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Marvel Legends
by yo go re

When young John Byrne was in college, he promised his classmate that once he made it big in comics, he'd name his first original character after her. The classmate's name? Kitty Pryde.

For any normal 13-year old, a headache could simply be the physical manifestation of the daily stresses of life. But for Kitty Pryde, a simple headache turned out to be the first sign of her emerging mutant abilitites. Courted by both Professor X and Emma Frost to join their very different academies for mutants, Kitty chose to go with Professor X. Her achievement did not go unnoticed and she soon joined the ranks of the X-Men as Shadowcat.

There was a time when ToyBiz would never have made a Shadowcat figure. In fact, they never really did: the only time she's been seen in plastic before was as an early ToyFare exclusive, a repaint of the Invisible Woman with a cloth shirt. It's because her powers don't translate well to action figure form. She doesn't shoot fireballs, she doesn't bend steel beams - she just walks through walls, and toy companies have a big problem with anything other than flashy physical powers.

Kitty's natural state is to be phased - that is, she's slightly out of synch with the world, able to pass between the atoms of solid objects the way other people move through air. In order to touch anything solid, she has to concentrate - a moment's lapse and she falls through the floor. Often at the most inopportune time.

Shadowcat's most iconic costume is the two-tone blue thing with the high collar and the poofy sleeves, but that's not what she's wearing here. In fact, this outfit is a cross between her current Astonishing X-Men uniform and the one she picked up in the latter half of Excalibur. It's basically a modification of the standard X-Men student uniform, with a yellow body, belt and gloves offset by dark blue limbs and panels down the sides. The paint used is a bit more "sunshine lemon" than pure yellow, and that's exaggerated by the fact that the blue is so very dark. Still, we get the idea.

Kitty's head is a new sculpt, of course, and it looks great, if a little bit small. She's cute, and her hair is blowing around nicely. Her head doesn't sit quite right on her neck - it's a little too low and a little bit back, so she looks stunted. The problem is that her head is actually designed to attach like yours is: the actuall connection is up a bit, not even with your chin; the figure's body, however, is designed to accommodate a head that comes down a bit lower. Once you open her up and play around a bit, you'll find a pose that looks fine.

ToyBiz really only has three female body templates right now: the Elektra, the Invisible Woman and the Storm, though that last one's only ever been used once. Like Mystique and Scarlet Witch, Kitty the only real difference (why they call her by her real name rather than Shadowcat is a mystery) is built on the smaller body, which suits her perfectly, since she's still one of the youngest "adult" mutants in the books. She's been to college, but she's so smart she might have gone early. While those other two got a pretty substantial reworking, Kitty uses almost exactly the same mold as the movie Sue - the only real difference is around the neck. She moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, gloves, wrists, fingers, chest, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, boots, ankles and toes, and stands 5⅝" tall.

Kitty only has one accessory, but it's the perfect choice: she's got her sidekick/pet, Lockheed. A member of an advanced alien race, Lockheed met Kitty when she and the other X-men were stranded on a Brood-occupied world. He's basically a small purple dragon (European, not Asian style) who is more intelligent than he lets on - for instance, he can understand conversation and what's going on around him, and manages to communicate what he wants fairly well. He's been released as an accessory before, with Magik in the small New Mutants line.

Lockheed has mainly been portrayed two different ways over the years: either truly animal or somewhat anthropomorphized. This version is somewhat between the two. He's standing on two feet instead of four, and has a vertical posture, but he's not quite as completely human as he was when Alan Davis drew him. He's unarticulated and only has paint apps on his eyes and teeth, but he can perch on Kitty's arm thanks to a (removable) stand that clips onto her wrist. For some reason, one of the little dragon's horns is longer than the other. It looks like a mold error, but they all have it. It seems naggingly familiar, but I can't place where I've seen it before.

In terms of this series' Build-A-Figure, Kitty's got the main piece - the head and chest. The sculpt is really nice, and this piece alone features five points of articulation and is nearly 5" tall. Put all together, this guy is going to be, well, "giant." Kitty's reprint comic is Astonishing X-Men #4, which is a really good story, but unfortunately its big surprise is given away by the fact that they put the cover from #6 (the issue included with ML12 Wolverine) on it. See, Joss Whedon had just spent a few issues hinting that the recently deceased Jean Grey might be making her return, but the dead X-Man in question turned out to be Kitty's first great love, Colossus - which was a killer reveal when it first came out, but now it's been spoiled before you even open the stupid clamshell.

Kitty is a lynchpin of the X-Teams, and has been for some time. The complete oversight evidenced by the utter lack of a proper Shadowcat until this point has finally been rectified, and done fairly well. Sure, there's still no way to usefully replicate her powers - maybe pop-off peg joints? - but that's okay, it's enough that we got her.

-- 07/02/06

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