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Super Mario: Luigi

SH Figuarts
by yo go re

Okiedokie!

You already know that Shigeru Miyamoto created Mr. Video to be a generic character that could be dropped into any kind of game at all. He was later renamed "Jumpman" for his first appearance, because he was jumping over barrels, and even later than that was renamed in honor of Nintendo of America's landlord Mario Segale, because NOA was terrible about paying their rent on time.

Anyway, Miyamoto saw the videogame Joust and liked its simultaneous two-player action, so he wanted to make something similar. Of course, that would require a second character, so he turned to that old standby, the palette swap. But they couldn't very well call this new character "Green Mario" (or "Grario"), so the legend goes that Nintendo took inspiration from a pizzeria near their offices named "Mario and Luigi's" - with the unexpected benefit that in Japanese (which, as you know, uses the same alveolar tap for both English R and L sounds), the word ruiji (類似) means "similar" - the perfect appellation for a guy who started out as identical to the hero!

They may have started as identical twins, but these days they're fraternal - in fact, they may be the (second) most famous fraternal twins in all of fiction! While Mario is the older brother, Luigi is taller and thinner - his legs are about half his height, while the rest favors the head over the torso. They do wear the same kind of clothes, however: overalls, brown shoes, a long-sleeved shirt and a hat in matching colors, and white gloves with three raised lines on the back. In his first appearance, Luigi wore green overalls with a brown shirt; in Super Mario Bros., it was white overalls and a green shirt; it wasn't until Super Mario Bros. 2 that the blue overalls/green shirt combo became codified. There are no sort of textures on the figure, but would you really want them? He's a cartoon, he should be smooth! the seams on his pants are enough.

Sadly, we do not get Luigi's memetastic death glare - he's just staring calmly ahead, without even the ebullient smile Mario got. Of course, that fits his slightly more calm personality, so no points off there. His hair seems slightly shaggier than Mario's, and it's darker brown. He even has a differently shaped mustache: two bumps, rather than six.

Like the other SH Figuarts releases, Luigi has wonderful artciulation. He has a swivel/hinged neck, balljointed shoulders, hinged elbows, swivel wrists, T-crotch, balljointed hips, hinged knees, and double-balljointed ankles. The T-crotch is designed to work with the seams on his pants, so it almost looks seamless (no pun intended). You can get all sorts of fun Mario poses, but there is one flaw: his arms are so short and his head is so large that you can't actually raise his hands up high enough to punch a block above him. The games must cheat that. We don't know right now if Jakks is planning to make a Luigi in their World of Nintendo line, but if they do, he certainly won't move as well as this!

Luigi costs more than Mario did (even on Amazon), but he also comes with a lot more accessories. We begin with the green baseplate and clear hinged rod that you had to buy a diorama playset for if you wanted to get one for Mario. Yes, he also includes the removable butt-flap that allows him to plug onto the arm. Since one of Luigi's defining traits (as a playable character) is that he can jump higher and farther than Mario, giving him this ability without having to buy any extra sets makes a lot of sense. The arm itself is a little over 4½" tall, but you can obviously pose it lower thanks to the three hinges. There are three spots in the base where you can plug the display arm in, changing up how your display looks; the two you're not using at any time have plugs to hide them.

But the fun doesn't stop there! He comes with a brick block, which, as you know, is actually a transmogrified Mushroom Kingdom citizen. We previously requested Bandai make a dead block, and now it occurs to us that they should make an "exploded" block, too - kind of like the statue in McFarlane's Matrix Chateau. You know, separate little pieces held together in a "breaking" pose by clear rods. More dynamism! You'd just have to do eight chunks that appeared to be bursting away from a central point, possibly with a peg hole so it could be appropriately suspended in mid-air. If I were a better customizer, I'd probably be able to make one myself.

Louie G. comes with an alternate pair of "open" hands, and if you remember what was in Diorama Playset B, you can probably guess what that means: he comes with a Koopa shell.

This turtle is chicken! Very timid, he gets scared easily and runs back and forth a lot. Jump on him and he stops moving for a while.

Very timid? I always thought the red Koopa Troopas were more dangerous than their green cousins - they wouldn't walk to their own death if you ignored them, so you pretty much had to deal with them eventually. Plus, you know, red = danger while green = safety. The sculpt of this piece is the same as the green one, and you get the same clear pegs that allow him to hold it in two orientations.

If Mario is the Yankees, Luigi is the Mets. He was always the overshadowed second-fiddle, and since most us are not unrepentant douchecanoes (the actions of #GamerGate notwithstanding), he became something of a favorite among gamers. Even when he wasn't in the games, he wasn't forgotten, and in 2013, Nintendo announced "the Year of Luigi," offering a lot of Luigi-centric games and merchandise. This figure came out too late to be a part of that event, but he's just as good a toy as his brother.

-- 02/15/15


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