The Tomb Raider franchise virtually came out of nowhere and has been around for over twenty years. The brainchild of a relatively small developer, Lara Croft forever changed the gaming landscape and became one of gaming’s most capable heroines. For a time she was one of the biggest icons in gaming, magazines, movies and (as you’ll see later on) even a relation to the music industry. But that all died down in the mid 2000s and the series was pretty much dead for a good while. As likeable a heroine as Lara is, it took awhile for people to come around to the idea of a new Tomb Raider series as it’d been out of the public eye for so long.
So far the new Tomb Raider games are doing great and are properly carrying on the series’ legacy. Lara’s got a bit of a new look in these games and it’s gone over pretty well with the fan base. After all, one of her most instantly recognizable characteristics is the way in which she carries herself. Lara looks like the typical adventurer; she brings about an air of discovery and encourages the player to keep exploring. While she’s already pretty well known to most in the PS1 and PS2 generations, let’s see if we can find some things that you didn’t know about Lara Croft.
15 There’s A Lara Croft Doll Collection
They’re not dolls, they’re action figures! No wait, actually, these are totally dolls. Back at the height of its popularity, the Tomb Raider series was one of the biggest things in gaming. As we all know now, the series ended up having some serious staying power and amassed some great games. The movies it inspired, however, are a different story. The quality of the Tomb Raider games compared to the films is like night and day. Arguably nothing good has come from the movies. There is one peculiar thing though; a line of realistic looking dolls were released as a sort of tie-in to the films back in 2001. The dolls were aimed towards an adult audience and were, as you can imagine, creepy on every level.
14 She’s been Proposed to Multiple Times
No, this isn’t some romantic subplot that’s slipped past you. This is real, as in real life real. Most of us consider the line between games and reality to be pretty noticeable. One’s something that affects you every day and the other is a falsehood that you partake in on your free time. Lara is one of the most attractive women in gaming, so it’s a given that she’s amassed a very dedicated following. Though some are more dedicated than others apparently. In an interview with The New York Times, Tricia Grey, a staff member at Edios revealed that Lara has received a ton of marriage proposals from real men. We’re not sure how that works, maybe it’s written or maybe some poor schleps went and did it out in person.
13 She Was Based off of Neneh Cherry & Tank Girl
There are quite a few people and characters that’ve inspired Lara Croft. We’ll get into some of that later, but for now let’s focus on Neneh Cherry and Tank Girl. Lara is known as a badass who can stand up for herself and get the job done. She was created in a time where female leads were scarce. Lara’s designers wanted to model her after pop star Neneh Cherry and comic book heroine Tank Girl, as both were strong women and countered negative female stereotypes. What we got in the end was probably more than they could’ve ever hoped for, as the character was very well received by both fans and critics alike and is still incredibly popular to this day.
12 It Took Six People to Make Her
Games take a lot of effort to make, regardless of whether you’re a small indie studio or a huge corporate giant spewing out multiple titles a year. But even for a small group, this is an impressive feat. The original Tomb Raider game was created by just six people. Yup, while newer games are now being crafted by hundreds of different artists, programmers, designers and more – Lara’s first game only took a handful of people to make. The game came out in 1996 and was considered to be pretty cutting edge for its time. The group of six worked three long years on the project and released it with immediate success. Guess quantity didn’t equal to quality in this situation.
11 Her Guinness World Records
Lara is a trend setting girl. Ever since she’s hit the scene, she’s been at the forefront of the gaming community and had a pretty big impact outside of the gaming world as well. It’s not often that a character transcends their medium, but Lara’s done just that. Among her accolades are her numerous Guinness World Records. While we’re not seeing these handed out to fictional figures, Lara’s won for most successful video game heroine, most recognizable female in a video game, most detailed game character, and highest grossing game spin-off among others. As if you needed any more reason to convince you of the sheer impact the character’s had since her debut.
10 She’s Been Honored in England
Many prominent figures earn some sort of commemorative honor throughout their lifetime. Be they pop culture figures, political etc... But here’s something you don’t exactly see every day. Lara actually has a plaque honoring her in England. The plaque resides in Derby where Core Design, the studio responsible for the initial Tomb Raider games, created the buxom heroine in an office space they’ve long moved on from. Though it’s nothing that fancy, the thought behind it is still nice. The blue plaque isn’t really much to look at but is signifies Lara’s place in the pop culture world. This alone wasn’t enough for the people of Derby apparently, as the inner ring road where the building is located was renamed Lara Croft Way in 2010.
9 She’s the Best-Selling Video Game Heroine
In the world of video games, we have quickly gotten used to the idea of female leads. Though their presence within the industry sometimes comes into question, just look at some of gaming’s most popular characters and you’ll see a good deal of female representation. Lara comes in as one of the most recognizable on that list. In fact, she’s so popular that she holds the record for being the best selling video game heroine. At over 40 million units sold worldwide, Lara has cemented herself as one of the standout figures in video games. The new batch of Tomb Raider games, along with the original ones, have all done their part in making her the icon she is today.
8 Her Music Career
Well, we’ve covered a fair bit of ground in regards to Lara’s transmedia presence, but this one is by far the most puzzling entry on our list. Video game characters – if popular enough – certainly have been used in other platforms; be it comics, movies or shows. But one thing they haven’t really transitioned to is the world of music. While game soundtracks make it to music store shelves, characters themselves aren’t really marketed this way. But Lara found herself headlining her very own CD, a France only release called Female Icon. The album was released in 2001 with music written by Dave Stewart and the role of Lara being taken up by Tomb Raider series model Rhona Mitra. In case you were wondering, yes, the music is terrible.
7 She Appeared on a Stamp
We’ve already established Lara’s popularity in France. For some reason she’s pretty popular there. It seems like the French really love themselves a good action heroine. While the music CD was pretty much a flop, there was one Tomb raider related item that did get some love. For a short period of time, the French postal service, La Poste, released a number of video game related postage stamps. Lara was one of many video game heavy eights to be featured on the stamps. You could’ve picked yourself up the commemorative piece of postage for around three bucks. It’s a nice thought and a pretty cool little collector’s item to have. Too bad the image was based off of Angel of Darkness. Yuck.
6 She Has Her Own Comic Series
We’ve talked about her music career and touched upon the movies based on the games, but next is the most long running piece of non-video game Tomb Raider media out there. Of course, we’re talking about comic books. Comics and games mesh well together. Unlike shows or movies, comics have a good history when it comes to adaptations. The original Tomb Raider comic ran from 1999 to 2005, starting at the height of the characters popularity and ending around the time it began to die down. The stories followed Lara Croft on a number of adventures she’d have outside of the games. There were over 51 issues published with some side stories as well. The comics got a reboot in 2014, following the reboot of the game franchise and it’s being handled by Dark Horse.
5 The Many Voices of Lara Croft
Lara’s been around for over twenty years now. So you might expect her to have had quite a few voices actresses take on the challenge over the years. Much like a lot of other long running game characters, voices can change whenever and for whatever reason. It can be numerous things really, between the director wanting to go a different way in the series to availability issues, voice work can be fickle like that. Lara’s had a total of five women take over the duty of voicing her in her games – that’s not counting the motion capture work. From Shelley Blond in the original game to Camila Luddington in the new games, Lara has her fair share of faces behind the voice.
4 Her Name Came Out of a Phonebook
A lot of now famous video game characters started out as nothing more than a concept in a studio their own creators didn’t think too much of. No one can really imagine or predict the success that some of these characters would bring, not even for mega star mascots like Sonic and Mario. It just sort of caught people's eye and spread from there. But in the early stages of development, these characters would’ve looked much different than we’re used to seeing them. Originally, Lara was supposed to be a South-American named Lara Cruz. But the developers wanted a more “UK-friendly” image for our heroine. So her look was changed up and her name was taken out at random in a Derby local phonebook. The rest is history.
3 More Magazine Covers than any Supermodel
Yup, you’ve read that right. Lara Croft – a fictional video game character – has graced the covers of more magazines than any supermodel cover girl you can name off the top of your head or with a quick Google search. She’s known as one of the most beautiful women in gaming for a reason. It’s no secret that Lara has the affections of many gamers around the world, so putting her image on something is almost guaranteed to get it some attention. Magazines are an obvious avenue for this. It’s not just gaming magazine either – though that would totally make sense if that was the case – Lara has been featured on over 1,100 magazine covers in the last 20 years. Everything from Game informer to The Financial Times.
2 Her Famous Physique Was Accidental
While her appearance has been toned down somewhat in the reboot franchise, the original Tomb Raider games saw Lara with one very eye grabbing characteristic. It seems that any criticism slung towards Lara’s character was a direct result of the size of her breasts. Mind you, games back then weren’t the most detailed. Lara, in the first game, was made of around 540 polygons while her counterpart in the reboot series is made up of over 50,000. Of course, the game developers never intended to give her such a “larger than life” appearance. Though they did want to give her some noticeable assets, a programming error caused her chest to increase in size from 50% to 150%. That’s a big difference and thus we received the character we’re all familiar with today.
1 She Was Almost a Male Character
We know that Lara was inspired by both Tank Girl and Neneh Cherry, but before she was made out to be the bombshell she is known as today, Lara was really supposed to be a male character. The glaring problem with this is that among those that inspired her character, Lara initially resembled one of those characters too closely. Initially, the male Tomb Raider character was heavily based off of Indiana Jones – basically just a “guy in some tombs.” If you think of it, Lara is very much an Indiana Jones counterpart in some ways. So having a male lead resemble this character would be treating a very dangerous line for the developers. Ultimately they opted for the female lead due to the air of mystery she brought along with her.