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New Mutants
by yo go re

They say that every character is somebody's favorite. Given my well-publicized preferences, it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that Wolfsbane is at least near the top of my list.

Born and raised in Scotland, Rahne Sinclair learned she was a mutant at the tender age of fourteen. While being pursued by an angry mob of townsfolk, Rahne discovered she had the power of lycanthropy - the ability to morph into a wolf! Brought in by Professor Charles Xavier, Wolfsbane served on both the New Mutants and the government-sponsored X-Factor. Now, she has returned to her foster mother, Moira MacTaggert, on Muir Island to join the international mutant team of Excalibur!

Wolfsbane comes from the same New Mutants subset that gave us Magik and Warlock. The line came out in 1999, when ToyBiz was just starting to flirt with officially abandonning their longstanding 5" scale, so looking back at this from a modern perspective, you can really pick up hints of where Marvel action figures (and by extension, the industry as a whole) would soon be going.

Somewhere along the line, Marvel decided that all "beastly" characters needed to have Wolverine hair, and of course, Rahne follows suit. Because he's a giant hack sometimes, Jeph Loeb made an entire story out of this concept, in which he demonstrated an inability to tell the difference between cats and dogs. Wolfsbane has pointy ears and even a hint of a canid nose - she's very much the "classic" Wolfman.

The figure shows Rahne in an almost fully lupine form, without any kind of costume other than the small red belt around her waist. That means there's a lot of exposed surface area to show off the sculpt. All that fur is detailed well, even by today's standards. It's a fine coat, and doesn't interfere with her anatomy - witness, for instance, the distinct shoulderblades. The fur is thicker on her forearms and shins, and she has wolf feet. You can tell the figure was molded entirely in brown plastic, because her face and hands, the only exposed skin on the figure, look thick and undetailed. Her nails are black, and there's a wash on the fur to bring out the details.

It's hard to cite a specific height for the figure, since she's designed to be hunched over. Is she 3" tall? 5¾"? Something in between? The figure has a swivel neck, swivel shoulders, swivel hips, hinged knees and hinged ankles. Her tail is rooted fur, and though she's clearly meant to have one specific stance, you can get others with some work. This obviously isn't a Marvel Legends level of articulation (or even the next step down, DCU), but it is, at a minimum, workable.

Poor Rahne gets saddled with the stupidest accessory in this entire series, an "arrow cannon backpack." It's a gun big enough to belong to Cable, and it fires bright yellow arrows. What? Why? What do arrows have to do with a girl who can turn into a wolf? Plus, the whole thing is mounted on what is literally a student's backpack, with notepads, pens, a ruler and a "This Belongs To..." label. What the hell? Seriously, who designed this monstrosity, and why?

Even as part of the new, violent X-Force team, Wolfsbane is unlikely to ever receive another action figure - and since Hasbro is focusing on 4" toys, the chances have probably dropped below 0. If you want a Marvel Legends-compatible version of this Irish cutie, this is your answer. Just ditch the backpack, because it's dumber than dumb.

-- 02/08/10

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