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Padme Amidala

SW: Clone Wars
by Artemis

Clone Wars has been all about redeeming Star Wars for me - making it fun again, instead of a succession of "Oh jeez, what made them think that was a good idea?" moments. Comedic "Roger roger!" battle droids? Kinda funny now. Artoo "fighting" with his built-in tools? Yeah, it works. Jar Jar Binks? Well... y'know, could be worse. Anakin? I don't particularly want to see him die horribly. And for the first time since her brief foray into capability in Attack of the Clones, Padme is someone you wouldn't want to be your enemy.

Padme has worn many mantles during her young life, including queen, senator and warrior. To each role, she brings her characteristic poise and intelligence, whether she is in the midst of a diplomatic discussion or facing a menacing encounter with an enemy.

Admittedly the whole "senator" bit works against her - as it does anyone who gets involved in galactic affairs in Clone Wars, since it's built into the whole concept of it that they can't achieve anything, since it's all a con job being played from both sides. Fortunately Padders is only a recurring character, so she's not stuck looking useless week-in week-out, and when she does show up, it's generally on a more localized scale, where the good guys are allowed to win. Plus she can take out battle droids in hand-to-hand combat now - I like that about her.

Queen, senator, warrior, and now they're adding "supermodel", since Clone Wars Padme is so thin you find yourself itching to buy her a burger out of sympathy. Not her fault, it's the animation style, but since the good senator is a fairly non-violent character (give or take her occasional flurries of ass-kicking) Hasbro evidently decided to sculpt her as-is. Compare her to Ahsoka Tano, who's only 14, and Padme actually looks slighter, since the Ahsoka figure - a fighter - got thicker legs to support knee joints; likewise Asajj Ventress, although her thighs are meant to be big anyway. Padme's body is good - the plain white bodysuit is smooth but not featureless, and the sharply sculpted and well-painted armbands and boots spice her up - but wow she's a fragile-looking little slip of a thing, especially when taken out of her native cartoon and stood alongside less stylized figures.

Her face is a pretty good match for the CGI version - the main difference is the tone of the skin, which here is your standard action figure plastic skin, whereas on TV it's got that soft non-gloss appearance. That does a surprising amount to influence the look of the face overall, but in other aspects she's pretty close, so the final product isn't a let-down. Personally I'd have preferred more frowny eyebrows - she does tend to have a weight-of-the-world expression on more often than not.

Articulation is her weak point, without a doubt - in copying the slender CGI body, Hasbro have really left themselves nowhere to put complex joints, or even any joints half the time. She's got a balljoint neck and swivel/pin shoulders, then swivel biceps, a swivel waist, peg hips, and... that's it. The sleeves coming over her hands mean there can't be a wrist swivel, her waist is oval so the swivel there is of limited use, and the legs are pretty pointless without even knees, let alone ankles. If you demand articulation, this may very well be a deal-breaker.

On the positive side she's got a fair few accessories. She wears her usual holster belt, and has a Naboo blaster pistol (wooden handle and all) that fits into it decently enough, though the combination looks a bit bulky sitting on her hip, what with the size of her. When it comes to size disparity though, you really can't go past her other weapon, a battle droid blaster - it's a big, chunky weapon that's so oversized in her hands that it looks like if she fired it she'd get flung backwards. Getting her to balance while holding it is a real challenge - as the photo shows it can be done, but it's not what you'd call natural.

She also has Clone Wars' contribution to her wardrobe, her new purple cloak and headdress. This comes in two parts, the cloak which sits around her shoulders (and can of course be worn solo) and the headdress, which fits quite tightly over her head. In fact it's easiest to get her face poking out the right way by detaching the head completely and fitting it into the headdress, then sticking the whole lot back onto the neck. Being, essentially, a hat, the headdress suffers from the size problem suffered by pretty much all action figure hats, but the cloak at least is a good look for her.

Collecting all the Clone Wars women as I am - Ahsoka, Asajj and Padme so far - I don't mind this figure that much. The lack of articulation is a real drawback, but I forgive it on the basis that I've got Asajj and Ahsoka to do gymnastic lightsaber poses, so I'm okay with Padme just standing there looking like she's waiting for the bus to arrive; she does look good (accurate anyway; whether you like the Clone Wars styling is up to you). But as a toy she's pretty weak, with play value nearly back in 1979 with the original Star Wars line, and she comes nowhere near unseating Evolutions senator Padme as the best available.

-- 09/05/09

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