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Chell

Portal 2
by yo go re

Welcome to the OAFErture Laboratories test chamber. Review will commence in 3... 2... 1...

Quiet and resourceful, Chell remains one of Aperture's most secretive and mysterious test subjects. Luckily, we were able to talk to one of Chell's former coworkers, who assured us that she was Chell's "closest - well, why beat around the bush - only friend." When asked for three words that best describe Chell, our anonymous source decided on "monster"; "uncaring monster"; and "generously-proportioned monster."

We're GLaD NECA was able to find someone to talk up Chell for the back of the packaging. I haven't played Portal 2 yet, because Valve hasn't offered it for free and you - yes, you reading this right now and thinking "surely he must mean someone else, not me" even after this aside - haven't gifted me a copy (and Papa don't pay for non-physical media). Anyway, I have played the original Portal, so NECA's announcement of a Chell figure was exciting news (plus, I'm not really getting NECA'd this time).

Chell underwent a redesign between games, which is how we can be certain that this is from Portal 2: Portal Harder. Apparently the air conditioning in Aperture Labs is on the fritz, because Chell's stripped her jumpsuit to the waist, using the sleeves to tie it in place. She's not going "full Gorgo," though: she's wearing a white Aperture tank top, another blue shirt beneath that and a grey... undersuit? Something. Maybe it's huge neoprene underwear. It's visible at the waist between the shirt and the jumpsuit. The folded-over upper half of the jumper looks very realistic, and there are fine wrinkles on her shirt(s).

Another change was made to the costume between games, this one involving the legs. In Portal, Chell wore Advanced Knee Replacements to protect her from injury after falling from great heights (or at least reaching terminal velocity) - in Portal 2: The Portal-ning, she wore the more technologically advanced Long Fall Boots. They serve the same function, but they fully cover the foot now; she still has a digitigrade stance, but she's no longer barefoot (surely to the disappointment of our small clientele of loyal perverts). The boots are pearly white, with curved black springs hanging off the back.

Chell was modelled after actress Alésia Glidewell, who is half Japanese and a quarter Brazilian - so basically, she's got a face that's indescriminately ethnic. The sculpt is perhaps a little more narrow than the real woman's, but it's still unmistakably the same person. Her skin is a lovely olive shade that perfectly matches what was seen in the games. So exactly as we predicted, the accusations that NECA was trying to whitewash Chell were just idiotic.

You will want to check the paint, though: Chell's hair hangs in her face, and even a small error there will be very glaring.

The articulation is as good as NECA usually desivers. Chell gets swivel/hinge joints at the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders, a swivel waist, and balljoints at the wrists, waist and neck. The only thing missing are ankles, and can you really think of a way to do those while leaving the Long Fall Boots intact? Because we can't. They're like giant ski boots anyway: they don't seem to have any ankle movement in the game, so why should they do so here? It would be inaccurate. Like giving Gordon Freeman a voice chip. The sculpt of the arm around her elbows seems weird - the upper arms come down lower on the insides than the outsides, so the arms want to turn out easier than they want to turn in. Odd choice.

Despite Shocka's wishes, Chell only comes with one accessory: the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. The portal gun, duh. It's a bit larger in relation to her body than it should be, but then, my only frame of reference is the first Portal, and maybe it got enlarged for Portal 2: Harry Portal and the Chamber of Testing. NECA's made a life-sized ASHPD prop, so we'd expect them to know how large it's meant to be.

The piece does look great: it's smooth and plasticky, and with its white casing it looks like an evolutionary step somewhere between an iPod and EVE. The Aperture logos are tampographed on nicely, and there's a handle in the back so Chell can hold the gun. If you press the large button on the underside of the gun, a blue LED shines out from within. Awesome, love it! The light is very bright, and will stay on until you press the button again.

Since Chell's standing on her toes, she wouldn't be very sturdy. Recognizing this, NECA gave her a display base to keep her standing. It's nothing fancy - just a section of black tile flooring - but it does its job. I'm surprised they went with black, though. Isn't white (or at least pale gray) more usual for the labs? Maybe they were worried about lighter colors showing scuffs from the boots or something.

I absolutely wish that Chell had come with a Weighted Companion Cube, but even more than that, she should have had some portals! One orange, one blue... just two wavy rings. That doesn't seem so hard, does it? Vinyl clings would have been wondrous, but even cardstock would have worked. Just some portals you could put wherever you want.

They did do a little bit of that on the packaging, to be honest. The rear of the insert shows the blue portal, and through it we can see the interior of a Test Chamber; the front of the insert shows the orange portal, and through it we see the ruins of the Central AI Chamber. A bit of foliage runs from one side to the other. The two portals are aligned perfectly on the packaging, making it feel like a "real" thing. Good work, Chris Longo, this was a triumph! I'm making a note here: huge success.

It's hard to overstate my satisfaction with this figure. Even though I only know Chell from the original Portal (and the Flash Version) (and also the live-action fan film), there was no question I'd be getting the toy, and NECA did not disappoint. While my local Toys Я Us has been completely useless when it comes to NECA's Valve toys (they haven't carried any of the Left 4 Dead, Half-Life 2 or Team Fortress 2 figures, which blows), they did get Chell, and she's sold pretty quickly. Go get her before she disappears into the walls and you can't locate her any more.

Oh, and my Steam ID is yo go re. You know, in case you want to add me/give me Portal 2.

-- 05/12/13


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