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Power Girl

DC Direct Deluxe Collector's Figure
by Artemis

Eyes up, pal.

The first chairwoman elected to the JSA, Power Girl Kara Zor-L, a.k.a. Karen Starr, is a super-force to be reckoned with. This Earth-Two counterpart to Supergirl - and cousin to that world's Superman - possesses great strength, speed, invulnerability and the ability to fly. Her super-senses include telescopic vision, heat vision, super hearing and arctic breath. As with others of Kryptonian heritage, she is also vulnerable to Kryptonite and the rays of the red sun. As both leader of the JSA and owner of software firm StarrWare, Inc., Power Girl is always on the move, juggling responsibilities, handling crises, but rarely having the chance to take time to kick back in her home base in Brooklyn, NY. How she survives Earth-Two and the Crisis on Infinite Earths is a puzzle - one of several connected to this Kryptonian refugee, whose past and future are shrouded in mystery.

It's nice to see a comprehensive bio text - thank the Maker they didn't go into her background retcons, though. After various ups and downs (including a stint as a time-shifted Atlantean princess who got mood swings from diet cola, of all things), Power Girl is one of DC's leading lights right now, thanks in no small part to Justice Society of America writer Geoff Johns, she'd snap you in half, fanboy who portrays her as a capable, shrewd and inspiring leader.

The "Deluxe Collector's Figures"... let's be honest, dolls... are touted as fully poseable, realistically proportioned, and with authentic costumes. Kara stands the promised 13" tall, and is indeed realistically proportioned - no wasp waist or anatomically dubious back arch to show off her chest. Her physique varies depending on who's drawing her, from athletic to comicbook-supermodel to seriously muscular - Dale Eaglesham on JSA takes the muscular option, giving her a real sense of physical power, but the doll (presumably to avoid having to cast new parts) goes the middle-of-the-road route, portraying her as fit and well-built, but lacking the noticeably powerful thighs and biceps readers are becoming accustomed to (or complaining about, depending on their preferences).

One thing all artists do agree on is that PG's a big girl, ''Objects in mirror should grow up and move on.'' and not shy about it - her original costume sported a fairly revealing neckline, wide and middling-low, which later artists exaggerated to a "Get a look at these puppies!" plunging wide cleavage, before - in between various entirely new looks, with gold bodysuits and Atlantean-inspired whatnots - closing the neck off to leave her now-distinctive "cleavage window." Johns, in JSA Classified, suggested that the window was the result of PG wanting to have a chest symbol like Superman, but not knowing what it should be; Justice League Europe (remember JLE? Good times) had earlier made the assertation that she's a healthy, well-developed woman, that's what her costume shows, and anyone who had a problem with that would get a kicking - though that last bit was mostly the diet cola talking.

fresh-squeezed fanservice Whatever the case, she's well-endowed, and the doll goes the extra mile to reproduce this, with the front section of her upper torso cast in soft plastic for a smooth skin appearance (and some squishiness, though I don't care to imagine what owners would want that for), and - no elegant way to say it - boobs almost as big as her head. They're not unrealistically large; granted they're clearly more than average, but I know women who could model for PG quite adequately, bust and overall figure. But there's no getting around the fact that they stand out more than anything else on the doll.

The head is all sculpt - a wise move, as rooted hair would have been frustratingly difficult to keep in Kara's casual bob style, love that dead-eyed stare especially the fringe across her forehead, which has become something of a trademark look for her of late. Her face is attractive, and reasonably confident and grown-up-looking. In spite of her codename, there's nothing girlish about Power Girl, and the sculpt avoids making her look too young, though compared to current art the doll still looks like it's a few years short. Her lips are a simple but clean paint app; her eyes are more complex, with light lashes below, a heavier eyelash-shadow line above, a touch of pink at the inner corner - commendable attention to detail there, it helps a lot - and crisp whites with multiple paint apps on the iris.

Her eyebrows are sculpted and painted, and her hair is a two-piece sculpt, with the join running up the edge of her fringe, and then down the back of her head in one of the sculpted lines - it's a decent attempt at hiding the seam, but what looks like a slight irregularity in the cast means the pieces don't quite sit together perfectly, so there's a slight gap at the front, and the hair sits away from the left side of her face a little. It's not a huge issue, but you notice it up close. The paint on her hair is excellent, fortunately, with a solid yellow base and a well-judged yellow-white highlight adding a little more definition.

PG's costume is a fair representation, though not perfect. In broad strokes it's fine - the colours are right, the dimensions are accurate, the fit is good, and where there are sculpted elements like the belt buckle and hands they merge well into the clothes. that's not a cape, it's a butt-concealment device How much detail her costume has at any given moment is up to the artists drawing her, but compared to her earlier action figure from the Infinite Crisis line, she's missing the zips on her boots and gloves, and some of the vertical seams up the front of her torso. From the back she's got a small zipper at the back of her neck, but it's white to match the fabric, and all considered it's fairly low-profile. Her cape is designed very well - one of the minor mysteries of her costume is how the cape, which is only secured at one shoulder, tends to flow around attractively when she's at rest, rather than just hanging straight down. Here the cape is roughly triangular, dual-layered but made of light fabric so as not to have to work against its own weight much, and by being attached a little way along the gold cord running across her back, as well as staggering the attachment from front to back, it tends to spread out behind her. Besides the buckle, her belt is just a simple strap with two stitched seams - not inaccurate as such, but I'd have liked to see it a bit thicker, and not quite so shiny.

The big issue isn't actually her costume, but her lack of it - the whole point of an articulated doll is that the clothes hide the joints, so you can have a gangly that's not the only crack it's creeping into collection of balljoints and swivels and who-knows-what look like a limb when there's a sleeve over it. The problem is, Power Girl doesn't wear pants, so how to hide the leg joints? The solution DC Direct came up with is to cover her legs in skin-coloured pantyhose, to give her smooth legs without losing the articulation beneath the skin, and... sorry, it's just not working. For one thing, the hose have texture - they're a lot thinner than the costume fabric, but on a flat surface the weave is still plain to see. On top of that, when you open up the packaging and haul PG out, you'll invariably find the hose - an elastic fabric - have bunched into the crevices of her hips, which is stunningly unattractive. Not even the publicity photos on the packaging, which were no doubt teased to their best possible appearance, entirely escape this problem.

The only solution is to pull them tight, but if you pull them down, they'll end up bunched around her boot tops. What you have to do is undo her whole costume down to the waist - as good as it gets in the process discovering that there's no way to remove her belt from around her waist, which is quite annoying - and pull the waist of the hose up as high as you can. There's no extra elastic at the waist, thus nothing to hold them up securely, if they're tugged down again - so very carefully you then have to get her costume back on, and if you've any intention of keeping her at her best, never touch the legs again. Even if you do manage all that, the hose fabric is so thin that you can see the hollows of the hip balljoints and the knee joints through it. And if you turn the thigh swivels at all, they stand out almost as much as her cleavage - nowhere near as aesthetically appealing, though.

You have to give DC Direct some credit for trying, but at the end of the day, the effort fails - not just because it's quite difficult to get her hose looking good (as good as they can, anyway) and keep them that way, but because it means you can barely touch the doll without having to fix her stockings up afterwards. Granted these are made for collectors, not children, but it's still fun to play with a figure a bit - to test out various poses, see what looks good, make her fly or stand tall or plant her feet wide in a fighting stance, before deciding how to display her on her shelf and leaving her alone. You can't do that with PG - if you're scoring points for fun factor, the pantyhose knock that score down to zero.

My recommendation is to take the damned things off. It means removing her costume entirely (which in turn means working the whole bodysuit off underneath the belt), but once her legs are bare they look no worse than the hose did, and you can pose her and play with her and she'll look just as good afterwards. lookit those bare legs! The plastic of the legs (except her knees and the joint of her hips) is a slightly less saturated pink than her cleavage and face, but set against the stark white and the bold red and blue of her costume, you barely notice that. They're shinier too, which is a bit noticeable - it would have been a nice touch had her legs been given the same finish as her face, but sadly that's not the case. Of course the articulation is plain to see, but since it's not trying to hide, it's actually not as jarring as seeing her "bare" legs with wrinkles in them and bunched around the joints - we all know action figures have joints where real people don't, and it's quite easy to ignore them. If you're careful you won't damage anything removing the pantyhose, so if you're willing to go to the effort, there's no reason why you couldn't replace them if you decide you don't like the bare legs. It's not a perfect solution, but personally I think it's an improvement - the camera flash is unflattering to the bare plastic, but under normal lights the difference between her legs and the other exposed skin is quite minimal.

Whether you're free to pose her or fearful of touching her for making the legs turn into concertinas, she's quite well articulated. Her neck is a three-axis balljoint, though the high, thick collar restricts that quite a bit - it's not entirely limited to a swivel, but for a figure with short hair the range of up-down motion is pretty shallow. Her arms have ball shoulders, swivel biceps, double peg elbows and swivel wrists - no ball wrists, due to the need to accommodate the swappable hands. Her legs (as you can see, stockings or not) have balljoint hips, swivels low on the thighs, double peg knees, and swivel-peg ankles - her feet are sculpted to take a slightly higher heel than her boots have, which renders them a bit wobbly, but nothing that can't be managed. Her torso is quite flexible, with a rocker peg joint at the sternum, a swivel below that, and a forward-backward tilt peg just below it at the waist - this isn't what we meant when we asked you to show us your guns, Kara the costume won't hide the evidence of the joints at their most extreme points, but it'll cover up most poses fairly well.

Power Girl's never been one to reach for a weapon when she could just punch something instead - super-strength is handy like that - so her accessories are limited to extra hands and a base. She has three pairs of hands: clenched fists, which she's packaged with, open hands, and the traditional "action figure hand," an open grip suitable for holding accessories, if you can dig up any. blatant base The fingers on both the open and gripping hands are sturdy but slightly soft, so in the case of the gripping hands they can be worked into position just as you'd like, with a little care.

Her base - matte black, with her logo applied in gloss black, which looks rather stylish - is an interesting piece of work. The waist clamp is mounted on a push-button lock arrangement, so it can be easily moved up and down the backing pole, while remaining secure at whatever level you want to have it sit at. The clamp itself also rotates - ratcheted, naturally - so PG can be posed leaning, or if the pole is at her side, in angled or horizontal flight. The pole only just reaches high enough for the clamp to go around her waist though, now available in Standard and Economy Sizes so it's of limited use that the lock points go two-thirds of the way down to the base. It's a nice effort for a base, but the black clamp is highly visible against her costume, and unless you want her flying, or doing something that keeps her from having both feet on the ground, she's quite stable enough to stand by herself.

I'm a big fan of Power Girl, so there was no way I'd have missed out on this figure - but if I'm honest, I have to say I'm a bit disappointed. The pantyhose just don't work as a solution to the bare legs problem, and stripping them off, while an improvement, is an imperfect fix. And while the sculpt and costume is good, I find myself looking at other similar products on the market, and wondering if this one is value for money. I'm glad I got Power Girl, but I'm far from looking to snap up any other dolls "Deluxe Collector Figures" that turn up.


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