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Avatar: the Last Airbender
by yo go re

Just ask Xander: every team needs a Zeppo.

While Katara's brother Sokka isn't a bender, he has other skills that are just as valuable. Armed with his trusty boomerang and warrior skills, Sokka is also the jokester of the group - keeping Team Avatar's spirits high even in the most dire consequences.

Being that Sokka is a boy, he naturally got a toy back in Mattel's total orphanage collapse of an Avatar: the Last Airbender toyline - several, in fact. Yes, the kid with no powers other than comedic timing got multiple action figures, while the one who could create geysers, the one who controlled earthquakes, and the army of killer samuraiettes got literally zero. Way to fail, Mattel, you completely managed to live down to the world's already-lowered expectations, then do even worse; we're all proud of you!

That's not to say DST's line is without its flaws. We've reviewed five of these figures so far, and every one of them has had likeness issues. Sokka doesn't look like Sokka, he looks like a cross between CM Punk and The Scout from Team Fortress 2 (a statement which surely won't come back into play in like a week and a half). He doesn't even look like a kid any more! This is like "26-year-old Sokka," not actual Sokka. Did Avatar have some flash-forwards we forgot about?

Each of the four nations had color-coded clothing, so Sokka wears the same kind of blue as his sister. He's got knee-high tan sealskin boots, dark blue pants, a dark blue undershirt and gloves, white wraps on his forearms, and a pale blue tunic with white trim. The holsters for his weapons are glued to the figure's back, but the strings that (appear to) hold them on are actual strings. If the holsters can't be removed, what possible benefit does not sculpting the strings provide? [Don't have to pay someone to paint them? --ed.] The body sculpt is much closer to being on-model than the face was.

Sokka may not be a bender, but that doesn't mean he doesn't need to move. He has swivel/​hinge joints in the ankles, hips, wrists, elbows, and shoulders; double-hinges in the knees; swivels in the thighs and waist; and a balljointed head. He doesn't have swivels in the biceps, like Katara did, but that's fine because the elbows already take care of that range of motion. The pegs on the joints are all incredibly thin, which makes us worry about them breaking if we're not careful moving them (especially the ankles).

We mentioned holsters, so logically he has weapons to go in them. The one on his waist is for his jawbone knife, while the one on his back is for his boomerang. The fact that both of those accessories fit in their respective slots with no trouble is really cool - even when holsters aren't just decorative, there's often a chance the things meant to go in them will get stuck or just be the wrong size, but not here.

Sokka doesn't need any elemental effects like the others have had, but that portion of the budget didn't just go to waste. He has the articulated display arm, and actually has a hole in his back to use it, but also a second black oval display base. Why two? So you can have him stand on one while using the other for his effects. To make it look like he's throwing his boomerang, the figure has one large swoop (with a molded copy of the boomerang at the end) and one "spinning" circle like a couple Thor Minimates have had. the actual boomerang can't attach to the effects in any way, and the molded 'rangs on them don't get painted, but both the swoop and the circle have holes sized to accommodate the tab on the end of the display arm. In fact, they're shallow enough that you can get both of them on the arm at once, for a cool combo look! You get your choice of open hands, fists, or hands to hold his weapons.

The back of the packaging credits the design of the figure to Eamon O'Donoghue and the sculpt to Richard Force (which, quick aside: I have no doubt it sucked growing up with that name, especially in middle school, but today? It's pretty fricking awesome. That is a badass name. We are 100% on #TeamDickForce! Aside over.), but we don't blame the fact that the toys don't really look like they're supposed to on either of them: yes, they did the work, but someone was ultimately responsible for approving it. Somebody saw this Sokka, who looked more like Sokka's older brother, and said "sure, that's good enough, don't make any corrections." Whomever that was? They need to raise their standards, because while all the Avatar figures are definitely good enough, they're not as great as they could be.

-- 09/11/21

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