Tomb Raider: Lara Croft In Wet Suit Statue by Playmates

It’s another slow week for acquisitions, folks, so I’m going to be digging into the FigureFan Toy Closet for content this week. Last week I checked out NECA’s 1:6 scale Lara Croft, so I thought it only fitting I take a look back to a much earlier Tomb Raider piece: This statue and diorama by Playmates.

The packaging is a standard window box with a tomb motif. It’s technically collector friendly, but mine has been a bit mangled over the years. The entire statue with base and backdrop is about eleven inches tall. The Lara figure itself is about nine inches. The entire piece is cast in plastic.
Starting off with the base and backdrop, I have to say Playmates did a nice job here. The platform is a rustic looking floating dock with some coiled rope, and the whole thing is supported by two half barrels. The backdrop is a badly weathered wall with cracked stucco and some brickwork showing through underneath. The Tomb Raider logo appears sculpted into the back wall just over Lara’s left shoulder. Most statues these days appear with pretty minimalist environments or just small detailed bases, but Playmates went uncharacteristically out of there way here to produce a very nicely designed and excellently sculpted environment for Lara. The small section of side wall is a nice bonus too.
Unlike NECA’s modern Lara, Playmates’ version has roots deep into the earlier games and to me that makes this statue a whole lot more iconic in appearance. Without hunting down dates, I’m pretty sure this statue was out around the time the second or third game was released. I seem to recall her spending a lot of time in her wetsuit in Tomb Raider 2. Either way, this is a Lara that we old timers are more familiar with, even if she isn’t wearing her more standard outfit. The wetsuit itself is more or less painted onto her body sculpt, although there are sculpted lines where the sleeves and shorts end. Other sculpted details include her huge belt buckle, holsters with removable pistols, and her bare feet. I’m particularly fond of the execution of Lara’s head sculpt here. Again, its simple but instantly recognizeable. She’s flashing a smile and her sunglasses are worn down on her nose to show off her eyes. Her iconic ponytail hangs down over her right shoulder. All in all, it’s a nice tough and sexy look for Lara.
Lara’s weapons include the two aforementioned pistols and a harpoon gun. You’ll note the tip of the harpoon appears to have snapped off my statue, so there’s something to watch out for. Although, in fairness I’ve had this thing a long time and it’s gotten kicked around a fair share. The harpoon gun is actually sculpted onto her right arm, but her left arm is capable of holding one of her pistols.

While there’s no doubt this is a statue and not an action figure, Lara does have three points of articulation. Her arms swivel at the shoulders and her head rotates at the neck.
As many of you are aware, I’m generally not a big cheerleader for Playmates. They’ve done their share of shoddy stuff, but this statue shines above a lot of their usual crap. Make no mistake, it’s still a low end piece, particularly in the collectible statue market, but for what it is it’s a well designed display piece with a fine sculpt and great paintwork. I picked Lara up at an indie video game store many years ago and paid next to nothing for her. You can still find this statue on Ebay fairly regularly and she often sells for around $15-20. It’s not a bad little collectible if you still have a soft spot for Ms. Croft.
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Tomb Raider: Lara Croft 1:6 Scale Talking Figure by NECA

So long as I was looking at two 1:6 scale video game queens this week, I thought I might as well make it a trifecta by digging out Ms. Lara Croft herself. Lara’s been no stranger to the action figure and collectibles market, and much like her games, her history in plastic has been pretty hit and miss over the years. Today we’re going to take a gander at NECA’s large scale talking figure. But, before we get started, let’s get some semantics out of the way first. NECA calls this thing a figure, but in reality it’s more of a statue with limited articulation. With that out of the way, let’s see what we’ve got…

Lara comes in a pretty nice window box. It’s nothing special, but it does get the job done and shows off the figure pretty well. While this figure is certainly based on the Tomb Raider: Legend game, Legend doesn’t actually appear anywhere on the box. You can get everything out without tearing it up too badly, although I opted to keep some of the accessories on the tray, but more on that in a bit. I tend to like storing my 12-inch figures in their boxes in a bookcase, so the collector friendly nature of the box is welcome.
The statue is very faithful to the way Lara looked in the Tomb Raider: Legend game. NECA usually does a fine job with their sculpts and Ms Croft here is no exception. She’s a bit more realistically proportioned, particularly in the ta-ta’s department and her aqua shirt and short shorts have given way to a brown half-shirt and well… short shorts. Ok, so some things never change. I have absolutely no quibbles about the sculpt itself. Her face is attractive, with a stern look. Her hair is sculpted and her pony tail is shorter than we’ve seen in the older games and curled down the front of her shoulder. The skin texture is pretty realistic, with a little muscle sculpted in, but not too much. Her equipment is meticulously created from her boots with the socks peeking out the top, to her belt buckle, to her backpack and the string of grenades lining the back of her belt. Lara also has a pair of holsters for her guns. The only thing I can complain about here is the rather unsightly seaming along the sides.
The paintwork here is a little hit and miss. It’s generally pretty good where it counts, but there is some unsightly slop along the top of her shorts. There’s also a bit of smudging around the flesh paint. That part doesn’t bother me so much since it just looks like she got a little dirty from crawling around in tombs. I’ve actually seen more paint issues on statues that are a lot more expensive than this one, so I’m not going to come down to hard on these issues.
Articulation? Yes, there are in fact seven points. You get a rotating head, ball joints in the shoulders, and swivels in the biceps and wrists. For a figure, that sucks. For a statue, that’s pretty good. You’ll have to make the call on which. You can basically just position which way she’s pointing her guns.
Speaking of guns, Lara does come with some accessories. Yep, two of those are her automatic pistols. They feature detailed sculpts and can be removed from her hands and put into her holsters. She also comes with a shotgun, grenade launcher and the Excalibur sword. They’re all cool enough pieces, but her pose doesn’t really allow her to hold any of them very convincingly, so that’s why I left them on the insert. Lastly, you get a plain black oval base with a peg to plug into the hole on the bottom of her foot. The stand isn’t necessary to stand her up, but it does help. I think I would have liked either a shield with the title of the game or a base made to look like actual ground.

As you may have noticed, this is a “talking figure” which means she’s got a sound chip in her and spouts off a bunch of phrases recorded from the game. There’s an On/Off switch on her and a large button below that. Press it and you get to hear a different phrase each time. I’ve got a couple issues with this gimmick, the least of which is, why bother? Lara doesn’t really have a retinue of catch phrases and nothing she says here is all that memorable or great. But the bigger problem is the sound quality of the clips is just terrible. There’s a ton of background hissing and there’s a ridiculous amount of extraneous breathing that should have been filtered out. It sounds like it was recorded over the telephone… with a bad connection… while the actress was half asleep. The lovely Keeley Hawes voiced Lara in several of her games, and I believe Legend was one of them, but whether or not this is actually her voice, I just can’t tell. The quality is just that bad.

Nonetheless, here’s what she says…
  • Grand entrances are always impractical, that’s what makes them grand.
  • Well, this is a tomb. I’ll make them feel at home.
  • From this moment, you’re every breath is a gift from me.
  • Death by irony is always painful
¬†All in all, NECA’s Lara ain’t a bad statue. Not at all. She looks great on the shelf and really captures everything there is about the character as she appeared in this particular game. On the other hand, the sound gimmick is absolutely horrible and pointless and should have been left out. It serves no purpose other than to inflate the cost of the statue. Pretend it doesn’t exist and you should be very happy with this piece if you decide to add it to your collection. I picked up mine on clearance for about $20. Not a bad deal.