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Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 3
by yo go re

No more loneliness for Yondu and Vance!

1000 years in the future, Centaurian Yondu Udonta bands together with the Guardians of the Galaxy using his bow and sound-responsive yaka arrows to defeat the invading Badoon empire.

Technically "1,039 years" in the future: Yondu first appeared in 1968's Marvel Super-Heroes #18, and the first line of the comic is "it is the year 3007!" He was a native of the planet Vance Astro was sent to, though the specific name of that planet, Centauri-IV, wasn't revealed until the team's second appearance in 1974. And boy, did they ever lean into the "native" part! The mohawk, the bow and arrow, the broken way he spoke at first... him heap-big 1960s Native American racial stereotype, kemosabe! Not in a hateful way, just in that "I didn't know any better" way that's no less hurtful; you can be mean with trying to be, but that doesn't mitigate the impact. Creator Arnold Drake was born in 1924, maybe a little old to be a fan of The Lone Ranger at the height of its popularity, but definitely aware of it, and you can easily see him creating Yondu as a Tonto sidekick to follow his white hero around and save him from trouble.

All the Guardians of the Galaxy were redesigned before their second appearance - that's when Vance changed from his purple suit to his blue and white one, for example - so Yondu actually gets a costume. (In his first appearance, he wore a pair of red trunks, nothing else. Not even shoes. Because Noble Savage.) He's still mostly bare-skinned, but at least now he's wearing pirate boots? The red on the left side of his body is meant to be a garment of some sort, like a combo of arm-guard and half-shirt, but the golden strap around his chest is a separate piece on this toy and doesn't line up with the edge properly (especially on the back) unless you're very careful about how you pose him. The big belt and the bands around his right forearm and bicep are separate as well. The Guardians' star symbol on his chest is done all in gold, rather than red, white, and blue like the comics, and the golden blocks down his left arm are simply flat paint.

Yondu's head is new. It seems a little large on the body, but only upon close examination: just looking at him, he seems fine. There's a very stern, stoic look on his face, he's got pointed ears, and of course the most prominent visual element, his big red fin. If you only know Yondu from the movies, you may be surprised to see that it's organic and not technological. It's packaged separately with the rest of the accessories, so you'll need to slot it in when you open him: put the front bit in first and roll it back from there. In the comics, Centaurians' fins reach down to the middle of their back (like Tiger Shark, but even a little more), but this toy opts to have it just go to the base of the skull. It's sculpted with a wave to it, rather than being perfectly straight, underscoring the fact it's something natural, not mechanical.

The figure is built on one of the existing bodies, unsurprisingly. It's one of the ones with the extra pec-hinges, so you can count those for his articulation tally in addition to the usuakl assortment of ankles, shins, knees, thighs, hips, waist, chest, wrists, elbows, biceps, shoulders, neck, and head. You would expect the head-fin to keep the neck from hinging backwards very far, but between the shape of it and the way it can push out of its sculpted notch without much trouble, Yondu can look almost straight up. Not too shabby, team!

Yondu's bow, arrow, and quiver are all reused parts: the latter two originated with Mirage, while the former has been seen with a number of figures since its 2013 introduction. The quiver is gold, with the fletching of the arrows visible at the top painted red. The single loose arrow matches that. The bow, quite cleverly, is molded from cloudy translucent plastic, then everything but the string is painted gold. That's a really smart way to make the piece look more realistic at this size! All three of these pieces will also be included with the upcoming Avengers 60th Anniversary Hawkeye, though obviously not in these colors.

Year-3000-Yondu's personality was eventually toned down into something a little less cringe: he got clothes, he spoke in full sentences, he got his own motivations rather than just being an extension of the white savior's... they made him more "elf barbarian" than "indian." It's still easy to see why the MCU totally reinvented him, though. Between this Target-exclusive and the last movie's Vance Astro, we now have two members of the real Guardians of the Galaxy (technically three counting Firelord, but that's later than these costumes represent). Two doesn't sound like much, but that's already half the founding team. Hopefully we'll get a Martinex that's more than just a repainted Iceman, and a Hulk-sized Charlie-27 who's wearing his '90s costume rather than the terrible 60s/70s one.

-- 05/19/23

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