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Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
by yo go re

While we pick on Mattel for their inability to get a decent variety of Harry Potter figures onto the shelves back when they had the license, there were a few figures they produced that you probably wouldn't have expected. We probably won't be seeing Fluffy or Aragog from NECA, you know? Mattel even gave us Hagrid, and there's no way that character's going to fit into one of NECA's clamshells.

Guess that's why he's sold in a big box, then.

The half-giant Hagrid was once a student at Hogwarts, Hagrid before becoming the gamekeeper and eventually a full professor. Although giants are hated for their wild and violent behavior, Hagrid's huge size and intimidating looks belie a gentle, caring personality and a whimsical sense of humor.

JK Rowling always likes to play with names in the Harry Potter series, and Hagrid is no exception. There's a persistant rumor that "Hagrid" was a name from Greek mythology, but that's bunk. "Rubeus" is play on the word "rubious," meaning "red" - think about WC Fields' ruddy, gin-blossomed complexion and you'll understand why that works. Plus, "hagrid" is an Old English variant of "haggard," and may have come from hæg (hedge) rad (ride): today, kids who stay out late partying ride the porcelain bus; back in the day, they rode the hedge. And probably looked pretty haggard the next morning. Given all that, how do you think Rubeus Hagrid spends his free time?

Hagrid was initially listed at $106.99, but that was an error - turns out that was the price of a case of Hagrids, not the individual figures. He actually retails for about $30, which is a good price for what you get.

First of all, Hagrid is absolutely huge. He should be! But this is so massive, it's easy to forget what size the other figures in the line are - he's 9¼" tall, which would make him big even for an 8" line. He still towers over Sigma 6 Joes, for instance. But this is part of a 7" line, which means the adults come up about nipple-high, while the kids would have to get up on tiptoes to look into his pockets. Hagrid is, well, "giant."

The articulation isn't spectacular, tiny details but it is right on par with the rest of the Harry Potter figures. Hagrid moves at the ankles, waist, wrists, shoulders and neck. The top three are balljoints, which improves the poseability. He has no elbows, but given NECA's track record of uselessness in that department, they're not really missed. The ankles are really just for balancing - not that the figure has a problem with that - and the way the sleeves hang over the wrists can make the joints a bit tough, but they still work. The only down side is that his pose looks most natural with his head tilted back to look at something above him, rather than titled forward to interact with other figures.

Hagrid's sculpt takes advantage of the larger canvas. The likeness is good - like he's holding his breath though they've made his face fuller than it is in the films - but what's really impressive is the level of detail on his clothes. The bunched leather of his shoes is covered with tiny cracks, there's a different texture on his cuffs than on the rest of his sleeves, and you can even count the individual stitches on the patches covering the holes in his vest. At a smaller size, stuff like this could have gotten lost easily, so it's excellent that we get to see it all. His belt is molded as part of his stomach, but the knife and pouches that hang off are separate pieces glued in place.

As is the figure was't enough, Hagrid is packing a ton of accessories. He's carrying a stunningly detailed lantern, so many accessories which has a real swinging handle so it always hangs properly. The sides are semi-opaque, to suggest the look of smoky glass, and there's a "cage" around the side to protect the glass from breakage. The handle can be worked, gently, into his right hand - it's thin, so be careful. Two pairs of dead ferrets hang from a rope around his neck, and there's a fifth that can fit in his left hand. Finally, he has a small pink umbrella; it looks undersized when he holds it, but completely normal when given to other characters.

So why's a big burly brute tut, tut - looks like rain like Hagrid have such a dainty little parasol? It's actually his wand. When Tom Riddle got Hagrid thrown out of school in his third year, he was forbidden to practice magic. Never one to give up, however, he just hid his wand in an inconspicuous place.

As the gamekeeper (and later Care of Magical Creatures professor), Hagrid tends to hang around with some weird beasties - beautiful plumage, the Norwegian blue you can bet the ferrets are intended to feed Buckbeak, the hippogriff - and the figure gets to hang with them as well. To begin with, he's got Norbert, the baby Norwegian Ridgeback dragon that he illicitly hatched from an egg (yes, he tried to keep a fire-breathing dragon in his wooden shack). He's a little cutey, with a tiny underbite that shows off his fangs. His skin wrinkles where he's bending, and his wings are leathery.

Fang Hagrid also includes his boarhound, Fang. In the movies, the great cowardly Fang is portrayed by a blue Neapolitan mastiff, which was probably chosen because it's an uncommon breed with distinctive, unusual looks. But it's not right. A "boarhound" is actually another name for a Great Dane, a much more pedestrian breed. Comparatively. This accessory does an excellent job of capturing the loose, droopy skin we saw in the movies, but techincally Fang should look more like Scooby Doo or Marmaduke. At 3¾" tall, Fang looks slightly small next to his owner - but put him next to one of the kids and he suddenly seems huge.

And now, as the infomercials say, "but wait! There's more!" Press the button on Hagrid's back and you'll hear one of 10(!) phrases:

  • Codswallup.
  • "Mad and hairy?" You wouldn't be talking about me, now would ya?
  • Never. Insult. Albus Dumbledore in front of me.
  • I'm on official Hogwarts business.
  • Rubeus Hagrid, Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts.
  • I shouldn't have said that. I should not have said that.
  • Strictly speaking, I'm not allowed to do magic.
  • The trick with any beast is to know how to calm it.
  • Welcome, Harry, to Diagon Alley.
  • You're a wizard Harry.
They all sound very clear, with less distortion than you'd expect from something this loud.

The paint apps on Hagrid and his accessories are all executed well. The colors are mostly muted and muddy, as you'd expect, but the painted shadows and highlights are very subtle, what does fee fie foe fum mean, anyway? and fall perfectly into place. The ferrets all have unique color patterns on their coats, Norbert is a dark green with pale highlights and dark red stripes, and Fang fades from dark brown to tan amazingly well. His nose is black, his nails are yellow, and he has reddish bags under his eyes. Even the small details of Hagrid's vest get their own apps. This doesn't look like a hand-painted prototype, mind you, but it's darn close.

In the book, Hagrid is said to hail from "the West Country," which to a Briton usually means Devon, Cornwall and that whole area - the little tail that hangs off the southwestern side of the island. This is a particularly good choice, as that bit of the country was the breeding ground for many folktales about giants, like "Jack and the Beanstalk." Hagrid may not be quite as big as those giants, but he's still huge, and now he can be yours. Mattel did make a Hagrid years ago in their Harry Potter line, but like the rest of the figures, he doesn't have a chance of standing up to NECA's.


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