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Asajj Ventress

SW: The Clone Wars
by Artemis

There's no denying that the Star Wars galaxy got a lot more crap after the Empire took over. Starships stopped being sleek and shiny, bars got seedier and less full of holographic sports channel TVs, cold weather gear suddenly needed to be thicker than a spandex body stocking - ironically it made the Original Trilogy look a whole lot better, but from a techno-aesthetic point of view it's definitely a retrograde step. And nowhere is it more apparent than in lightsaber design, since only one new saber gets built in the OT, and it's a carbon copy of Obi-Wan's. Whereas in the prequels, lightsaber design was a flourishing industry - shortened, lengthened, curved, tonfa, pistol-grip, staff, twinned, ribbed for her pleasure, the Jedi and Sith had it all.

Asajj Ventress communicates via a holographic projector to her mentor, Count Dooku, as they twist events against the Jedi. Ventress can wield a lightsaber with devastating skill and precision and is fuelled by the power of the dark side and her hatred of the Jedi.

So who's supposed to be the hot one in Star Wars: The Clone Wars? Ahsoka's a few years' worth of brightest days and blackest nights short of legal age, Padme's not around often enough, likewise Aayla Secura (although when she is, oh baby that accent), they can't possibly think enough girls are watching to make Anakin it... it's got to be Asajj, am I right? So what's with the redesign of her face to try to make her look like a fish? C'mon Star Wars, quit trying to mess with the fans.

Luckily it was only middling successful, so Asajj is still a hottie, albeit a rather severe-looking one - for our money the Sideshow Asajj is still the leading SILF (Sith I'd Like... oh, work it out yourselves), at least for the next hundred-and-whatever years until Darth Lapdancer shows up. To CGI-Asajj's credit, she does have a tendency to strip during lightsaber battles - just as well it didn't catch on, though, what with Vader and Luke ending up the only Jedis around.

This figure is plainly the CGI version - no half-half semi-realism like Ahsoka's figure had, this one is pure computer animation, although that's understandable since Asajj has had action figures before to satisfy the realism-inclined collectors. I'm not saying she's exactly how she looks on screen, but I'd hate to have to live on the difference - watch the show, then look at the figure, and you'll say "Yep, that's her alright." Her distinctive torso is sculpted accurately - possibly in a further misguided effort to de-sexify her they've given her a slightly limp bosom, and a bony, angular midriff and shoulders - while from the waist down she's covered by her skirt, fabric with soft plastic for the twin belts and the tabard, or whatever you call it.

Her face and head are likewise very close representations of the CGI form - we're left wondering if Hasbro just gets the CG models and plug them into its CAD software to get these - and the paint does a decent job backing up the sculpt, with Asajj's curly pale tattoos, or whatever they are, and lipstick and eye liner standing out starkly against her ghostly white skin. The two new markings, the ones at the sides of her mouth, are a little darker than the others, since they're quite small but also quite vital to her current appearance; the only drawback to the paint is that she's got some shadows around her eyes that could be a bit cleaner, but it's nothing you'd notice without going in for a very close look.

And since it's the moment everyone looks forward to when Asajj shows up, the skirt and belts can be ditched to reproduce her "Take it off baby!" combat style, revealing her wide hips and powerful thighs, all wrapped up like the Sith's idea of a Christmas present. The method of stripping her isn't immediately apparent, since the skirt is one piece, as are the belts - in fact you have to pop her apart at the waist joint, then remove the extra clothes after detaching the belt buckle, which holds them in place by plugging into her stomach.

Articulation (with or without skirt) is pretty decent, although you can see just from the photos that Hasbro opted against doing anything fancy with her thin arms. She's got the obligatory neck balljoint, then swivel/pin shoulders and swivels just below the elbow - glove tops, were she wearing gloves. Aesthetically it's good work, but it limits the amount of cool lightsaber moves she can do. She's got a swivel waist - very visible if her skirt's off, especially when turned - and the usual peg hips, swivel/pin knees and swivel/pin ankles. Both feet have peg holes, but even in dramatic stances you won't need a base if her skirt's on - its length is perfect for resting against the ground to take off that little bit of weight she needs to remain upright.

Accessorywise, of course she's got her twin lightsabers, and they're quite a piece of work. Each blade has a very minimal flare at the base, which suits me just fine, and besides doing a fair duplication of the curved handles, with their black and silver grips, the hilts each sport a hook and a cavity for the opposing hook, meaning you can link the two sabers together hilt-to-hilt perfectly. The quality control in such small pieces, in softish plastic too, fitting together so precisely is a credit to Hasbro.

To demonstrate her loyalty to her master, Asajj also has a sizeable dildo shaped like Count Dooku-- oh, sorry, "hologram," my mistake. The blue projection is a separate piece from the handle (with the on-off switch and speed control), and for its size it's not a bad sculpt, with a well-sculpted cloak parting in front to reveal the body, one hand raised as if pointing, and a small but recognizable head, with CGI-Dooku's characteristic knife-edge profile. Since Asajj is so often seen using a holoprojector it's a good choice for an accessory - it's hindered, though, by being larger than seen on screen, and Asajj's lack of elbows making it difficult for her to hold it upright.

Still, the projector isn't a big deal - it's the lightsabers everyone will want to display her with, and they're flawless. Aside from the limited arm articulation (and obvious waist joint when she's skirtless), so is the figure, near enough - if you want a figure of the CGI incarnation of Asajj, and this doesn't fit the bill, you're a tougher critic than I am.

-- 08/22/09

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