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Pirates of the Caribbean
by yo go re

The first Pirates of the Caribbean movie, in 2003, was a surprise hit - that's why it took until 2005 to get any toys from it. Nobody's made that mistake since, which is why Jakks is rolling out two lines of figures from the upcoming fourth Pirates film, On Stranger Tides. There's the 4"-scaled line, which Rustin is loving, and the larger collector-aimed line that the rest of us would even look twice at. Guess which line this figure's from.

There's no character info anywhere on the packaging - there are pictures of the figure all around, and her name is on there, obviously, but that's it. Here's what we know about the movie so far: Will and Elizabeth aren't in it; it involves the hunt for the Fountain of Youth; the villain is apparently Blackbeard; and, uh, the regular rise and fall of sea level is allegedly more unusual than it had been at some indeterminate point in the past? Oh, and also Penelope Cruz is in it as a smexy female pirate.

Morgan Adams is on a quest to recover the three portions of a treasure map. However, the final portion is held by her villainous uncle, Douglas "Dawg Brown" Adams, who killed her father Henry "Black Harry" Adams along with her uncles Richard and Mordecai "Fingers" Adams. Her crew is skeptical of her leadership abilities, so she must complete her quest before they mutiny against her. This is made more difficult by the efforts of the Royal Navy from Jamaica under the command of the self-serving Governor Ainslee to end her piratical career.

That doesn't have anything to do with PotC4, mind you - it's the plot of Cutthroat Island. Like we said, there's no info on the packaging. The woman in this movie is Angelica, not Morgan Adams. The figure looks fairly similar to Penelope Cruz, though not as much like her as you'd expect from a RealScanned figure. Better than the 4" version, that's for sure!

The sculpt below the neck is quite good - she wears a long brown frock coat, a waistcoat beneath that with a gold-on-green paisley pattern, a white chemise, a brown-maroon corset with a gold filigree down the front, loose black drop-front pants, and over-the-knee boots. It's mostly screen-accurate (the boots should have some buckles, and v-cutouts in the back), and very impressively detailed for a company known best for reusing more bodies than Mattel. The various types of clothing don't really have different textures, as we'd expect if this were a NECA toy, but each does wrinkle in its own way, which is something at least. The fine details on the corset, belt and baldric are all impressive, but the sculpt isn't perfect.

In fact, there are a few things that really knock this down from being a really good figure: namely, her hands and feet. Whoever sculpted this figure did a pretty good job with the proportions - she's not overly busty, her waist isn't inhumanly thin, etc. But then you get to the end of her limbs, and she has hands and feet that are comically undersized for her body. Seriously, it's like they were designed for a 5" figure, then glued onto this 6½"er. Someone with hands and feet this small in the real world would be a medical oddity, fodder for an 1800s freak show. It also doesn't help that her left hand is contorted in such a way that it looks deformed, like Johnny Tremain's or something. It is highly disappointing that no one at Jakks managed to catch these issues before the figure went to the factory - especially the glaring size issues.

One area in which this figure is superior to previous efforts is the articulation. NECA tried to get good joints into its PotC line, but could only do so much. Jakks has given Angelica a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel wrists, a T-crotch and swivel knees. Granted, the knees are less than ideal, and she has no waist, but super-articulated arms are always good on a swashbuckler. Her hair is shoulder-length, so the head's range of motion is pretty good, as well.

Angelica has her sword, and her hat is removable. The baldric/scabbard piece is separate, so you could take it off if you want, as well. The sword is made from incredibly soft PVC, so it's already warped when you take it out of the package. The scabbard is similarly flexible, which in theory means that the friction between it and the sword would lock them together like they'd been molded as one. But since the scabbard is entirely solid, you can't put the sword in at all and so it's a moot point. Amazingly, the head looks great both with and without the hat on, and that's not something easy to do on a toy.

As Rustin recently revealed, Jakks is the one who came up with the term "RealScan" to describe Gentle Giant's laser-scanning process, and they apparently become rather touchy when it's used to describe the process in general. Yeah, well, too bad, because we all do it. It's a genericized term, like white-out, bandaids and rollerblades. Anyway, with that in mind, it's rather amusing that the 7" PotC4 figures have a Build-A-Figure. They didn't make up some stupid new name for it, it's actually called a "Build-A-Figure" on the packaging. You can't have it both ways, guys: either all laser-scanning is RealScan, or you don't have a BAF.

The figure in question is "Gunner," one of the new pirates who can be glimpsed briefly in the new trailer, if you know you're looking for him. Angelica gets the right arm, which is nice for a couple reasons: one, it comes with an axe accessory, and the hand is designed to hold it; two, an arm is better to have lying around unattached to anything than a torso. And since it's unlikely I'll be buying the rest of this series, Gunner will probably never be anything more than a severed arm. Then again, we've never had a Gibbs in this scale before. And Blackbeard doesn't look half bad, either. Plus Barbossa's got his new costume, and then it's just Jack left out... damn you, Build-A-Figure!

Unlike the 4" figures, the casepacks for the collector's line are much more favorable. It's a five-figure series and a six-figure case: that means only one extra to worry about. There's one of everybody, plus an extra Jack to provide for casual buyers. Good planning! Angelica could have been a really great figure, but there are a few oddities that just don't work. Still, she's a lot better than you'd expect a mass-market figure to be, able even to stand with NECA's great stuff from the first three movies.

-- 03/26/11

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