Hey, it’s Magic: The Gathering! A nerd property that I… do not have any real nostalgia for! The art is beautiful, but I spend so much money on toys and books and rent and food and such already that collectible card games scare me. But toys about collectible card games? Aw, crap. They got me.
Liliana Vess is a major character from M:tG lore (seriously. It has characters and a plot). She is an immortal necromancer who… honestly, I got confused reading her story. She is an attractive sorceress chick covered in tattoos whose name is an anagram for “Villainess.”
But that’s her strength. You do not need to be familiar with M:tG lore to find these toys interesting. Sure, essentially they are generic fantasy tropes – barbarian, sorceress, elf, cat-man – but that is their strength. You just can’t find generic “fantasy” toys these days. Funko has produced their first series of Magic: The Gathering figures in much the same line as their best-selling Game of Thrones series, and they have recently begun appearing everywhere. So let’s take a look!
Just as with Funko’s GoT figures, Liliana comes in a fairly large box with a definite “book” feel to it! It shows off the toy, and despite all the excess material it is rather classy. Liliana is held in the plastic tray by several twisty ties, though they are not as annoying as some. The basic idea behind “Legacy Collection” figures, aside from imitating Star Wars black, is to look classy on a shelf or in a collector’s display, and these do succeed in that.
Liliana Vess has more than one piece of official art to work from, but Funko’s sculptors decided instead to model her on their own style. Is this bad? Well, no. She doesn’t look like a clumsy attempt to match a painting, and she even blends in with other toys such as the Game of Thrones figures from the same company.
Liliana herself stands at 6″ tall – exactly 6″, so she is dwarfed by the He-Man ladies – and manages to straddle the line between flowing wizard capes and robes and a bikini. Clearly, she relies on her wrap skirt and half-cape mantle for all the billowing. The cloth and flesh and leather on her outfit are all sculpted very well, communicating the appropriate textures. Her hair is appropriately wild (and probably full of split ends), which gives her a slightly less-elegant edge. Her skirt and random bits of cloth are all sculpted from rubber rather than her body’s plastic, which helps facilitate her movement quite well.
Liliana’s face is in a very neutral expression, not betraying any emotion. Not every figure needs to be screaming or laughing, and this is a contrast to her usual evil grin in official art, but it works pretty well for the toy. Her hands are sculpted in neutral casting positions, but can be made to hold objects if you are careful.
I thought that her paint was flawless, but then an actual fan of M:tG took one look at her and said, “Those tattoos are all wrong!” So how to rate this?
Liliana’s tattoos are complex, detailed, and suitably arcane without mimicking an actual occult symbols. Since they were stamped or stenciled onto the toy rather than handpainted, they look crisp, clean, and professional. There is no slop on them. As to their accuracy, Liliana’s tattoos seem to change dramatically from artist to artist, but the ones on the figure seem to be less complex than in any of her official artwork. But considering how insanely complicated her tattoos actually are, it is honestly forgivable – worth a point off for accuracy sticklers, but the best that Funko could do at this scale.
As for the rest of her, Liliana’s skin is molded in skin-toned plastic, making it look more realistic and less doll-like than flesh paint. Her outfit is purple and gold, and its paint is applied pretty well. In fact, even her makeup is really good – Funko seems to have mastered the difficult art of not messing up their paint, so any potential tattoo accuracy issues aside, Liliana’s paint job is really, really good.
Liliana has a ball-jointed head, torso, and ankles, all-and-socket shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips and knees, and swivel thighs. Essentially, she’s got slightly better articulation than a new He-Man figure.
Now, this toy is not perfect. Her skirt limits her leg movement, for one, though it is by far less than one would expect. Liliana is actually really good for a variety of spellcasting poses. She does not have ny peg holes in her feet, so you will need to watch her stance, but her articulation is more than adequate.
Nothing! She could have used at least a spell effect. I had to provide my own.
Liliana Vess costs roughly $25, which seems either great or a little pricey depending on your perspective. Although she is a little small and accessory-free, Liliana does have some excellent sculpting and paint, so take it as you will.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
My figure pops off at the torso joint very easily, almost as if the joint is meant to come apart. I have heard reports that this applies to M:tG figures as a whole, though, and it is easy to just pop the part back on.
WHERE TO BUY:
Despite being collector-quality toys released for an obscure vintage nerd property, you can find these figures at mass-market, from Target to Toys R Us.
It could be argued that these toys are about twenty years late, but who’s counting?
And that’s the point. With or without the lore, Liliana Vess (and by extension the rest of the M:tG figures) is a really good figure. She can fit in your LotR display, or MOTU, or GoT, or any other random fantasy toys you happen to have. She is an attractive sorceress covered in tattoos, after all.
It’s an odd phenomenon. I can show off toys of every kind of monster or robot, and it’s cool and not embarrassing. But a human female? I have to be careful not to look pervy. The good news is, even though Liliana Vess is scantily-clad, she also looks elegant enough not to reflect badly on me. So this toy does get my seal of approval, even in spite of a couple of hiccups. Go and support the Magic: The Gathering line, and maybe we’ll get monsters soon!