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Lara Croft

Tomb Raider Underworld
by Artemis

What can you say about Lara Croft? She's a haughty British aristocrat with nerves of steel, Olympic-level gymnastic skills, and a strong resemblance to Angelina Jolie. Marry me. There have been plenty of opportunities to buy Lara Croft over the years - sadly only in action figure form - so it's not like this latest version of her was going to fill a gap in my collection... but what was I going to do, turn her down? You don't say no to Lara Croft.

For generations, stories have been told of the fearsome weapon of the Norse god Thor. Legends holds that who wields the hammer has the power to smash mountains into valleys and the strength to destroy even the gods. For more than a thousand years it has existed only as a myth... until now. Fearless adventurer Lara Croft attempts to unravel the myths behind the Norse Underworld and in doing so, journeys toward a forgotten power that if unleashed could lay waste to all civilization.

You're Thor? I'm tho thor I can barely pith!

[Hey-o! --ed.]

Underworld Lara - named for her latest game (not that I've ever played any of them, and if that seems out of keeping with my aforementioned interest in her, let me remind you: Angelina Jolie), the plot of which you'll have seen above, not that anyone cares about the plot when you can just stare at her arse for hours on end while jogging through tombs - is 7" tall, and follows a pattern that should be pretty familiar to any Lara-fancier by now.

Disregarding a few one-shot special environment costumes, you've got two basic Laras: the leotard and the crop top, and this one follows the proud midriff-exposing tradition of the latter. Yummy. Looking past the typical Croft wardrobe of heavy boots, short shorts with thigh-strap holster belt, top, and backpack, Underworld Lara's distinctive features are black panels on the sides of her olive green shorts and top, and a thin load strap crossing her chest high up, part of the backpack's straps.

Everything's well in order for a neo-animated Lara - her body is sleek and athletic (though to be honest I wouldn't have minded a bit more definition in her abs), her clothes figure-hugging but with plausible creases and wrinkles so as not to look like spandex, and her attached gear - boots, belt, belt pouches, and backpack - is nice and detailed. Paint was a bit of an issue when I bought mind - I had five to choose from, and all had issues of one sort or another, primarily poor delineation of the edges of the crop top's black patches. The one you see here is the one I thought best - she's got slightly poor coverage on the skin of her midriff, mostly around the top of her shorts and belt, but it's not very eye-catching, and I gauged it a fair trade-off for a mostly clean top. It's not like no-one ever looks at Lara Croft's chest.

Her face is decent work, in the current post-movie style - a bit of Angie, a bit of the general haughty long-faced look of other models who've "played" her at videogame shows and suchlike, a bit of generic comic/animation hottie, and a no-nonsense expression to round it off. This Lara is one of the better ones in recent times - her face is serious and her makeup subdued, but there's also a fair amount of concession to aesthetics there, with a carefully chosen shade of lipstick, and a very subtle, easy-to-miss touch of eye shadow to compliment her delicately arched eyebrows. Her hair helps a lot - besides the finely sculpted tight pull-back, there are a number of fringe strands in soft rubber, like the ponytail itself, also sculpted very neatly, and the whole arrangement manages to both look practical, and to frame her face really cutely. She's got prominent cheekbones, which help sell the aristocratic look - from some angles they also make her head look a touch too big for her body, but it's mostly optical illusion. If women could conceive without male intervention, and Angelina Jolie and Milla Jovovich had a kid... sorry, I can't finish that thought, I'm too busy thinking about the sex.


Okay, back to...


...back to work. Ironically for a character so associated with gymnastic action - in both her games and various lurid fanfics - it's not often you find a super-flexible Lara, and this one's no exception to the rule. Following on from the (very similar in all regards, it must be said) Legends Lara, she's got everything she needs to stand in one pose and be tweaked slightly, and that's pretty much it. A balljoint neck gives her some room to maneuver, especially with the sculpt of her neck subdued on the tendons so she doesn't look weird if you turn her head to one side, but her arms - swivel/pin shoulders and swivel wrists - really aren't good for much besides fine-tuning their position at her sides, since the inability to change her relaxed posture, or straighten her elbows entirely, means firing poses lack conviction. She has a tight but workable balljoint hidden beneath her crop top - very useful for slight body language adjustments - and she's got swivels inside the tops of her boots, which are fairly limited given that you can see which ways her knees are pointing.

She's light on accessories, but she's got the basics that no Lara should be without, her trusty pair of handguns. They're a reasonable, if simple, replica of the Heckler & Koch USP MATCH guns she wielded in the movies - though with a slightly protruding barrel, which images of the real thing don't seem to have; no big deal - and they fit snugly into her holsters or her hands. She's got her forefingers extended, so having the guns holstered leaves her hands looking a bit empty - on the plus side, the fingers fit perfectly over the triggers when the guns are in place. There are three grenades on the back of her belt, but they're glued in place. She doesn't come with a base, which may be a nasty oversight, depending on quality control - if all the figures are like mine, they'll tend to lean to the right quite a bit, and while it's not an impossible pose for someone resting their weight to one side while walking slowly, it does leave her prone to falling over. Both boots have peg holes in the heels, sized to fit the average 7"-scale base peg.

So that's Underworld Lara for you - simple, uncomplicated Lara Croft. She's not in dramatic mid-leap, she doesn't have a voice chip or some other elaborate special feature, and she's not loaded with assault rifles and mystic relics and whatnot. She's just 7" of the world's favourite freelance treasure hunter - travel writer in her spare time - ready to stand on your desk, look sexy, and be easily recognisable as "that chick from Tomb Raider" to even the most clueless knowlessman to wander past. Check the paintwork when you buy, but otherwise, she's a fine Lara Croft - and who wouldn't want that?


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