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Legendary Heroes
by yo go re

In the image-conscious '90s, comicbooks really began to favor art over story. As long as a book looked good, it didn't matter how crap the writing was - heck, look at the sales figures for Spider-Man #1. That hunk didn't sell 2.5 million copies because of the top-notch script, you know? That sensibility led to a lot of eye candy and "bad girl" books - such as Top Cow's Witchblade.

New York City Police Detective Sara Pezzini is the reluctant bearer of the Witchblade, an ancient and mysterious mystical gauntlet that has bonded itself to her. Only one woman in a generation is chosen to bear the enigmatic weapon, but at a great cost. Sara must resist the gauntlet's all-consuming thirst for battle, all the while solving the city's strangest crimes, many of which invariably seem to lead back to the Witchblade!

It is a bit strange that the packaging refers to this figure as Witchblade - it's not like anyone calls her that. "Witchblade" is the name of the weapon, not the wearer. Of course, "Sara Pezzini" isn't quite as catchy (or toyetic), so it's not really a mystery why they went that direction. Besides, it's not like there's never been a "Medieval Witchblade" figure before, and that wasn't her name, either.

Though Hasbro now has the Marvel toy license, the former ToyBiz owns the molds, which means some of the Legendary Heroes use the same basic bodies as some Marvel Legends. Witchblade, however, is entirely new. The armor is a mix of sculpted pieces, glued-on parts, and painted lines, but it all blends together excellently. Her feet, shins, knees, crotch, hands, forearms, elbows, right upper arm and head have sculpted armor; the spikes above her knees, on her chest and her right shoulder are separate molded pieces; and the only place there aren't painted tendrils is her left hip. The paint is done smartly, with antique bronze over a black base for depth. The gems on the glove are a deep red, and there's a bit of a wash to bring out all the tiny, intricate details in the sculpt.

One oddity of the sculpt is her face - for whatever reason, she looks slightly Asian. Yes, Michael Turner draws his women with somewhat angular eyes, but not this much. It also doesn't help that her eyebrows are arching up onto her forehead; say what you will about his art, Turner knows where eyebrows go. This is the same problem the Hasbro Legends Jean Grey had. Are the paint masters coming from the same person in Witchblade, The both cases? If so, it's time to have a little sit-down and go over where a human's eyebrows grow.

Witchblade stands less than 5⅞" tall, and moves at the toes, ankles, shins, knees, thighs, hips, waist, torso, wrists, elbows, shoulders and neck. There are no sort of swivels for either the biceps or the forearms, which does limit the poses somewhat. You can't really have her aim the witchblade at anyone, or hold it up next to her face - a popular pin-up pose. On the plus side, whatever the problem was with Spider-Woman's waist has been corrected: though the construction is similar, Sara's abdomen doesn't pop out of place like that figure's does.

Legendary Heroes continues the Build-A-Figure tradition started with Marvel Legends. The BAF is Pitt, and the piece included with Witchblade shows just how gigantic the final figure is going to be. Though she's the smallest figure in LH1, Witchblade comes on the biggest card, thanks to being paired with Pitt's head and upper torso, an accessory which is bigger than she is. Astounding! The head and shoulders are all balljoints, and the leather jacket and chains are a separate molded piece. Pitt is going to be one big, bad-ass BAF.

Witchblade has had figures before. In fact, she had her own (quite nice) line in the late '90s from Moore Action Collectibles. This new figure focuses more on articulation than duplicating Turner's artwork, but that's a good thing - we already had the spot-on figures, and as good as Marvel Toys' sculptors are, they'd still have a tough time competing with Clayburn Moore's work from a decade ago. Plus, look at the last toys that tried to emulate Turner: DCD had several lines that were supposed to be artist-specific, and they were all hideous. Legendary Heroes Witchblade looks good and plays well - what more could you ask?

-- 10/01/07

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