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Sylvanas Windrunner

World of Warcraft
by Artemis

It's been a while since the last World of Warcraft figure crossed my desk on its way to whichever minute sliver of shelf space I could free up for it - the last series (represented so far as I'm concerned by Alathena Moonbreeze and her battle bikini) came out last year, back when we were still embarrassed by saying what year it was because we hadn't quite reached the cool sci-fi point where we can say "twenty-ten" and so on, and only now are the next lot rolling around. Fair enough, DC Unlimited have had a lot on their plate, diversifying into the upcoming Mass Effect (thank you!) and Dragon Age (whatever) lines. But now here we are, with Magni Stereotypicaldwarf, some sort of goblinoid Dr. Strangelove and the latest elf to boost the campaign for the M in MILF to stand for "Mythical Being".

As leader of the Forsaken and the Horde on the Eastern Kingdoms, Sylvanas is a military genius. The middle sister of Alleria and Vereesa Windrunner, she was Ranger-General of the high elf kingdom of Quel'Thalas. She fought valiantly against Arthas when he invaded Quel'Thalas, but during the fall of Silvermoon, Arthas raised her as an undead minion as a form of petty revenge. When the Lich King's hold on his minions weakened, Sylvanas, among other undead, regained her free will, and she led her forces against the dreadlords who had taken hold over Lordaeron, ultimately affirming her sovereignty by killing off two of the nathrezim and bending the third, Varimathras, to her will. She renamed her force of self-aware undead the Forsaken and declared herself their queen.

That's right folks, Sylvanas is another real fictional person like Lady Vashj or Chen Stormstout, rather than the fictional fictional people the WoW line has tended towards; let's hope she didn't inherit Vashj's suck as well. She appeared in both World of Warcraft and its now-overshadowed forerunner Warcraft - but only the third one, so since I stopped playing after Warcraft II I never met her. Still, DC evidently isn't banking on her personality to sell her anyway, since regardless of her having one, they still aren't bothering to print it on the packaging. Pity - she sounds an interesting lass.

Having popped up in various games and expansions, Sylvie's varied in appearance now and then, having been represented by various recoloured and repurposed models of whatever elf chick was near enough, but The Frozen Throne - a 2003 expansion to Warcraft III - is evidently considered canon, and the WoW peoples finally pulled their finger out and patched in a proper model of her, saving DC Unlimited having to roll dice to decide what to sculpt. In short, she's blue, she's got big ears, and she's a female elf, meaning - to twist a line from some demotivational poster - sluttiest mammal known to man. At least she's managed to keep her pants on, although they seem to have been applied with a paintbrush, so short of taking a bath and scrubbing she may have no choice.

Compared to her computer model she's got all the right bits in all the right places, although as well as her sexy-slinking stance, which sculptor Sam Greenwell evidently borrowed from his Femme Fatales Tarot work, she's also wound up with Tarot's dizzyingly high heels - probably explains why a so-called military genius got offed by some second-rate Nazgul, she twisted an ankle. On her own she'd be 7" tall; the heels add another half-inch. In line with the Warcraft norm, Sylvie's adorned with an array of preposterously over-ornamented armour - including vambraces that you'd think would snag the string every time she tried to fire her bow, but if we're being realistic the bow itself would likely snap into half a dozen pieces if bent anyway - painted in muted silver tones over dark brown leather pants and a sports bra. Befitting her undead nature she's rather sombre and low-key, with only the pale grey feathers stuck to her shoulder armour, and her soft blue skin, breaking up the shadowy palette.

One of those feathers, incidentally, has a splotch of blue paint on it - as always, check before you buy if you get the opportunity, although in this case it's easily fixed. But while we're talking glitches, one more inherent to the design is the belt crossing her chest, which I guess is helping hold her cloak on - in the computer model it's clearly visible crossing her shoulder, but on the figure it ends at the top of her bra-plate, as if it's part of it. The intention may have been that her hair would have covered where it'd be anyway, but that's not quite so, and it's one of those things that once you notice, you'll keep noticing every time you look at it. She also has rather a lean to her pose, back and to the right (like JFK but other side), but her ragged cloak, whipping around her legs, covers this up for the most part. The cloak, incidentally, is a promising sign: DC Unlimited have been generally reluctant to make much use of drybrushed highlights on their WoW figures, and had only indifferent success when they have, but the cloak is drybrushed top to bottom, and looks terrific. It's harder plastic than Tarot's cloak, so anyone wanting a clear look at Sylvie's exceptionally toned bottom is out of luck.

Her face is largely hidden by the pose, which has her right hand up, gripping the edge of her hood as if she's about to pull it back for a big Dramatic Reveal moment, like the porn version of Gandalf playing his practical joke in the middle of The Two Towers. Her head's angled down to match the pose - setting her up to add a shampoo-commercial hair toss to the reveal - but unlike Valeera Sanguinar, the downcast gaze doesn't hurt her overall appearance, since it seems natural for someone on solid ground, rather than requiring her to be perched on a ledge to make sense. That said, it is a shame her face is so difficult to see, since she's up there with her Warcraft sisters in terms of good looks, although her expression, lips parted in a not-quite-sneer, does veer away from Irritated Fantasy Queen territory into looking like some valley girl who's just seen her high school rival show up to a party in the same dress as her and is thinking something along the lines of "Oh it is on now, bee-yotch," which doesn't quite seem like Warcraft.

Sylvie's got precisely one joint, a semi-tilted swivel just below her elbow - basically just a manufacturing join they've left un-glued so that the fit of her fingertips to her hood can be fine-tuned once she's out of her packaging. (It does also make taking a photo of her face easier, so on behalf of action figure reviewers everywhere, thanks.) With her arm up like that from the shoulder there's really no other pose that works, so fine-tuning is all there is. Speaking of that arm, there's a missing paint app - the oval in the middle of her vambrace was a shiny blue on the prototype, matching gems on her shoulder plates, rather than just flat metal. Her bow - Sunstrider's Longbow, though it's on the medium end of "long" - is built into her hand, as is the strange shield kind of thing on her bow hand that seems to be part of it.

Having high heels and a narrow stance, she's got all the free-standing properties of a flamingo with two broken legs, so it's just as well her base is built in. It's nondescript enough - though with Sylvie's muted palette, anything vibrant would have been too much - featuring muddy ground, and a couple of old skulls to liven things up.

Barring that little paint error on the feather - which is almost certainly a one-off - there's nothing to complain about with this figure. She's a bit unconventional, with her low-key colour scheme and face half-hidden by her pose, but this isn't the first scantily-clad warrior hottie to have shown up in the line, so it's good that she's got something peculiar to her, and the missing blue gem on her forearm actually plays into that, keeping her from blending in too much with her dazzlingly-coloured stablemates. Videogames being videogames and fanboys being fanboys, someone somewhere will fixate on any hot woman, regardless of how limited her role is (cough*Hermosa from Ego Draconis*cough), so I'm sure there are plenty of Sylvanas-fanciers around; they shouldn't have any cause for concern.

-- 10/17/10

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