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Harley Quinn

Batman Arkham Asylum
by yo go re

One of the best games of 2009 was Batman: Arkham Asylum, but I haven't gotten to play it yet, because none of you have chipped in to buy us a PS3 for the OAFE office. Still, that doesn't mean I have to pass up on the toys, does it?

It's a madhouse ... and the lunatics are running the asylum!

After arriving on Arkham Island, Batman is greeted by Warden Sharp and security personnel. Although The Joker is securely strapped to a handcart for transfer to the deepest bowels of Arkham, he escapes nonetheless. This is going to be the worst night of Batman's life.

With The Joker free, inciting unrest among the inmates, Batman faces a riot from a cadre of Gotham City's most wanted: killers and psychopaths who are screaming for vengeance and out for blood. Batman's blood. His mission? Stop The Joker - and his accomplices - at all costs.

Welcome to the asylum. Arkham Asylum.

Yeah, honestly? We could care less what the game's about - this is a figure of Harley Quinn dressed up as a naughty nurse, and that's enough to sell the toy on its own merits. The costume is a holdover from an early story beat that would have seen Joker playing a mad doctor - with Harley as his nurse. Concept artist Carlos D'Anda's first pass at the character was therefore much more traditional, and it was Paul Dini who suggested adding the sexy bondage gear. The final result is a mix of the two, and better than either would have been alone.

Harl was sculpted by Jonathan Matthews, and she looks dead-on accurate to the videogame model. Her shirt looks like rumpled cloth and the skirt has large, thick pleats. The detail on her fetish wear is impeccable, as well - it truly looks like thin leather with rivets and buckles. Her Grade-A Zettai Ryouiki is created partially by softgood fishnets, but since they cover only a short bit of real estate, the seams on the back actually aren't too terrible (at least not compared to the way they usually end up looking). The shinguards on the front of her boots have the appearance of pads placed over the top of the real boot, as they should, and her corset is realistically ribbed. There is not a bad word to be said about the sculpt.

The paint, however, is another story. This is a very complex sculpt, with a lot of small details and hard edges that need to be painted with precision, and while we're willing to overlook some mistakes, there are enough here that are visible even with a cursory inspection that we simply have to bring it up. The problems are most noticeable anywhere color meets white, so mainly on the straps that run up over her shoulders and across her back. They just look sloppy and incomplete. Also, whoever was overseeing the factory apparently failed to double-check the paint master when it was time to assign workers to the arms: the purple and red should be reversed, so that the colors alternate their way up her body.

Thankfully, the paint on her face doesn't have any of those errors. She's got her white base, of course, but neither the bright red lips nor the dark purple mask show any slop. There's a bit of pink airbrushed onto her cheeks, and her eyes are crisp. Her blonde hair is a very natural color - it's not a cartoony yellow, unlike some other figures.

Articulation is what you'd expect from DC Direct: Harley has hinged knees, T-crotch, swivel wrists, hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders and a swivel neck. It's nothing outstanding, but it serves the character well enough - yes, she's an acrobat, but you never really fight her in the game, so it's not like the toy is letting the character down. She has a black disc base that she doesn't really need, but also comes with a candy-striped Titan injection gun and the cane she stole from the warden (she's also wearing his ID badge, but that's not really an accessory).

The Arkham Asylum figures cost a bit more than the average DCD offering, since they had to license back the game designs, but the company also put a little extra work into the packaging, giving the front of the clamshell Batman ears. The game's take on Harley Quinn is decidedly non-traditional, but if you can overlook the paint errors (or find one where they're not too bad), she makes for a good figure. She's also a fast seller, so don't hold your breath waiting for any sales to bring down the price.

-- 04/03/11

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