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Elisa Maza

by yo go re

See? Told you "months" was more accurate.

Elisa Maza is the strong-willed police detective who takes the existence of ancient gargoyles in stride and helps the clan find their place in a strange new world.

There are so many ways Gargoyles was ahead of its time - ongoing storytelling, dark themes, deep literary references, villains as nuanced as the heroes, unsoftened looks at real-world problems - but one of the most important may be the easiest to overlook: the feminist bona fides of Elisa Maza. Remember, this is a show that began airing at the end of 1994, when "Disney feminism" meant Belle swinging a tree branch at wolves instead of just waiting for Beast to show up, or Jasmine jumping across rooves by herself instead of waiting for Aladdin to put down a plank for her; simple, straightforward, and surface level. But in Gargoyles, Elisa went further than that, being self-possessed and aelf-actualizing, getting into lots of problems due to her own actions... and getting back out of them, too. Honestly, about the only thing she couldn't deal with on her own would be gravity, and she'd be spending a lot less time on precarious rooftops anyway if she'd never met the Gargoyles.

Elisa was voiced by Salli Richardson, who would later become known for playing Allison Blake on Eureka. She very much had that typical Disney house style, with the big doe eyes, but she still displayed her mixed ethnicity (black mother, Hispanic/Hopi father) regardless - a feature that was put in the cartoon after Richardson's casting, to make the character more like the woman portraying her.

By the time the cartoon started, Elisa had made Detective Second Class with the NYPD, which meant she was not required to wear a police uniform while performing her duties. Usually she'd still have to dress "professionally," but in the tradition of freewheeling fictional detectives everywhere, she's much more casual than you'd expect. Her stock outfit is a pair of tight jeans, a black T-shirt, and a red leather jacket. The box credits the sculpt and fabrication to Tomasz Rozejowski and Kyle Windrix, and given the extreme length of the toy's legs (her waist should be about a quarter-inch lower than it is), we wonder if Windrix did that part of the body. After all, we already know that NECA likes to get Tomasz to do their faces.

At 6½" tall, Elisa is a bit shorter than Xanatos, which is accurate to the cartoon: he's an average-height man, she's an average-height woman. The toy has swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinged shoulders, and a barbell head. The biceps have a shaped cut so they blend into the arms nicely, and although the hair does prevent the head from moving very much at all, the figure includes swappable hair: the normal piece she has on in the tray just spills down her back, while the alternate is blowing to the side in the wind - you know, like she's standing on top of a building or something.

As long as they were making the hair removable, NECA has also taken the opportunity to give Elisa multiple heads, each with a different expression: there's one neutral, one smiling politely, and one showing some sass with a smirk and a cocked eyebrow. All three look good with either style of hair, but the figure's skintone is noticably lighter here than the character's was in the show, even in the scenes that weren't set at night.

The paint was designed by Geoffrey Trapp and Mike Puzzo, because of course it was. Her black hair is given some blue highlights, like the animation had, but her jacket and jeans are much more detailed than the block shading of 1990s animation would allow. We'd rather have her painted like this, like a real person, than doing the kind of big shadows the animated TMNT toys get.

Elisa has three pairs of hands, which is honestly one more than she needs. Fists? Sure, she can use fists. Gripping hands? Absolutely, perfect for holding her badge and flashlight. But the set with the trigger fingers extended? Those don't mean much if you don't give her her service weapon, NECA. Girl's a cop, she needs a gun. The final accessory is her cat, Cagney, who gets a barbell head, but no other movement. And as we've said before, because she's a smaller figure, she also includes the folded wings for Brooklyn.

There's no question that capital-C Conservatives are, without fail, the absolute dumbest human beings in existence, every single time. You can tell, because as a multi-racial, female, detective on the NYPD, Elisa Maza is exactly the kind of character they'd hate for being "too political" and "forced diversity"... if she hadn't been in a show they watched when they were little. Suddenly, she's okay, she's one of the good ones, she's an example of how to do it "right." They're not smart enough to recognize or even grasp that those story elements were always there, it just went over their heads as kids. No one had taught them that women don't deserve positions of authority, no one had taught them that non-white characters couldn't be as good as white ones, no one had given them "DEI" or "Woke" or "Gender Ideology" or "CRT" or "Cultural Marxism" or "Identity Politics" or "SJW" or "Snowflake" or "Affirmative Action" or "Politically Correct" or "Bleeding Heart Liberal" or "Communism" or any other now-obsolete euphemism on the treadmill used by fragile little chickens afraid of progress. Gargoyles introduced a prototypical third-wave feminist character exactly at the time Third Wave Feminism was emerging, rather than chasing the trend decades later, and made one of the most popular characters of the decade in the process. The only toy she's had before was wearing some kind of battle suit and flight pack she never had in the cartoon, so NECA finally delivering her the way she's meant to be is great.

-- 05/16/24

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