Marcus Fenix, the “star” defender against the menacing locust horde, is soon coming to toy stores.

In the latest expansion of the “Gears of War” franchise, Epic Games said Thursday that it has struck a licensing deal that creates action figures based on its popular video game title.

“They look gorgeous,” said Epic Games spokesperson Dana Cowley of the figures developed so far by New Jersey based NECA. “We’ve seen samples and so far they are very life like.”

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. NECA said the first figures will be available this spring.

In addition to the scar-faced heroic Fenix, other figures include a fellow human defender Augustus Cole and what Epic and NECA call “the villainous Locust Drone.”

The Gears of War game, published by Microsoft’s game division and developed at Epic, has sold more than 4 million copies since its release late in 2006. The game also has received numerous industry awards. It is available for both the Xbox 360 and PC platforms.

The sales success of the title, which rivals the Microsoft “Halo” franchise in popular appeal, has triggered a wave of other deals for Epic. In addition to a movie rights contract with Lord of Rings powerhouse Peter Jackson, Epic also apparently has in the works a deal for a series of science fiction books based on Gears. Word of the book deal leaked when two Web sites (Amazon and Books-a-Million) published some information about the titles.

Rumors also continue to circulate that Epic will soon announce a game sequel to Gears.

“We haven’t made any announcement about that,” Cowley said. “That’s all I can really say.”

The ambiguity about Epic’s plans could change shortly, however. Epic will be putting on a major show at the Game Developers Conference next month in San Francisco.

As for other product spinoffs of the Gears franchise, Cowley said other merchandizing has been discussed. So far, however, no shoe deals.

“That would,” she said with a laugh, “be pretty cool.”