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Chandra Nalaar

Magic the Gathering
by yo go re

Once upon a time, I played Magic the Gathering, but it was so long ago that I know pretty much nothing about it now. I'm not going to let that scare me away from some good-looking toys, though!

Chandra Nalaar is a red-magic-wielding planeswalker. Her specialty is pyromancy: spells of fire, fire, and more fire.

There's no virtue in subtlety - at least not as far as the fire-mage Chandra Nalaar is concerned. Impulsive, passionate, and short-tempered, she's as ready to explode as the pyromantic spells of her ever-growing repertoire. Chandra's spark ignited when she was still quite young, and as she has grown, so have her abilities as a wielder of fire magic and as a planeswalker.

As a source of immense and unpredictable power, authority figures have sought to restrict and control Chandra, which comes into direct conflict with her need for independence and freedom. As Chandra's wild inner fire comes in contact with world after world of rules and strictures, the results are sure to be explosive.

Yeah, that's all real neat. Know what I took away from it? "This chick is some kind of fire magician," which is exactly what I knew about her from seeing the first picture of the toy. Okay, the info about her personality is new, but the idea of making the fire-person wild and uncontrolable is hardly groundbreaking.

Chandra is sculpted with a big plume of flame coming up off her head, like a living candle. Judging by the comics Wizards of the Coast put out, she's actually got shoulder-length red hair when she's not actively using her powers - it just sweeps upward and billows about when she does. She has a pair of goggles on her forehead (it took seven years for them to print a card that actually showed her wearing them over her eyes).

Magic has, at times, fallen into the typical tropes of pandering to its players' (presumed) male gaze, giving the women typically scant costumes. In some cases it's understandable - a water nymph or wood sprite isn't going to be wearing a ballgown - but for the most part, the artwork is tasteful. Being the designated hot tomboy, Chandra could easily have gone into battle wearing a skimpy, flesh-baring outfit (on the basis that cold weather wouldn't affect her), but instead she's almost entirely covered, with just a bit of zettai ryouiki between her sensible, flat-heeled boots and her layered skirt (which is shorter in the front than the back, but also has a loincloth hanging down the front). Her upper torso is covered entirely by a chainmail vest, and under that is a thick shirt. She's wearing a bustier over the chainmail, because why not? There are flexible pauldrons on her shoulders, armor protecting her hips, and a bit of steel plating on her toes and heels. There's one thick black tube running over her right shoulder, and another on whatever that device is she's wearing on her right hand.

The Magic the Gathering toys are part of Funko's Legacy Collection, just like the Game of Thrones toys, so the articulation is similar. Chandra has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, hinged elbows, balljointed wrists, balljointed torso, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and swivel/hinge ankles (not "rocker" style, unfortunately). Her shoulder armor and her skirt are flexible enough that they still allow the limbs to move.

She also gets an accessory: a simple ball of flame that she can hold in her left hand. It's not much, but it's more than Pyro got! The fireball and her hair are both solid, rather than translucent, but they're painted nicely, and molded from a soft PVC so they're a bit flexible.

Magic cards have always had a story to tell, if you read between the lines of the flavor text. But to really piece it together, you have to be familiar with every card across multiple sets, and be able to tell where in a multiple-year-long story that single sentence might come from - basically, you need to be involved. And I'm definitely not. But Chandra Nalaar is an impressive action figure even if you don't know anything about her other than "this girl is hot!"

-- 10/22/14

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