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Sheva Alomar

Resident Evil 5
by Artemis

I was never a Playstation fan - gamer technology peaked with the Nintendo 64 and Perfect Dark, fact - so all I know about Resident Evil comes from the movies: it's about Milla Jovovich kicking arse and wearing sod all, the sequel was garbage, and the third wasn't great but redeemed itself by throwing in literally thousands of naked Millas, which excuses much. Apparently the games are a bit different - there are guys in roles other than "enemy" or "victim" for one - but fortunately they've still got the common sense to have an Action Girl hanging around to brighten up the zombie hunt.

Sheva Alomar lost her parents in an accident at an Umbrella factory when she was very young. Later she discovered that her parents' deaths were not merely an accident but the result of fatal biological experiments. Sheva moved to the US and joined B.S.A.A. [Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance]. She was promoted to agent after 8 months of training for practical combat. Due to the disappearance of many of her colleagues she ventures into the deepest regions of Africa to uncover the mystery around Umbrella and the most recent outbreaks.

Although if you want to get technical, it's not a zombie hunt, since in RE5 they're dealing with "majini," which are... oh who cares, they all go down just the same when you headshot 'em. Before that it was "ganados." Once you start going down the "no, they're not actually zombies" path, like the 28 Days Later boys, you might as well just paint "wanker" on your forehead. And what is it with leaving orphans alive to seek the truth about their parents' deaths? You'd think a big company like Umbrella would have the resources to whack a 5-year-old, just to be on the safe side. (With a headshot, just to be [doubly] on the safe side.)

Not that any of that matters - if you're playing Resident Evil it's because you want to gun down some shambling hordes, not for storyline, and preferably look hot while doing it, because style matters. Sheva's evidently decided that a kind of downbeat riff on Lara Croft is the way to go, so she's selected a pair of safari pants and a nifty little striped singlet top from the BSAA wardrobe, along with all the requisite belts, pouches, holsters, shoulder straps and so on - plus high-heel leather boots, because it sucks being the short one on the team. NECA just lurves fine detail, so this kind of gear-a-riffic thing is just nuts to them.

Unfortunately, for all their hard work sculpting and painting every little crease and buckle and stud on every belt and strap and probable bondage toy she's wearing - and that's a lot - they forgot to look at the big picture overmuch. No kind way of saying it, Sheva's shirt looks awful. For one thing it's gaudy as hell - the game likes dusty, dried-out lighting conditions as a rule, and NECA haven't taken that even slightly into account - but more than that, it's painted badly, with the purple smudging off into skin colour well short of the black border around her cleavage, which, let's face it, is where you're going to look first. They also half-assed the design, going for plain stripes when - in the handful of instances where you can see anything on the CG model - it's meant to be pale indigo all over, with the stripes being patterns, not solid bars. The pants are indifferent too, with a rough drybrush not doing a lot for the sculpted detail, but that can be forgiven as them being dirty from zombie-fighting.

Sheva's face is supposedly Michelle Van der Water, which I can kind of see in the CG model - although Sheva's insistence on looking perpetually badass makes it difficult, and I'd say that she's had some Rosario Dawson added into the mix - but the best you can say of the action figure is that she looks to be the right ethnic group. The face isn't bad, but it's generic-looking, and the paint really doesn't help, with plain lips and eyes and so-so coverage around the hairline and earpiece mike doing nothing to enhance a sculpt that doesn't try hard on its own.

Now, articulation, and we're going to do an audience interaction bit here: can someone tell me what in the hell is it that makes NECA leave the pins showing on their swivel/pin joints? The shoulders, the backs of the hips, the knees, they've all got these ugly round rods plainly visible in them - moreso on the legs, since they're not drybrushed like the rest of the surface. It's common enough on plain pin joints - you see it on knees and elbows all the time - but I've got dozens of figures with swivel/pin joints, shoulders and hips mainly, that have completely unmarked surfaces.

They also went a bit weird with the elbows. Rather than make her elbows a bit wider to accommodate pin joints (which I'm inclined to think would look better, since it'd suggest a bit more power in her arms; she looks like she might do a half-hour training routine once a week, tops), they've gone with tilted swivels, freed up by flat swivels at the biceps and wrists. Theoretically you can get those to any angle, just by rotating the whole mid-arm and keeping the hand at whatever angle you want - and it does prove to be fairly flexible in terms of the positions you can achieve. Actually getting those positions is another matter, as the multiple swivels are an order of magnitude more fiddly and annoying than just using regular joints - and honestly, I don't think they look that much better anyway, since there's still a big ol' seam running right through the middle of her arm.

Anyway, the tally: balljoint neck, ugly swivel/pin shoulders, swivel biceps, tilted swivel elbows, swivel wrists, shallow balljoint stomach (hidden beneath the singlet, but very tight and difficult to move), ugly swivel/pin hips, swivel thighs, pin knees, swivel boot tops. She's pretty capable - fiddly elbows notwithstanding - but the lack of ankle joints is quite a limiting factor. The boots are sculpted with creases around the ankles anyway, a simple pin joint wouldn't have hurt her looks enough to worry about.

Since going hand-to-hand with zombies ganados majini is the last resort of the suicidal (unless you're hopped up on one of those mega-adrenaline packs from Doom, in which case you'd be crazy not to take advantage of the opportunity to punch the undeads' heads off), Sheva's got a couple of phallic whatsies to keep her alive. Obviously there's the trusty pistol (best-known to gamers as "I gotta find a better weapon to replace this silly pistol?"), given an indifferent silver drybrush but serviceable enough, and it fits into the left thigh holster nice and snug, with an opening pair of straps to keep it in place, although the stud keeping the straps in place is a bit loose. For long-distance work she's got a basic rifle with a scope - a better option than a fully-automatic, since any shot that doesn't go into a zombie's head is wasted - with a couple of plain brown paint apps for the stock and grip, and with a tiny stud on its side that can fit (if you push hard enough) into either of two ports on the back of the shoulder harness. And lastly, a bit of a nice surprise since it's not obvious at first glance, she's got a removable knife in the sheath on her right hip - the blade looks like it's supposed to be a kukri knife, but the handle's on backwards.

Regardless of not knowing who the hell she is - which never stopped me before - I want to really like this figure, but I just can't. She's got so much going for her, with the intricate sculpt, heavy articulation, and useful accessories with the cool bonus that they can all be slung or holstered on her somewhere, and overall that she's a tough-looking gun girl who's not Lara Croft yet again. But the drawbacks - the shoddy paintwork, the visible joint pins, the fiddly elbows, the lack of ankle joints - all conspire to make her not so much fun to look at or play with. Get her if you're a Resident Evil fan and/or you see her at a good price and she won't have you tearing your hair out, but if you don't have any compelling reason to buy her, you won't really wind up regretting it later.

-- 04/02/09


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