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Ahsoka Tano

SW: Clone Wars
by Artemis

I'm not often a difficult mark for female characters. Be sexy and show a bit of moxie, and I'll happily overlook limited screen time (Frankie from Sky Captain), lack of characterization (the entire cast of Ikki Tousen), or being an evil alien overlord (Skrull Queen Veranke). Ahsoka did it tough, though. "Oh for heaven's sake," I thought, "not the Clone Wars again. And oh joy, a plucky teenage sidekick. Well, that's just great." And to my immense surprise, it was.

Anakin's padawan Ahsoka both amuses and exasperates her master with her plucky attitude and impertinent comments. She is tasked with keeping Jabba's son safe as she and Anakin try to escape their attackers. She affectionately nicknames the child "Stinky" because of his odor, the characteristic stench given off by the Hutt species.

Mind you, 'soka took a little while to win me over - her first few scenes played to stereotype, with her being all impetuous and loudmouthed and behaving very much like Plo Koon had found her among the cast of Clueless rather than on Shili. Then the Battle of Teth got going, and she jumped in and starred in a sequence more awesome than the entire prequel trilogy put together - in fact, I rate her little ride up the cliff up there with the best moments of any Star Wars movie, and I don't say that lightly. So while I was going to buy a figure anyway, just to keep the collection ticking over, now I actually wanted the character herself. (Not wanted wanted, she's only fourteen.)

Little 'soka's 3¼" tall, shorter than the regular 3¾", but not by so much as to look childlike or out of scale, though she's still overshadowed by adult Star Wars women by way of her slender limbs and slight figure. She's styled to fit in well with her CGI animated self - the slightly pointed shoulders being the main indication - though between the CGI being largely realistic from the neck down, and a little toning down of the more stylised aspects of it in the figure, she'll stand easily alongside real-world Star Wars figures too.

Hasbro knows its business with the galaxy far, far away by now and rarely fails to put in a credible effort, so in spite of her slightness Ahsoka benefits from an impressive array of sculpted details, including the buckles on the insides of her vambraces and outsides of her greaves, faint ridges showing her shoulder blades, tiny fabric creases in her boob tube top, and the beadwork on the ornaments she wears on her montrals (the spiky things on her head).

Her skirt is cloth, reasonably tight around her legs, but with plenty of flex for posing. Everything else is plastic, and painted professionally from head to toe, with clean fine detail work and strong, consistent colours that match her CGI counterpart shade for shade. Her only shortcoming is that the interiors of her knee joints and unpainted, and thus the same brown as her boots - that shows through against the pale tan of her tights when you bend her knees.

Ahsoka's face is where she deviates most from her CGI model - she's still slightly animated, but it's in a far more restrained comic art style, the kind you often find passing for realism on action figures. There's no mistaking her - besides the giveaway facial markings, there's her cute upturned nose, wide eyes with heavy lashes, and slightly petulant mouth - but in tilting her towards realism, the sculpt loses a bit of her individuality. In the CGI Ahsoka, there's a hint in her face - especially the intent frown, creasing her brow, that she often wears - of a hard determination, a sense that even though she's just a padawan, and "plucky sidekick" padawan at that, she's still a trained warrior ready to take her place on a lethal battlefield. That's missing, unfortunately.

That said, she still looks composed and capable, and the paintwork backs up the sculpt well, duplicating her intricate - and at this scale, very fine - markings almost without fault. The "almost" is the zig-zags that run up the center of her forehead, which extend a little way onto the metal ornament on her montrals, which it shouldn't do. The ornaments are painted metallic though, so with light reflecting off them the white marking is easily overlooked. Otherwise all is well, with clean facial features, and strong delineation on the dark blue markings on her montrals and lekku. (They're shorter than Shaak Ti's because she's still young, so if you were thinking they look a lot cuter than Shaak's versions, you're a Togruta pedophile.)

Being such a slender figure, there was always going to be a trade-off when it came to articulation, and it's her elbows - no balljoint, not even a peg joint, but when you look at the width of her arms, you can see why they made that decision. She's got a balljoint neck - relatively free, though her lekku limit the angles her head can tilt at if she's looking sharply to the side - swivel/peg shoulders, and swivel forearms at the tops of her vambraces. Her right hand's grip is perpendicular to her forearm, but the left is at an angle, which makes the swivel somewhat versatile. Otherwise she's a regular Star Wars girl, with a swivel waist, peg hips, swivel/peg knees and ankles. Her feet, like the rest of her, are fairly small, but the figure's minimal weight makes her fairly easy to keep standing in action poses.

Obviously she's got her lightsaber - lime green, accurate to the CGI version in its hilt design, and thankfully with a very minimal "flare" at the base of the blade ("thankfully" because real lightsabers don't have one at all - I wish they'd never come up with that idea for the toys). She also has a whole other figure packaged with her, though not a very substantial one: Rotta the Hutt, and the backpack he got carried around in.

The pack is fitted with two rubber straps, which loop fairly closely around Ahsoka's shoulders and fit easily into the notches in the bottom of the pack - so far as backpacks go at this scale, it's solid work. It's plain white, with the Republic cog wheel on the back, and hollow to allow Rotta to sit in it, which he does - facing backwards - nice and snug, looking very much like he did in the film. He, too, has been slightly skewed towards a live-action appearance, rather than being a pure copy of his CGI form, although since he lacked the squared-off jaw contours given to the adult CGI Hutts, he was a lot closer to real to begin with. His only flaw is that his arms - separate pieces, which swivel - are slightly lighter than the rest of his body, but under natural light even that isn't such a big deal.

So there you have Ahsoka Tano, a quality figure in all regards, with only a couple of very minor flaws. She's the newest of Star Wars's perpetually limited supply of women, so go buy a figure to show your support - since, what with Clone Wars being a prequel to Sith, and her not being around then, she's pretty much guaranteed not to be around for long (though I'm hoping she's lost and "presumed dead," but will in fact survive to re-emerge after the wars - possibly a bit bitter and cynical from doing it tough wherever she got lost - to feature in the live-action TV series. What? I can dream).


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