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Lara Croft (Tibet)

Tomb Raider: Adventures of Lara Croft
by yo go re

Free Tibet? No, I had to pay somewhere between $15 and $20 for it.

The chill cuts through Lara's bomber jacket as she ascends the foreboding Himalayas. Lara looks down - straight into the eyes of the mythical Yeti! The Yeti swipes his razor sharp claws at her feet. For a split second Lara wonders if her gun has frozen in the sub-zero weather - a thunderous boom reassures her. As the reverberating echoes slowly fade, Lara reaches the summit and reloads.

Although Playmates Toys' Tomb Raider: Adventures of Lara Croft action figure diorama sets came out after Eidos' Tomb Raider III hit stores (and the way we choose to start all these reviews' filenames with "tr3_"), the fact that the line is called Adventures of Lara Croft and not Tomb Raider 3 should give you a hint that the toys are based on more than just one game. For instance, this set features things only seen in Tomb Raider II.

Lara's face looks very simple - it's not heavily detailed, it's kind of flat, the shapes are all angular rather than rounded, the eyes are too big - but that's exactly how she looked in the promotional art at the time of this toy's release. Her mouth is open slightly (because high altitude = thinner air), and a single strand of hair is falling onto her forehead.

Like the bio mentioned, Lara is wearing a bomber jacket, because the thing you wear to stay comfortable when it's 50 degrees outside is totally going to be enough to stave off hypothermia when tromping around the world's highest mountains. Of course, she's also still wearing her trademark booty shorts, so maybe those harsh, unforgiving British summers acclimated her to the cold. Considering that the jacket was just one she randomly found on a plane, and that it was earlier being worn by big, burly henchmen, it's surprisingly well fitted. Playmates even gave the coat (and its wool lining) a unique texture, which is doubly impressive given the smooth, cartoony finish the rest of the toy has, and there's a symbol or patch painted on both shoulders.

Her articulation is just as mediocre as the other two figures in Series 1: she has swivel joints at the neck, shoulders, biceps, waist and hips. Her legs are much closer together than on the Jungle figure, for reasons that will eventually be clear. A carabiner pokes out of her belt, and one of her accessories is a grappling hook with a string hanging off it. She's also armed with her traditional pistols, as well as a shotgun. It's great the way these sets all come with a different "bonus" weapon, building you toward a full arsenal if you get them all.

Naturally, this set's "Adventure Diorama" is Tibet. Well, not the whole country, just a mountain. Well, not an entire mountain, just a bit of cliff face. A tower of rocks, covered with snow. It must be slippery snow, because there's a skeleton half-buried in the snow at the base, suggesting someone fell and died there. The display is pretty massive, breaking the 12" mark vertically, and 4¾" wide by 3⅞" deep. It's made from three pieces - the base and two tall towers - that all snap together firmly, so you don't have to worry about it falling apart while you're playing. The paint is more complex than you'd expect, as well: the snow is white, but has some pale blue airbrushing to give it depth, and the stones are molded in dark grey, then painted with highlights. The skeleton is white with rusty red shadows all over it. You can hook Lara's grappling hook over the back of the cliff, and since the string loops through her belt and her feet are fairly close together (see, we told you that would be important later), you can have her rappelling down the mountain!

Of course, Lara needs some indigenous wildlife to murder (it's the only thing that gets her off), so the set includes a yeti. Well, most of a yeti. Since including a full-sized Abominable Snowman would have destroyed the budget for this line (remember, that price range we quoted above was in 1999 money, when $9.99 for a McFarlane toy was still considered weirdly high), we really only get the head, torso and right arm of a yeti. It mounts on a large peg hidden behind some rocks on the base, creating the impression that it's leaning out from behind the cliff to attack Lara as she intrudes upon its territory.

The yeti is raising its arm to swipe at Lara, and has a single point of articulation in the shoulder. The design of the toy doesn't really resemble what was seen in the game, because the tech limitations of the time meant that the yetis looked like a jumble of polygons. He's covered in long white fur everywhere but the palm of his hand and the middle of his face.

The half-a-yeti is kind of a weird piece, but only if you look at it by itself. In its spot on the base, it's much better. And the diorama itself is just a big, cool display piece. Imagine a Batman climbing to Nanda Parbat, or Iron Fist hanging around K'un-Lun, and you get an idea of the sorts of things you could use this for. That's assuming, of course, that you don't just want a neat Lara Croft hanging off it, but why would that be?

-- 02/07/15

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