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300: Immortal

NECA Reel Toys
by Monkey Boy

The film 300 is causing all kinds of controversy, while simultaneously breaking box office records. Iranians think the film is a "distortion of history" that paints Iran in a bad light. That right there is chutzpah, coming from a nation that sponsored a Holocaust deniers' conference. While 300 is obviously a fictional retelling of a historical battle, with focus on personal honor, staying true to oneself, and not giving in despite overwhelming odds, that hasn't stopped the mindless allegations.

Immortal Xerxes is Bush. Leonidas is Bush. The film is homophobic. The film is homoerotic. The fact that these issues lack a consensus (or even any defensible evidence) shows that such interpretations were probably not the intention of the filmmakers, and, to paraphrase Dee Snyder, the only homophobia, homoeroticism or parallels with modern politics is in the sick, twisted minds of those critics who feel compelled to draw ridiculous political conclusions from a popcorn movie featuring a fat guy with swords for hands (see the movie, seriously).

My point is that 300 is not meant to be taken uber-seriously, and it's certainly not a 100% factual retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae. Take the Persian Immortal, for example. gawd, that's so gay! In historical terms, the Immortals were elite Persian soldiers. They were an elite Imperial Guard regiment that always numbered exactly 10,000 - no more, no less. This is actually why they were called immortals; it was a term used by Herodotus to refer to their numbers, not their invulnerability, and was probably not used among the Persians. In Frank Miller's graphic novel, the Immortals are ferocious soliders clad in triangular metal armor with masks that cleverly mimic the Greek theatrical symbol of tragedy. Like the "real" Immortals, Miller's depictions carried shields and spears. The movie takes the concept even further, turning the Immortals into masked monsters, each armed with two ninja-like swords.

NECA's figure of the film version does a great job of capturing the look clang of the silver screen Immortal. The only vaguely "Persian" looking element of the figure's outfit is the turban, while the rest seems to draw more inspiration from Japanese samurai (particularly in the armor) and ninja (the arm and leg wrappings). The mask is also somewhat samurai-esque. The torso armor lies in overlapping plates, rather than one big triangle as depicted in Miller's artwork. The hands and feet are gnarled and twisted, with pointed nails and a sixth toe on each foot, indicated that the Immortals are definitely something more than human. All the detail work is very well done, but the pose could have been better. The Immortal is permanently in a strange sort of squat, with both knees bent. His body weight is shifted to the left side. The look is awkward, at best.

what your feet look like after an average day of wearing Converse sneakers The paint is, for the most part, very good. The areas meant to represent fabric are a bit too shiny in certain places, but overall that's a minor problem. The real highlight of the paint is the mask and chest armor. Both are vac-metallized, which is typically a bad thing, but here the chromed areas are made to look dull and weathered. The end result is surprisingly realistic. The armor really does look like pounded steel.

these scabbards are a symbol for something The figure has some workable articulation, but you're never going to get him out of that squat, unfortunately. His head is a balljoint, as are his shoulders, and he also gets one more balljoint in the torso. His elbow joints are diagonal swivels that offer a bent or straight-armed pose, but they're better than the usual "NECA arm." His wrists and ankles are peg joints. The chest joint works particularly well with the armor, since it's a separate piece lightly glued to the figure after assembly.

The Immortal gets three accessories: two short swords and an alternate head. One would think the default head would be the masked one, but the figure is packaged sporting the unmasked visage, which confirms his monstrous identity. The fierce, red-eyed, sharp-toothed unmasked head is nice, but I prefer the masked look myself. authentically Persian His swords as Asian-inspired and fit in sheathes on the figure's back. Thankfully, they are not vac-metallized, since NECA's Miho figure from the Sin City line showed what happens to vac-metallized swords when they rub up against a plastic sheath. The Immortal feels a tad light on accessories - especially after Leonidas got a sword, a spear, an alternate head, a giant shield and a base - but it's better than poor Queen Gorgo, who gets nothing at all.

Critics have claimed that the film is racist, since the Persian army is composed primarily of people of "color". To me, it felt more like a testament to the sheer amount of individuals and cultures that had been consumed by Xerxes' army. The Immortals of the film, with their eclectic design inspirations, seem to mirror that testament (though I still don't quite understand how or why they look like monsters). The figure is a near spot-on representation of how the Immortals looked on film, and other than the awkward squat, there's really nothing to complain about with this guy.

Which of the indefensible claims about 300 is the stupidest? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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