the NHLPA, Todd got the rights to the likenesses of the players themselves.
McToys created figures in dynamic poses that looked just like the players, stubble and all. The jerseys were painted in the team's colors, the player's name and number were in the right spot, but there was still a large empty field on the chest where the logo should have been. They put the NHLPA logo there, but it just wasn't the same.
Suddenly the SLU figures changed. They got bigger and more detailed--half way between their old standards and the new McFarlane toys. Unfortunately for them, it was too late; sales were so poor that Hasbro announced they would be discontinuing the line. Which of course meant that the official League licenses were up for grabs.
With figures already on the market, McFarlane had no trouble securing the NHL rights. Figures that were already in production were pushed back a few months to give the production teams time to retool the paint process--while the sculpts were the same, suddenly there was something worthwhile to put on the jersey. Soon after, the NFL signed with McFarlane, followed by the NBA. At last, sports fans had a line worth owning.
When I realized that Chicago would be represented in the second NFL series, I was quite happy; I could support my team and my financially crippling habit at the same time! Oh, huzzah. When I happened upon the football figures in the toy section of my local retail store, I immediately sought out Brian Urlacher.
Drafted ninth overall in the 2000 draft, Urlacher was a struggling outside linebacker until a teammate's injury moved him to the inside. 122 tackles later, Brian was Defensive Rookie of the Year, and on his way to the Pro Bowl.
Hunched over, as if the ball had just been snapped and he's coming off the line to seek out the quarterback or steamroll some unsuspecting receiver, Urlacher is sculpted to a 7" scale, but stands only 5 3/4". There are pegs on each of his feet (metal on the left, clear plastic on the right) to attach him to the included 1/4" turf base and enable him to have a more dynamic pose. Due to these pegs, the figure cannot stand on its own without the plastic gridiron beneath him.
As is par for the course with McFarlane figures, articulation takes a back seat to sculpt; Urlacher moves at the neck, right bicep (just above his barbed-wire tattoo), and just below the knee. The detail on his uniform is superb, though--the fabric of his pants and appropriately styled jersey really looks to be stretching over pads beneath, his muscles actually look as if he's been caught mid-move, and he's even got a little tiny play list on his left forearm. All the appropriate logos are even there: from the "Riddell" on his helmet to the Asics on his shoulders and the NFL shield on his thigh. The only real problem is with his facemask; it was molded as a flat piece, then wrapped around the figure's head. Later figures will have a facemask that was molded as a rounded piece for a better look.
I found the standard edition of the figure (in fact, the only Urlacher they had, despite row upon row of the other figures in the assortment--Go Bears!), which sees the figure in Home colors with scrapes, bruises, mud, and grass stains--the "dirty" version. There is also a "clean" version without all the stains, both dirty and clean versions of the Away uniform, and a version with no helmet. These same variants are available (in limited quantities, of course) for all the players in McFarlane's NFL lineup.
McFarlane's Sports Picks Brian Urlacher, while not being the most poseable action figure ever, is a great representation of a great player. He'd be wonderful for any collector of sports memorabilia, or any fan of Da Bears.