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Body Bags

Legendary Heroes
by Artemis

Technically it's a family story - but I don't think Disney will be in any hurry to make a movie of it.

Mack's as big as a house and as mean as a bull elephant. Panda's as pretty as a rose and as dangerous as a cobra. They're the daddy-daughter bounty-hunting team from Body Bags! Mack Delgado - a veteran bounty hunter known as Clownface - and his overzealous teenage daughter Panda do business in Terminus, Georgia. Like any parent-child relationship, Mack is very protective of his daughter, while Panda constantly fights for her father's respect - and permission to set out on dangerous missions with him and his partner Pops.

...and that's all I know about Body Bags, so this won't be one of those reviews sprinkled with background factoids - I'd quite like to read it, since there's a heroine and by the sound of it she's crazy (which always keeps things interesting), but I've never seen so much as a back-issue of it, let alone a trade paperback on sale. Heigh-ho.

Let's take a look at Clownface first. He's huge, that's the first thing you notice - and the next several things too, that's how big he is. It's not just height, he's a heavy-set, bulky juggernaut of a man, 7¼" tall and 4½" wide at the shoulders (more like 5½" at his forearms, the widest point in a neutral pose). Everything about him is disproportionately massive, except for his head - it's normal-sized, but looks tiny on him. He's kitted out in brown pants, sculpted with a fabric weave texture, sneakers, gloves, and a glossy shirt - maybe latex or PVC, or maybe it's just emulating the artwork, I can't yet say.

His belt is a slightly softer plastic than the rest of him, but it's firmly glued in place; it's painted simply but cleanly, with a darker, richer shade of brown setting apart his knife sheaths and the various pouches along the belt's length, and silver picking out the buckle and pouch studs. The chain hanging from the belt's left side is a real metal chain, allowing the leg free mobility despite hanging almost to the knee. Up higher the necklace is sculpted into the shoulders and chest, and painted silver with good coverage, even on the edges of the sculpt, though the crevices between segments of the squared-off "chain" could have used a paint wash to darken them. The white panels and laces on his sneakers are all clean and solid, and the only noticeable lapse is the edges of the gloves, where some of the forearm flesh colour has pooled in the crevice between arm and glove, overrunning slightly.

Clownface's distinctive mask/hood looks simple, but is actually quite fully detailed. It's sculpted with subtle bumps around the nose and cheeks, revealing a little of the shape of the human face beneath, and the forehead is creased. Neatly-applied black paint forms the smiley face pattern, but within the rectangular eye sockets there's a sliver of skin colour beneath outlined eyes with detailed irises. A zipper runs across the top of the hood, with the tag hanging over the forehead.

With such Herculean musculature articulation is understandably limited - well, a real body looking like that would have trouble moving too. Clownface has a balljoint neck, balljoint shoulders, elbows, and wrists, and a pin running through the highest knuckle on the fingers, allowing them independent motion; the thumb is set in position though. He has a full balljoint sternum, which managed to look quite good no matter which way you turn it, then balljoint hips and knees, balljoint ankles, and pin toes. Both feet have peg holes - rather large ones - but between the size of the feet, and the considerable leg articulation, he can be made stable in a wide range of poses by himself.

His only accessories (unless you count Panda - relative to him, she's small enough to be an accessory) are a pair of heavy knives, which in anyone else's hands would count as short swords at least. They're identical, with silver blades painted over black plastic which shows on the handles, and fit into the two sheaths on his belt, though the lower one is a tighter fit. He can also hold them, though the articulated fingers, and a slight softness in the plastic of the hands, make it easy for his grip to be loosened accidentally during posing, and I've found he can never really hold the blades as tightly as I'd like.

Making for a striking contrast is Panda, barely 5" tall and tiny everywhere except her hairstyle and her breasts, which are kind of ridiculous. She's evidently some sort of cheerleader gone mad, with a shiny black long-sleeved shirt and pleated miniskirt, and sneakers with pom-poms attached to them. (The original plan was to make her some kind of mini-geisha; I guess someone's fetish shifted sometime between concept and creation.) Making her look a bit more serious are matte-finish shoulder panels on her top and a studded leather bracelet on her left wrist; making her look less serious again is the smiley face badge stuck to her hair (which suffers slightly from not having its edges painted). Most of her paintwork is fairly simple and fairly well done, but the P on her chest lets the red run over the white border in a couple of sports, and what with it being so central it's easy to notice.

Her face is all-out cartoony, with a broad open-mouthed grin and huge anime-ish slanted eyes. The paintwork is very neat here, including the eyebrows which are generally hidden by her mop fringe; three small gold earrings are also sculpted and painted on her ears (two left, one right) in addition to the large hoop earrings glued in place, at an angle as if dancing about as she moves. Her hair features a stylised sculpt, with triangular segments picked out by a fairly well applied rich brown drybrush over the dark brown base, though the coverage on the back of her ponytail is far greater than on the front, behind her scalp, making her hair look much darker from the front.

Unfortunately she falls down a bit on articulation - literally falls down, quite often. The problem is simply that she's top-heavy, between her having a huge hairdo and being royally stacked, and with true ball-and-socket joints at her hips and ankles, that's a lot of weight resting on one of the looser styles of joint. She also has swivels at the hips, making up for the limits of the balljoint where the ball housing contacts the peg, pin knees, and pin toes. What with the mass of weight up high, trying to do adventurous poses is an exercise fraught with frustration. Also frustrating are her arms, which have the same ball/swivel combination as the hips, swivel wrists, and nothing in between - with no ability to alter the bend of her arms, posing is extremely limited, especially with the shoulder swivels not accounting for the angle of the balljoint housings very well, offering far less mobility then their equivalents on the hips.

Limbs aside, she has a balljoint neck, and two swivels in her torso, one at the waist and one at the sternum - the sternum is more seamless to turn in terms of preserving sculpt, but it also breaks apart the P on her top if used. Panda doesn't have any accessories - her handgun is molded into her right hand - and nor does she have peg holes in her feet, which is doubly annoying with the overbalancing issues.

They're a strange pair of figures, but - Panda's odd articulation regardless - quality products, and a sad reminder of why Marvel Toys' Legendary Heroes line will be missed (and Shocker's similar Indie Spotlight line, while in all likelihood similarly doomed, is much-anticipated): they're not the same old tired characters we've already seen dozens of figures of.

-- 08/25/08

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