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by yo go re

If a sexy, curvy girl is "cheesecake," and a sexy, muscular dude is "beefcake," then what do you call a sexy, buff woman? Simple: cheesesteak!

A gifted but lonely college student, Fairchild was recruited by a government agency secretly developing superhumans. The Gen-Factor experiments activated Fairchild's superpowers, transforming her into an extremely strong, well-built, 6'4" woman. After escaping from the program, Fairchild teamed up with the other Gen-Active teens and became the leader of the Gen¹³ team.

After the speculator bubble burst in the comic industry, it was toys' turn next. The same furor that swamped PotF2 meant that nearly anything could get a toy: after all, Star Wars had been an unknown property when it debuted, so it stood to reason that any unknown property could be the next Star Wars, right? Better hurry up and make some toys for it! That's how, in 1998, Image Comics' Gen¹³ entered the world of plastic, with their first figure given out exclusively from the WildStorm booth at Chicago's Wizard World convention.

In addition to being tall, super strong, and nearly invulnerable, Caitlin's inherited superpowers also make her incredibly beautiful (the intelligence she already had before the rest activated, so that's all on her). And since the book was drawn by J. Scott Campbell, she definitely looked it - at least, once he got past trying to draw like Jim Lee and developed his own style. This figure actually does a decent job matching the pre-"art shift" look of the character, which is to say it's very long and angular, and not much at all like you think of Campbell's art nowadays.

Originally a rather slight, mousy little dork, Fairchild coming to terms with her new powers had more to do with dealing with people's interest in her body than it did with acclimating to what she could actually do with it - which makes her a surprisingly (and sadly) apt metaphor for pretty much any girl going through puberty. So naturally, the girl who suddenly shot up a foot in height, a couple hundred pounds in muscle, and several cup sizes gets a costume that looks like a long-sleeved swimsuit. Yes, it leaves her legs completely bare. And considering the comic came out right around the time of the popularity of "French cut" for both bikinis and underwear, it leaves a little more than just her legs completely bare, n'est-ce pas? The suit is green and purple, with an asymmetrical pattern and fingerless gloves. She wears techy armored boots, and has a pointless strap around her left thigh.

Although this figure came out after Campbell's unique style had been well established, she doesn't really look like his artwork. If anything, the eyes make the toy look like it's based on Joe Chiodo, who has done some Gen¹³ pinups, but isn't what you should really be aiming for. For comparison, look at the Danger Girl toys that were released just a year later, and realize Fairchild should look exactly like them.

For those of you who are too young to remember the vast wasteland that was toy design in the late '90s, Fairchild's articulation is pretty much what was considered "good" at the time. She has hinged knees and elbows, a swivel neck and shoulders, and a V-crotch. No lie, that was average at the time! And we loved it! Thought it was the pinnacle of toymaking! Yes, despite the fact that there is functionally nothing you can do with her other than move the arms around a little. Her legs are sculpted with a permanent bend, like she's trying to hunch down and look shorter than she is - another thing that keeps this from looking like JSC's art, where she was usually standing tall.

If you bought this figure when it was released, it came with a laptop computer, a sci-fi rifle, and a barbell - all things Fairchild would be likely to use. But since this was just a promo figure, she didn't come with anything. She was packaged in a plastic bag with a cardboard name tag stapled at the top, nothing fancy. Even loose you can tell her apart from the normal releases, though: her leg strap is purple, while theirs were green, and the colors on the boots were swapped.

Fairchild was just the first of several planned Gen¹³ figures, but the others never materialized. Neither did WildStorm's plan to copy McFarlane Toys' success with their own "WildStorm Action Figures." But now that DC owns all the WildStorm characters, and McToys has a DC Comics license, maybe Todd can take another crack at the team, for old times' sake.

-- 02/17/19

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