Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Alley Cat: Alley Baggett

Presenting Alley Baggett AKA Alley Cat. This is a rare but sadly not so valuable action figure of a character from a comic book (Entitled Alley Cat) that sadly only had six issues - 8 if you count the prelude and the Lingerie Edition waaaaay back in 1999 - though the actual character appeard in around 15 issues counting other comic books.

Are you still with me or are you staring somewhere else?

What's so interesting about this figure - and character - is that she's inspired by a real person: Alley Baggett, an American glamour model from Houston Texas supposedly of Spanish and Filipino descent

Alley Baggett (39) was a predominant figure in Playboy's Book of Lingerie Series where she appeared in more than 12 covers and - if I'm right - won the Playboy Book of Lingerie Reader's Choice Poll a record three times.

Alley originally wanted to be a model, but unfortunately at 5'2" high, the grey eyed blonde was rejected from conventional modelling. So she grew to 34DD-23-33 and became one of the most exotic looking Playboy models ever - strangely she never posed for the main magazine, just the Newssstand Specials.

I actually used Alley Baggett as my muse when I was teaching myself how to sketch waay back in the 90s. I found the rich brown color of her skin a wonderful subject and most of my sketches of her can be found in  DON'T GO THERE IF YOU'RE NOT AN ADULT!!!! Here are some samples of my work:

What's to like about Alley Cat? 

You actually have to ask? Built by Diamond Comics, Alley Cat not just captures quite well the artwork of Jon Bosco (Nightwing, Lady Pendragon), it also does frame Alley Baggett's frames quite perfectly. The only thing I do believe they really didn't capture would be Alley's face which tends to be quite strong. Jon Bosco's version is softer and more feminine. Given the nature of the character, I can see why readers would want something more... submissive.

Why? Well... Alley Cat's costume is what you see here, bondage lingerie - which is, by the way, VERY intricate and finely detailed. You can see individual stitches on her corset arm and leg sleeves.

I have the comic books somewhere in storage, but if I remember the story right, while shopping for something for her Wedding Night (Yeah, that would do on a wedding night), Alley Baggett (She uses her real name in the series) tries on this outfit which apparently is tied to the demonic spirit of Marquis de Sade. The suit grants her super strength - actual limits never tested - and a just as untested degree of protection from harm (Though she's been hit by a car and shot at with no ill effects). She also has a level of precognition and foresaw some pretty gruesome murders which she worked to try and prevent.

What all this has to do with the spirit of Marquis de Sade escapes me.

Her quandary is that now she can't take off the outfit (Bummer) which (If I remember right, retreats to nothing more than a corset till "Evil is near or about to happen" or something like that. So there's definitely a bondage aspect to it.

The full extent of her powers is never revealed, but covers have hinted at her having claws like X-23 but more demonic. In the comics she never used weapons, but this action figure came with a morning-star and a really long flamberge - not sure where I put it (I have it to another figure).

Personally I feel that the comic book and this action figure were released primarily to promote Alley Baggett as a glamour model with an attempt to tap into the nerd market. Sadly, Alley Cat bears too much of a resemblance to Witchblade to have really made it.

Oh and she comes with a little black cat with scary green eyes and stands around 6 inches tall which means that she fits right in with regular Marvel Legends figures.

What's NOT to like about Alley Cat? 

As you may have already noted, articulation is almost non-existent. She can turn her head, raise and lower both arms and both legs can be moved to-and-fro to an extent. That's about it. Posing her beyond what I have here creates really strange looking poses especially if she were wielding either weapon.

To make matters worse her feet do not have pegholes, so standing her upright can sometimes be a challenge. If you were to set her legs to "default" which means you follow the seam of her jodhpurs down from her thigh to the length of her legs, she would not be able to stand up and her feet will actually be skewered towards each other. Posing her is a balancing act unless you have one of those waist stands or are daring enough to drill a peg-hole into her feet. This is not the first semi-non-pose-able figure we've featured in the Dungeon (See Lilah and Queen Gorgo), but this is one of the hardest if not the hardest to keep upright.

And the last really disappointing thing about Alley Cat is that her resale value is almost nothing. Alley Baggett remains a strong cultural icon but I suppose only in niche markets and interest groups. Last I checked you could get a complete boxed Alley Baggett/Alley Cat for around US$ 12 (Roughly PhP 516)

Still, Alley Cat/Alley Baggett remains a wonderful conversation piece in my collection and it's a definitely head-turning piece that I will treasure.

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