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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by yo go re

We spend a lot of time picking on Mattel, but only because they consistently make ragingly stupid mistakes. Harry Potter, for instance, is pretty much a license to print money, but the company dropped the ball so badly on that line that not even the people who will buy snot-flavored jelly beans would touch Mattel's crap product. Mattel, you suck. NECA, thankfully, has stepped up to the plate, picking up the slack and giving fans what they want: toys that don't look like plastic afterbirth. Unless they're supposed to look like that.

The fearsome Dementors are the guardians of Azkaban prison, ghostly wraiths that feed upon the emotions of the living. Dementor When you stock your hoosegow with a bunch of powerful, psychotic lawbreakers who can re-write reality at a whim, it pays to have some scary emeffing guards to keep them in line.

The Dementors are skeletal apparitions draped in a thin, dark gauze. It's hard for a sculpt to convey something that ethereal, but NECA managed. The wispy tendrils of the Dementor's dingy shroud billow loosely in the air, but cling tightly to its arms and chest. The sculpt really makes it look like you're seeing ribs through thin cloth, rather than looking at a solid surface. The exposed hands might be the least impressive bit of the whole thing - not because they look bad, but because they have to compete with such good work. The fabric should probably look a little more threadbare around the Dementor's suck-hole (tee hee!), but that's a minor thing.

trust us, this is its face Thankfully, the paint serves to make the sculpt pop. Rather than one flat color, the sheer fabric has several distinct tones, all applied carefully. The cloth is a dusty grey, with darker shadows and lighter sections where you can "see through" to the body beneath giving it an impressive depth. These are very complex apps, and they could have very easily gone wrong, but they don't. This horrible monstrosity looks quite good.

ribbed for her displeasure Considering that a Dementor is basically a man-shaped lump of cloth, the articulation is good. The figure only moves at the wrists, shoulders and neck, but that's all it really needs. Yes, elbows would have been helpful, but the balljointed shoulders give you enough motion. The construction is on the soft side - the stuff they used to make him is quite rubbery, so sometimes you'll find him flexing where you don't expect him to. It doesn't get in the way of the playability, at all, so that's nice.

Dementors don't walk, but rather get around by gliding or flying. spring's comin' late this year To simulate that, the figure rests on a 7½" clear plastic stand that plugs into the included display base. Despite being part of the Goblet of Fire series of figures, the Dementor is obviously from The Prisoner of Azkaban. Even if that wasn't the Dementors' only film appearance, the base gives it away: it's a section of forest floor, with a tree's twisted green roots forcing their way through the rough brown dirt along the edge of a newly frozen lake. All we're missing is a luminous golden stag.

NECA is off to a great start with their HP figures. Articulation suffers, but face it: in Mattel's old clumsy line, everything suffered. Go ahead and buy the creepy villains, but skip Harry and Voldemort for now - those same figures are soon to be released in a box set featuring an awesome graveyard diorama. So pass on the individually carded main figures, and buy the set when it comes out. But definitely get the Dementor, so it can creep out all your other toys.


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