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Avatar: the Last Airbender
by yo go re

Welcome to another fun round of "Todd McFarlane does not understand what 'scale' means."

Prince Zuko is the rightful heir to the Fire Lord's throne, but after speaking out against his father, Fire Lord Ozai strips the Prince of his birthright and banishes him from his homeland, telling him the only way he will allow him to return is with the Avatar, dead or alive. Now, he is obsessed with capturing the Avatar. Zuko's greatest weaknesses are his arrogance and impatience. He believes Firebending is the most dominant art and can never be bested by Water, Earth, or Airbending. Zuko's teenage overconfidence makes him believe he's invincible.

There's a Zuko in Diamond Select Toys' Avatar line, but it's the later Zuko, the mopey, emo Zuko, not the raging villain we wanted. McFarlane Toys, on the other hand, has included exactly that Zuko in their first 7" assortment - it's just him and Aang, meaning half the series is something new!

This Zuko is definitely "raging." He's been sculpted with his mouth open in a yell, which does seem a bit over-the-top: like, an angry frown would have been enough. The important things are his burn and his top-knot, which are both here. The fact that his mouth is open so wide does make the chin look pointier than usual, but that's just how faces work.

As you'd expect, Zuko is wearing his Fire Nation uniform. It's red armor over grey cloth, as is custom. It's pretty much the same thing the basic foot soldiers in the Fire Nation army wear, though he gets special shoulderpads that at least hint at his (former?) royal status. The individual plates around his chest are reminiscent of ancient Chinese "cord and plaque" armor, which would normally be worn over other types of armor - maybe the "cloth" jacket is just simplified for animation, and is meant to be something sturdier? It's definitely not for this figure. They really went all-out on the textures, making the cloth look like cloth, the armor look like stitched leather, and even the puffy smoothness of his burn scar. It's great!

These days, McFarlane Toys' articulation is no longer an embarrassment. Zuko has hinged toes, swivel/hinge/swivel ankles, double-hinged knees, swivels at the top and bottom of the thighs, swivel/hinge hips, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, pec hinges, a balljointed waist and chest, and a balljointed head. The hinge parts are all very stiff, thanks to strong detents, but that just means he'll hold his poses well.

Zuko's accessories include two fire daggers, for close-quartes combat, and a bigger blast of flame for distance. That's better than DST giving Azula a recolored airbending effect, right? What he doesn't have is any sort of display base to help support the fire's weight - just a black disc base to keep him standing.

And now, the important thing: the height. McFarlane Toys' website says these figures are 7" scale, which is the same size Diamond Select is working in. I don't know how this license is sliced up, but that is fairly unusual - DST still has more figures coming out in the future, so it's not like their license expired or anything. Anyway! We can tell you that, no matter what Todd claims, this figure is emphatically not 7" scale. It stands nearly 7" tall, not counting the top knot; that's not right; Zuko is not six feet tall. Remember, all the main Avatar characters are kids living in the past, they're all going to be way shorter than you think they are. Zuko? Stands about 5'4". If this figure were properly in scale, it would be a bit under 6¼". You know in which scale 5'4" does translate to 7" tall? 1:9. 8". Todd has made Avatar toys that are in scale with nothing other than GI Joe Sigma 6 and that one Bandai Lion-O, and just called them 7" scale because the toy is literally 7" tall, which is not how scale works. Way to go, man. Way to go.

-- 01/05/22

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