Wednesday, 29 March 2017

POP! Television – Eleven Underwater (Stranger Things)

So about a month ago we had Stranger Week here at the LBC – so popular it even ran for eight days instead of the regular seven you’d expect to find in a week.

But there are still more Stranger Things POPs to be covered. Don’t expect to see me do all of them (I’m likely to pass on Dustin wearing a different t-shirt and the Con exclusives) but I do plan to get most of them. And so today we take a look at Eleven Underwater.

A Hot Topic exclusive in the US, in Australia Eleven Underwater is just a regular release. And at the moment she seems to be much more readily available than her regular counterpart, who along with the Demogorgon has been selling out left right and centre.
As the name suggests, this POP depicts Eleven in her diving gear. We see her donning this multiple times throughout the season, usually in flashback form. Initially she uses her psychic potential to act as some kind of (inadvertent) spy, relaying foreign messages to her mysterious masters via the power of remote viewing. But one of these remote reviewing trips seems to be the key that opens the gate to the physical realm of the Upside Down, as we discover in later episodes. 

Believe it or not, both the US and the Soviet governments did experiment heavily with the idea of psychic powers during the Cold War. This isn’t some Alex Jones-style nonsense, either; these days it’s a matter of public record. A more comical version is relayed in the George Clooney movie The Men Who Stare at Goats and the non-fiction book it’s based on, but it was a reality – presumably something the Duffer Brothers are well aware of. In real life things weren’t quite as successful as they were in Stranger Things, mind you.

It seems laughable in the face of today’s post-Berlin Wall world and the widespread scepticism about the supernatural, but it’s perhaps understandable given the times. Any prospective advantage over the enemy needed to seriously investigated, no matter how implausible. It’s easy to crack wise about the baby boomers and how “easy” they had it, but we forget too soon that many of our parents grew up in the very real shadow of nuclear annihilation. In the show’s universe, the kids would have been well aware of it too – everyone seems small in the shadow of a mushroom cloud. 

The POP itself is pretty much what you’d expect; there’s a new body for the “swimsuit” and what looks to be a retooled head from the original, incorporating all webbing and sensors that we see Eleven wear. Paint is fine; nothing to blow you away, but certainly not bad either. I just feel sorry for my American cousins who will likely have to bend over backwards to track this figure down, while we have relatively easy access, thanks to minimal exclusivity deals over here. 

While not as essential as the regular POP, Eleven Underwater is nonetheless a good addition to the Stranger Things shelf. The Upside Down remains a mysterious realm, and will likely have more of itself revealed in Season 2 – personally, I can’t wait.   

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