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Wonder Woman
by yo go re

DC perpetually manages to learn the wrong lessons from successes. Avengers is massive, so DC fast-tracks Justice League without bothering to earn their way there; Guardians of the Galaxy is colorful and full of pop songs, so now Suicide Squad feels like you're scanning through classic rock radio stations; Deadpool is the most successful R-rated movie ever, so Batman v. Superman gets an R-rated DVD release; now that they've finally managed to win one with Wonder Woman, we can look forward to every movie having a framing device and absolutely no marketing.

Amazon warrior and friend of Diana, her extraordinary fighting prowess is seen at the beach battle of Themyscria.

Well, that's a bit vague, isn't it? The Wonder Woman movie line is pretty small, with only four mass market figures and two exclusives, so shouldn't they at least offer a hint as to why they picked Menalippe over, say, Antiope or Artemis? It's not without reason: she was the fourth woman in the first promo image released for the film, had several memorable scenes in the movie (more that the scenes were memorable than that she was memorable, because the movie never really called her out the way it did others), and showed the only thing even remotely hinting at a relationship among the Amazons. Seriously, an entire island of lesbians [Λέσβος? --ed.] going about their lives, and we can't even be shown one couple holding hands? Rogue One was more overt with its gay characters than Wonder Woman was.

Menalippe by Lisa Loven Kongsli, a Norwegian actress whom you've never seen in anything before. The toy's likeness is only so-so, which is partially because that's the way Mattel does their live-action toys (digital scans rather than human sculpts), and partially because of the face armor she wears, which covers Kongsli's distinctive cheekbones.

The Amazons' outfits display the importance of Wonder Woman having a female director. When people questioned why their armor had molded boob cups, exposed thighs, and high heels, director Patty Jenkins could say that it was "total wish-fulfillment," and that she wanted them to be "hot as hell, fight badass, and look great at the same time" - basically, the armor is designed to be sexy because the designers wanted it to be sexy. And yet imagine those same words coming from Michael Bay, and how pissed everybody would be. So yes, Menalippe wears thigh-high heeled boots and a skirt that's made of leather straps to show off her legs when she moves, but there's nothing wrong with that.

What is wrong, however, is the articulation. Because of course it is, because this is Mattel. She moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles. The elbows are swive/hinges, with the turn below the joint, which means they duplicate the same range of motion as the wrists, and are therefore pointless; of course, if they'd been above the joint, they would duplicate the bicep swivel, and be pointless that way, too. The left bicep is cut in where she wears a band around her arm, totally concealing the joint, while the right bicep is just cut into the arm itself - despite the fact that she also wears a band around that arm! The dumbest choice has to be the waist, however: in the film, Menalippe's armor has a seam running right below the bust - you can see it in the promotional photo on the side of the box; but rather than using that existing feature and giving the toy a balljointed chest, no, Mattel just cuts a plain swivel stright through her waist with no thought. Strictly amatuer hour! Come on, Matty, you're not working from a buck, you don't need to put all the joints in the same place on all the toys. Even a second's thought reveals better ways to do things.

Menalippe's colorscheme is dark earthtones - all browns and maroons, with the brightest color on her clothes being a gold that's still darker than her actual skin. The areas to watch out for are the big V's on her chest (to make sure the paint fills them all the way) and the pads on her face (to make sure it doesn't spill over). Other than those, everything on the samples we've seen has looked pretty consistently good, even the little straps and buckles.

Like we say, Mattel never met an idea they couldn't do wrong (nb. the articulation paragraph, above). In this case, they failed to give Menalippe a shield. Why should she have a shield? Because she's the one launching Antiope off the shield in that scene on the beach. See, we told you there were memorable moments with her. Anyway, does she come with a shield? No, she does not. She comes with a spear, becase that seems to be her weapon of choice, and she comes with a bow and arrow. And here we must give Mattel credit, for they've done something truly smart and innovative that we hope more companies will copy.

Rather than trying to have the figure actually hold the arrow, the right had is sculpted with the fingers curled as if pulling back a bow string, but a small hole between them fits a peg on the back of the arrow, allowing it to plug in securely. Clever! Of course, the arrow is too short and the arms don't have enough articulation to actually get in the right pose (though if anybody can shoot like this guy, it'd be the Amazons).

The exclusive Wonder Woman figures come with exclusive BAF parts - if you get the regular four figures, you can build Ares, while if you get the exclusives, you get weaponry for him. Menalippe has two gigantic flaming swords, which are just as much like anything he used in the film as the toy's design is like the movie costume. They're not two of the same sculpt, but rather one sculpt, mirrored.

This figure at first appeared to be an Amazon exclusive (appropriately enough), but has shown up at Toys Я Us as well. The figure has some problems that are unavoidable as long as Mattel is steering the ship, but she's a decent toy, and you know the movie made you want whatever you can get.

-- 06/14/17

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