It's Old Toys Month again. Let's dive back in to the world of Lara Croft!
With each kick Lara dives deeper into the cold dark sea.
She pries open the rusted hatch of an old sunken ship and prepares to enter the unforgiving blackness. Suddenly she is not alone - a great white shark swims toward her. Lara is trapped - but not defenseless. Twisting, weightless in the water, Lara fires her harpoon at point blank range. Lara reloads and swims on.
Oh wow, that description just gave me flashbacks to an absolutely horrible section of Tomb Raider 2. It's Level 8, "Wreck of the Maria Doria," and you're running all over a sunken ship looking for circuit breakers and levers and whatnot. At one point, you have to leave the ship to find a key on the ocean floor, which involves jumping into the water, fighting (or outrunning) two sharks and three barracudas, swimming through a huge, open environment with no clues of where to go, then making it back to the safety of the ship, all within the span of one 60-second breath - to say nothing of the fact that a hidden idol was waiting out there, too. Basically, it took perfect aim, timing and relexes to make it through unscathed, which means I left a lot of drowned Laras in my wake.
The likeness on this Lara Croft is just as good as it was on the Jungle Lara Croft, but don't assume that means she uses the same head - everything is different. Her braided ponytail hangs straight down her back, rather than curving to the side, a few loose strands of hair fall against her forehead, and her lips are parted, showing her teeth.
Since this entire section of the game takes place underwater, Lara is wearing a wetsuit. Hey, this videogame was designed to appeal to teenage boys - we're lucky she's wearing something this practical and covering, rather than a string bikini (or a white T-shirt). In an odd bit of product placement, she's wearing a real-world suit made by Sola Sports, a leading British manufacturer of aquatic gear. They could have easily made something up, but no. This is a Sola Evo Shorty (ie, it leaves the arms and legs bare) with gray body panels and blue sleeves. She's barefoot, but keeps her fingerless gloves, and of course has her backpack and holsters.
Lara's articulation is nothing exciting. She moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, waist and hips, and all of them are swivels.
Even for a toy released in 1999, that wasn't very impressive. She's armed with her ubiquitous pistols, of course, but because this is an underwater level, she's also got the game's harpoon gun. The only weapon capable of firing while submerged, it still wasn't much help, because it was hard to aim and its projectiles moved incredibly slowly, allowing your target to dodge. The best strategy in TR2 was to jump in the water, lure your target near, climb out, and quickly turn around and shoot them with a real gun.
The "Adventure Diorama" included in this set is,
appropiately, a bit of shipwreck. It's 8¼" tall, 6⅜" wide, and 4" deep. The base is the sandy sea bed, with a few rocks, some seaweed, and a half-buried anchor. There are two curved sections of a ship's riveted hullwrapping around the righthand side of the display - the one in the back is taller, with a small porthole and several obvious rips in the rusty metal, and both sections have barnacles growing on them. Behind it all is a translucent piece of plastic representing the water that is surrounding this wreck. It's wavy, and sculpted with a few ripples and bubbles, and it fades from dark blue to light as you move up.
We also get the great white shark that's threatening her. It's unarticulated, and sized more for Minimates than the 6" Lara,
but still looks decent. Maybe it's a baby. ["Maybe baby" --ed.] It curves to the left, and its exposed gums are so red that it looks like it's wearing lipstick. To allow the shark to "float" as it should, the set includes a plastic arm that plugs into its underside and attaches to the rear of the wall of water. It's a big, round peg, so you can pose the shark a little bit; is he swimming past Lara, or coming right for her? It's up to you!
click to embiggen
Like the Jungle set we reviewed last year, the Deep Sea set is more of a cool diorama than a cool action figure, but is there any shame in that? Get it for the backdrop alone if you want.