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Bellatrix Lestrange

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
by Artemis

Everyone's got their specialities. You want dignity, you go for James Earl Jones. If it's wry, self-deprecating machismo you're after, Harrison Ford's the obvious choice. If you want Orlando Bloom, you can't go wrong with Orlando Bloom (it's really all he does). And if you need crazy/hot, Helena Bonham Carter's your girl.

"You're lying, filthy Mudblood, and I know it! You have been inside my vault at Gringotts! Tell the truth, tell the truth! What else did you take? What else have you got? Tell me the truth or, I swear, I shall run you through with this knife! What else did you take, what else? ANSWER ME! CRUCIO!"

Bellatrix Lestrange is the Harry Potter series in a nutshell - she's your basic wicked witch, black dress and magic wand and evil spells and all (she even cackles appropriately now and then), but instead of threatening people and locking them up in cages to "deal with later" (thus allowing the hero plenty of time to stage a rescue), she murders them. That's the whole wizarding world, really - magic makes life so much more exciting that even humdrum events like school and sports and sending letters are wondrous and fantastic, but there's still evil bastards who want to kill people, and they've got wondrous and fantastic spells to do that, too.

Bella - her full name means "woman of war," by the way, and like most of the Black clan is derived from astronomy - is kind of a glamour girl gone wrong, a haughty beauty originally, but very messed up by her years in Azkaban, the wizard world's version of Guantanamo Bay. She's wearing what might be the remnants of an evening ensemble, torn and tattered and patched back up any old how - a long flowing gown, frayed and matted, a black corset stitched together from leather scraps, long sleeves that combine opera gloves with witch's robes, held together by uneven laces along their length and lashed haphazardly to the shoulders of her dress, and a pointed hood attached to the back of her collar.

The gown has an unglamorous matte finish, making the black look dusty and worn, the corset is only slightly shinier, and her sleeves/gloves are dirt-stained, with the murky remains of an elaborate pattern on their backs, half-obscured by grime. Fine detail abounds, from the corset's stitching, and that on the wand "holster" attached beneath it, to the various rings on her fingers, the realistic folds and creases in her dress, and the necklace sitting above her cleavage, skewed to one side as if it's jerking around as she's charging. She's fully sculpted and painted beneath the skirt too, with (fairly minimal) black underwear, reddened knees, and high-heeled wicked witch boots over grey socks.

The facial likeness is quite good, given its difficult task - it's trying to look not just like Helena, but like Helena playing Bella's twisted, furious snarl, a combination bound to give sculptors some issues. She has painted nostrils, which look a bit unnaturally dark as usual, but here it works in her favour more than not. Her mouth is a problem area, with insufficient coverage on the pink of her lipstick - with her lips curled back in their snarl, it leaves visible skin tone in the corners of the mouth, which throws off the look of her yellowed teeth and just winds up making the whole area seem poorly painted, and giving her a bit too much of a monstrous look.

Her hair is a wild, tangled mess, achieved by several layers of soft plastic add-ons, with a variety of braids, matted rat's tails, and random strands criss-crossing all over the place. In an effort to reproduce her semi-white hair colouring, the front fringe area is drybrushed, favouring the left side - it's a nice try, but it could have been better. One thing to watch out for when you buy is that the rear section of hair, sitting over the back of her head, can become semi-detached, leaving a gap running along the side of her scalp between it and the fringe section, and making her mop of hair look unnaturally bulky.

She doesn't have much articulation to speak of - she's more a tweakable statue than an action figure. The mandatory balljoint neck is there, but the wide eyes really make her eyeline obvious, even at a glance, and make it rather difficult to get her to look good unless her head's in its intended position, matching the body sculpt. She has swivel wrists, a swivel waist hidden beneath the lip of the corset, and swivel thighs and shins. Both feet have peg holes, and her base has two pegs - the leg articulation therefore is more or less locked into the one position, in which the feet match the pegs, as well as the legs lining up with where their shapes are visible through the dress.

Aside from the base - an unadorned black oval - Bella's only accessory is her wand, a smooth brown rod with a pronounced kink half-way along its length. Her right hand is sculpted to hold it, in a very tight fit, with her forefinger along its shaft and the others curled around it - the angled tip needs to point down to match up with her body pose. The wand can fit in its holster perfectly well, but since her arms are stuck in their raised position, she looks a bit ridiculous if she hasn't got something in her hand.

Bella's a fine addition to the ranks of action figure Death Eaters - she's got pretty much no play value, but by the time she starts showing up in Harry Potter it's not really a kids' book any more anyway.


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