Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, SELECT, START
The Konami Code. A code in video games made by the Japanese company Konami that granted the player extra lives. I had it memorized as a kid as did almost all of my friends who played video games. And while the code worked on many games Komani made, there was one game in particular that cemeted it into my generation’s memory, Contra!
Contra let the player live the adventure of Bill and Lance, two soldiers in the jungle combating the forces of the evil organization Red Falcon. While it was released in arcades in 1987, it was the home console version for the Nintendo Entertainment System released in 1988 that truly introduced the game to audiences en mass. It quickly became one of the most popular and memorable games in NES history and it was this enthusiasm that lead to NECA Toys announcing this in the beginning of December 2015…
Fans, including myself, immediately freaked out. Not just for figures being made for the first time from a game that many of us love, but the awesome use of “floating” effects that made these figures already even more unique among the other VGA toy releases.
But, before we could celebrate for too long, it looked like these figures might have been heading down the drain.
Every figure that NECA creates has to be approved by the company that owns the property. For example, any figures made from the Alien or Predator films has to be approved by 20th Century Fox. In this case, Konami has to approve Contra. Well, for some reason, there was a problem along the way in developing the Contra 2-pack that Konami had with something. Randy Falk, NECA’s director of production and the man who runs their Twitter account, hasn’t commented on exactly what the issue was out of professionalism, but it almost killed the figures. A similar instance with Konami led to the cancelling of a classic 8-bit VGA version of Simon Belmont, the lead character from the Castlevania video game series, that fans had long awaited the return of until recently.
So, at the end of the day, there is much more legality in producing these figures that many collectors fail to appreciate and understand.
Now that the figures have arrived, they are better than I could have hoped!
Coming in the now standard window flap box, the packaging recreates the original Nintendo box.
Even putting “NECA” in the Nintendo Seal of Quality as they have done before with VGA figures.
This is the first time NECA has packed two figures in one of the window flap boxes and they are fully loaded!
The figures come with an awesome insert of the large, mechanical beast that is the boss of the game’s third level.
Bill, red pants, and Lance, blue pants, both stand and can be posed very easily.
One of the features that made Contra stand out as a game was the awesome array of weapons you could pick up to use along the way. NECA translated these into plastic form brilliantly. The weapons would float through the air in capsules that the player would shoot to have the weapons inside drop to the ground to be picked up. NECA included one of these capsules with the Red Falcon logo and a stand to make it hover off the ground. The capsule plugs into the arm and the arm attaches to the base by inserting it and turning.
Two of the most memorable weapons the capsules can give from the game have also be recreated for these figures; the Machine Gun and Spread Shot!
Three separate bullets with trails combine to form the Machine Gun firing and then plugs into the barrel of Bill’s rifle.
The Spread Shot effect has three bullets and trails built into a blast effect that then plugs into the barrel of Lance’s rifle.
They are spaced in a half circle type shape to show the beginning of the Spread effect. The three bullet effects used with Bill can be plugged into the end of the Spread effect to make its ark even wider.
It is completed by plugging this massive bullet ark into the stand and turning it. You then align it with the beginning part of the blast in the rifle’s barrel to make one huge Spread Shot!
The stand is meant to be used with both the floating capsule and Spread Shot effect separately. The rifles themselves are excellent! The front end of each barrel detaches and is able to swapped, allowing the blast effects to be switched seamlessly between Bill and Lance.
They also feature flip down grips and one single extendable shoulder stock that can be used with either rifle.
All the customization options on the rifles are a testament to NECA’s attention to detail. I could easily see a lazier company just casting basic assault rifles accessories in pure red and blue and then calling it a day. Bill and Lance also come with matching accessory belts that each hold a handgun and a combat knife in their respective colors.
The paint apps on these figures are great, not just for the 8-bit paint squares, but the duel flesh tones make the faces and chests stand out more.
Bill and Lance can be posed in all the poses you saw them in the game such as running, jumping and firing while prone. Please note, this jump is being done with a NECA Dynamic Figure Stand and is not included with this Contra set.
This set is absolutely worth the price considering it’s two full size seven inch figures with a ton of accessories and a collectible box. Many friends of mine who have no interest in toys, but were big gamers when they were kids, commented on and asked me questions about these figures simply because Contra is so iconic. And so far fans are loving Bill and Lance! And I’m definitely one of them!
This set is available in stores and online now for around $44.00.
Thanks very much for reading!