An in-depth look at ThreeA (3A)’s Portal 2 figures, featuring our favorite pair of dysfunctional testing units: Atlas and P-body!
Back in May of last year, I was thrilled to discover that 3A had partnered with VALVe to produce hyper-detailed figures of two of my favorite video game characters: Atlas and P-body from Portal 2. The dynamic robot duo have a special significance for me, so for the first time I decided to set down considerable cash for collectibles. Up until then, the most I’d spent on any one item was about $50 USD. At a total of $340, Atlas and P-body weren’t cheap, but I’m happy to report (eight months later) that they were totally worth it.
As replacements for human testers in Portal 2, these two are constantly falling into acid, exploding or crashing into walls, only to be reassembled by their creator, GLaDOS. To reflect this damage, 3A employed its trademark “weathered” paint style. There’s also a decent mix of glossed and matte parts, which creates a pleasant aesthetic of varying textures. Overall, this is a pair of handsome, well-seasoned robots!
Each figure comes with its own blueprint (printed on heavy stock), instruction booklet and handheld portal device. One of my biggest complaints is that they don’t bring bases, a detail I was expecting given the figures’ delicate construction. Balancing them on their own two feet has proven a frustrating, time-consuming process. Even when I finally manage to stand them I fear that they’re one nudge away from a disastrous fall. Until I can work out a foolproof way of displaying them, they’ll stay in their box.
Another complaint is that they can’t easily hold their portal devices. P-body’s awkwardly placed thumbs make it hard for him to grasp it and Atlas’ hands have a very limited range of motion before the ball joints pop from their sockets. The portal devices are also heavy, which feeds back into the precarious balancing game.
3A packed these bad boys well but, as is my usual luck, things still went awry. One of the black wires connected to Atlas’ left leg had broken off along the way; thankfully, that was an easy fix with a dot of Zap-A-Gap. The mystery of the tiny gray half-moon remains, however. This piece spilled out of the box when I removed P-body from his foam prison… and I still have no idea where it’s supposed to go.
Complaints aside, these two are spectacularly well rendered. In part thanks to VALVe’s official involvement, Ashley Wood’s sculpts are likely the most faithful to the game, with every joint fastened meticulously to ensure both maximum accuracy and maximum articulation– even their eyelids move! The instruction booklets outline exactly how each part is able to move, highlighting a surprising range of motion for the arms and legs despite all the wires. Piston-like attachments also make most adjustments fairly easy, and each limb produces a click when set to a new angle which helps keep both sides aligned. The plastic feels lightweight and somewhat sturdy, although with all the miniscule parts involved a single drop to the floor would be catastrophic.
Really, though, the best part of these figures is the… drumroll please… lights! Atlas and P-body’s eyes glow their respective blue and orange, as do their portal devices. Their eyes have unique boot up sequences, too, an added touch that makes me giggle with excitement each and every time I turn them on. Accessing the switch/battery compartment is admittedly tricky, though, requiring the dismantling of P-body’s torso and the removal of the back of Atlas’ eye. Batteries weren’t included either and they’re rather pricey, but that’s not a dealbreaker. The animated lights are a really fun feature that set 3A’s incarnations apart from others.
To sum everything up: these were great investments and must-haves for any die-hard Portal fans. Unfortunately, if you’re looking to get your hands on them, 3A is no longer selling after their preorder window closed last year. On the bright side, Atlas and P-body are up for preorder over at Sideshow Collectibles, but keep in mind that you’ll have to shell out a whopping 16% more than the original price. If Sideshow’s products are a little outside your budget, the upcoming NECA versions will also feature lights and will only set you back $30 a pop.
Now! I have to get back to work. There’s lots of testing left to be done.