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Alder

Mythic Legions
by yo go re

European settlers in North America saw a big deer (Cervus canadensis) and called it an "elk," after the European creature they were familiar with (Alces alces). When they realized that thing was also around in the New World, they politely adopted the Algonquin word for it, "moose." This really got confusing when Europe realized there were C. canadensis elk in East Asia and, needing a name to call them, also turned to Algonquin, dubbing them "wapiti." And thus the same animal has a European name in America and an American name in China. Thanks, humans!

The Mythic Legions animals don't get any kind of bios, suggesting they're just creatures, not characters. So since this figure's box only says "Alder," we're left to wonder whether that's a proper name, like he's "Alder the Moose" in the same way Kermit is "Kermit the Frog," or whether it's a species name, like mooses on Mythoss are simply called "alders" in the same way hamburgers in Albany are called "steamed hams."

The Mythic Legions rely on modular construction, and the beasts are no exception: the alder uses the same body as the horses (like Aethon), but with a different neck and longer lower legs to create his different anatomy. Smart work! His hooves are cloven, and he has little dew claws sticking out the back of the ankles, as he should: since moose spend so much of their time walking in snow, their long legs help keep their body up out of the stuff; at the same time, the split hooves will splay out and the dew claws will eventually touch the surface, both adaptations designed to help distribute their weight.

The head is also a new mold, obviously - it would be quite the challenge to make a horse look like a moose with just a little change of paint! It's got the broad, square lip, the pointed ears, and the large dewlap hanging under its chin. It even has the disdainful look in the eye. The Four Horsemen (Moosemen?) did a wonderful job creating this animal. And we haven't even discussed the antlers yet!

These antlers are ridiculous! They're packaged separately in the tray, and need to be assembled once you open him. It had to be that way, because each of them is larger than the head. Heck, they're almost larger than the torso! Moose shed their antlers every year, just like other deer, and regrow them in the spring and summer. Fittingly, these antlers have lost their velvet (the fuzzy skin that covers the antlers and provides nutrients to them as they grow), which happens around September in our world - right on time!

This isn't just a plain moose: since he's affiliated with Xylona's Flock, the forest hippies, he's being used as an unusual steed; and to that end, he's wearing a saddle. It's not the exactly same mold as Aetheon's (like, it has a saddle blanket rather than a fur pelt) but it does use many of the same pieces since, again, "modular construction." Like Asterionn and the cats, Alder has a bit of neck armor to help hide the transition from shaggy moose-neck to smooth horse-body. You can remove all the tack if you just want a plain(ish) moose, though obviously then you'll have the blatant transition between parts and holes in the sides of the mouth where the reins used to plug in. Heck, remove the antlers and you could even have a female moose!

The articulation in unchanged from the horse mold - new shins didn't mean losing any joints. So we get movement at the head, neck, tail, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, and toes. Yes, it's easy to overlook the tail, since it's so stubby, but it can turn if you want. The antlers are wicked heavy, so they may make the head droop over time. Just remember that the Horsemen intended for them to be mounted leaning back, not straight up and down - that moves their center of gravity back and will help relieve some pressure.

Alder was obviously one of the big draws of the Illythia wave. It's all about vampires and elves, but a huge moose is just a cool thing to have. Add it to your action figure zoo with Fiona the crocodile, or strip off all the armor and leave it as a display in your parents' "Moose room." Heck, pretend it's a member of Alpha Flight, nobody ever follows that team closely enough to tell you any different!

-- 09/24/22


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