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The Vendetta w/ Anne Bonny

Calico Jack's Pirate Raiders
by yo go re

Art Asylum has been designing Minimate vehicles for a few years. Stealth jets, Cylon Raiders, Terminator tanks, race cars... and pirate ships. Well, one pirate ship with different paint apps, but you've got to recoup your mold costs somehow.

The time is the early 18th century, an era of both magic and science, and the golden age of the Pirate! The British government has come up with a solution to two of their problems: enlist notorious pirate Calico Jack to help them turn his fellow pirates against the encroaching Spanish. But Jack has enemies of his own, and soon the Royal Navy finds itself facing off in deadly ship-to-ship battles against some of the deadliest pirates who ever lived... as well as some who didn't!

Now, don't misunderstand: we don't fault AA for reusing the mold - not at all. This is a very specialty item, and it's not like ships really look that different from one another, right? Pointy at the front, flat in the back, round on the bottom, a mast or two... for casual pirate fans, that's enough.

In real life, Calico Jack's ship was called the Revenge. Or the Treasure, the William, the Adventure, or the Neptune. Record-keeping wasn't the best in the 18th century, is what we're saying. Anyway, this ship is called the Vendetta, which is basically the same name, just in Italian, so that's clever. Rather than the realistic browns seen on the first (unnamed) release of this mold, the ship is pitch black with strong red accents. There's a large white skull painted on the bow, and a different skull on the sail and flag - this one with two crossed dragons and a sword sticking out of it.

The squashed, "superdeformed" design of the ship was slightly off-putting at first, but it grows on you once it's in-hand. There's a surprising level of detail to be found, including sculpted planks all over the hull and deck, clear windows lining the aft and a free-spinning ship's wheel. There's a platform near the top of the (some assembly required) mast that serves as a crow's nest - there's even a footpeg so a Minimate can stand up there. There's a hatch that opens in the forecastle, allowing access to the hold, and a removable anchor on each side of the ship. Finally, you can make unruly Minimates walk the plank, thanks to the slide-out tabs on both sides.

The entire deck can be lifted off, so you can access the hold. Down here you'll find the same level of detail as you saw above decks, plus 16 golden cannons that can be moved in or out as you desire. It's only a few millimeters of movement, but at their scale it's a lot.

The double doors leading to the captain's chambers swing open (the roof folds back, too, so you can actually get your fat fingers in there) revealing a large seat flanked by sculpted details you'll never actually see. Granted, it's not as detailed as the original plans called for, but there are definitely some small drawers and other bits of furniture in there that you have to go looking for if you want to notice them. One downside is that the seat is not designed for a Minimate wearing a coat, and most of the Pirate Raiders have clothes that would preclude them from sitting here.

All the vehicles come with one figure, and the one included with this set is Anne Bonny. The figure is identical to the Anne Bonny in the Femme Fatales set except for the colors - she's wearing a maroon coat instead of brown, a blue bustier and black shorts instead of red. Oh, and her hair is now black instead of blonde. In other words, she's in her "NYCC exclusive variant" colors. They call this "Undercover Anne Bonny," but that seems silly: why not call her Mary Read?

Mary Read, who is the only other female pirate anyone can name after Anne Bonny. Mary Read, who was dressed as a boy after her half-brother died, so that his grandmother would keep sending money to the family. Mary Read, who continued dressing as a man and joined the Dutch army. Mary Read, who was still dressing like a man when she joined the crew of the Revenge. Mary Read, who was only found out as a woman when Anne Bonny started hitting on "him." Mary Read, whose secret Anne kept until Calico Jack got jealous of their intimacy and threatened to kill the "man" who was getting Anne's attention. Calico Jack, who apparently then got into a long-term threesome with both Anne and Mary. The point is, why not just take the opportunity to call this figure Mary Read, rather than making her a variant of a character we already have? Here eyes aren't even the same color! Okay, it's settled: she may come with the same accessories - a sword and a whip - but this is Mary, not Anne. Now that we have said it, it must be canon!

The proportions of the pirate ship Vendetta are odd, but there's still a lot of playability. It's frankly a bit amazing how good the Pirate Raiders look posed on here - very quickly do they stop looking like they're playing on a kiddie boat, and your eye just learns to accept the scale. I'd planned to just do for the Minimates the same thing I did for the Mez-Itz, and pose them all over the Black Pearl - still might, in fact - but this is a space-conscious alternative. Easier on the wallet, too.

-- 10/26/12

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