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Miraculous Ladybug
by yo go re

Grab your cheesesticks and tiny oranges - it's time to go back to school.

In the daytime, I'm Marinette, just a normal girl with a normal life. But there's something about me that no one knows yet, 'cause I have a secret.

That secret? When the sun sets, she is revealed to be the human form of Demona, survivor of the Wyvern Clan, disguised and plotting her revenge! Okay, not really. Her real secret is that she's the best Spider-Man cartoon we've ever had, and I'm not even joking about that one: high schooler, lives in a major metropolitan city, has a bug motif, bunch of crazy themed villains, gets everywhere by swinging on thread, superhero life gets in the way of having a normal teenage life... if her costume had straight lines instead of dots, she'd have shown up in one of those Spider-Verse crowd secenes.

One of our benchmarks for the success of any toyline is whether it manages to do civilian figures. Obviously this is sort of a weird case, in that Playmates hasn't even done any of the villains yet, but hey, here we've got Marinette Dupain-Cheng in plastic form. Yes, her last name is Dupain-Cheng. Yes, she's biracial. Yes, one of those races is French. Yes, that means her real name is Marinette Bread-Cheng.

(Originally she was named "Marietta", but she was still Asian. Maybe even more Asian.)

Like all cartoon characters, Marinette has one specific outfit she wears every day. Slip-on flats, pink capri pants, a scoop-meck white tee with a floral pattern on the right side, and a thin grey jacket. It mostly keeps her colorscheme intact - Ladybug wears red and black, so Marinette wears pink and grey - but walks that line between "casual, everyday girl from a working class background" and "girl who dreams of being a fashion designer (among other things). The tops of her feet are the same pink as her shoes, rather than being painted skintone, and she gets the overly blue hair.

Though the style of the figure is the same as all the heroes we've looked at, the sculpt is new. The jacket is molded as part of the torso, as is the shirt collar, and her rolled cuffs are sculpted right onto the limbs rather than simply being painted. It's possible the upper arms and legs are shared with an existing figure, but at that point why bother? Even her head's been redone, because Ladybug's mask was sculpted on, and she had ribbons in her hair. We will say that this head isn't as good as Ladybug's, sadly: it's wider, which really throws off the likeness quite a bit.

As with all these "budget release" Miraculous Ladybug action figures, Marinette doesn't come with any accessories. She should really have the small purse she always carries with her, since that's where her magical kwami, Tikki, likes to hang out when they're off the clock. And speaking of, shouldn't she have her Ladybug earrings painted on her ears? Possibly, but I got this at Five Below, so I'm not going to complain too much. Both the basic and simplified toys have the same articulation: a swivel neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, tiny double-hinged elbows, a swivel waist, balljointed hips, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles.

It's no surprise that the Miraculous dolls would include a Marinette, since changing clothes is sort of the entire point of dolls. But for Playmates to also make her as an action figure? That's a pleasantly unexpected move, and underscores that Marinette is just as important as Ladybug.

-- 09/03/23

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