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Yelena Belova

Black Widow
by yo go re

With apologies to Billy Idol, it's a nice day for a white Widow.

A product of the Red Room's ruthless training program, Yelena Belova is a fiery assassin.

In a better world, Black Widow would have come out this past weekend - it was to be Marvel's annual summer "it's Free Comicbook Day weekend" movie, but then a month or so ahead of its release, the world went crazy, and we were all basically grounded and sent to our rooms. (I know you reading this as it's published are familiar with all this, but we're providing historical context for the future schoolchildren who will one day be reading OAFE for their advanced literature classes.) Anyway, the beginning of May was too soon after the fact for people to realize that the release of Trolls 2 had completely destroyed the entire movie theater industry, so instead of selling Black Widow via on-demand services, Disney pushed it back to October. But the toys were already shipping, so here find ourselves.

Yelena was/is/will be played by Florence Pugh, best known for her role as Amy in Greta Gerwig's Little Women ["Heroes in a hoop skirt/Girdle power!" --ed.] and for playing Paige in that wrestling movie - in other words, nothing I've seen yet. Judging by photos of the actress, this figure has the kind of good likeness we've come to expect from Hasbro's movie toys, but not as stunning as the Infinity War Black Widow (easily the best 6"-scale action figure likeness ever, and arguably one of the best toy likenesses ever in any scale). The hair is done in intricately detailed braids, but the lower edge of the hairline feels too high on the back of the head. It lines up with the middle of her ears.

In the comics, "Black Widow" is a job title given to Russia's top spy; Natasha just kept going by it after she fell in love with Hawkeye and defected. That's why when 616 Yelena showed up looking for patriotic revenge, she was also "Black Widow." No saying whether the MCU version will also try using the same name, but she definitely doesn't live up to it in terms of clothing choice. Her spy suit is white, not black, though she does still wear a green and black vest, just like Natasha eventually would in Endgame. Honestly, Hasbro probably could have gotten away with simply repainting the Endgame molds, because there's such a visual contrast between white and black that the re-use wouldn't have been readily apparent. Her Widow's Sting bracelets are separate pieces, as is her gun belt (though the straps around the thighs are sculpted on). Annoyingly, her elbow pads are sculpted on above the joint, so when you turn the forearms, the shapes will be entirely out of place.

Blonde Widow moves at the head, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, chest, hips, thighs, knees, and ankles. The ankle and knee joints (swivel/hinges and double-hinges, respectively) feel slightly softer than usual, a little gummy. It's not enough to keep her from standing, or holding poses, and we've certainly had worse even in recent memory, it's just something noticeable. Additionally, the neck joint is done differently than usual: while the head is still on a large balljoint, the neck is no longer a hinge; rather, it's a second balljoint, much like Star Wars Black Series figures have; in the case of the Black Series, that doesn't work very well, but here the range is still quite natural. What did the Hasbro Marvel team do different than the Hasbro Star Wars team, and can they share their secrets with the gang down the hall? Is Marvel making this kind of neck work right some kind of retort for Team SW making their Mace Windu likeness so much better than Nick Fury?

Yelena's accessories include two small pistols, either of which can fit into the one holster on her right leg (the left leg has non-removable knives), and alternate hands that can hold them. Again, they probably could have just given her hands with the trigger fingers out, and we'd have been okay with it. Instead, you get the option of clenched fists if you want them. But why two guns with only one holster? Seems weird.

The Build-A-Figure for this series is Crimson Dynamo, and Yelena gets the entire torso, the massive shoulder pads, and a fourth bit of armor that plugs into the back. This is a BAF so big, even the individual pieces have some assembly required!

There have been Yelena Belova figures before, both in Select and Legends varieties, but this one is different from them both. We're months away from finding out what she's like in the movie's story, but the toy is at least good.

-- 05/04/20

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