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Athosian Teyla

Stargate Atlantis
by Artemis

Let's be honest: this is just the poor man's Teal'c.

Teyla Emmagen Athosian Teyla was raised on the planet Athos in the Pegasus Galaxy. Having lived with the Wraith threat her entire life, Teyla initially joined the Atlantis Expedition to protect her people from future attacks yet quickly became an invaluable member of the team thanks to her quick-thinking, loyalty and unique fighting style. Teyla's modified DNA grants her limited access to Wraith telepathy, but the full extent of her abilities remains unclear...

Not that you can blame them - anyone looking to SG-1 and planning a spin-off would probably put "have a Teal'c" at the top of their notepad first thing, just like every Star Trek needs a Spock. Teyla was the designated Alien Ally of the Stargate Atlantis family, the one who has useful local knowledge, quirky non-human mannerisms, and a cool stoic nature that makes it notable when she occasionally flares up. Up until the writers faced up to the fact that she was very boring, and replaced her with Ronan Dex, anyway. Hey, don't blame me, I'm just telling it like it is - if you write characters and cast actors with no chemistry between them, you're asking for trouble.

There are two versions of Teyla on offer - the standard one, with her Atlantis Expedition uniform, and this one in her native Athosian garb. Aside from the neat Goa'uld ideas they inherited from the movie, Stargate's never really made it up there with Star Wars and Farscape and their ilk for inventive alien costuming, and Teyla's a fair example of why that is. There's nothing much wrong with how she looks, but it's far from the most striking design - a split skirt with a wide leather belt topping it, a crop top with some interesting scalemail-type work on her chest, and leather bracers. Shorten the skirt and you'd see costumes like this by the dozen in the background of any Amazon-centric episode of Xena, on the Amazons who weren't important enough for the designers to spend more than five minutes on their outfits - it's really only in comparison to the drab worksuits worn by the Atlantis Expedition members that Teyla's get-up qualifies as "exotic."

That said, she's not ugly by any means - the areas of smooth bare skin, and the interesting sculpt and paint on the scale mail, make for a figure that's pleasing to look at, once you notice it. Aside from ennui, the only problem with her outfit is the skirt - the splits in it are too wide and rounded at the top, so that instead of looking like proper splits in the skirt - fabric seams opening up beneath the end of the stitching - they look like someone hastily cut bits out so we can see some of her legs.

her eyes are open wide The face is actually quite good - missing a touch of eye shadow compared to some of the publicity shots, but so far as day-to-day Teyla goes, she's a good likeness. Rachel Luttrell doesn't really have any striking features for a sculptor to highlight - her look as Teyla is distinctive, but insofar as it's a combination of factors, a generally long face, lidded eyes, some variation in skin tone provided by a light blush makeup, and her habit of looking vaguely dissatisfied with everything around her.

The figure captures all that pretty well, which is quite an achievement really - if I liked Teyla more, I'd be very pleased with how this turned out. The only sore point is her hair, where the tan drybrush to bring out the sculpted detail, high-contrast over a dark brown base, goes over the top in well-covered areas like her fringe and over her shoulders - but you only really notice that when you get up close, and standing back and looking at the whole figure, you don't much notice anything out of the way.

shiny! The rest of her paintwork varies from good to pedestrian. The chest armour is really very nice, a metallic silver-blue with mother-of-pearl shades of violet and ocean blue. On the skirt, things are more so-so - the brown and dark blue tend to blur together murkily, with the highlights intended to pick out the skirt's colour and the belt's detail applied half-heartedly. Coverage is an issue all over, especially visible at the edges of the bracers, but also around the shoulders of her top - the paint just doesn't come far enough, so there are those tell-tale skin-coloured edges to the clothes. Her sandals are very close in colour to her skin, too, meaning unless they catch the light it can look as though she's barefoot.

From my experience with Stargate figures, they're generally articulated with a view to standing still and waving their arms about, and Teyla pretty much follows that. nice bicep joint It's not that she's not articulated from the waist down - swivel waist, peg hips, swivel thighs, peg knees - but that you just can't do very much with it. The waist is a very smooth line of sculpt from her belt to her stomach - turn it more than a little, and it's very obvious that it's an artificial joint, not an actual body twisting around - and the hips can't move backwards at all, rendering walking or action stances impractical. In fact, her hips are so limited in backward motion that you need to bend her knees (thus making the joint visible) just to have her stand upright - sloppy design there. Her neck is a balljoint, but the solid hair limits it pretty severely to a little up and down, a little side to side, and the merest fraction of tilt. She has recessed balljoint shoulders - useful, but limited in how far they can lift - highly visible swivel biceps, peg elbows, and swivel wrists. Given the inclusion of her trademark fighting sticks, it's really quite frustrating that she's all but useless in terms of fighting stances - whatever you do with her arms, there's no escaping the fact that the bottom half of her body can't really move.

The aforementioned fighting sticks lead off the accessory count - there's two of them, identical yet another zat (give or take the vagaries of the manufacturing process) with smooth black handles and worked bamboo-like wooden shafts. Her hands are sculpted for a loose grip, to accommodate other accessories, but it's tight enough that - with a little care - she can hold the sticks at more or less any angle you want. She also gets her necklace, which is relevant in the show early on, though obviously there's no way to get it onto her, and the usual zat gun accessory, which fits best in her right hand, but works in either.

where can I plug in my Slip'n'Slide? Finally, she has a piece of the Atlantis stargate - the lower left segment, with one end plugging into the floor base, the other ready to plug into the upper gate piece. What with the gate being pretty fundamental to the show, the sculpt and paint have been rightly given considerable attention, producing an attractive and reasonably accurate (though necessarily reduced in size) replica of the set piece. With internal lighting being such a feature of the Pegasus-style gates, on the constellation panels as well as the chevrons, a perfect duplicate is impossible, but bright white paint picking out the constellations, and some fairly good shading on the chevrons, produces an effect that's forgivably close enough.

At the end of the day, if you're a Teyla fan, this figure's good enough - her inability to do cool kung fu stances with her sticks is annoying, but she's a good likeness, especially in the face, and looks decent in the fairly neutral poses she's restricted to. I just would have liked for her to be more... interesting.

these two figures are standing near each other


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