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300: Queen Gorgo

NECA Reel Toys
by yo go re

Frank Miller's 300 is, like V for Vendetta, a much-misunderstood movie. Read five reviews and you'll get five different interpretations of what supposed message the film had - interpretations that say more about the reviewer than the film. Anti-Iranian propaganda? Homophobia? A politio-racist agenda? Absolutely none of that is in the movie or in Miller's original story.

One thing that was in the movie that wasn't in the original story (yeah, you know you like that segue) was the large role of Spartan queen Gorgo. In the book, she was present while we were still in Sparta, but once Leonidas left on his liesurely walk, she was nothing but a memory - hardly a fitting tribute to one of the few women actually named by Herodotus in The Histories, so the addition of her storyline was most welcome. Especially since it means we get this figure.

Queen Gorgo is, simply put, smokin' hot. This is easily the best-looking female figure NECA has ever made. And honestly, we probably don't need that "NECA" modifier on there - it's not like there's a lot of competition for the title.

Actress Lena Headey wore several different costumes through out the movie, all of them reminding us why toga parties were so damn much fun in the first place. Yowza! Specifically, this is the outfit Gorgo was wearing when she met with her ally on the council, just before Theron appeared with young Pleistarchos in tow, having safely "retrieved" the boy. Dick.

The sculpt on the dress is superb. It looks like thick, pleated cloth, and is detailed as beautifully as the woman wearing it. It's not that there's some extravagant texture on the garment, but that the folds and wrinkles flow so naturally. This looks not like a sculpture, but like a real piece of cloth draped over a real person.

This isn't technically a toga, because that was Roman garb: an extremely long sash carefully wrapped around the body. The earlier Greek version was known as a chiton, which was two squares of cloth pinned at the shoulders. The chiton was often accompanied by a himation, a heavier piece that served as a cloak - that's what Gorgo has draped over her arm. She also has a few golden bands on her arms, and is wearing sandals.

The likeness on the figure isn't quite Lena Headey - it almost looks like Claire Forlani, who most nerds will know as Brandi Svenning in Mallrats. Either way, it's still a very good looking figure. Her wavy hair spills down over her shoulders, reaching nearly to her waist. Surprsingly, her earrings are separate pieces, attached carefully to her earlobes. Holy crap, now that's detail!

The bits of Gorgo's body not covered by the gown are sculpted wonderfully, as well - and so are some parts that are covered. The hands are very nice, with fine detailing in the tendons and veins. Her legs only exist up to the knees, but what's there is proportioned correctly, even though it will seldom be seen. Her arms are neither too bulky nor too thin, and the slope of the shoulders is good. If you look beneath her hair, you'll see the creases of her skin against her shoulderblades and along her spine - as well as the top of her buttocks and gluteal cleft. Yes, Queen Gorgo's flashing a little bit of coin slot.

In addition, her breasts are fully sculpted, even though they're hidden behind the drape of her top. Showing the sculptor's true understanding of anatomy, her breasts rest flat against her chest, rather than protruding like those disgusting "porn star" tits. Here's a hint, kids: if they don't go away when she lays on her back, they're fake as hell. This figure accurately portrays what a woman with no support garments should look like, so pay attention, boys.

The figure has no accessories, but its real weakness is the articulation. We always give McFarlane Toys hell for this, and we're going to give it to NECA, as well - they're so intent on preserving the sculpt that Gorgo is barely mobile. She moves at the head, right bicep, left forearm, right wrist and both "knees." Making the right arm mostly immobile is logical, due to the cloth hanging over it, but a tastefully designed balljoint at the left shoulder would have added a lot of poseability to this otherwise-static figure. If they insist on only having "hidden" articulation, is there any reason they couldn't have included a waist joint along the belt? As it is, the poor girl only has one pose.

On the plus side, we must praise the paint. The shadows painted on Queen Gorgo's clothes are a bit heavy, but still better than the sky-blue washes Marvel figures always have. The skintones are all nice, with a few pleasant surprises; her nails are a natural color, just a bit lighter than her skin; there's no evidence of make-up, giving her a very clean look; stray hairs are painted along her hairline, helping the figure's separate hair piece blend in realistically; even her nipples are painted carefully, rather than just having paint slopped on in a rush.

For all the talk about how 300 was homophobic because all the villains were "femme" (what the hell?), Spartan women were, in reality, the best treated in ancient Greece. Their social status was equal to men: they received equal education, they owned their own land, they could attend the public gymnasium... all things unheard of in the other Hellenic city-states. Athenian women wore concealing clothes and were seldom allowed to leave the house, much like we think of hardline Islamic cultures today; Spartan women, on the other hand, wore short, light dresses and went where they pleased. There were even female troops. The idea was that strong, independent women would bear strong, independent children.

Queen Gorgo didn't have much to do in Frank Miller's graphic novel, other than stand around looking distraught. And despite her larger role in the movie (which split completely from real Spartan culture at the end), that's really all this figure can do: stand around. Still, it's a beautiful representation, so if you like what you see and you know what you're getting, you shouldn't be disappointed. Lena Headey will be playing the lead role in the Terminator spin-off TV series The Sarah Connor Chronicles, so this may not be the last time we see her in action figure form - let's just hope any future ones have more movement.

-- 03/23/07

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