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Harley Quinn

Batman Arkham City
by yo go re

Okay, so if these NECA-manufactured DC figures are released in conjunction with the home video market (which is why they're not available internationally: they're region-locked!), how does that explain that we're getting a videogame figure?

An Arkham Asylum psychiatrist assigned to treat The Joker, Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel instead became obsessively fixated on her patient, believing herself to be in love with him. She helped him escape confinement and took on her own criminal identity as Harley Quinn. Quinn is a violent and unpredictable felon who only motivation is achieving the Joker's approval. Because of his cruel and mercurial nature, this in some ways makes her just another of his victims - albeit a very dangerous one. Since the Joker's Titan overdose in Arkham Asylum, Harley's mind has further deteriorated. She is blindly determined to put a smile back on his face.

The previous NECA DC figures have all been unique pieces we've been excited to add to our collections. Michael Keaton? Adam West? Steve Christopher Reeve? There was nothing like them, and that's why they were so amazing. But DC Direct and Mattel have both already made Arkham City toys that are more or less in this scale (DCD because that's the size they normally work in, Mattel because they're idiots), so Harley's got some competition.

As far as being game-accurate, DCD's Harley probably has the best head, but only because what works in animation doesn't necessarily work in plastic. Alex Heinke, for instance, has sculpted Harley to look like a human woman rather than a half-inflated beachball. This isn't a direct copy of the game renders, and that's to the toy's credit.

Harl's wearing her Hot Topic Leather Mommy outfit, and it's sculpted exceedingly well. The details are crisper here than on either of the previous attempts from other companies, from the subtle wrinkles around her joints to the square brackets on the belts around her waist. The padding on her corset is better than it's ever been, and the laces up the front are tinier than you'd ever believe. Beneath her large black belt is another belt no one previously bothered to depict, and a short length of chain hangs off her right hip. The diamonds on her thighs are raised elements, and so are all the fancy seams and whatnot on her boots. Even her hair looks more natural! This is the best Harley sculpt yet.

The paint is sort of a mixed bag. On most of the figure, it's superb: not only are her tattoos painted on, they're colored in! We praised the Mattel figure for its tattoo tampos, but those were just outlines, while NECA went further, paying to do the entire things. On the other hand, you need to look at the face to make sure it looks good. The balance of white and pink on the face is all over the place, making every figure look recognizably different. I picked out the best one available at the store, but some of them lean so heavily to the "pink" side that she doesn't look like she's wearing makeup at all, and is instead just suffering from sea sickness.

We get good articulation, though. Harley has balljointed ankles, swivel/hinge knees and hips, a balljointed torso (hidden under the edge of her corset), balljointed wrists, swivel/hinge elbows and shoulders, a balljointed head, and swivel ponytails. The wrists really don't have a huge range of movement, the balls are just a convenient way to make swapping the hands easier; she has a pair with the trigger fingers extended (to hold the two MAC-10s), one "clutching" hand (to hold her stripey baseball bat), and one gesturing hand.

The figure's packaging is a downsized version of the quarter-scale figure's: dark red and black, lots of diamond patterns, etc. The photos on the box are of the 18" figure, as evidenced by the double-hinged knees, and the front has a render from the game, allowing us to see how much better the toy looks than the digital model. It's still weird to get a game character in what has thus far been a line of movie figures, but considering the character's increased profile (thanks to Suicide Squad), it makes sense that NECA would want to get in on that.

2016 is the third year of these surprise NECA releases, but this year's were the most surprising yet: in 2014 and 2015, the figures were initially only available via eBay in a bundle with a DVD you wouldn't want, before later showing up alone at TЯU; this year, they just showed up in stores. In fact, I didn't even know they were happening until I saw them on the shelf! That's the kind of surprise toy collectors don't get to experience very often any more, so let's hear it for NECA's secret-keeping skills. Considering that I already had an Arkham Harley in this scale, I might have skipped this release if not for the rush of her unexpected release. And that would have been my loss, because she's better than the ones released before.

-- 12/08/16

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