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Zuul

Ghostbusters
by Rustin Parr

"There is no Dana... there is only Zuul."

Come on! We've all been waiting for this figure and at last it here! Dana Barrett - Sigourney Weaver - sexy possessed-by-a-pagan-god chick, she's got everything! Or would were she not a Mattel figure.

Zuul - minion of Volguus Zildrohoar, Lord of Seboulia (aka Gozer) - currently possessing the body of sexy cellist, Dana Barrett,

Mattel's online-exclusive line of Ghostbusters action figures has been controversial at best (and a complete cluster-farm at worst). On the one hand it has finally delivered toys from the immensely popular 1984 film including the seemingly likeness-unattainable main characters themselves. On the other, the line is based on body reuse leading to inaccurate body types and soft, sometimes characturized likenesses and a wide gamut of pack-ins. This figure has a hand in the former category and a couple limbs in the latter.

The elephant in the room here is articulation. There are technically only two points, a balljointed head and a swivel waist, but the latter is more a result of the interchangeable lower halves of her body than as a bit of poseable forethought. Both joints move well - the head is restricted by the hair but not as much as I expected and the upper torso has an equally better-than-expected range of good looks when twisted left and right. The latter is especially true for the "seated" pose and allows for more than just the signature look for that configuration.

Zuul's sculpt is as good as could be expected from Mattel and their "Movie Masters" style. It's soft in terms of details, but her limbs are well executed and the dress hits the volume of airy flow recognizable from the film. The biggest surprise is the posing of the hands, against all odds they look perfectly natural hanging to her sides while standing as they do supporting her torso while sitting. Whoever sculpted this figure deserves some very solid kudos for that alone. It's insanely hard to make one specific pose work for others but they nailed it here.

Since this is more a statue than a toy a lot is riding on the likeness as there's little else to "sell" the figure on... and it's quite possible the worst likeness in entire line. How long have we been waiting for nerd goddess Sigourney Weaver to have a toy and here we seem to get it except that this is certainly no toy and the likeness is so off it seems very plausible that indeed they never had the rights in the first place.

Like the overall sculpt, the paint is pretty good too, considering the style. The hair is cast in soft brown plastic and the skin is likewise cast in flesh tone. We get some nice, clean detail work on the face and the finger- and toenails, but it's the dress the steals the show. It's a nice metallic orange with metallic brown lowlights and metallic yellow highlights. Being painted fairly un-subtly and blockily it looks good despite itself. She certainly stands out on the shelf and in the collection, which is nice. However, she is lacking the more extreme, '80s sex-goddess makeup she had in the film, thus her body says Zuul but her face says Dana - so confusing! It would have been great to have an alternate head with a smiling face and the heavy makeup on it. Hell I would have bought two then, to have both heads and legs on display! I must point out, though, that it seems this kind of paint doesn't stick to the plastic too well as two decent sized bits of orange stayed on the tray when I removed her from the package, thus rendering two white splotches on her backside.

In addition to her alternate legs Zuul gets the stone altar upon which she can lustily lounge. It's a good sculpt, which some cool gargoyle legs and plenty of weathering on the top, but there isn't a drop of paint to be seen. The result is a pretty cheap looking hunk of shiny plastic. A simple black wash, or a casting in dark gray with a light gray drybrush would have made this pretty awesome, but that is not the case as is. I know this line's budget is based on re-use so this was a pretty expensive figure, being 100% new tooling than can't be re-used, but it simply oozes cost savings. If they had just upped the price $5 and added more paint and/or an alternate head this would be much closer to what the market's expectations for value would be.

While not originally intended to be San Diego Comic-Con exclusive, the failure to meet the 2012 subscription pre-order minimum pushed Zuul into this spot. The only perceptible change this meant to the figure was that instead of a standard white Mattycollector box she came in a fully printed "Gate of Gozer" box, which certainly does look pretty cool. The art wraps around the box with the Gate itself terminating on either side of the back, this could be a neat backdrop if not for the printing on the front but at least that is all relegated to the bottom third of the facing.

Dana/Zuul is a figure that is very much "good for what it is." The value added by the alternate legs and clever sculpting of the legs are equally balanced by the lack of articulation and remarkably weak likeness. As a result, this is really a figure for collectors of the full line. Even if you don't collect the variants of the four Ghostbusters she's worth having as a major character, but she's nothing that will be missed by those not already on board with the toys.

-- 10/17/12


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