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Princess Leia

SWVI: Return of the Jedi
by yo go re

Strong-willed and courageous, Princess Leia Organa believes fervently in the cause of freedom and becomes an inspiring leader of the Rebel Alliance. The adopted daughter of the diplomat Bail Organa, Leia uses her leadership skills, royal connections and position in the Senate to provide the Rebels with whatever they need, from equipment to stolen enemy plans. Her stern demeanor is all that most people see of this dedicated woman, until a flashy rogue captain steals her heart and reveals the passionate, romantic soul within this warrior princess. When the life of her newfound love is in jeopardy, Leia calls upon the fierce determination that has carried her safely through many challenges and dangers. She overcomes brutal obstacles and the humiliating punishment of becoming a vile warlord's slave, to rescue her love from a hideous death. Blazing with intensity and always ready to take action, Princess Leia battles dark intrigue and enemy forces as she helps lead the brave band of Rebels to a glorious victory and a lasting peace in the galaxy.

Oh of course Star Wars Unleashed chose Slave Leia for its Leia in the line. Of course they did. In fairness, this was 2004, when there had only been two action figures of this costume before. But you've gotta admit, "sexy Leia" has certainly dropped off the charts in recent years. Her popularity peaked in the later half of the '00s, but this statue was part of the climb. Like Padme, Leia's figure has been exaggerated, though not quite to the same extent - whoever sculpted this one did a much better job, partially because they didn't try to give her great honkin' huge gazongas. Her body is more toned, and the proportions longer, but this is still a petite brunette and she has a petite body.

As Monkey Boy once pointed out, Carrie Fisher has one of those faces that's difficult to sculpt well. This is one area in which Unleashed's stylization helps the figure, because while the likeness is a little more styereotypically "feminine" than Fisher's real face, she still has one of the better Leia likenesses ever captured in plastic.

Leia's bikini was inspired by Frank Frazetta's fantasy painting Egyptian Queen, was designed by Aggie Guerard Rodgers and Nilo Rodis-Jamero, and sculpted by jeweler Richard Miller. Early plans for it would have included harem pants or a 25-yard-long skirt that would trail all through Jabba's palace, not the toe-length loincloth we know today. With all that skin showing, paint mistakes on the toy would tend to stand out, but everything is painted cleanly. The ultra-thin straps that hold the top on, the metal bands around her hips, the bracelet and cuff she wears (which were sold as prop replicas just last year, lest you want to believe the rumor that Disney is forbidding anyone from merchandising this look), it's all done very precisely. Her loincloth is sculpted, but it's molded from a translucent plastic, though the fabric in the film was never that diaphanous. Just like Han's jacket would change from brown to blue, Leia's skirt would change from brown to purple, so the toy has gone with a deep puce shade.

Star Wars Unleashed was not about articulation, so Leia's got one sultry pose and that's it. This is clearly after she's killed Jabba, because she's standing up on the deck of his yacht sail barge with the remnant of her (real metal) chain hanging from her collar. Carrie Fisher was only 5'1", so Leia is standing on the tiptoes of her right foot, with her left foot fully en pointe. Her left leg is bent to show off maximum hip, her right hand rests coquettishly on her thigh, and her torso is twisted slightly to the side - sort of a more anatomically plausible "boobs and butt" pose. Her left arm is raised to hold/lean on her accessory, the bladed staff she took from one of Jabba's guards. Unlike the Black Series figure's, this one's staff is the right length. Still, the pose and the pole combine to make it look like Take Your Daughter to Work Day at the strip club.

Leia can't ever stand by herself, because a metal peg comes out of her foot to attach her to her display base. Honestly, that's a fair trade, because it means you can use thie little dais for any number of figures. It's just a neat bronzed platform, a section of deck with some curved railing behind the figure, but you could see Dr. Doom addressing his nation from here, Ripley shooting an Alien, whatever you like.

Four decades ago, Star Wars was all there was, so injecting even a little bit of sex into it reached an entire generation, imprinting the bikini on their brains; but geek culture grew exponentially afterward, giving young minds lots of things to experienece in their formative years. Slave Leia hasn't been unseated from the top of the list because of a sinister conspiracy, but because the audience has changed. When there were only three TV stations, 106 million people would watch the series finale of M*A*S*H; today, when there's cable and streaming, a "major" event like a primetime Oprah interview will draw one-fifth that size, despite the population rising. People's attention is spread over a wider surface, so there's more competition. RotJ Leia never had to compete with Harley Quinn, the Baroness, Daenerys Targaryen, April O'Neil, Misty Pokemon, Jessica Rabbit, Bulma, Xena, Tifa, She-Ra, Hinata, Rei, Asuka, Leela, Leeloo, the Little Mermaid, Lara Croft, Lana Kane, Kim Possible, 7 of 9, Cylon Six, 2B, Chun-Li, D.Va, the Green M&M... you get the idea. She may not be the be-all and end-all of nerdrotica anymore, but she's still iconic, and the Unleashed figure is a fairly tasteful rendition of her.

-- 02/12/22


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