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Samus Aran

Metroid: Other M
by yo go re

Back when the D-Arts Mega Man was listed in the Previews catalog, there were also listings for Legend of Zelda and Metroid figures, but they were cancelled before being released. Luckily, they were both resolicited, and so here we are!

When something threatens the Galactic Federation, they call on Samus Aran. She's the most accomplished bounty hunter anywhere. But even though she weeds out dangerous and evil characters from the galaxy for a living, she also truly cares about the safety of all law-abiding life forms. The Galactic Federation depends on her, and many other life forms throughout the galaxy have counted on her to save their hides.

That text isn't anywhere on the box - we just needed a bio to start the review. It's taken from a big double-page spread in the Super Metroid Player's Guide. Super Metroid (aka Metroid 3) was released for the Super Nintendo in 1994, back when the series was good. This figure, meanwhile, is based on the god-awful Metroid: Other M, a sexist piece of garbage that looked nice, but was creatively bankrupt and turned one of the few legitimately strong female characters in videogames into a swooning little girl looking to a man for permission to do everything. It would be like if, for Gordon Freeman's first speaking role, he turned out to be one of the sad bros from Workaholics.

But hey, the advantage of putting your character in the same big, fancy armor all the time is that one release can serve as a representation of any incarnation. Until Marvel released an Extremis Iron Man, the movie version was an acceptable stand-in. So here you've got Samus in a suit of armor that's orange, yellow and red, with bulbous shoulders and a green visor in the center of her helmet - close enough!

If you've played the Metroid games to any extent, of course, you'll be able to recognize this as the Other M armor - there are enough unique details to make its source clearly recognizable, but they're really only cosmetic. Using the Smash Bros. renders as an example of what her original armor should look like in 3D, we're really only talking green circles on the sides of the knees and ridges over the shoulders - not very much, in the grand scheme of things.

The design of the armor is mostly sleek and rounded, rather than being blocky. There are sharp points on her knees and around her ankles, but the only place that the armor comes to a point is right in the center of the chest. Overall, it's a very organic, very feminine look; it's a good thing graphics weren't very good when the series debuted, or the surprise reveal would have been blown right away. There are wide seams providing visual interest on the surface of the suit, and there's a bit of a rocket pack on her shoulders.

The Figma motto is よくうごく、キレイ (yoku ugoku, kirei) - "moves well, looks good." We've already covered the "looks good" part, so how's she move? Well, "well." She moves well. We're talking hinged toes, a mid-foot swivel, swivel/hinged ankles and knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips double-balljointed hips, a swivel/hinge torso, swivel/hinge elbows, a balljointed head, and three balljoints in the shoulders: one for the body, one for the arm, and one for the big piece of armor! Hot diggety!

The joints are all stiff enough to stay in place, but smooth enough to move easily. The hips and shoulders have a ribbed sculpt to suggest we're seeing an undersuit that flexes as she moves (and has the added benefit of not leaving the figure with big, obvious joints. She's got enough articulation that you can get her into pretty much any pose you'd want for her, from calm to crazy. The only flaw is that the way the shoulders are designed, so that the armor doesn't impede the movement at all, means that there can be big gaps between the shoulder and the body. It's annoying, but it's a trade-off worth making.

According to the same guidebook we quoted above, Samus stands 6'3" and weighs 198 lbs, and that's without her armor! Daaaamn! The toy just barely breaks the 6" mark, which means she's almost in the same scale as DCU Classics, Marvel Legends, or the Star Wars Black Series - "almost." Standing next to one of those figures, she ends up looking a bit tiny. But judging by the Connor Kenway who happened to still be handy at the moment, she fits nicely with whatever weird scale McFarlane Toys is using (at least until they change it again for no reason).

Samus comes with only a few accessories, starting with four alternate left hands (her right hand is inside a cannon, so it obviously isn't swappable). Right out of the tray, she has a clenched fist, but the set also includes a clutching hand, a relaxed hand, a splayed hand, and a thumbs-​down. Each of the hands has a hinge joint built in, and can swivel once it's plugged into the wrist. And while there may not be any traditional hands for the right arm, there's still a replacement piece: you can remove the tip of the cannon and swap it for an "open" version that represents her missile launcher mode.

There are two blast effects that can plug into the cannon as well: a single blast and a double blast. They're cast from clear plastic, with a rounded bolus at the front and a spiky, double-layered flare at the base. There's a pale pink paint app applied at the proximal end of the blast, which seems backwards to us, but still looks nice. Both pieces fit into the cannon so tightly that they'll pull the removable tip out when you take them off.

Finally, we've got the Morph Ball, the game's trademark bit of weirdness. Mario eats mushrooms to get big, Samus rolls into a ball to explore ventilation shafts; it's just what happens. The ball is 1⅜" in diameter, has a few sculptural embellishments, and is done in the same metallic orange, red and yellow as the power armor itself. There's even a semi-transparent green ring around the middle to match the highlights! The set also includes a clear hexagonal display base with an articulated arm - it can either plug into the Morph Ball or Samus' back to hold them aloft.

Sadly, that's all we get. No missiles, despite the attachment for her missile launcher. No bombs, her main form of weaponry/jumping while in Morph Ball mode. No grapple beam, for hanging from things. No Choogle. No alternate unmasked head, which even the terrible Joyride figure from 2003 had! But perhaps worst of all, no Metroid. There's a "Zero Suit Samus" statue that comes with a Metroid - conveniently sized to work perfectly with this toy - but why not just include the Metroid here? Hell, if we're being totally honest, I'd rather have a Metroid than the Morph Ball.

Metroid: Other M is, if you watch it, a pretty terrible game. It changes Samus from a strong character (who just happens to be female) into a weak-willed incompetent who needs a man's approval to be complete. If you don't see a problem with that, look at the vitriolic backlash directed at Feminist Frequency over the whole Tropes vs. Women thing - you think those guys really need to see another subservient girl in their games? Or how about in our own toy fandom, where some fans seem pissed that a *gasp!* woman is going to be writing a Transformers comic? Sexism is alive and well, and neutering Samus Aran doesn't help any. Fortunately, this toy is quite nice. There are improvements that could be made (mainly a few other accessories), but that shouldn't be what turns you off this figure; the huge importers' pricetag, that should be what turns you off this figure! But since she's available through the local comicshop, even that isn't too bad.

-- 01/11/14

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