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Avatar: the Last Airbender
by yo go re

We've been waiting 15 years to review this figure.

Katara is determined to save the world... or at least to never stop trying. With strength and maturity beyond her years, she's the glue that holds the group together. She's still learning to master her waterbending abilities, but her full time job of keeping Aang out of harm's way may be all the practice she needs.

Back when Avatar came out (the actual one, not James Cameron's Blue FernGully), Mattel famously got the license. And, being Mattel, they also famously ruined any chance of it being a success. We told 'em that was gonna happen, but did they listen? Does anyone ever listen? No, they do not. But that was ages ago, from a disappointing company. Now Diamond Select has the license, and they started righting wrongs immediately in Series 1.

This is the Book 1 Katara, when she'd just met Aang and left her South Pole village. She's wearing a blue dress, because each of the four nations is appropriately color-coded, with white trim along the edges and a wide white sash keeping it closed. There's a pale blue shirt with poofy sleeves worn beneath the dress, the dark blue wraps around her forearms that match the blue leggings. She completes the look with sealskin boots. Well, tiger seals, because that's how Avatar animals are. The arms and legs should probably be grey, judging by the model sheets, but maybe Nick has changed their mind about what the official products should look like. Wouldn't be the first time.

Speaking of the model sheet, the reason I dug it out was to compare the sculpt. You have your choice of this next paragraph: it's either excitedly saying that the toy seems to line up with the model sheet perfectly, meaning she's a dead-on representation of the character, or you can read it as disappointedly saying that there's just something about the sculpt that feels "off" in an indefinable way, and comparing it to the model sheet was the only way to confirm there were no glaring problems. You make the call!

One thing you can count on Diamond for is decent articulation. Katara has swivel/hinge joints in the ankles, hips, wrists, elbows, and shoulders; double-hinges in the knees; swivels in the thighs, biceps, and waist; and a balljointed head. The elbows are a little weird, since the size of the sleeves prevents them from bending very far, and then there's a repeat swivel almost immediately above them, but this is still great for poseability. All the bending on Avatar was based on real martial arts, so if you're having trouble coming up with any poses you like for Katara, try looking up some tai chi and working from there. Her skirt has slits up the side that allow her legs to move - something from the actual design for once, not just a limitation of manufacturing - and the way her hair is sculpted adds a little dynamism: her braid is trailing off to her right, and her hair loopies are asymmetrical; it makes it look like she just turned quickly to the side.

As is often the case with Diamond Select releases, there are two versions, with different pricepoints and numbers of accessories. This is the deluxe release, so she comes with alternate hands that fit into notches on the included water. It's a translucent blue piece, slightly rubbery, and designed to look like she's swinging waves up from behind her. The notches doesn't actually fit the hands tightly - they're shaped to match the hands, but it's a loose connection at best, meaning they'll fall off unless you have everything posed just right. Some blu-tac would help. She also gets a really nice flight stand, so you can pretend she's jumping or even using the water to propel herself. The plain version of the figure just includes a ball of water on her left hand. Both versions include the little pouch on a string she wears slung across her chest.

Diamond Select Toys is a smart company. They're released three series of Avatar figures so far, and all three have included one of the prominent female characters. And honestly, they could do at least three more and still keep that trend alive. For $25, this isn't a bad toy!

-- 05/26/21

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