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Sister Benedron

World of Warcraft
by Artemis

It's that time of year - mistletoe, presents, fir trees, mistletoe, stockings, mistletoe (hey, it's useful stuff), and reviewing a Christmas-themed action figure. Except McFarlane has given up on doing anything interesting, so we'll have to settle for something close enough to pass at a glance.

Sister Benedron is a human Priestess, and that's all the packaging has to say about her - and since I'm not a World of Warcraft player I can't help much. A quick browse of the ever-helpful internet reveals that she doesn't exist in any form other than an action figure, but at least we can say that Warcraft priests and priestesses in general tend to follow the traditional White Mage path - "She's a healer, but she carries a huge damn hammer." Or axe, in Benedron's case, although it's big enough that she could wield it side-on and probably still kill people with bludgeoning damage.

WoW isn't known for its practicality - out here in the real world, the kind of royal armour you see loaded down with gold decoration and several dozen layers of fine cloth accents would be purely ornamental, possibly never intended to be worn at all, let alone during one of those interesting episodes in monarchical history when "divine right" is decided by wading waist-deep through a swamp killing any whoreson who tries to get the crown off of you, but in Warcraft they wear this kind of balderdash as a matter of habit. Even so, Benedron's got a ceremonial air to her, with the figure capturing her in mid-preach, rather than piously caving in the heads of unbelievers.

Firstly, since it's difficult to tell in the photos (I couldn't even make it out in the official publicity shots, let alone my own "point a digital camera at it and job done" efforts), she's not wearing a crop top. Her skin's jet black, but the only exposed part of her body is her face, a small amount of upper chest, and her shoulders, beneath the armour plates; the black abdomen is tightly-bound cloth, which must be one of the few times a pop-fantasy female warrior has worn an outfit that's less revealing than it could be. From shoulders to toe Benedron's clad in black cloth, accented with gold, and then mostly covered in polished white armour, again decorated in gold. If one were to assume that this is purely ceremonial garb (which it's not), it'd almost be realistic, albeit bloody uncomfortable. She stands (on considerably high heels, no less) a touch over 6½" to the top of her head, 7" to her raised left hand.

The sculpt is highly intricate, verging on overcrowded with detail, but unlike the chaotic-looking Valeera from series one, Benedron's rocking the kind of heavily decorated baroque-religion look where that works in her favour. Her leathers, or whatever they are, are flat black, but the white plate armour worn over top of them is polished to a decent finish, looking almost like porcelain in some areas, though several plates - mainly the hips, shoulders and gauntlets - bear the scars of battle, or at least vigorous theological debates. The gold edging is for the most part plain metallic paint, with no highlighting or ink to deepen the sculpt, but the colour itself is rich, leaning towards copper, and had enough contrast between its own shadows and light-catching edges to look good without fancy paint tricks to help it.

Benedron's face - which I had to photograph at a slight angle, since her left arm is in the way - is serene, child-like in some aspects, and as mentioned, black as night. I have no idea whether humans come in that colour in Warcraft - it's pure flat black, rather than the midnight-blue-black you generally get in the darkest skin tones out here in reality - but she's also got pure blue glowing eyes, so perhaps her holy power changes her appearance, or something. The uniform skin tone, without lipstick or eye shadow or liner or anything of that sort, gives her an appropriately austere appearance - in spite of her outfit - and sets her rather dramatically apart from most fantasy women, who're generally done up like they're taking a break from appearing in Vogue. Her hood matches her armour, white with gold decoration, though the white is a matte finish since it's just cloth.

Among the holy commandments is evidently "Thou shalt not move," so articulation is nonexistent. Real scale chains are used to hold the medallion hanging off her belt at the front, and the Big Damn Axe at the back, and while we're on stuff that, if not jointed, at least isn't glued in place, her wings and book are also removable, packaged separately for assembly once you get her home. The wings are pretty much just like the gold on her armour in appearance - flat copper-gold over a detailed sculpt, with every "feather" of the fashioned wings decorated with engraved designs. Hopefully they're painted wood, to make her look holy, rather than actual metal; otherwise I hope one of her holy powers is "able to stand upright in all that junk." The medallion and axe are much the same, in technical terms, though the weapon - which can't be removed, by the way - has some extra colours, a flat brown for the wrappings on the shaft, and a darker brown "crown" and eyes on the face worked into the axe head.

The book could technically be called an accessory, since if you wanted to you could display Benedron without it - it's attached via a peg in her right palm that fits into the book's spine, but the peg is fairly small and coloured black, and with her fingertips curling upwards you wouldn't immediately notice it if you just left the arm empty; it'd just look like she was gesturing vaguely in mid-praise-God. But I can't honestly imagine anyone wanting to drop the book in the bits box rather than have it where it belongs - it's a pretty gorgeous little piece of work. The cover is sculpted and painted as dark leather bound in metal - more of that copper-gold, at the corners, and an elaborate boss on both covers duplicating the face from the axe. The pages are very well sculpted, with the topmost pages lifting slightly near the spine, and curling up at the edges, and painted off-white with a smudging of dark cream, to look old and weathered. The two open pages are represented by stickers - on my figure the right-side page is slightly high, but when seen from an angle, as you do when the figure's standing, you don't notice that, and the level of detail on the pages is superb, with all manner of fanciful illuminated-manuscript texts and symbols jumbled together, coloured in a handful of brown and red inks.

Like her series-three sister Tamuura, Benedron's a statue, not an action figure: you sacrifice versatility and playability for pure appearance. And like Tamuura, she delivers on those terms - her design is attractive, characterful, and benefits from a strong sense of underlying culture to her costume and attitude, and it's been transformed into plastic statue form without any flaws worth noting. Warcraft fans should be happy - unless they wanted an action figure, in which case they're screwed - but as a former faithful customer of McFarlane's informal line of eccentric and frequently heavily-armed beauties, I'm glad to see the WoW line taking its place. And she'd kind of work if you put her on top of a Christmas tree, too.


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