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Tartarus Guard

Vitruvian H.A.C.K.S.
by yo go re

The reason you love OAFE is because we make you smarter. We fill our reviews with tangential info that, while not related directly to the toy, provides an interesting background. We pride ourselves on that. However, due to an unfortunate clerical error, all the in-depth background research in this this week's review was accidentally conducted not on Tartarus, but on Tartar Sauce. Enjoy it anyway.

It's a common misconception that Tartarus is simply a place. Tartarus is, in fact, both the lowest level of the underworld, and one of the oldest primordial dieties, along with Chaos, Gaia, and Eros. As far below Hades as Earth is below the heavens, Tartarus is where only the truly wicked receive eternal punishment. Only the greatest warriors are honored and bequeathed with the strength and reflexes of the gods in order to carry out their duties as guardians. They were eternal sentinels, tasked with guarding the gates of Tartarus, not to keep intruders out, but to keep the prisoners in.

Tartar sauce is generally served with fish, but it didn't start that way - in fact, its true origins are evident in its name. But that's a circuitous path. Tartar sauce, today, is basically just mayonnaise and relish (not to be confused with aioli, which is mayo and garlic); it was developed in France in the 19th century, as an evolution of remoulade (a mayo-mustard-and-anchovy sauce) meant to more closely mimic Turkish "tarator," a fish sauce based on tahini. There was a fad of Orientalism in Europe during the 1800s, an interest in all things Asian and Middle Eastern, which spurred the development.

The Tartarus Guard uses the standard V-HACKS female body, like so many of her sisters before her. The armor she wears - a breastplate, bracers and greaves - are all the same seen on the Amazon Warrior, so maybe that's what she was before getting hired as Hell's bouncer. Even her helmet, with the crest on top, and her strappy leather skirt are the same pieces.

What's dfferent is the paint. Very different! The armor is gold with purple accents, but what truly makes this figure unique is her body. The figure is molded entirely in black plastic, then painted with neon pink bones all over her front. Yes, just the front - the back remains blank. But who cares, she's got crazy pink bones! Stand her in the dark and they look like they're floating! (No, they don't glow; that's still reserved for the Ghosts of the Battlefield set.) The bones are stylized, not meant to be true representations - she has a ribcage painted on her chest, we're not seeing a ribcage, get it? But judging by the way she's painted, and the places she's painted, this is the first HACK (with legs) to not wear underwear.

The head is new - not used with any of the other figures, and not included with the blank body. Her purple hair is done in two French braids that run from her forehead around to her crown, and then it's pulled back into a ponytail and tied all the way down. So that she can wear the helmet, the ponytail is a separate piece that can be easily removed.

The articulation includes a balljointed head and neck; swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows and wrists; a balljointed torso; balljointed hips; double-hinge knees; and swivel/hinge ankles. As usual, she gets the alternate hands with the hinges running the opposite way (north/south instead of east/west), meaning you can choose how you want her to wield her weapons.

What weapons would those be? A spear, two axes, a short sword, a medium sword, a curved sword, and a shield. The shield has a bident painted on the front - the bident, of course, being the standard weapon of Hades, just like the trident is the standard weapon of Poseidon.

In its native French, tartar sauce is known as sauce tartare, and was originally a garnish used with steak tartare - thus the name. Steak tartare is finely chopped beef, served raw, and has its origins in the dark ages: Tatar nomads, part of the Golden Horde, used cattle native to the Russian steppes as a food source; the meat was tough and nearly indigestible, so in order to tenderize it, they would stick chunks of it under their saddles with herbs as they rode, letting it get smashed to pieces, then would eat it raw (after steak tartare's popularity spread out from France, cooks in the German port city Hamburg began applying heat to it, creating the "Hamburg steak," which you probably recognize gained a certain popularity of its own). Because the Tatar people were so rough and wild, the Romans poetically equated them with Tartarus, both turning "Tatar" into "Tartar," and successfully bringing this seemingly off-topic tangent back into the actual subject of the review. Swish!

-- 02/24/17

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