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Ann O'Brien

Legendary Heroes
by Artemis

Look, I'm all for conservation and so on, but really... wouldn't Gorillas in the Mist have been a lot more fun if it was like this?

The world knows them as the dimension-hopping, monster-battling team of Monkeyman and O'Brian! Always ready to defend the defenceless. Always ready to solve the unsolvable! Monkeyman, real name Axwell Tiberius, a 10 ft tall, super-genius gorilla from a world of huge civilised apes, was accidentally pulled into our universe when Ann O'Brien and her evil sister Akiko were fighting for control of the long-lost Professor O'Brian's Extra-Dimensional Access Device. There was an explosion! Ann and her sister were bathed in a cloud of weird otherworldly radiation! As a result, Ann grew to 7 ft tall and gained incredible speed and strength! Now, Ann and her new friend Axwell must work together to rebuild the extra dimensional gateway, try to find Anne's missing father, and try to discover a way to return Monkeyman to his homeworld!

Phew, that's a lot of exclamation marks - whoever typed up the bio must have been feeling enthusiastic. Sadly the proofreader wasn't - aside from all the minor typos, you'd think having the title "Ann O'Brien" right there above the bio might have encouraged them to be a bit more careful at spelling her name. Ann O'Brien (or O'Brian, or Anne, or both, according to which medication the proofreader forgot to take today) is the designated member of the fairer sex in the second series of Legendary Heroes from Marvel Toys, who previously gave us a rather good Sara Pezzini back in series one. So, how does she stand up?

Quite high, for one thing - she tops Sara by a head easily, so she demonstrates the physical size her bio mentions, though not exactly: if she's 7', that makes Sara an even 6', which is pushing it, and Hasbro's current She-Hulk - who is more or less to scale to her 6'7" - is about the same height as Ann. Still, putting aside the geekish tendency to obsess over minute trivia and stats, she's obviously tall and that's good enough.

She's also got the body of a superwoman, with wide shoulders and a powerful physique, especially evident in her muscular legs. She's got a fairish size to her biceps, but between them being covered by her shirt sleeves, and thinnish forearms which the wrist joints make a bit too long, her arms don't quite seem as strong as her legs. Her shirt has the option of being open, or closed at a little stud at the front, making it look as if it's buttoned there - it looks good either way, so whichever you choose you'll get used to in no time. Beneath it at the back is a socket for a Doop stand, if you happen to have one spare - she can't fly, but since the socket is largely hidden by her shirt, it doesn't hurt her sculpt to have it.

Her face is attractive, but rather severe-looking - she's got a sharp Grecian nose, and pursed lips and a small chin, and the sharpness of her features is emphasized by her hair being swept back away from her forehead and cheeks. It's not altogether unlike how she was drawn, but combined with the narrowed eyes she looks quite cold and aloof (perhaps she's meant to - I won't find out until a collected edition of the comics is published, which I hear will happen next year - but that's not the impression I've gotten). Her hair is a softer material, and despite a fair amount of sculpted detail, it doesn't quite capture the wavy/curly look from the art I've seen - largely because there's no wash or paint highlight to bring out the detail, which is a bit of a sore point.

The other paint application that really should have been better is the drybrush on her shirt - yellow over green, a tricky high-contrast effect to pull off at the best of times, let alone in a factory where you call that a paint wash? paint's liable to be just slopped on any old how. A lot of the sculpted detail on the shirt - seams, pockets, folds, all of which are fairly good - is lost because the paint works against it, settling in the creases while only just covering the flat spaces, leaving faded or scratchy coverage. A lot of the colour on Ann is just bare plastic, but it's pleasing to see that where cast-in-colour and painted parts are meant to look the same, they do so quite well - the rolled up sleeves, for instance, and her fingers. There's some small painted details, like buttons on her shirt and belt pouches, which are a bit sloppy, as are her socks, but the shoelaces are fairly neat. Her face is painted well, with detailed eyes and clean lips, though her eyebrows could stand to be thinner. Overall, she's not so impressive on paint work - the shirt is easily the worst aspect of the whole figure.

Ann is also the designated variant for this series. Well, after the translucent Judge Death that was somehow available alongside Series 1. Oh, and the inexplicable yellow Madman, which really should have come with Series 1. Anyway, The variant Ann is wearing a blue bodysuit with a green jacket, rather than a green bodysuit with yellow. Her shoes are bright green and her gloves are black. The paint on the variant seems less sloppy, but she still could have used a wash on that huge head of red hair.

Articulation scores her some points, though. The obligatory balljointed neck (swivel-pin balljoint, of course) has a good range, and her hair is sculpted to sit away from her back a little way, to allow her head to turn or tilt upwards if desired. Balljointed shoulders, swivel biceps, double pin elbows and swivel-pin wrists give her arms good mobility, though the lack of a swivel above the wrist joint means tilting her wrists is of limited use. She has a torso peg joint, concealed by her shirt, and a swivel waist concealed fairly well by her belt. The ratcheted balljoints at her hips are quite restricted in front and behind by the sculpt of her hips - obviously someone decided to sacrifice some motion there to preserve her nice butt. The joints connect via a swivel to the thighs, giving as much mobility as they can, and double pin knees, swivel shins (at the edge of her tights), pin ankles and pin toes round her out. There are peg holes in her feet, but she won't have too much trouble standing on her own in most reasonable poses.

Her only accessory is her Build-A-Figure piece - and for once, the girl in the series doesn't get the torso. Ann comes with her partner Monkeyman's right leg, clad in a khaki-ish green trouser leg and "glove." As with Pitt previously, Marvel Toys aren't skimping on the size of their BAFs: Monkeyman is going to be seriously bulky. The hip socket is for a balljoint, the knee is a double pin (ratcheted at both sides), there's a shallow balljoint ankle - a true balljoint, three-axis movement - and his thumb and fingers are jointed, though not quite the way hands tend to be. The thumb is on a pin, allowing it to splay wide or be kept close to the palm - no opposable thumb action - and each finger has a pin to allow it to tilt up, like a toe pin does, with a second pin at the lower knuckle to allow it to grip slightly. I imagine it'll do a good job of keeping Monkeyman upright - there's even a peg hole, if you can find a base big enough - but he won't be holding bananas with his feet or anything.

So overall, she's not a great action figure - the unpainted hair and badly painted shirt hold her back - but she's good in spite of those flaws, and the fact that Ann O'Brien (and Monkeyman, if you collect all of him) got a figure at all shows what a good thing the LCBH line is.

-- 07/28/08

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