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Mrs. Claus

Twisted Christmas
by Artemis

Christmas seems to come earlier every year, and now we know why. If you thought that joke was off-colour, this is not the action figure for you.

One of the coldest places on earth is getting hotter. Naughty and nice, Mrs. C. finds a new way to work the North Pole - just doing what she can to keep Santa happy on those cold winter nights.

Seeing as Santa's a gasmasked, claw-handed maniac in McFarlane's Twisted Christmas line, that's a rather disturbing thought - then again, disturbing is the whole point of the exercise here. Continuing in the tradition of such f&#$ed-up Monsters series as Twisted Oz and Twisted Fairy Tales, this set targets yet another family-friendly subject and delivers a solid dose of grotesque deviance.

As it happens, Mrs. Claus is actually rather sedate compared to her monstrous siblings in this line - granted she's not going to pass muster in a G-rated holiday special, and her pet elves aren't pretty, but compared to such wholeheartedly psychotic figures as Camille Noire or Red Riding Hood, a pole dancer doesn't seem like she's very high up the evil scale, unless you're one of those fundamentalist crusaders who regard everything from genocide to foreplay as equally deviant. Still, she is married to the aforementioned claw-fiend, so perhaps it's just guilt by association.

So far as quality of design and sculpt goes, this is a McFarlane figure, which is to say she's excellent - they may not know what a balljoint is, but McToys knows how to make a plastic statue [and how! --ed] Mrs. Claus is flawless from head to toe, with every detail lovingly sculpted from the indentation in her lower lip, through the lacy trim and tiny crinkles in the fabric of her lingerie, down to the sleigh bells stitched to her boots. Her figure is slim but grown up, without defined muscles but with enough of the shape of them to justify her being able to do her moves on the pole - it's a physically demanding discipline - and enough sexy curves in front and behind to have something to show off while she's doing it. Her body sculpt shows a good command of the intricacies of anatomy, how a body moves and responds to motion, especially (compared to the liberties often taken in action figures) in the area of her chest: she's leaning slightly to her left, and her right breast is appropriately swelling out of her bra cup compared to the left. It's attention to detail like that, breast-related or otherwise, that separates a good sculpt from a great one.

Mrs. C.'s skirt and the mini-babydoll fringe on her bra are separate pieces, the latter glued in place, the former free-floating on her hips so it can be positioned exactly against the pole which is pushing up against its edge, and both are especially good work. They're sculpted in clear plastic, painted white on the fluffy edges, but given a thin frosted white coat elsewhere, making them semi-transparent - when I saw the photos of this figure, those skirts were my main concern, whether they'd translate from the highly-finished prototype to the mass-market figures, but they're one of the most impressive uses of sculpt and paint we can recall.

The paint overall is at McFarlane's usual level, not quite flawless but far above average. There's a very slight amount of waviness on some - not all - of the lines between skin and underwear, and the edges of her garter straps aren't quite as painted as they should be, but overall the paint job is clean, crisp, and professional. Her stockings are particularly good work, with exactly the right shade and finish of smoky grey to make it look as though there's skin beneath dark stocking, not just a single colour painted onto her.

The face is as good as you could ask for, with glossy lips and clean white teeth, clear and detailed eyes, and metallic green eye shadow (Mrs. Claus isn't quite the classiest lady). Her eyebrows are a bit prominent, almost black and a little thick towards the bridge of her nose, but not so much as to be unrealistic - it actually serves to give her a little individuality. Between sculpt and paint, she's got a rather characterful expression - a sexy pout, but with a hint of rote performance, as if the pout is just part of the show, and behind it she's not really feeling anything much. I did notice some variation in the paint on her hair in the figures I saw at the shop, with the highlight being cleaner on some than others, so if you buy in person, check around to make sure you get the best one.

This is a McFarlane figure, so articulation is obviously limited - I hear they use a special kind of plastic that explodes in the presence of balljoints, or something like that. Mrs. C. has peg biceps, peg wrists, and peg thighs - all useful solely for fine-tuning her sculpted pose. She appears to have a neck joint as well, but it seems to be an assembly seam, not a mobile joint; her head can turn slightly, but settles right back into its usual position once pressure isn't being applied to it.

Santa's hottest helper comes with a scenic base, including the North Pole, and two elves, one hanging off the pole itself eyeballing her cleavage, the other in a gift-wrapped box staring up her skirt. According to the packaging and the website she should come with a 'North Pole' sign too, and indeed there's a recess in the base for it to be plugged in, but there was no sign in the package. Perhaps an individual oversight, but based on the photos, I don't really mind its absence - the base isn't especially large, and too many add-ons would clutter it up. In fact, I tend to think the boxed elf is too close to the base of the pole as it is - his line of sight is amusing, but he obscures Mrs. Claus' foot, and detracts slightly from the impact of her pose. Both box and elf are mounted on the same peg from the base, which goes through a hole in the bottom of the box and into the elf in a rather personal manner. The other elf is attached more or less permanently to the top of the pole, which is packaged separately (but easily attached). His knees swivel, to allow his legs to be positioned tightly over the top of the pole, his hands are attached also. I'm not quite sure how - I didn't want to risk damaging the pole to find out - and he too is fixed in place by a peg up the you-know-where. The sculpt and paint of the base and all its elements is on par with the figure itself: sculpt flawless, paint not quite perfect, but as good as you could ask of a toy at this price point.

She's an odd figure, overall - a pole dancer in a market dominated, as far as female figures go, by warriors of one kind or another. But that's McFarlane's women for you; you never know what you'll get, but you can be sure you won't get it anywhere else.

-- 12/01/07

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