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Anya Stroud

Gears of War 3
by yo go re

Here's everything I know about Gears of War: it was designed by Cliffy B; there's a chainsaw gun; the characters all look like they were standing between two trains in a head-on collision and are now wearing the ensuing wreckage as armor; the signature gameplay mechanic is taking cover behind things, which has infected most shooters that came after it; everything is brown; and there's at least one girl.

Former "Control" dispatcher for Delta squad, Anya is now a frontline fighting Gear herself. Defending the remnant of humanity has forced her into a tough and capable warrior ready to tackle anything that comes her way.

For the first two games, Anya Stroud was basically the Cortana to Marcus Fenix's Master Chief. She was the voice in his ear telling him where to go and what to do. She's the daughter of a famous war hero, and wants to live up to her mother's reputation. Yes, her mother. It's her mother that's the famous war hero, not her (absentee) father - way to subvert expectations, game! Anyway, that desire is why she eventually transitioned from the CIC (Combat Information Center - aka "headquarters") to the battlefield - and once she did, she found she liked it and wished she'd made the move sooner. Girl power!

Or at the very least, girl powered armor. That's "girl powered armor" not "girl powered armor." Despite being shaped to fit a female body, Anya's armor is functionally identical to that worn by the boys. It covers (and exposes) all the same skin, and the armor on the chest isn't shaped like a pair of tits. Really, the only thing at all "feminine" about the design of her armor is that it's not three feet wide, like everyone else's. The sculpt was done by Neobauhaus Studios (again), and is beautifully rich with detail. Her clothes not only look like something a real person would wear, they look like something someone's worn through a war.

Anya's face reminds me of my old friend Tink - but that doesn't mean anything to you, so how about saying a cross between Katee Sackhoff and Alison Haislip? Her bob haircut is done well, in that it manages to look like hair rather than a wig. Do be sure to watch out for her eyes, however: I had to examine four figures before I found one where they were both looking the same direction.

Poe's review of Marcus Fenix convinced me to buy that figure, despite its low articulation. I knew that NECA finally overcame Epic's reluctance to include articulation and released a more mobile Marcus, but I never traded up. That said, I have no idea how long the articulation on the Gears of War figures has been so damn impressive! Anya has a balljointed neck, hinged torso, swivel waist, lateral shoulder hinges, swivel/hinge shoulder balls, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel and hinge wrists, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, swivel shins, hinged rocker ankles, and hinged toes. Outstanding! The shoulders are a bit blatant, but everything else is either worked into the sculpt or hidden beneath PVC pieces - elbow pads, belt, shin guards, etc. Anya is incredibly mobile, but never looks "jointy."

The lass only gets one accessory, her Lancer. You know, the chainsaw gun. It's not the same mold as the one that came with Felix two years ago, though it could have been. The sculptural changes are minor, because it's not like the one in the game has been massively redesigned or anything. The blade and barrel are a bloody, rusty red, and the body is a blood-splattered mess, as it should be. There's a rare variant out there, limited to 1000 pieces, which sees her with a bright pink Lancer - the "Deadly Cute" variant. The gun plugs into her back, and there's a flip-out handle on the left side to stabilize the weapon when using it as a chainsaw.

I only got Anya because, hey, it's neat to see a female wearing male armor - I didn't realize how good a figure she'd be. This was an impulse buy, but it's one that really rewarded the impulse. The Gears of War 3 figures retail for about the same price as Mattel's DCU Classics, despite having more articulation, a more detailed sculpt, fewer reused parts, less future re-use potential and a smaller production run. Oh, and the DCUC price is going up soon, making Anya an even better value by comparison. If NECA keeps producing toys that are this good, Hasbro is going to have a high bar to reach when they bring Marvel Legends back later this year.

-- 01/14/12

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