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by Artemis

How to explain Bayonetta? Well, all I can offer is second-hand info, since it's available only for Playboxes and whatnot. And since that second-hand info suggests it's a game about Kate Beckinsale from Underworld crossed with a sexy librarian whose combat abilities are powered by nudity, pole-dancing and BDSM, I'm just a little bit annoyed about that.

Bayonetta is a flamboyant and mysterious Umbra Witch who possesses remarkable talent for the bullet arts. After a 500 year slumber in a coffin submerged at the bottom of a lake, she was awakened by Antonio Redgrave and his son Luka. With the help of Rodin, her demonic informant, weaponsmith and proprietor of The Gates of Hell bar, Bayonetta fights to find the truth of her past. She is hounded endlessly by hosts of angels along the way.

Thanks to the Bayonetta wiki for that - as always, Play Arts don't seem too concerned about telling you who their luxury geek toys are, though with their multi-lingual packaging the bios would probably eat up half the box anyway. The nuances of her identity aren't really that important anyway - suffice it to say that she's a whole bunch of fetishes all rolled into one, and being hounded by those angels actually works out quite well for her, given how much she seems to enjoy horribly slaughtering them. I had a look on YouTube to see what she's like, and within 15 seconds I was watching her manhandling angels into guillotines and spanking them with her stiletto heels before decapitating them - and that was one of the restrained finishing moves, since her clothes stayed on.

Like all Kai figures, Bayonetta stands tall - 9" to the top of her elaborate hairdo - but as you've probably noticed by now, she's got a tiny little head. Actually I don't think it's so much that her head is small as that the designers started emphasising body parts for extra sex appeal, and forgot to stop until they'd emphasised everything. Or maybe they're just Thrud the Barbarian fans, and figured that this would be what the female of the species looked like. It takes a bit of getting used to, and in some poses - especially if the neck is turned sharply - it can look like the body and the head are from different figures, but you do get used to it, so long as she's not standing next to regular figures in similar scale for comparison.

While she's clearly playing by anatomical rules all her own, she shares the rest of Kai's wealth of sculpted and painted detail. Her catsuit - which is actually her hair (she and Reina from Witchblade could swap fashion tips) - has leather-like creases at the joints, as well as decorative textures down the front of the torso and along the sides of her Darkchylde-long legs. Compared to her videogame form, the heavy articulation breaks up her body shape a bit - especially the separation between the hips and adjacent pieces - but as these things go, it's not so bad, even with the gold trim (one of the only bits which is actually real "clothing," along with her gloves and high heels) running across multiple pieces, showing where joints have been turned out of their neutral positions.

That hip piece, incidentally, is entirely soft, over an internal skeleton - it lets the thighs have pretty free rein in moving without needing to leave huge cavities around the joints for them to swing into, which was probably especially important given how much the game shows off her arse at every opportunity. The back of the catsuit is open - very nearly to arse-showing-off levels itself - and the bare skin there is quite a contrast, if she's posed in such a way that it's visible. Also in back are her "wings", huge sails of catsuit/leather/hair/whatever streaming off her biceps, with gold medallions for extra bling value. They're mounted on balljoints - which they can be removed from, either to make it easier to pose the rest of the figure before putting them back on, or just to get rid of them if you don't like them - and have three internal wires running through them, allowing the soft rubber to hold a pose. Unfortunately that internal support doesn't extend all the way up to the mounting joint, and their weight is such that they will bend downwards if the joint isn't pointed that way already.

Bayonetta's got a pretty little face on her pretty little head - obscured by her trademark glasses, which are obviously chunky in the manner of all action figure specs, but they're far from the worst example of their kind. The lenses are clear, and it's surprisingly easy to see her fully painted eyes through them, given how narrow the frames are. She's got her usual smirk, with the beauty mark below her lips, and the hair (the part on her head, rather than wrapped around the rest of her) is sculpted as sharply as usual for Kai, with gold and two-tone red paint picking out the ribbons worked into it.

Naturally she's got a bucketload of mobility - given the kinds of poses she seems to get into, she needs it. She's got a balljoint neck, and then another balljoint at the base of the neck - it can be difficult to make it turn, since there's so little area to grip it with, but it tilts just fine. She doesn't seem to have the "hunch" pin joints that some other Kai figures have sported - there's a seam, but no movement - but down beneath the swivel/pin shoulders, swivel biceps, and high-mobility pin elbows she gets balljoint wrists, which more than make up for it. Her torso has a lot of twist in it, with three-axis joints at both the sternum and waist, then there's the usual balljoint hips and double pin knees, plus more balljoints in the ankles. Overall she's up to the task of the kinds of crazy moves she pulls in the game, which at the far end of the scale becomes a kind of breakdance-fu.

Being fetish gun mistress, or whatever she is, she naturally comes with her handguns - four of them, one for each limb. Each gun has a unique charm attached to its handle, on a mobile metal ring so it won't wind up "hanging" sideways, and each has its own colour gem set into it (magical ammunition, by the looks of it), but otherwise they're identical, though lavish in their sculpt and paint. One pair is larger than the other, though - the big pair are for her hands, while the smaller pair slot into grooves in the backs of her high heels. She has no base or stand, which I have mixed feelings about - on the one hand, the previous Kai stands have been useless, but on the other, without something to hold her up, a lot of her more ridiculous poses are ruled out, since even if you remove the heavy wings, she needs both feet on the ground and stable to stay in a pose. If her heel-guns are in place, they actually help keep her upright quite a bit.

Bayonetta's more than a little bit crazy, but it's the crosses-the-line-twice kind of crazy that works - even the tiny head, once you get used to it. She has an eye-catching style about her, even just standing upright, but I imagine most collectors will want to rustle up some kind of stand for her, so they can get her doing something improbably acrobatic, in which case her articulation is up to the task. Like all Kai figures she's pretty pricey, but again like all I've bought so far, you don't get cheated of the quality and design you'd expect for that price.

-- 09/12/10

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