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Katniss Everdeen

The Hunger Games
by yo go re

With the film version of The Hunger Games hitting theaters in just a few days, NECA's tie-in toys have begun to show up in stores. The first series consists of Boy, Girl, and Other Boy. Today we're reviewing Girl.

The protagonist of the story is a beautiful, high-spirited, intelligent, and slightly spoiled young woman of the age of 20. Her mother died when she was very young, and she has been mistress of the house ever since, certainly since her older sister got married. Although intelligent, she lacks the necessary discipline to practice or study anything in depth. She is very compassionate to the poor, but at the same time has a strong sense of class. Her affection for and patience towards her hypochondriac father are also noteworthy. While she is in many ways mature for her age, she makes some serious mistakes, mainly due to her conviction that she is always right and her lack of real world experience. Although she has vowed she will never ever marry, she delights in making matches for others.

Now, just for the record, that's not the bio of Girl - that's Jane Austen's Emma. Why did we put a bio of Emma on here? Because I already told you I don't know anything about The Hunger Games, and NECA hasn't put any sort of informational text on their packging. Any sort of informational text: it's not just biographical chatter that's missing, but all the information NECA usually includes, like credits for the sculptors and designers. It was probably a mandate from Lionsgate, since it's not like NECA would have just decided to drop all that on their own. Anyway, back to the topic at hand, Emma was the first literature example I could think of that had an archery girl.

Girl (whose name, at least, is revealed on the packaging as "Katniss Everdeen") is an archer, because girls are always archers. She's played in the film by Jennifer Lawrence, whose name you probably don't recognize, but when we tell you she also played Mystique in X-Men First Class, you'll remember her. It's a quite good likeness, really, and the girl does look better as a brunette than a blonde.

Katniss is 16 years old, and actually dresses like a 16-year-old would: she's not wearing high heels, skin tight pants and a bustier, you know? No, like a real kid, she's got a T-shirt that's cut normally, a pair of cargo pants and nice, normal boots. The trailers suggest she's going to be running around in the woods, so the style makes sense, but never underestimate movies' ability to dress their characters wrong. Katniss looks like someone who expects to be sleeping outside for a while, not someone dressing to impress her peers. If you knew even less about The Hunger Games than I do, you'd think this was a normal high school girl who's going on a camping trip with her family. Probably unwillingly, and sulking about not being able to text all weekend.

What impresses us, though, is the sculpting. It's hard to create baggy clothes that actually look loose rather than thick, but this figure manages. You can tell that the different pieces of clothing are meant to be made from different materials, thanks to their varying textures. Her nylon jacket is molded from PVC and dropped over the torso, and it has the hood and her backpack molded as part of it. The backpack has a sculpt designed to look like black netting over an orange body, which is a good match for the screenshots of the actual prop that I could find with a cursory search.

Like we said, Katniss is an archer, so naturally her accessories are a bow and arrows. The three arrows fit in the quiver on her back, and she can hold the bow in her left hand. All four pieces are a pearly white, which doesn't seem like it would very good for sneaking around the woods, but whatever. The bowstring is just a normal cotton strand, not elastic - that's not a knock against the figure, just a fact. At least it's not a molded string, right? She also has a knife stashed in her backpack, but it's molded right along with the rest of the coat, and thus non-removable. It's just a hilt.

And now we come to the million-dollar question for a toy archer: how's the articulation? It's just fine, by normal NECA standards. She has swivel ankles, a swivel waist, balljointed wrists, swivel/hinge elbows and shoulders and a balljointed head. These days we usually get joints in the legs, but it's no great loss. However, while this layout would be okay for most characters, it doesn't work for Katniss. How does she stack up against the requirements for realistic archery? She can get her left arm back far enough to be in line with her shoulders, but she can't get her hand close enough to her face to find an anchor point. So while you can get her in a pose that puts her fingers on the string, she's not flexible enough to actually aim her bow. Kind of a shame, too, since unlike Mattel's figures, her arrows are the right length.

So, Katniss Everdeen. I know nothing about her. I wouldn't even have been able to tell you her name were it not printed on the packaging. And yet I bought the figure because I know I can trust NECA to deliver a certain level of quality. The figure has a nice sculpt (uncredited as it is) that's up to the company's usual standard, and it's cool to add a semi-civilian figure to the collection. We wish she had a double elbow, so she could actually use her bow, but she's still a whole lot better than the last girl-oriented toyline was.

-- 03/18/12

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