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League of Legends
by yo go re

I don't know what the hell we're looking at today.

This is, according to the packaging, PROJECT: Fiora from League of Legends. Well, that gives us a starting point, at least, because not only have I never heard of PROJECT: Fiora, I've never heard of League of Legends. RESEARCH MONTAGE!!! League of Legends is a Multiplayer Online Battle Arena game, or MOBA. That's the same kind of game Heroes of the Storm is, I guess? And it basically boils down to "what if a tower defense game had characters?"

So that's half the info we needed. Now, who's PROJECT: Fiora? She is... apparently nobody. Well, that's not fair. Fiora is one of League of Legends'-- good lord, 137 characters?! And I thought Overwatch had a lot! Anyway, Fiora the Grand Duelist has a whole Game of Thrones-y backstory about her royal family being betrayed and seeking honor and blah blah blah. But in that she's just a normal human woman, not a robot ninja elf. So what gives? RESEARCH MONTAGE!!

"PROJECT" (yes, it's written in all caps, for some reason, but no, it's not an acronym) is a set of alternate skins for the characters. For some of the characters, at least, because when you have nearly an entire gross of "champions," as the game calls them, you can't do matching skins for everybody. Anyway, these PROJECT skins represent an alternate future in the world of the game, in which the champions have been augmented by cybernetics. Here's the art team's definition:

PROJECT: is the perfect fusion of one's supernatural essence with advanced weaponry and body augmentation. This linking of technology and energy allows extraordinary hosts to channel their essence into physical manifestations and, in rare cases, transcend the corporeal plane. Only subjects possessing extremely focused inner essence and exceptional physical attributes can unlock the true power of PROJECT.

If you know Fiora's regular design, you can see a few echoes of it here: asymmetrical shoulder pads (a big chunky one on one side, two smaller, pointier ones on the other), a thin cape hanging down the left side of her back... okay, that's really where the parallels end. The idea was to make her graceful yet sharp, like it might sting if you bumped into her, but also smooth and rounded because she's a lady. That's a fine line to walk. She definitely looks like a human-sized robot, rather than someone wearing a suit of armor.

Fiora's one constant trademark through all her different skins is her Gen13 Freefall hair - you know, black with pink bangs. So naturally, PROJECT: Fiora drops that in favor of blank white hair. Sure, why not? The glow in her armor keeps the pink, but that's not enough. The only human bit of her we can see if her jaw, but even that looks artificial, with its white skin and panel lines on the cheeks.

PROJECT: Fiora is part of the same "Legacy Collection" brand as Funko's other action figure lines, like Firefly or Magic the Gathering. She has hinged ankles, double-hinged knees, balljointed hips, swivel/hinge wrists, elbows, and shoulders, a balljointed chest and a balljointed head. She's lacking thigh swivels, butthose were probably precluded by her leg armor (though Funko could have hidden the joints down inside the "boots" and kept the range of motion. Her arm joints are loose - not that they won't hold a pose, but that they wiggle around easily - and it's hard to balance her on her robotic high heels. At least none of the joints broke?

Fiora's wepaon of choice is a sword, and PROJECT: Fiora comes with a crazy anime-lookin' thing. It has lots of needless tech detailing and what is, according to the trailer, some ethereal glowing energy blade. The sword is the same mix of grey, magenta and silver as Fiora's body, so it definitely looks like it belongs to her.

League of Legends almost has more characters than Twitter, so no matter which ones Funko chose for this line, they were likely to please only a minority of fans. But once you picked one, why in god's name would you release them in an alternate skin, rather than their normal look? That would be like if NECA only released Stitches as a chef! And if you must make the figure an alternate skin, why would you choose the only one that makes her not look like her? Do the pirate or the pool party or the sexy school teacher... do anything but PROJECT. I got this figure because it looked like a robot ninja elf, and in that, it works just fine, but fans of Fiora in the game are unlikely to care.

-- 07/28/17

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