If you’ve been a visitor to FFZ for a while, you no doubt already know that I have a special place in my heart for Zenescope comics. They were my safe haven when the Big Boys of Comics were playing politics, intentionally antagonizing their fans, and basically just turning out bad art and junk stories. As a contrast, Zenescope presented me with guilty pleasure and a means of escape that I look forward to a couple of times a month when my order shows up. They taught me to really enjoy comics again. By last count I have something like 850 floppies and trade paperbacks from The Big Z: A number that is enlarged by the amazing number of variant and limited collectible covers Zenescope turns out for most issues. Zenescope has dabbled with collectibles over the years, producing a few Sixth-Scale figures, and more recently a series of Bishoujo-style 1/7 scale statures by way of Kickstarter. Previous releases included Sela Mathers and Robyn Locksley, and this time around we’re getting Liesel Van Helsing!
There’s no denying that Zenescope took a page from Kotobukiya and their line of Bishoujo figures, many of which have been based on the characters of DC and Marvel comics, and that is immediately evident in the packaging. Liesel comes in a large window box with the figure itself nested between two clear plastic trays. The art that inspired this piece, by Jason Cardy, can be seen on the front as well as the side panels. The top panel has the Grimm Universe logo and the back panel has some copy about the character. Van Helsing tends to rival Robyn Hood for the title of my favorite Zenescope character, with the winner usually being whoever’s book I happen to be reading at the time. The statue comes out of the box fully assembled and ready to go, so let’s check her out!
And here she is… Van Helsing done up with a bit of Bishoujo cuteness. This Vamp-hunting Victorian out of time features a sculpted outfit that includes black knee-high boots, a pair of very tight, and very short black shorts, a red and black corset, white gauntlets, and a black long-sleeve jacket, with a red interior, that sweeps out like a cape. They omitted her trademark fishnets and I can certainly understand why, as they would be difficult to reproduce here. And even without them this outfit works as a very iconic look for the character. The pose looks like it’s straight off of a floppy cover, as Liesel stands with her feet wide apart, her crossbow drawn up in her right hand, while her left hand steadies her steampunk top hat. And while the pose is quite calculated and composed, Liesel’s wild hair and blowing jacket give it just the right bit of excitement.
While the costume is overall fairly simple in keeping with that anime style, there are still plenty of little flourishes of detail. Her boots have sculpted straps and buckles as well as rivets reinforcing the toes and heels. Likewise, her corset is secured with four sculpted belts, each buckled down the front. She has a brace of bolts for her crossbow lined up on her right hip, which is counterbalanced by a pouch on her left hip and another down on her left thigh. The coloring is a mix of matte and slight gloss for a bit of contrast, and the quality of the paint applications is quite solid. The skin tone is still a bit too waxy for my tastes, as opposed to the warm and more even plastic skin tone seen on the Kotobukiya figures, but it’s certainly not a deal breaker for me.
The portrait succeeds in painting Liesel with the pretty girl anime style, complete with large green eyes and small pouty lips. She has a slight air of determination as she sizes up her latest adversary. Her hair blowing wildly from under her stitched hat with the steampunk goggles. The crossbow has a great anachronistic look to it. From the modern pistol grip, to the old time wood finish, to the contemporary scope, it really characterizes Liesel’s steampunk heritage and practice of mating Old World thinking with modern technology in her inventions.
As with the previous releases, Van Helsing’s base is a simple black disk, which works well for this format. The statue doesn’t really need an environment for context, and the simple design doesn’t detract from the figure itself.
As I said when reviewing the previous two statues, these pieces are not in league with Kotobukiya’s own pieces, but Koto’s been in the game for a long time and the MSRP on their pieces have been ever on the rise. Zenescope, on the other hand, is still new to the game, and I think they’re doing a pretty bang up job on these. Last time, Van Helsing was teased on Robyn’s box, but there’s no such teaser here, so I’m hoping that this line will continue. I don’t see why it wouldn’t, as the Kickstarters have all well exceeded their goals, and Zenescope has been using the opportunity to merchandise a number of Add-On books and other extras. There are no doubt plenty of choices for the next one, from Mystere to Red Agent, Belle the Beast Hunter, Gretel the Witch-Slayer, Black Knight, or even Cinderella the Serial-Killer Princess! But to be fair, I think Skye Mathers really should be next, and it would be nice to display her next to her late mom, Sela.