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Lara Croft (London)

Tomb Raider: Adventures of Lara Croft
by yo go re

Series 1 of Playmates' Tomb Raider: Adventures of Lara Croft toys took Lara to London, and then so did Series 2.

Living life on the edge, Lara jumps from ledge to ledge across foggy London rooftops. She's ready and willing to fend off anyone or anything standing between her and the recovery of an ancient artifact. Face-to-face with a trained attack-dog, she grabs her gun. Never one to back down, she slowly attaches the silencer to her MP5, and fires a warning shot past the snarling beast. Lara jumps to the next ledge and disappears into the fog.

Just like the last London-based set, this one also represents a scene that never happened in the games. Yes, Lara's been to London - she first got there in Tomb Raider III - and while she was there, she did run around on some rooftops (in fact, a rather infamous glitch right at the start of the Thames Wharf level allows you to never leave the rooftops, and instead finish the level in less than 30 seconds), but they didn't look like this. But that doesn't really matter, because the toy being fun is the most important thing, right?

London Lara gets the same head sculpt as Deep Sea Lara, with the parted lips, the loose strands of hair on her forehead, and the braid that falls down over her backpack, rather than off to one side. In the other set, it made her look wet, but here, it makes her look disheveled, a style that makes perfect sense if she's jumping between rooves.

Surprisingly, the figure's body is entirely a new mold. She's wearing her black leather catsuit, because it was the '90s, so she's showing the least amount of skin of any of these figures yet: nothing but arms. A sculpted zipper runs from the collar down to about clit level, so we know the torso isn't reused from the wetsuit (the only other option that doesn't include a jacket or a tank top), while the legs have zipper down the outside from the waist all the way into the boots. Just take a moment and picture how ridiculous this garment would look fully unzipped. Just laying on a bed or shelf, with its unzipped legs flapped open. Comical! But then, it also means she doesn't have to powder her entire body like a Dunkin' Donut in order to get the thing on.

The left arm is bent so she can hold a gun close to her body. Wetsuit Lara was similar, but this time she's actually got her trigger finger extended. The figure has swivel joints at the neck, shoulders, waist, and hips - no biceps to help fine-tune the pose, though they could have hidden them with her sleeves. She's armed with her silver pistols, as you'd expect, and also gets the silenced MP5 mentioned in the bio. Since only one hand has the trigger finger out, she looks better if you leave the pistols in their holsters.

The Adventure Diorama portion of this set is, naturally, a section of London rooftop. Like we said above, the rooftops upon which you skulk in TR3 don't look at all like this: those are industrial locations, while this appears to be more residential. The portion of wall behind Lara is rough brick, with stonework along the corner and the top, and a small chimney on the very top. The rooftop itself is flat, which is how the figures can stand on it, but we get a shingled face angled on the front, and green gables on the ends. A spiked iron railing extends along two sides. The sculpt on the bricks is better here than it was on the last London set, and the stone, wood, and even the gravel on the rooftop are all detailed better than you'd expect.

The extra piece for this set is the bio's "trained attack dog," which turns out to be a Doberman Pinscher. Again, we see how this breaks rank with the story of the game: Lara has run across Dobermans before, but not in London; they tend to be more of an "Italy" enemy, appearing in Venice in TR2 and Rome in Tomb Raider Chronicles. Oh, and also once at your home, but they're brought there by an Italian mob boss, so that doesn't really break the pattern.

The dog is sculpted very well - not quite "Safari Ltd. replica" good, but "mass-market toyline from the late '90s" good. She's posed twisting slightly to the side, with one paw just lifted off the ground to take a step forward, and her mouth is open in a full bark. The paint accurately captures a Doberman's black and tan markings, though the glowing red eyes are a little unusual.

The Tomb Raider London Adventure Diorama is part of Series 2, alongside the South Pacific set, and nearly went unreleased. Luckily, Palisades Toys came along and picked up the North American distribution rights, or else we'd really have missed out on something fun. Even if you don't want the Lara for some reason, the rooftop alone makes a great backdrop for any number of characters.

-- 02/01/18

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