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Black Widow

Black Widow
by yo go re

Somehow the name "Black" Widow just doesn't really suit this version of the character.

Extensive training in the Red Room made Natasha Romanoff into a warrior with few peers.

You know, when I preordered this figure from Walmart's site back in January, I only did it because I knew Walmart exclusives can sometimes be blink-and-you'll-miss-it rare, and I didn't want to run the risk of this one disappearing before I could add her to the collection; I didn't expect the reason she'd be impossible to find in stores was because the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would mean Walmarts were shutting down for the day before sunset, and that going for a random shopping trip would be an exercise in avoiding dumbasses who think being asked to wear a protective mask is tyranny, but police purposely shooting medics and journalists is somehow okay. (Sorry, I don't have an abundance of patience for "stupid" at the best of times, and the past few days have reallly worn it thin.)

This figure depicts Natasha as she appeared in the early '90s, back when nobody cared about the Avengers; in the '70s, she'd been added to the cast of Daredevil as a partner/love-interest for Matt Murdock, but they eventually broke up; after The Champions was cancelled, she came back in time for the end Frank Miller's epic run, sporting a new 80s-tastic look that began with a short and sporty new haircut! The version here, with the little peekaboo curl over her right eye, is based on the art of Jim Lee (as seen inside Uncanny X-Men #268, for instance).

Introduced in Daredevil #187, this is not a huge departure from what she'd worn in the '70s: it was still a full-body catsuit, though it was now grey rather than black, and it had a bit of a collar. When Miller drew it, it had no bracelets and no belt - it was really just a smooth grey body, all the way down. Soon enough, other artists began drawing her bracelets over the top of it, and a belt (made of pouches, not just discs like the old costume) followed soon after. But the thing that marks this specifically as a 1990s action figure is the inclusion of the ultimate fashion accessory, the Avengers-branded team bomber jacket! Yes, in the '90s, the entire East Coast Avengers team (sans Hercules and Vision) wore matching jackets over their costumes, like they were going trick-or-treating on a particularly chilly Halloween. This is an existing mold, but it's now painted with a big A on the shoulders.

Although the chest is a new mold (to accommodate the flared collar), the rest of the body is a normal piece, meaning normal articulation: head, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The ankles are the swivel/hinge type where the swivel part points right through the center of the foot, but it's very stiff here, like the plastic of the peg doesn't want to separate from the plastic of the foot. This may perhaps require boil-and-popping the feet off to make sure there's nothing wrong inside.

Hasbro has made a figure of this costume before, as a variant in a two-pack a decade ago, so her mere existence is not the big draw of this release - rather, it's the accessories. You get your choice of swappable hands, either fingers or fists, but Hasbro took advantage of that fact to also give us swappable Widow's Sting bracelets: they're all gold (she's worn silver in the past), but in addition to the plain pair she has on in the packaging, she's got a pair molded with translucent yellow energy blasts spiking out of them, and a pair with translucent smoke curling up from them. Basically, you can play like she's at rest, in the middle of a fight, or has just finished one. The gunsmoke on each of the bracelets is different, too, so it won't look false if you put them both on her at once.

Beyond all that, she also comes with a SHIELD jetpack, since this costume coincided with the start of her being more of a super spy than a super hero, more secret agent than secret identity. It's a small, blocky device that's more intricate than the rounded thing ML5 Nick Fury got around with. It has two removable exhaust flames that can plug into the jets, and straps to go on Nat's arms. Unfortunately, those are solid straps: without any faux-buckles or anything to allow you to open them, the only way to get the pack onto her is to actually slide it over her arms, which is never easy. Shame Hasbro couldn't give her removable arms to facilitate that. Heck, include a pair without the jacket sleeves, so we could have the option to display her in 1980s style. That'd allow us to appreciate the big spider symbol painted on her back, too.

This is a really cool exclusive, even if dealing with the backpack is a total pain. The packaging for it is grey, just like her costume, and the tray behind the figure is a lovely dark red. Hopefully one day Walmarts will reopen, and she'll start appearing on shelves for you to buy.

-- 06/01/20

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