Cel-shading is one of those things that is pretty divisive to toy collectors. Of course toy collectors tend to be pretty divisive about everything. For every yin there’s a yang. For every up there’s a down. For every “cloth capes are superior” there’s a “plastic capes are the only acceptable option!”
For every “Jim Lee Storm wears black!” There’s a “Jim Lee Storm wears white!”
Of course you have to take into account those who say silver.
There’s no explaining them.
But cel-shading is a different beat. Cel-shading is messing with the very DNA of the toy, translating it into something that is, for some, a little too dependent on many factors. Cartoon animation is situational, dependent on angle, lighting, and translating a certain perspective into more than the sum of its parts. Trying to replicate that with a tangible, 3d object does have some downsides. I can definitely see that side of the argument.
However, cel-shading is done regularly by customizers in the Gundam/Transformers/mech communities, and it makes even the simplest design look incredible. Granted that is the result of hundreds of hours of work and can’t be expected from mass-market manufacturers, but the results can be gorgeous.
I can’t say that I’m opposed to the practice. I don’t have a clear “nope, it sucks” like I do with plastic capes. I haven’t decided if I’m going to be getting the recently revealed cel-shaded X-Men: The Animated Series figures (I might be reaching my saturation level with buying the same ‘90s mutants over and over) But I can’t say that they don’t look pretty nifty in their cartoonishness. The cel-shading NECA adds to their Turtle stuff can be offensive to some, but I think it lends a certain degree of…something to them. It’s not something I’d miss if it were gone but it’s also not something that ruins the figure.
If I were to get any from what’s been shown off it might be Wolverine, just because I think for a costume like his the specific cel-shaded aspect works very well. While they brought out a Mr. Sinister instead of the predicted Magneto, you have to figure a Magneto is coming, and I think he’s another one I might get. The shadowed look afforded by the aesthetic almost seems to work more in favor with villains than it does with heroes, and especially with the reds and purples of Magneto’s costume.
I wouldn’t turn down any Iron Man armor that happened to have a cel-shaded look to it either. Just simple panel-lining of any Iron Man armor somehow transforms the entire figure.
With all that being said, if I were to choose one Marvel character that I would be guaranteed to buy if it were done in a cel-shaded style, it would be the Incredible Hulk. I’m already on record saying that I will buy any Hulk figure put out on the 80th anniversary body (and they’ve done a good job getting mileage out of it already) but the specific nature of cel-shading seems like it would look fantastic on the Hulk.
With deep green shadows underscoring the brighter green highlights and those stark separations that is typical of cel-shading, a Hulk in this style on that body would be one hell of an eye-catching figure.
Three of my favorite animated takes on the Hulk are the ‘82 Hulk cartoon, the ’96 Hulk cartoon and his appearances in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, all of which have a similar approach to animation shadows, and all of which could easily be moved onto the existing Hulk body.
The X-men are a special scenario that almost guarantees a return on the investment, but I hope that it gives the ML team incentive to branch out into other areas for similar cel-shaded figures, because the Hulk is one I would have no problem buying.