Sunday, December 11, 2011

What Does A Dark Ancient Goddess Need With Swords? Illyria: The Action Figure!

The Good: Excellent sculpt, Generally decent posability, Good concept
The Bad: Hands do not hold accessories, Standing balance is off
The Basics: Illyria is a very cool character from Angel rendered well, if unbalanced, as an action figure for fans and collectors alike!

I write this review on the presumption that those reading it are fans of the television series Angel and know who Illyria is. If not, you might want to stop reading the review only for this reason; if you want to watch Angel and be surprised by one of the last twists in the series, this review is going to ruin it. Sorry. Can't be helped.

So, in all of my viewings and rewatchings of the fifth season of Angel, I've never had the heart to rewatch the episode "Shells." "Shells" is the second part of what seemed like it would be a two-parter in which Wesley, Gunn and Angel work feverishly to save Fred's life when she is struck down by a power they do not understand. And the thing is, when I first watched the episode, I figured it would be a last minute save and Fred would be all right. Well, as fans know, she wasn't; Fred is lost and replaced with the ancient Goddess Illyria. And the thing is "Shells" ends with a flashback of Fred leaving home and I know that the next time I see the episode, knowing that Fred is lost for good, that that'll probably be a tear-jerker.

When Diamond Select Toys came out with an action figure of Illyria, I was psyched.


Illyria is easily one of the most interesting and original action figures in the Angel action figure line from Diamond Select toys. Based on the character that was only in the latter half of the fifth season of Angel, Illyria is a figure of Fred transformed into the dark Goddess who possesses and alters her body.

Standing six and one-half inches tall, Illyria is a skinny, pleather-clad warrior woman with shoulder-length blue and black hair. With blue lips and a forehead discolored by the blue possession marks of Illyria, this is one cool looking action figure. Yes, Illyria looked pretty badass on television and in plastic, she's well-represented. Her maroon pleather outfit looks like it did on the show and the detailing on the arms, hands, and upper body is pretty impressive.

The sculpt is pretty incredible; the figure looks like Amy Acker as Illyria. The figure is so detailed that the nostrils are actually cavities and the fingers have defined fingernails under the gloves. It is actually astonishing how detailed the figure is and how much attention went into making it a very true representation of the character as she appeared on film.


Illyria comes with a 2 1/2 inch battle ax and 4 1/4 inch long thin sword. As well, she comes with a snap-together base which represents a wall of an armory at Wolfram & Hart. The base is a 3 1/2 inch square plastic base that connects to a 6 3/4 inch tall wall segment that has another ax and sword attached to it. The sword and ax on the wall do not detach.

The base is a flat base, which makes some sense because there are not peg holes in Illyria's feet for her to attach to a base with.

Unfortunately as well, the right hand can hold both the ax and the sword, but the left is left open such that the ax cannot possibly be gripped by it. Moreover, in order for the hand to take the sword, it may only balance it in there, it cannot actually grip it. The result is that for either accessory, the left hand is difficult to use to give Illyria a two-weaponed pose. It makes one wonder why she was given two accessories if she could not possibly hang onto them both.


Because Illyria does not have foot holes and corresponding pegs, posing Illyria is based entirely on balance. Despite having ten points of articulation, Illyria does not have incredibly posability and must be stood flatfooted if one wants to display her standing. Despite having knees that bend as well as groin socket and waist with articulation, it's virtually impossible to get Illyria to stay standing unless both of her feet are square on the base.

Moreover, while her elbows and biceps have articulation, the grip problem makes it difficult to pose the upper body with both accessories. Whatever is in the right hand can be easily controlled and made to look good, but with the sword in the left hand, Illyria is either left resting the sword on her head or shoulder or the sword balances precariously in her hand until a light breeze (or a nearby cat) knocks it over.

What is surprisingly posable is the head. Illyria has a ball-socket head, so the head swivels realistically up, down and to the sides. The hair is made of a more flexible, rubbery plastic and as a result, there is some tension in keeping the head up and it works wonderfully to have Illyria looking in other directions.

But it's virtually impossible to have a real action pose - especially with the accessories - for Illyria to use her as a display piece.


All of the articulation makes Illyria a decent toy for play, but one suspects those who would recognize Illyria enough to enjoy the figure would not be the type to actually play with it. The accessories are big enough to not be a swallowing hazard around young children or animals, but the sword could poke out an eye.


Diamond Select Toys made a good figure with Illyria and while she is not the most rare in the Fred line, she is also not the most common. As a result, Illyria is probably a good investment figure, if one holds onto her in mint condition long enough. As more and more people see through the end of Angel and appreciate the significance of Illyria, this figure will likely appreciate.

The figure was not, however, a limited edition figure, nor does it have any sort of individual number that would make it more collectible. In general, though, the most valuable collectibles are the ones that capture well the essence of the subject and Illyria looks great as an action figure!


Despite the posability problems, it's hard enough finding good figures of female characters in virtually any toy franchise. Illyria is part of my "Strong women of science fiction" toy line-up and she makes for an excellent addition. She looks good and any fan of Angel and the Buffyverse is likely to want to make this an addition to their collection!

Illyria appears solely in the fifth season of Angel, reviewed here!

For other Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel toys, please visit my reviews of:
"You're Welcome" Cordelia
Puppet Spike doll
Pylean Princess Cordelia Chase


For other toy reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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