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Tom Riddle

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
by yo go re

The real magic of Harry Potter isn't in the wand, but in the fact that his book series has gotten millions of children to do what teachers, parents and concerned leaders have been thus far unable to: not just to turn off the TV and read a book, but to actually look forward to the experience, proving that it's not that today's children hate to read, but that they're too smart to read things that talk down to them.

The movies based on the Harry Potter books have behaved similarly, delivering audiences a "children's" movie that is thoroughly entertaining for adults, as well; sort of the cinematic antithesis to The Lizzie Maguire Movie. As I said in my review of the Chamber of Secrets DVD, I'd like to see the cast stick around through all seven films - if the characters are aging at a normal pace, why shouldn't the actors portraying them do the same?

Chamber of Secrets was a dark, scary film that surpassed the original in almost every respect: the storyline was more coherent, the effects were improved and the evil in the castle walls was much more menacing.

Researching the threat, Harry finds a journal that belonged to Tom Riddle, a student at Hogwarts 60 years ago when the Chamber of Secrets was last opened. Through the magic of the diary, Harry is transported back to the fateful day when one of the students died.

We didn't quite get the huge blitz of toys for this movie that we did for Sorcerer's Stone, possibly because a lot of those are still on shelves. Mattel did at least make sure to get most of the new characters out while they were creating ever more versions of Harry, and young Riddle is one of them.

A mysterious former Hogwarts student who magically appears from within the pages of an old diary discovered by Harry, Tom was a Head Boy who was presented with a special award for service to the school several decades ago.

Tom is seen here in his Hogwarts school uniform - grey slacks, a vest and necktie beneath his black robes. How appropriately dull. His coat hangs open slightly, as if it is being blown by a stiff breeze. Tom's hands are open and gesturing, and he's articulated at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, hips and knees. There is an indentation on the bottom of his right foot that I imagine allows him to plug into the spellcasting playset from the first line. The likeness is quite good, from facial sculpt to costume details.

Tom comes with only one accessory, his diary; a small peg on the spine plugs into Tom's left hand, making it look as if he is reading from the volume. The pages are blank, just as they should be.

The issue with making a figure of the ghostly Tom Riddle was how to best portray the idea that he really is just a spirit from a bygone era. Translucent plastic? Sepiatone paint apps? Mattel decided to make the figure glow in the dark, but that presented a problem of its own.

Glow-in-the-dark paint really only comes in one color: greenish-white. You can't give a figure an accurate paint job when you only have one color to work with. So how do they get him to look right with the lights on as well as off?

Mattel came up with the idea of "speckling" the figure with the GitD paint. This allows the paint job to show through, while still giving him a healthy glow (as you can see when you move your mouse over the picture to the left). This wasn't a foolproof solution, though, because the stippled paint has the effect of making Tom look dusty (which, I suppose, one could chalk up to him being more than 60 years old). It does give the figure a bit of an otherworldly look in any lighting condition, so it's not terrible; it just takes some getting used to.

-- 07/01/03


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