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Twilight Saga: New Moon
by Artemis

Twilight - loathe it all you want, but you can't deny it's a huge hit with lots and lots of people. Mind you, so are Scientology, movies made by the Wayans brothers, crystal meth, and the Pope's stance on birth control. You know what they say, there's one born every minute. Although I guess I have to 'fess up to being one of those, specifically the kind who buys action figures regardless of how intellectually irritating their source material may be.

"It never made sense for you to love me. I always knew that."

Full Name: Isabella Marie Swan
Status: Human
Group: TBD
Date of Birth: September 13, 1987
Date of Transformation: TBD
Special Abilities: Accident prone, attracts bad luck and vampires cannot access her mind

Okay, that's the Twilight-bashing out of the way - I could go on for days (no, I haven't read any of them, but I have friends who have, either due to fandom or wanting to experience the horror first-hand, so I've got plenty of material), but that's not what we're here for. Besides, criticising teenage girls for having no taste is like complaining that modern wine is crap - you just have to ignore them until they get better with time. Or, if you're NECA, get some money out of them before they realize what they're doing wrong - commendably (despite the specific subject of today's lecture) they're always ready to extend a merchandising hand to potential Next Big Things in their infancy, and last season's Twilight action figures (limited to pretty-boy vampire Edward, and a two-pack of Edward and Bella) must've done decent business, since they're back with an expanded selection of desktop decorations for the current film, New Moon. You know, the one with posters showing a boy band masquerading as werewolves. So I lied about being done with making jokes at the series' expense.

Design-wise NECA have done what they often do, a 6-and-a-bit" slightly poseable statue - Twilight fans, they evidently feel, aren't going to want to move their action figures around much, but instead just put them on their bedside table and pretend the figure's watching them while they sleep, or something. That leaves the sculpt fairly unimpeded by articulation concerns - it's really only the shoulders that are even visible, as joints go - so Bella is left resplendent in all her low-key glory, as a fairly attractive brunette with an unassuming figure (physical, not merchandise) wearing nondescript clothes. She's sporting the kind of fabric-crease-heavy sculpt NECA is known for, but well-painted, so it looks realistic rather than over-detailed - the light top stands out especially, with just enough highlight paint to bring out the sharp creases without overcooking things.

Highlighting is one thing, detail is another, and there Bella's more average - in areas where there's attempted fine paintwork, such as the lacy neckline of her top, her wrist straps, and the laces on her sneakers, she's typical and no more, with no glaring flaws but nothing that stands up much to very close inspection either. Whoever was doing the silver paint fared a little better, with the silver bracelet and ring on her right hand turning out nice and neat. But there's really not a lot to go on about with Bella - she is what you see, low on visual bells and whistles, and the only really unusual thing about her is that her quite modest chest hasn't been artificially augmented, as has been known to happen with tie-in action figures. Mind you, NECA were likewise restrained with Keira Knightley's unassuming bosom in Pirates of the Caribbean, so they have a track record to defend here.

Bella's description per the books is basically Stephenie Meyer, but since she wasn't cast in the movies (probably for the best, since it would've given the haters an absolute field day) NECA don't have to satisfy any potential Mary Sue issues there, and have just gone straight for Kristen Stewart (no relation to Patrick). As a company they have a decent record for actor likenesses, and there was little to fix from the first Bella figure - indeed the difference between that figure and this is very slight, limited mostly to a slight change in the set of her jaw, and a tiny crease between her brows, giving her a serious, determined stare in place of the earlier dopey vacant look. Her hair is brown with subtle red highlights, applied none too carefully but close enough to the base brown to not stand out as messy, and the style frames the face quite a bit more attractively than did the earlier figure's.

Articulation, as I said, is a low point - Bella has a balljoint neck, relatively unencumbered given the limits imposed by long hair, swivel/pin shoulders (with those blasted visible pegs NECA just won't design away), swivel wrists concealed by the wrist straps, and a shallow balljoint waist, hidden beneath the bottom of her shirt, the oval cross-section of which limits the rotation quite a bit. From the waist down she's solid, and fortunately able to stand on her own since she comes with no accessories and no stand (she has peg holes in each heel though).

Bella's not much of a performer, as an action figure - she's just a regular young woman on screen, and the figure is designed to let fans buy a toy of her, no more. All she's got are looks, but they're not bad, and her realistic appearance and wardrobe are ironically unusual in a market dominated by spandex bodysuits and preposterous cleavage, so far as female figures go. If you like Twilight (and aren't fussy about articulation) she should be perfectly adequate, and if you don't, she's just fine as a random civilian - nothing to get excited about, but in a large and varied collection her kind has its place.

-- 11/12/09

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