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Resistance A-10 Warthog

Terminator Salvation
by Artemis

"She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid."

While on routine patrol in her A-10 Warthog along with her wingman, Blair Williams is dispatched by John Connor to investigate a massive Skynet troop movement near her location. Upon arrival, she and her wingman find a Transport and shoot down a HK-Aerial which escorts the Transport. Another HK-Aerial released by the Transport shot down Blair's wingman and destroy one of the engines on Blair's craft. She was forced to eject or face certain death.

And then she meets Marcus and they have adventures together and god I'm sick of Terminator movies getting sidetracked by philosophising about what makes us human regardless of whether we're flesh or cyborg or what. Us squishy things? We're humans. Those metal things? They're machines. War happens. Go film that, and leave the Star Trek stuff to Star Trek.

That said, Terminator: Salvation did score a few points nonetheless, and one of them was hauling out the old Warthog for service in the war against the machines. Properly known as the Thunderbolt II ("Warthog" is just a nickname), the A-10 is a rock-solid workhorse of an aircraft which probably would survive a nuclear holocaust, short of a direct hit, anyway. Designed in the late '60s/early '70s, the A-10 is a Close Air Support aircraft, intended to fly at low altitude and low airspeed and hammer the bejeezus out of enemy ground forces with the impressive payload of bombs and missiles slung under its thick, wide wings, and of course the fearsome Avenger rotary cannon, which is among the biggest and meanest ever fitted to an aircraft, and will put seventy 30mm shells per second through two and a half inches of armour from half a kilometre away. If you're thinking of setting up a poorly-resourced resistance movement, it also helps that the Thunderbolt can take off and land on a short strip of half-wrecked highway, has triple-redundant systems, can be repaired with whatever junk you have to hand, and will keep working even after significant bits of it have been shot off. It's sort of the Rocky of combat aircraft.

Playmates' version isn't a model or replica exactly, but it is a pretty comprehensive toy. Measuring just over a foot long and wide, it's accurate to the real thing in form and covered in sculpted detail of skin panels and rivets. The paintwork isn't anything fancy, but by toy standards it's quite satisfactory, most unpainted light grey but with a variety of bits of damage and patched panels (the A-10's skin is designed to be repaired in the field, with improvised materials if necessary), plus safety and old US Air Force markings, and a snarling face on the nose. Relative to the aircraft overall the cockpit (which the packaging amusingly separates into "cock pit") is larger than it should be, since the toy isn't properly to scale with the Salvation 3¾" action figures - it'd have to be about two and a half feet long - but the discrepancy isn't really noticeable from the outside. On the inside it's a bit more obvious, since the pilot must lie almost flat to fit under the canopy, with her legs stuck beneath the control panel and occupying most of the inside of the nose. Well, that's military toys for you, as a rule.

All of the bombs and missiles are removable - the four between the landing gear can be removed by hand individually, while the outboard ones are joined together in pairs, and can be dropped by pushing on their mounting posts which protrude through the tops of the wings. The Gatling gun also fires - possibly inspired by Star Wars toys which often do the same thing with their laser cannons, what it fires is itself, the protruding barrel being actually the tip of a spring-loaded missile. Looking at other play features, the cockpit obviously opens (the main canopy, plus half the hull around it), the landing gear is free-wheeled but can't retract, and since the toy is slightly back-heavy (lacking the massive titanium "bathtub" that protects the pilot to balance things out) a strut lowers from the tail to keep it from tipping over backwards. With a figure in the cockpit it's just about balanced, and will stay on its wheels by itself.

That figure is likely to be Blair Williams, since she comes with the toy, and despite her contribution to the A-10's role in the movie being to get it shot down, she's presumably qualified to fly it. She's decently detailed for a 3¾" figure, but if you're in the mindset of the accuracy-oriented display figures movie tie-ins generally aim for, she's a bit underwhelming - her heavily scuffed black leather jacket has been replaced by a flat brown one, and her improvised armoured boots are just plain tan, making her look more like a regular military pilot than a resistance fighter who's had to scavenge and repair her own gear. Overall though her muted colours and no-nonsense design fit passably well with Terminator, as opposed to the more eye-catching flair of traditional GI Joe.

Just to dispel any misconceptions that the Han Solo quote up top may have been aimed at the woman rather than her ride, Blair - played by Moon Bloodgood, who is a real person despite sounding like a World of Warcraft elf - does look like much, even as a roughed-up resistance fighter with a shoot-first attitude and not enough time in the shower (moreso, but that's just me). Sadly her figure doesn't come to the party - there are limits to what can be done at this scale, but even so the Blair figure is only marginally recognizable, with an older, heavier-set face than it should have. The paintwork doesn't help - there's nothing wrong with it, but plain eyes, brows and lips with no extra detail don't do much to tart up a so-so sculpt. Still, it's worth noting that while it doesn't look much like Blair, if you take it as an original face it's not bad work - non-Blair looks like the kind of toughened veteran who'd still be alive and kicking after years of gruelling guerrilla warfare.

Blair invites comparison to GI Joe figures, and doesn't stand up that well in that regard when it comes to mobility. She's got a swivel neck, but her ponytail limits its range, and her legs are just peg hips/pin knees, pretty lackluster for a figure intended to be a fighter. The rest is serviceable: shallow balljoint sternum, swivel/pin shoulders and elbows, and swivel wrists.

She's packaged wearing her helmet, which is of course removable, otherwise I wouldn't have spent a whole paragraph talking about her face. It's good work, as 3¾"-scale hats goes - bulky, but no more than real combat pilot headgear, with a fair bit of sculpted detail, and an intricate white feather design printed onto the top, in addition to the plain black visor. Blair's other accessory is more toyish, an oversized handgun that mandates a very oversized holster on her right thigh. Neither hand has an extended trigger finger, but the gun has a solid trigger guard, so short of putting it in her hand half-sideways, or cutting the damned guard off, she can't really hold the gun properly. I've also found it has a bit of a tendency to slip out of its holster when she's flying, where it'll rattle around the innards of the cockpit until you can coax it out again.

The A-10 is a good toy - it looks good, has decent play features, and is rugged enough to survive the rigors you'd expect a military toy to be subjected to by the average 10-year-old (who shouldn't have seen Terminator, but whatever). Blair herself doesn't fare so well though, with her limited articulation and plain design putting her low down the scale of playability figures, but not serving well as a display figure either.

-- 07/01/09

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