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The Baroness (Paris Pursuit)

GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra
by Artemis

For this review I had planned to start with something about Sienna Miller, since I've already gone on about the Baroness in the review of her first figure in the Rise of Cobra line. Of course, I didn't know anything much about the Baroness then, but I don't know much about Sienna Miller now, so we're on even ground, yes? Hey, at least I'm not doing the "land and air" joke again. She was in Casanova, which I've seen, but I can't say I remember her, so that's no help. Sienna, that is, not the character of the Baroness - although that would've been an interesting twist to the movie.

As dangerous as she is beautiful, Baroness is a master spy for Cobra and a powerful, high-ranking figure at M.A.R.S. Industries. She speeds through the streets of Paris with the nanomite weapon technology to complete her destructive mission.

Preferred Weapon: M.A.R.S. Industries 9mm submachine gun with nano-pulse weapon

That's odd - in the previous Baroness's infocard, her "preferred weapon" was a D57-A tactical rifle. Maybe she changes her mind a lot? I guess that's a benefit to being highly placed in a major tech manufacturer, you've got plenty of guns to choose from. Incidentally, while yo assures me that the obvious-secret-identity name "Anastasia DeCobray" is a deliberately malevolent pseudonym in "Real American Hero" Joe continuity, in the movie - according to my shiny new GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra - Mission Dossier book - it really is her name, and the result of her marrying scientist Daniel DeCobray in order to prod him into developing Eiffel-Tower-eating nanites. You have to respect Cobra's determination to do this supervillainy thing right - they probably could've got this plan up and running decades ago if they hadn't had to wait for not only someone with the scientific genius to do the work, but who also had a name near enough to "Cobra" to be catchy.

The first Rise of Cobra Baroness figure was the leather bodysuit one (in which, incidentally, Sienna was so immobile that they had to make a special frame for her to rest in between takes, since she couldn't sit down - probably one of the few instances of an action figure having too much articulation from an accuracy-of-motion standpoint) - this one's the badass longcoat. Now I haven't yet seen the movie so I can't comment reliably on the figure's accuracy - the photos I've seen of the Baroness in Paris show her in block heels, rather than the stilettos here, and likewise with a bare neck rather than a high collar above the coat. But whether those are inaccuracies or not, at least Hasbro can't be accused of making them by just re-using parts from Baroness mkI - all of the new girl is original material, even the heels which are virtually identical, but have seams in different places to the bodysuit versions. What with the coat, they honestly could've re-used everything from the waist down and no one would've thought twice - the degree of non-re-use in these figures is starting to go from "a credit to Hasbro" to "you guys do know you can save money doing this, right?"

Having said that, the entirely original new figure doesn't really manage to look her best when it comes to the coat. It's sculpted very tightly around her torso, with a distinct texture and vertical ribs built in, and aside from the lapels it doesn't look much like a coat at all; the horizontal joint running across the sternum doesn't help. Furthermore the bottom half of the coat doesn't have quite the same finish - above the waist there's more gloss, and it makes it a bit difficult to see the two halves as part of the same garment. At first glance it looks more like she's wearing another bodysuit, with a long open skirt a la Asajj Ventress or something. The paint - erratic finish aside - is basically just black all over, distinguished only by quite careful work on the silver studs and buckle on her belt, and a small crimson Cobra emblem on the right arm.

She's had a redesign above the neck too - the face is the same sculpt as before, but it's used in a different way, and in my book it's far superior. Instead of the removable glasses, Baroness's specs are stuck in place this time, which allows them to be stuck in the right place, without being at the mercy of how tightly the sides of the glasses fit between the head and hair. That sets them just so on the bridge of her nose, allowing her villainously raised eyebrows to be properly visible, and along with a paler skin tone, manages to make the Sienna-ish sculpt look far more characterful. Omitting the removable glasses also lets the hair sit tighter on her head, so that it covers the sides of her face, especially the right forehead, more effectively - again, more characterful. Her hair is still brunette, but darker, created by a dark brown highlight over black plastic, rather than plain brown plastic as before. All in all, she's looking very Baroness at last.

The coat affects her articulation, as you'd imagine - in fact it's fairly stiff plastic (though not so rigid as to be a breaking risk) and the way it wraps around the thighs renders her hip joints all but immobile, limiting her to upright, low-motion poses. Elsewhere she has the usual joints: balljoint neck (limited by the hair but without the effectively-a-swivel socket design of some of the other Joe girls), swivel/pin shoulders and elbows, swivel wrists, shallow balljoint sternum, swivel/pin hips (kinda), double pin knees, and swivel/pin ankles.

She comes with the usual Cobra-styled dogtag base - the coat allows her stance to widen just enough to fit both feet onto their pegs - and an assortment of weapons, including the obligatory Stupid Giant Gun, which manages to up the stupidity with a two-pronged missile. What the heck is that supposed to be? The little silver instrument panel on the launcher (just above the forward handle) can be removed and used as a separate accessory, so I guess there's some use to be had from the thing.

The SGG deservedly ignored, Ana's got a selection of four guns, and since I don't really know much about guns and the Mission Dossier's no help, I won't pretend I can trace them back to whatever real-world firearm they were before the movie's props department descended on them. There are two Uzi kind of things [Heckler & Koch MP7A1s --ed], one with a second handle up front, the other with a scope and silencer, there's a typical modern bullpup-style assault rifle, and there's a sleeker rifle with no obvious magazine and a techier-looking sight, which I'm guessing is some kind of energy weapon. Both the rifles have slanted grips, which match the sculpt of the figure's hands - holding either of the MP7s, they'll be dipped down, rather than pointing straight ahead along the line of the forearm (which works if she's just holding them casual-like, but won't for firing poses).

Looking back on this review (aside from the silly parts), I see I've noted a few problems with her, but I have to say overall I'm very happy with this Baroness, and it all comes down to how she looks like the Baroness. The coat could've had a better matching finish, and the hip articulation is limiting, but that pale, deadly face with its mocking raised eyebrow is really all you need to know, and despite her few flaws, she's a damned good action figure that I'm glad I found.

-- 10/30/09

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