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Padme Amidala

SWII: Attack of the Clones
by yo go re

If there's one thing companies hate, it's someone else making money they want to be making instead. That's why Coke and Pepsi both sell bottled water, or why when Fortnite hit it big, every game suddenly had to have a Battle Royale mode (or taking that a step further, why Fortnite now has an Among Us mode). And so it was in 2002, during McFarlane Toys' "we make plastic statues" heyday, Hasbro introduced the Star Wars Unleashed line.

Born of humble parents in a mountain village on the planet Naboo, Padmé Amidala's exceptional abilities manifested themselves at an early age. Trained and encouraged to reach her highest potential, Amidala was elected Queen of Naboo at the age of fourteen, then became a representative in the Galactic Senate on Coruscant. Fiercely loyal to her beloved people, Amidala bravely confronts all those who threaten the peace of her planet. In her political roles, she presents a remote, elegant exterior to the world, yet underneath there burns a deeply passionate spirit which boldly embraces both the challenges and adventures before her. To protect herself and those who are dear to her, Amidala willingly takes up arms. Her fiery nature ignites as she wields a blaster in the thick of battle, vibrant with determination in the midst of "aggressive negotiations." The dangers of the moment only serve to further enhance Amidala's alluring beauty born of innate courage and purity of soul.

Wow, that is a lot of text! This is clearly meant to be an Episode II Padme - you have to remember, this toy predates the existence of Episode III by three years, this was the new hotness! And boy, did they lean hard into the "hotness" part. They went with her white outfit from the Geonosis colosseum, after the nexu clawed the middle part away to reveal her toned abs. Well, the toy's abs: the sculpt on every single one of these Unleashed figures is meant to be exaggerated beyond reality, so of course in the girl's case that means a narrower waist, longer legs, broader shoulders, higher butt... and fully sculpted high beams that could put someone's eyes out. Either the desert planet is very cold, or she's really enjoying the experience of being chained up and attacked by evil bug-monsters.

The figure's likeness is, sadly, not that great. It looks like Padme, by virtue of being a petite brunette, but it definitely doesn't look like Natalie Portman. There are a few angles where it's a decent copy of the real woman, but they're the exception, not the rule. More attention was paid to her messy braid-bun than to her actual face.

The paint on the figure is a mixed bag. You wouldn't think there would be a lot you could do with an all-white outfit, and there's really not (the ecru of her belt is more screen-accurate than the Black Series figure's was, for instance, but that just makes her more monotone), but the choice to imagine a bit of red dirt sticking to her boots was pretty good. They really needed to do a better job color-matching her stomach to the rest of her skin: maybe the idea was that that would normally have been covered up, and thus wouldn't be as ruddy, but she's a former queen from a paradise planet with access to the galaxy's best estheticians - she's not going to have a farmer's tan. Nice of them to make her wounds look raw and red, though.

The Unleashed figures don't really get articulation - you have their intended pose, and then that's really is. Here's Padme, standing on a broken arena column, with her weight resting on her left leg as she turns and looks to the right. She's still wearing the handcuffs she managed to pick while Anakin and Obi-Wan were bickering like an old married couple, and the chain that connected them to the pillar is coiled around her. She's holding a droid rifle in her right hand, and we actually get a swivel joint at the top of her silver armband! That means she can either hold the gun near her body, or out to the side a bit. Having both her arms sideays would certainly explain why she seem to be thrusting her chest out so prominently.

A metal peg coming out of the figure's foot connects her to her base, so you'll never be able to have Padme stand on her own. On the plus side, that means you'd be able to use the base as scenery for other, better figures, if you wanted to. There's nothing particularly "Star Wars-y" about a broken stone column, so it would be harder to come up with a character this didn't work for than ones it did.

The Unleashed figures are an odd artifact of a very specific time in toy collecting, back when we didn't think there would ever be real 6" Star Wars figures, back when nobody was brave enough to try to compete with ToyBiz when it came to articulation, back when $20 seemed like an exorbitant price to pay. [What are you talking about? $20 is still an exorbitant price to pay in 2022, no matter how much Hasbro tries to normalize it --ed.] Obviously we get better things now, but not being the best doesn't mean something isn't at least a little good.

-- 01/29/22


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