Aang in Avatar State
In the summer of 2009, I saw a movie trailer that really intrigued me, despite being helmed by M. Night Shyamalan (a director with a rather uneven track record as far as I’m concerned).
The movie is inspired by a rather successful animation series on Nickelodeon called Avatar: The Last Airbender (which, incidentally, was produced by Dave Filoni, the current Supervising Director on the Clone Wars CGI show).
Due to some cosmic oddity, that very same year James Cameron premiered his own Avatar movie, and the Shyamalan project’s name had to be shortened to simply The Last Airbender.
Fast-forward 12 months later, and the toys based on the soon-to-be-premiered movie are just showing at stores. The toy line is handled by the Spin Masters company, of Bakugan fame, and it consists of the usual paraphernalia of role play props and action figures in a couple of different scales.
The segment of the line I have an interest in is the 1:18 scale line of figures, of which I recently got the hero Aang in Avatar State.
If you are not familiar with the cartoon or the basic premise, these Avatars can be summed up as Kung Fu monks with extra powers granted by an affinity to usually one of the four elemental powers of Fire, Water, Earth and Air.
Aang has a good, well proportioned sculpt, although as a whole, the detail is extremely simplified. The pants and tunic have only minimal folds and creases, and being molded in a very light-colored plastic doesn’t help in adding depth to the finished figure.
On the other hand, Aang’s head looks fairly realistic, in an oddly androgynous way. Again, the head is molded in an extremely light flesh tone, which lends an otherworldly appearance to the face, specially in conjuction with the blank eyes and the tattooed head.
The cartoon Aang has this solid light blue arrow tattooed on the top of his head that glows whenever he uses his elemental power, but for the movie version of the character, the tattoo is composed of a very complex filigree design that produces an arrow-shaped outline, a design repeated also at the back of his hands.
• Peg & hinge shoulders. Excellent motion range on both sides.
• Hinged elbows. These bend up to 90°.
• Swivel wrists. These rotate freely, although the sleeves interfere somewhat with the accessories.
• Swivel waist. Rotation is somewhat hindered due to the bottom of the tunic.
• Peg & hinge hips.Instead of the more useful angled configuration, Aang has the hips inserted vertically into the torso.
• Hinged ankles. Fairly decent motion range here.
Despite the unusual hip configuration and the slightly cumbersome costume design, Aang still manages to achieve some very dynamic poses, either by himself or aided with a display stand.
Be warned that there are two versions of Aang in the line, and that they only differ in the eye paintjob and the number and type of accessories included. Avatar Aang has all-white eyes, which I think is an improvement over the weird-looking pinprick pupils on Regular Aang.
While Regular Aang comes with a staff and a small pet creature, Avatar Aang comes only with a double fan/staff accessory, molded in translucent plastic with the shaft and fan blades painted in brown and red respectively.
Overall, I wasn’t disappointed by this figure, although to be honest, it was because I didn’t expect much from it either. In the end the balance is positive, although I don’t feel particularly compelled to pick any more figures from this line, unless the movie proves to be a huge hit.