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by Artemis

As I've alluded to before, Pixar and their ilk have a fond place in my heart, but not really a race-out-and-see-the-movie-on-opening-day place. In fact, of the whole slew of modern CGI animated movies, the only ones I've seen on the big screen are The Incredibles and Finding Nemo - I forget why the latter, possibly my mother wanted to see it and I went along. I like them, but just not so much as to make a fuss about them.

WALL•E might be different. The rave reviews didn't really affect me - Pixar always gets them - but the idea of the story being a romance, rather than a parent-child relationship, a friendship, or a family thing like Incredibles, had me mildly interested; I'm a romantic at heart, and all the best stories are love stories. And it's sci-fi, so tick box two on the "I'm interested" list. And then I saw the trailer for it, and every single thing that happened was the most adorable thing ever! I'll be there on opening night, then.

Anyhoo, the merchandise is starting to show up - later than elsewhere in the world, but we're getting the movie later too - and what with the two stars being a pair of robots who redefine the term "toyetic" (I wondered how long I'd be with OAFE before I used that word), the future looks bright for the manufacturers' bank balance. Up for review today we have two of the cutest of the cute examples, the EVE plush toys.

EVE - Extraterrestrial Vegetation Evaluator - is the object of WALL•E's affection, the robotic equivalent of an up-town glamour girl to his working-class-man. She's sleek and perfect (and often compared to an iPod, which I guess makes WALL•E one of those eccentric PC boxes people assemble out of a hodgepodge of parts they get from eBay, and run by a customised Linux set-up), all smooth lines and elegant simplicity, like she was designed by an artist - she looks like a woman, in other words. Except that she's not soft, but that's okay, she's a robot.

The plush toys are soft - the larger of the two is even designated the "EVE Huggable Plush," with the smaller being the "EVE Plush Buddy." Appropriately they're more or less identical in design, mimicking EVE's smooth bullet-shaped "body," her ovoid head with its simple face of to two blue eyes, and the elongated oval arms, devoid of extraneous features. Of course, while EVE herself is so damned sophisticated that her head and limbs just float in position without needing to be connected, plush technology hasn't quite gotten that far, so both head and arms and firmly attached to the torso.

Buddy EVE is 5½" tall, and about 4" wide across the shoulders - she's designed to be held in one hand, more or less. Compared to her larger sister (and their CGI counterpart), the scale of her head is exaggerated, while the body is more squat, and the arms particularly tiny, and - since they're plush - necessarily more rounded. She's soft all over, fluffy for the most part, but the bottom of her torso contains a separate pouch of beads (polyethylene pellets, according to the label), which makes her base a little firmer, and allows her to "stand" on her own with a bit of coaxing. The top of her torso contains a plastic disc, to keep it flat, and this and similar smaller discs in her "shoulders" give her articulation, a swivel head and swivel shoulders. In addition to the obvious stitched detail of the eyes, and the black "face" panel, she has various seams stitched into her, mirroring the smooth seams of her CGI form. Aside from the flat-patch eye panels, both EVEs are covered in short, sleek white plush (that's the technical name for the furry stuff, I'm told), soft and smooth to the touch.

Huggable EVE is quite a bit larger, at roughly 11" tall and 7½" wide. She's also more accurate, with the proportionally larger body, and slimmer arms; her "face" also takes up a bit less of her head, with the bottom edge a little higher up, allowing the seam running around the circumference of her head to pass beneath it, rather than merging into its bottom as the same line on Buddy EVE does. Aside from that, the stitched seams on both toys are identical, and Huggable EVE sports the same articulation as well, swivel neck and shoulders.

She doesn't have the bead section Buddy EVE has to assist in "standing," but in its place she has a tag at the top of her head, allowing her to be suspended "in flight" from whatever convenient point of attachment you have handy. She comes with a thin plastic loop already in place - if she's intended for a young child it'd probably be best to remove that, while if you want to display her, replacing it with something less visible like fishing wire would be an easy matter. She's not heavy enough to cause any damage by hanging from the tag, but her weight on it does cause a slight point to rise from the top of her head, which is slightly off-model.

Neither version is especially expensive (particularly if your local Toys Я Us forgot to put Huggable EVE's bar code into their system, can't figure out how to input it, and finally give up and let you have it for the same price as the smaller one), and there's no question that bigger is better. Buddy EVE would make a good travelling companion, though - she's easily small enough to carry around without being a burden, while Huggable EVE is a bit large for a child to carry about when they're out of the house. They're both great toys, though - and as the vanguard of the WALL•E wave of merchandise, they couldn't have picked anything cuter.


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