One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Vinsmoke Reiju (Code: B) by Banpresto

Holy hell, it’s two Anime Saturday reviews in a row! This miracle is being brought to you by my vacation and the fact that I actually had time to squeeze in some more content this week. I’m not sure how consistent it will be going forward, but I’m going to give it my best try. Anywho, I’m back this Saturday morning with another one of Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship figures, and this time it’s Vinsmoke Reiju!

These roughly 9-inch scale figures continue to release in pretty typical, fully enclosed prize figure boxes. There are some great photos of the figure on all four panels to give you a good idea about what’s inside. And of course the box also states the aim of the series, “to create a figure that exudes the female form” including “proportional balance!” Hey, I’m all for that, but it makes me wonder what kind of ladies are hanging around the Banpresto offices, and maybe I need a job there! Anyway, there is some minor assembly required here, so let me get Reiju together and we’ll check her out!

The initial releases made me think that this was going to be a traditional pirate-themed line, but it has since managed to stray to the point where the only common thread I can see is that of lovely ladies. And that’s fine, because I still like what I’m seeing, even if Reiju’s costume here is all over the place! She’s a black half-jacket zipped almost all the way down to the bottom with a purple half-shirt peaking out, long black gloves, a black micro-skirt with a wide black belt and a purple waist scarf, high black socks with knee pads, and stiletto boots. The ensemble is topped off with a peaked officer’s cap and a pair of revolvers and… yeah, like I said, I’ve got no idea what they were going for here, but I dig it.

I also love the portrait here. The right side of Reiju’s face is mostly obscured by her short pink hair, although you can still make out her tiny lips and nose and one perfectly printed eyeball, with her family’s signature eyebrow above it. And while it looks like she’s just stretching, she’s actually got a nasty surprise behind her back in the form of a combat knife.

In addition to getting all the curves in all the right places, the sculpt packs some nice detail where it’s needed. I’m especially impressed with the work put into the pistols as well as the combat knife, which features a serrated back edge.

Paint has been generally solid in this line, and I think Reiju here comes close to being the best so far. I like the use of high gloss black for the cap, gloves, belt, cape, and even the bands around her boots, as it contrasts well with the matte black used for the jacket and skirt. The pistols have a nice metallic gray finish with brown painted handles. The zipper and pocket clasps are precisely painted in gold, and even the silver paint on her belt buckle is sharp and clean. She has a nice warm skin-tone, and the sixes on her thighs are perfect!

The series continues to eschew proper bases in favor of plastic bits that fit onto one of the figure’s feet to stand them up. In this case it’s a black block that Reiju’s left foot slots into. It works perfectly for a stand, but I wish they had dressed it up into like a wooden crate or something. At least it matches the color of her boots, so it doesn’t really stand out.

I pre-ordered Reiju when she was first solicited for $20 and that feels like an absolute deal. She’s big, she’s beautiful, and her eclectic biker-chick-cowboy-pirate design certainly demands attention. The quality on these figures continue to impress me and I know I’ll be on board for as long as Banpresto can keep it up! There are a few more scheduled for release early next year, but I still have one more in the hopper to open up before the end of this year!

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One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Nefeltari Vivi (Code: B) by Banpresto

I’m on vacation this week, which means I actually had time to resurrect Anime Saturday! And while I won’t make any promises, I’m really trying to bring it back on a semi-regular basis, because the Prize Figures and Figmas have been stacking up quite a bit. Today I’m opening up another one of Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship figures and this time it’s the Princess of Alabasta herself, Nefaltari Vivi!

As always, the figure comes in a fully enclosed box with some shots of the statue and the deliciously weird mission statement of the series, which includes delivering the female form’s “amazing hourglass figure, ideal body curves, and proportional balance.” OK! For some reason, I got it into my head that the Code B meant it was the second version of the character in the series, but I’m pretty sure this is first time Vivi has appeared. Anyway, this roughly 9-inch scale figure requires a bit of minor assembly, so let’s get her set up and check her out!

And here she is all put together and looking… well, nicely put together, if ya know what I mean! Early on, I thought they were going for a strong pirate theme in this line, but it seems like that’s not necessarily the case. That’s not to say I don’t like what I’m seeing! Vivi sports a black button-down half-shirt, which also only happens to be about halfway buttoned. Thankfully there’s a strap across her chest to hold it together. The sleeves are rolled up just below her elbows and she has one glove on her right hand.

Moving down, she’s got black short shorts with a blue sash tied around her waist, a flintlock pistol strapped to her right thigh, a knee below that, one thigh-high blue stocking on her left leg, and a pair of very tall glossy black boots with sculpted laces and buckles. It may not be traditional pirate garb, but I really dig it.

Overall, the paint is pretty solid on this figure. I love the gradient blue coloring on her left stocking, it gives me a bit of a Harley Quinn vibe, and the high gloss black used for her boots and glove looks great. Some high points of the applications include the individually painted brass buttons on her top, the silver buckles in her boots and holster strap, and the gold ring on her right hip, that’s holding her waist sash together. The brown used for the holster is a darker shade than the pistol itself, and while they painted the butt cap on the pistol gold, they neglected to paint the rest of the fixtures on the gun. This omission is really the only complaint I have about the paintwork on this figure, as it is the gun looks like it’s made out of chocolate!

The portrait is excellent. Vivi’s big eyes are perfectly printed, along with her lips and eyebrows. The pose has her gathering up her long blue hair, which is flowing wildly all around her. While the detail is overall great on the figure, I think it’s the hair that really sells this sculpt the most to me.

Banpresto has experimented a bit with the bases in this line. They started out using a large circular disc with the first Nami, then they went with a little pile of gold for the second figure, Boa Hancock. Now it seems like they’ve settled for using just black chunks of plastic that pegs into one of the feet. I like these, as they don’t take up as much space as the conventional bases, but I kind of wish they kept the treasure motif, because it actually looked likes something and not just a hunk of black plastic. I know some collectors have had issues with the stability on these stands, but mine have been pretty good. They fit flush with the shelf and they do their job keeping the figures upright.

Four figures in, and I have to say that I’m still a big fan of this line. The costumes are creative, the ladies are beautiful, and the quality is certainly there for the price point. And speaking of which, I’ve found that pricing on this line has been anywhere from $20 all the way up to $30, depending on where I get them. It seems like pre-ordering them is the way to go, as I got Vivi here for $20, but I’m probably going to cough up $30 for the Nico Robin I missed out on. Twenty bucks feels like a great value, whereas thirty is right up at the ceiling.

Street Fighter: Ibuki Bishoujo Statue by Kotobukiya

It’s been over a year since I last opened and reviewed one of Kotobukiya’s Bishoujo statues, and it’s been twice as long since my last Street Fighter Bishoujo. I haven’t given up on these wonderful works of art, but with the prices climbing higher and higher and my display space running out, I’ve had to be a little more picky about the ones I pick up. Nonetheless, Ibuki here has been on my want list ever since she was first revealed and I’m lucky that even after waiting all this time, I was still able to get her at a good price. The economy of Kotobukiya on the second-hand market isn’t always so kind.

Koto has been using black boxes for the Street Fighter releases, which really sets them apart from the white packaging of the DC and Marvel lines. There’s some wonderful artwork from Shunya Yamashita, on which the statue is based, and you get windows on the front, top, and side panels to let in the light and allow you a good look at the figure inside. Everything is collector friendly, and the only assembly required is plugging Ibuki’s pony-tail into the back of her head. Ibuki made her debut in Street Fighter III and I first encountered her in Street Fighter III: Double Impact on my beloved SEGA Dreamcast, where she became a favorite new fighter of mine.

And here’s Ibuki on the scene and looking mighty fine. She stands gracefully on the toes of her left foot with her right leg drawn up behind her. She counterbalances with her left arm oustretched and fingers held up, while her right hand is drawn to her neck, with a kunai, ready to strike. This line has offered some superb poses and Ibuki is yet another example of that. It’s a beautiful mix of elegance and kineticism and I think it captures the character perfectly, while also allowing for a few different “sweet spots” from which to admire her.

Koto’s Bishoujo statues often tend to feature colorful, glossy, and eye popping decos, and Ibuki here features none of that. Instead, you get various shades of brown, a little white, and a fair bit of skintone. It’s not a criticism, but just a fact of the character’s appearance, which is very faithful to her debut appearance. Ibuki is clad in a brown dogi, which consists of a sleeveless top and frayed shoulders, baggy pants with cut-outs at the hips, and which end just below her knees, all tied with a bow at the front of her waist. The outfit is rounded out by a pair of wrist bracers, a tight head scarf, and bandage-style wrappings on her arms and feet. It looks great, and I love the complexity in the outfit’s sculpt. From certain angles it almost looks like the dogi could have been sculpted over the figure itself, and that’s pretty cool.

The portrait is excellent. Ibuki offers a confident and playful smile with perfectly printed eyes and painted lips. The real showpiece of this portrait, however, is her distinctive hair. She has three long strands protruding from her window’s peak and hooking forward in front of her face, while two longer strands protrude from her knot-top and arch their way down and across her back. This is my first 3D representation of the character and I wasn’t sure how well this coif would translate, but the wizards at Koto did a fine job with it.

The base is a simple clear disc with a slope to support Ibuki’s foot. As usual, you get two different inserts to display on the base, one is a simple Street Fighter logo and the other features character art. These days I tend to display these statues with the character art, but I think either one looks great.

Ibuki here released at just under $60 and I was able to get her for a little bit less. I was often fond of saying that Koto’s Bishoujo line is one of the best values in collectible statues on the market. And that was back when you could get a figure like Ibuki for that price. Nowadays, they tend to release in the $70-90 price range, and while I still think they’re worth the price, the sense of good value is rapidly dissipating. I get it, prices go up, but that’s quite a jump, and with so many things competing for my collecting dollar these days, it means that I won’t be able to pick up as many as I used to. Recently I had to pass on the second versions of Chun-Li and Cammy, but that doesn’t mean they won’t still be turning up here from time to time. Indeed, all Koto has to do is put Elena up on pre-order and I’ll throw down some cash for that release right away!

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Nami (Code: B) by Banpresto

Banpresto has been continuing their Flag Diamond Ship line of 9-inch scaled figures featuring the ladies of One Piece in some rather fetching and unconventional outfits. Much earlier this year, I checked out their Boa Hancock and first version of Nami. Today I’m going to open up their second version of Nami, called Code: B. Let’s go!

The packaging here is standard prize figure stuff right down to the Jamma and Craneking logos. You get a fully enclosed box with some nice shots of the statue inside, along with the line’s mission statement in English, which has a round about way of saying the figures are pure fan service. No surprises there! Inside, the figure comes partially disassembled and wrapped in plastic. All you have to do is put Nami’s two halves together at the waist, put her right foot into the base, and place her sword in her hand.

And ain’t she pretty! The pose features Nami with a somewhat wide stance and cradling a telescoping sword-baton behind her neck with each hand. The outfit consists of short shorts and a tied off top, both matching black with teal trim. She also sports some black gloves, stockings, and little black boots with orange ties around them. Not exactly a conventional look for Nami, and that’s the point, but I think she looks great.

There’s some really nice detail to the outfit, including a sculpted cream colored belt with painted silver studs and buckle. It secures a flintlock pistol to her right hip and a holster for her other weapon on her left hip. The pistol includes gold painted fixtures and looks great. The top features silver painted buttons running down the front and some poofy ruffles to her shoulder sleeves.

While the outfit might be a bit of a departure, the portrait is 100% Nami. Her big eyes are neatly painted and she’s wearing a wry smile with her head cocked and offering a sideways glance. Someone’s about to get a smack-down. Her vibrant orange hair cascades down her back in two pony-tails with smaller licks curling up in front of her shoulders. Her weapon is an interesting design, as it has a katana-style hilt with a collapsing baton in place of a blade. I have to confess my ignorance here, because if this is a real weapon, I’ve never seen anything like it before. It’s a separate piece that fits into the grasp of her right hand with the other end cradled in her left. The tactical-style grip is textured and has an orange tie around it that matches the ones on her boots.

The base is a simple black rock that her right foot pegs into. I’ve seen a lot of complaints about this base not supporting the statue, but mine actually works perfectly.

Banpresto seems highly committed to this series, as they have several more figures solicited for pre-order, as well as a few out now that I haven’t picked up yet. They seem to retail around the $25 range, which isn’t bad for what you’re getting. Sure, she isn’t the same quality as a proper scaled figure, but then with a respectable 9-inch scale and a price point at least $100 less than your average scaled figure, I’m really digging these a lot. The paint is solid, the sculpts are fun, and I’ve got several more due in soon, so you can bet you’ll be seeing more of the Flag Diamond Ship around here!

Variable Action Hero (One Piece): Summer Vacation Nami by MegaHouse

Some of you may be wondering if I’m ever bringing back Anime Saturday and I think today’s review should answer that question. I’ve cut down the number of reviews each week to help me cope with more work and other things and so rather then be inconsistent with that extra Saturday piece of content and stress me out trying to do it, I’ve decided to just roll those reviews into the regular week rotation. But since making this decision, the Figmas and the Figuarts and the Prize Figures have really been piling up, so hopefully I’ll be able to start knocking out reviews of some of this stuff more regularly. And so, without further ado… “Come aboard and bring all your hopes and dreams…”

ONE PIECE!!! Oh yeah! Whenever I’m feeling stressed or depressed or just need something to boost my spirits, pouring a tall glass of Jameson and tossing in a One Piece DVD is like wrapping myself in a warm blanket. I’ve already reviewed two One Piece figures from the Variable Action Hero line, and yes one of those was Nami! This new release is dubbed Summer Vacation Nami, which means she’s wearing even less, so how could I resist double dipping? I’m also bumping her to the head of line with Roronoa Zoro still waiting for his turn. Sorry, bud. I’ll get to you eventually. If you’re unfamiliar with these VAH figures, they’re sort of like larger scale Figma or SH Figuarts, and while they’re good, they’re not always quite as good as those other figures. Nami comes in a colorfully illustrated window box, which does a good job matching up with the packages of the other Straw Hat Pirates in this line. Let’s get her out and have a look!

Nami is no stranger to skimpy bikini tops, but now she’s cast off her jeans for a skimpy bikini bottom as well, and I ain’t complaining. The bikini is turquoise with white vertical stripes, and there’s a big blue “3” printed on the right side of her ample chest. Apart from the Log Pose and golden bangle on her left wrist she’s not wearing anything else so from the neck down there isn’t a lot of sculpted detail here beyond her fingernails and toenails. The skin tone is warm and smooth and features some nice shadowing around the joints and, um… other areas. Naturally she has her trademark tattoo printed in blue on her left bicep.

There are two different front hair pieces to choose from. One is regular and one comes with her sunglasses attached. Seeing as how this is Summer Vacation Nami, I don’t see why you would want to go without the sunglasses, but the option is still there if you want it. The previous VAH Nami came with four different swap-out faces, whereas this one comes with five. You get regular smiling face, somewhat sinister smiling face, two different winking faces, and angry shouty face. Swapping faces is as easy as on Figmas or Figuarts. You just remove the front hair piece pull off one face and slap on another.

You also get a nice selection of different hands, all of which seem to be recycled from the previous Nami. These range from relaxed hands, karate chop hands, and fists to more expressive options like the “OK” gesture and a pointing finger. If you’ve had experience with Figmas or Figuarts, you have a good idea about the kind of articulation we’re dealing with here. These figures never feel as poseable as their smaller rivals, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had here. On the downside, I absolutely hate the design of the hip joints. They’re ball jointed on a dogbone style piece and they constantly want to pop out and be all loosey-goosey when I’m trying to pose her. They also have a habit of exposing a little too much of the joint with some poses. I don’t know what happened here, but this was never a problem with my other VAH Nami.

 

In addition to all the faces and hands, Nami comes with what every girl needs on her Summer Vacation: An inner-tube to float around in. This one has purple stripes and the word SEXY printed across the side, as if we needed to be told. The tube is made out of plastic, but it’s molded to look pretty convincing as an inflatable flotation device. There’s even a peg hole in the side so that it will work with a Tamiashii Stand.

I like this figure a lot, although it’s getting a little tough for me to justify these because of the cost. Nami set me back $90 when I pre-ordered her. It’s definitely a premium for what you’re getting, but it beats missing out and paying even more later on through the secondary market. Sure the Figmas and Figuarts are smaller, but I still feel like I’m getting more for my money with those figures in the $60 price range. I’d also much prefer getting these characters in a scale that would fit my other anime figures. In other words, if Figma or Figuarts were doing these characters, I’d be all over them, but apart from my one lone Figuarts Nami, that’s not an option, so I have to go with Variable Action Heroes for now.

Athena Sixth-Scale Figure (Deluxe Edition) by Phicen/TBLeague

I didn’t set out to start collecting Phicen figures. The gateway purchases for me were their Zenescope figures and I had no intention of going any further. But I was so impressed with them, it lead to another and another, and now it seems like I’m pre-ordering these ladies on a regular basis. That wouldn’t be so bad if they weren’t revealing what seems like a new figure every month. And today’s figure is a bit of a milestone, as its my first Phicen figure that’s not based off of a comic book property. Nope, Athena is just an original design based loosely (OH, SO LOOSELY!!) on the Greek warrior goddess, Athena. Oh yeah, and I should note that while Phicen is now officially known as TBLeague, I still tend to use the two names interchangeably.

Athena comes in what has become standard packaging for TBLeague figures, which consists of a shoebox with a tri-fold cover that connects to the sides of the box with magnets. Both the box and cover are made of sturdy, durable cardboard, and as I point out almost every time I review a Phicen, the packaging here feels vastly more premium than the packaging used for most of the Hot Toys or Sideshow figures in my collection. The tri-fold cover features some excellent artwork on the front and sides, and the back panel of the box has shots of the figure itself.

Inside, Athena comes nestled in a foam tray with all of her accessories laid out around her, with a second tray and more goodies under that one. And let me tell you, this figure required a lot more futzing than any of the previous Phicens I’ve purchased. As usual, you have to attach the head, which is no big deal. But beyond that, the figure comes wearing only her boots, top, and skirt. All the individual armor pieces have to be attached and that amounts to 11 pieces, not counting the helmet. The majority of these pieces are secured with elastic straps, and while some will just slide on, others require you to work with teeny fasteners. And yes, some of these pieces feel delicate, and don’t forget you’re dealing with a soft-skinned figure that does not react well to being poked and prodded. I’ll admit it, setting her up was quite the chore.

But, I’m happy to say that it’s all worth it, because once Athena is all kitted out, she looks absolutely stunning. Originally, I wanted to shoot her as I added the various pieces of armor, but it was so much work getting it all onto her, I have no plans to take any of it off again, so let’s just start at her feet and work our way up. The calf-high boots are made of a leather-like material reinforced with sculpted gold pieces on the heels and toes. The shin armor are made of somewhat pliable plastic and simply clip on. They hold on surprisingly well too! The knee armor is held on with actual straps, and while they have a habit of slipping around when bending her at the knees, they’re not too bothersome.

The skirt consists of individual strips of brown leather-like material hanging down to cover her front and back nether-regions. On top of that goes a separate belt made of the same material, with ornate gold discs, like mini shields, on the front and back, as well as larger hip plates and some golden chains that hang down over her thighs. I really dig all the little etching on the individual discs and there’s a cool sculpted pattern that makes them look like they’ve actually been hammered out of metal. Athena’s arms feature a pair of bicep rings, plus some mesh sleeves, which are totally optional, and I keep waffling back and forth over whether to keep them or not. In the promo pics, the flaps that extend over her hands are supposed to loop around one of her fingers, but there’s no actual hole to do this, and I’m a little afraid that if I try to make one it’ll tear.

Her chest covering consists of two strategically placed leather-like straps that cover her “nipular” areas and criss-cross just before looping around her neck, while the other ends pass under her arms and across her back. The shoulder armor pieces were the hardest to get onto her. These are held on by elastic straps with tiny buckles and a snap that attached them to the shoulder. Getting anything to slip all the way up a Phicen’s arm is tough, because the realistic skin offers a lot of resistance, and these had to go all the way up to the top. I tried unfastening them and fastening them in place, but that proved to always result in the armor piece unsnapping from the strap, so I had to do it the hard way. Finally, there’s the gorget, which curves up to encircle her neck and has a few ornamental chains that hang down betwixt her bosoms. That’s right, I SAID BETWIXT HER BOSOMS! Anyway, despite the fact that all this armor is worn by the figure like real armor, the bulk of it stays put quite well, and didn’t cause a lot of problems when I messed around with her.

The head sculpt is extremely pretty and I have to give credit to Phicen for how far they’ve come with their portraits. It’s hard to compare this head to a Hot Toys sculpt, because it’s not based on any famous actress’ likeness, but the realism is pretty damn good. The contours of the face are smooth and elegant. I love the glossy paint used for her lips, as it looks realistically wet. The paint for the eyes is extremely close to capturing that surreal spark of life that Hot Toys grants it’s figures. Athena sports a long mane of golden rooted hair, and while it’s common to get some flyaway strands, this gal’s coif isn’t too hard to manage, and you don’t have to be a professional hairdresser to make it look good. Her tiara is a separate piece and when Athena goes into battle, it can be swapped out in favor of her helmet.

The helmet goes on very easily, thanks to the slightly pliable plastic used for the cheek guards. The hardest part is getting her hair to sit right under it, but just bunching it all up and pulling it to the back seems to do the trick. The sculpted decorations on this piece are beautifully done, with raised scroll-work on the cheek guards, a decoration that kind of resembles an upside down Fleur De Lis. The dome has a hammered finish similar to some of the rest of the armor pieces, and the crest sweeps up majestically in the front. Probably my favorite aspect about the helmet is the figure seated under the crest. It’s a half-woman, half-animal (possibly winged) sitting on her hind legs and pushing up with her arms. It really adds to the timeless fantasy design of this figure.

Athena comes with a handful of cool accessories, as well as three pairs of hands. The hands include a relaxed pair, a pair with two of her fingers pointing, and a pair designed to hold her accessories. The first of these is her sword, which comes in a scabbard. The scabbard is molded plastic and features some gold decorations and a chain to hang it from the belt, but I couldn’t find any specific place to put it, so I wound up just looping it around the belt before putting it on her and having it hang down behind her legs. It looks good, but it’s a little awkward when posing her. I would have rather just had a clip on the belt to attach it to.

The sword itself is beautiful but it strikes me as more medieval in design than Greco-Roman. It has a cruciform hilt with a rather large pommel and straight cross guard. The blade is made of die-cast metal, giving the weapon a nice heft, and it tapers pretty sharply to the point, giving it a late medieval flavor. It also has a snazzy mirror polish to it. Part of me wishes that they had given her a more appropriately designed sword, but it’s not a deal-breaker for me and it is a fantastic looking piece.

The shield, on the other hand, reels it back in with a more solid Greek design. It’s round with a familiar Greek pattern running around the edge, sculpted bolts reinforcing the next ring, and a beautiful sculpted relief of Medusa’s face framed by a fury of snakes. The shield is molded in plastic and has a sumptuous gold finish that matches the rest of Athena’s armor pieces. On the flip side, the shield includes an elastic strap to go over the arm and a grab bar. Getting her fingers around the grab bar can be a chore, but once it’s on there she holds the shield very securely. I’ve also found that the relaxed hand offers enough support to hold the shield in poses where the elbow is bent.

Next up is Athena’s battle standard, which is secured to a spear. The spear itself has a silver spike butt cap and a broad bladed tip. There’s a ribbed grip up near the tip with gold painted rings where the flag secures to the shaft. The flag is made of a semi-stiff cloth material that shows off the gold sun emblem and gold borders. Now, I’m no expert on the standards used by the Greeks, but like the sword, this accessory looks a bit more medieval to me. Whatever the case, she looks great holding it.

And last, but certainly not least, Phicen has been pretty generous with bundling some truly impressive diorama pieces in with their figures, and in this case Athena comes with a huge antique column, which can be used as a display stand. This is a hefty and beautifully crafted piece with some realistic weathering and some blue and gold paint around the decorations. It also stands almost as tall as the figure herself. The top surface is studded with pegs, yes Phicen equips these figures with peg holes in the feet so they can be secured onto a base or stand just like most 3 3/4-inch and 6-inch scale figures. The problem is that to display Athena on this stand, I’m now looking at a required 24-inches of clearance on my shelf, and I don’t really have anyplace right now to accommodate her.

Fortunately, the column looks pretty good when tumbled onto its side as well, and I may wind up just displaying Athena reclining on it or climbing on top of it.

While I was originally content to stick with just the comic-based figures, TBLeague’s original designs have been getting better and better and I just got to the point where I couldn’t resist any longer. And I’m certainly glad I didn’t, because Athena is a stunning figure with some beautifully designed armor strategically designed to show off the Phicen body. Sure, some aspects of the design aren’t exactly seated in any sense of historical accuracy, even if some promotional materials are suggesting that it is supposed to be the Goddess of Wisdom and War. There are certainly hints of Greco-Roman design here, but I wholeheartedly believe that this figure is best enjoyed as a fantasy figure straight out of one of those old Pepla (Sword-and-Sandal) flicks, and that perhaps her name is just given in reverence to the mythological Goddess. Regardless, Athena retailed for $170, and considering the craftsmanship and extras, I think the value is certainly there, especially in a market where even the less revered companies are putting out sixth-scale figures in the $200+ range.

KanColle: Battleship Mutsu “Super Premium” Figure with 41cm Twin Gun Mount by SEGA

Of all the Fleet Girls in the KanColle Universe, Mutsu is my favorite. I can’t tell you why, I just dig her a lot. Ironically, to date I’ve only reviewed one figure of her, and that was the Figma FigFix Half-Damage version. I do have one other to look at one day, but the truth is that she doesn’t get quite as much love as her fellow Fleet Girls when it comes to prize figures, or even scaled figures. But today’s release makes a mends, because it is the incredible “Super Premium” Figure from SEGA, and her armaments are so freaking big, they had to be boxed and sold separately. If you’ve seen my review on the SPM Battleship Nagato and her Gun Mount, then you’ll know exactly what to expect here. The only difference is I was able to buy these together, so Mutsu didn’t have to wait an extra couple of months for her guns to arrive from Japan like poor Nagato did. Let’s start with the figure…

Mutsu comes in a pretty big box for a prize figure. The regular SPM figures are roughly 8-inch scale and since Mutsu is a Battleship, she scales just a bit bigger. The box is fully enclosed, has some nice artwork, but mine arrived beat to hell with a big crunch in the side. And you know what? I don’t even care because I got a really good price on this lady and even manged to get her from a US Seller off of Amazon. She comes out of the box inside a plastic tray and the only assembly required is to place her on her stand. There’s also a little name plate in Japanese that you can place on the base or remove and place on the base that comes with the Gun Mount. It all depends on how you want to display the figure and gear, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s Mutsu all set up and looking great. It’s a playful and demure pose and it almost looks like she’s blowing a kiss. I think this pose works great when the figure is on its own and without all the gear. It also nicely reflects Mutsu’s flirty and seldom too serious personality. Otherwise, she wears an outfit that’s very similar to Nagato’s, which includes a black and white half-top and a very short black pleated skirt with white stripe around the bottom. The outfit is rounded out by white gloves and a pair of knee-high red and gray rudder boots with white striping at the tops. One thing of note is that the arming belt she’s displayed with here does not have the ports to attach her armaments. I’m guessing they did that to give her more of a streamlined look for people who wanted to display her without her gear. I think it was a good choice!

The paint and coloring here is quite good. The whites are bright and the red and gray areas are smooth and even. The striping is solid, but in some areas could have been a bit sharper. Still, all the paint applications are well within what I expect of a prize figure, if not better. She also has a gold painted chrysanthemum embedded in the center of her belt. The skin tone is pretty good, but under certain light it does have a bit of that waxy sheen that you tend to see in prize figures, but not in the more expensive scaled figures. This sort of thing is usually a big pet peeve of mine, so when I say  it’s not too bad, you can believe it. All in all I’m really happy with how the coloring on the statue turned out with the figure in hand, even if it does look a little too orange in some of my pictures.

The portrait is spot on for my favorite Fleet Girl. She’s got big, perfectly printed green eyes and the hint of a smile. I really love how they sculpted her short, brown hair framing her face and blowing off to the back a bit. She also has her trademark antenna, which earned her nickname, Snail.

The simple black disk base is absolutely massive, and that’s because it’s designed to work with the Gun Mount. Alas, that means if you choose to display her alone, she takes up a lot more real estate on the shelf than should be required, and the base looks way out of proportion for the figure. But I have no intention of displaying her without her weapons, so let’s move on to the second box!

Like the figure, Mutsu’s armaments come in an enclosed box with lots of pictures and lots of Japanese text. If you’re like me and hopeless at reading Japanese, you really need to know what you’re looking at here or you could easily pick this up thinking that you get the figure as well. I’m pretty sure it says “Mutsu sold separately” somewhere on that box, but hell if I can read it. Although, if you’re familiar with the SPM figures, it would be pretty obvious that the figure couldn’t fit in this box. In any event, the Gun Mount requires a bit of assembly, as you have to attach the stand to the base, then connect the two sets of guns together, then plug those into the stand and put on the smokestack. Oh yeah, you also have to attach the anchor. There are also some support posts intended for when its hooked up to the figure, but I found they were totally unnecessary and didn’t look so good, so you won’t see them featured here. Obviously, the instructions are in Japanese, but there’s nothing here that can’t be figured out by way of the illustrations. When you’re all done cobbling this thing together, here’s what you get…

Now, I really dig the presentation here. The stand is meant to look like a gantry, cast in a smokey translucent plastic, complete with sculpted detail and even some stairs, which makes me wonder what’s going on with the scale in the KanColle Universe. The pieces all attach very securely and you can work the articulation on the individual guns and also rotate the turrets. That’s pretty much all the articulation that’s here. It’s fine for customizing the look I want, but if you want the fully articulated package, you really need to go with the Figma version of these Battleships. There’s a loop to hook the anchor chain through and I like to wind it around the back and hang it off the front, similarly to how it will look when worn by Mutsu.

The whole rig looks great, but apart from some sculpted rivets and a few panel lines, there isn’t an overload of detail and that’s fine because it carries the animated look quite well. You do get some nice variations in the gray with shading in some areas, cream colored plastic used for the coverings at the base of the guns, and a red border running along the bottom of the rig. The name plate is the same one pictured on the Mutsu base, and there’s no way to actually secure it, so I just use a bit of blue tack to keep it in place. There are some very faint hash marks on both bases so you know exactly how to position it. As I said, I really dig all the effort that went into the presentation here, and that makes it kind of sad that I will never ever display the guns this way. Nope, just like Nagato’s guns, these babies are going to stay on the figure, so let’s get Mutsu all kitted out.

The first thing you need to do is swap out the arming belt on the figure with this one that has the actual connecting ports. To do this, you pull poor Mutsu apart at the middle and lift out the old arming belt and swap it out for the new one. Yup, the skirt is sculpted as part of the belt, so it swaps out too. When you’re done, you just have to tab in the left and right gun assemblies, pop the smokestack onto the back, and attach her anchor. Traditionally, Mutsu is seen with her anchor’s chain wrapping around her left leg and attaching at her left rudder boot, but here the intent is that you run it around the back and then have it dangling from her left hand.

And here she is all armed up and looking absolutely spectacular! While Nagato’s gun assembly attached entirely by one connection point at the back, Mutsu’s feel a little more secure because each half attaches to each of the side ports. Not that I’ve had any issues with Nagato’s falling off, but it’s worth noting the difference in design and execution. However, like Nagato, fully armed Mutsu is a beast of a prize figure, measuring about 10-inches tall and requiring at least 10-inches radius to properly display her big guns.

While Mutsu’s pose works better than Nagato’s when she’s unarmed, I think the reverse is true for the armed up display. It’s not that Mutsu’s pose doesn’t work, it actually fits her character perfectly, but Nagato just looks like she’s ready to kick all kinds of ass with her hand out, commanding her Fleet Girls to open fire. Mutsu looks more like she’s just along for the ride. But either way, she sure looks adorable, and the two poses really speak volumes about each gal’s personality.

The two figures also look amazing displayed together, but they take up the bulk of my shelf, so even with most of my “Day Off” figures put away right now, I’m still going to need to do some expanding in order to make room for Mutsu. I’ll probably wind up displaying Mutsu and Nagato on each end of the shelf with SEGA’s three SPM Battleships, Fubuki, Mutsuki, and Yuudachi in the center. So, it looks like the rest of the Fleet Girls will be annexing the lower shelf, where I just have a random assortment of prize figures. I was able to pick up Mutsu and her Gun Mount for about $45 and that’s a lot better than I made out with Nagato. She was $45 all by herself, although she was advertised as coming with her Gun Mounts. Ah, but I already told that story back in that review. Either way, I’ve got no complaints, as I would have been perfectly happy paying a premium for this gal if I needed to. The bulk of my Kantai Collection figures are casual pick ups, but SEGA’s “Super Premium” Mutsu was a must-own figure and one that I jumped on as soon as I saw her.

 

KanColle: Light Cruiser Oyodo-Kai “Super Premium” Prize Figure by SEGA

After a long week of being sick, I’m ready to enjoy a leisurely morning with some coffee and a brand new KanColle Super Premium figure from the wonderful folks at SEGA. These SPM figures are presented in a roughly 8-inch scale and they’ve been digging pretty deep on the character selection, which keeps me coming back for more. Today’s Fleet Girl is the Light Cruiser Oyodo in her refit “Kai” form.

As always, SEGA’s SPM Fleet Girls come in standard enclosed boxes with a shot of the figure on the front, character art on the side panels, and lots of Japanese copy on the back. There’s very little English here, so hopefully you know what you’re getting. These boxes usually arrive pretty badly beaten up, but Oyodo’s is actually in pretty nice shape. Inside, the figure comes between two clear plastic trays. The only assembly required involves plugging her into her base.

While Oyodo-Kai is a fully armed Light Cruiser, she’s known more as an administrative “Mission Girl,” and only really sees action if you happen to be playing as her in the game. Likewise, she never saw action in the anime either, but rather served as assistant to Battleship Nagato and relayed action orders to the Fleet Girls. Even in the final battle when Nagato and Mutsu hit the water for action, Oyodo was nowhere to be seen. Her administrative nature is nicely reflected in the figure, which stands with clipboard in hand and turning in mid walk, as if to receive some last mission detail before hurrying off to relay orders.

Her outfit is rather unique among the Fleet Girls, and while she retains the familiar sailor-type uniform, she wears the top over an office-style long-sleeved button-down blouse with a red necktie. While she looks like all-business from the skirt up, she’s got a bit more whimsy going on down below decks. She’s wearing a pair of thigh-high stockings with lace around the tops and tied with pink ribbons just below. Over those she has white boots with gray, red, and gold rudder boots. Finally, she has a single piece of armor on her lower left leg, tied with two red ribbons.

The portrait here is pretty nice, but maybe not one of their best. I think maybe if the mouth was closed it would match the character art a little more closely. I do, however, like how they did her glasses, and they definitely add to her official administrative look. One thing that’s noteworthy is the white head band, which is correct for this refit “Kai” version. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that as Oyodo-Kai, this version should have flower patches on her lapels, but they seem to have been omitted.

Oyodo-Kai may be a Mission Girl, but she still retains her armaments. In this case, that includes her twin 15.5cm gun mounts, one of which she wears across her back and the other on her right thigh. She also wears her catapult on her right arm, used for launching her Type 0 reconnaissance seaplane. Her full gear would also include a considerably large hull part on her backpack and extra guns, which SEGA wisely omitted from this figure, probably because it would have been too big and ungainly and I’m fine with that.

Oyodo-Kai comes with a white hexagonal base, which is similar to several of SEGA’s previous SPM releases. Her name is also printed in blue near the front and off-center. These are more or less standard designs for the SPM figures, although they do change them up from time to time.

And here’s a shot of Oyodo-Kai with Heavy Cruiser Ashigara Kai II and Aircraft Carrier Shokaku Kai II. No matter what ships I assemble in the fleet, these gals always display beautifully together.

As a characeter, Oyodo was not terribly high on my list, but as I fill out most of Kantai Collection’s heavier hitters, I’m having fun picking up some of the back-benchers as well. Besides, Oyodo really brings a lot of charm to my collection with her rather distinctive outfit. And it doesn’t hurt that both the sculpt and paintwork on this figure are excellent. I snatched her up off of Amazon for $18 shipped and I’d say as far as missions go, that was a success!

KanColle: Destroyer Akizuki (Moon Viewing Version) by Taito

It’s Saturday… who’s ready for some more KanColle? Well, don’t everybody raise their hands at once. Sheesh. On the last Anime Saturday I opened up Taito’s “Moon Viewing” version of the Destroyer Teruzuki and pointed out that she was intended to be displayed with her sister ship. So here I am back as promised to open up the “Moon Viewing” version of Akizuki and finally get these two Fleet Girls together on the shelf.

The packaging features the same style of enclosed box as we saw last week only with pictures of Akizuki on the front and side panels. The back panel, however, still shows both figures together, and it’s brilliant marketing, because I don’t know what kind of filthy animal could possibly buy one without the other and not feel empty inside. There isn’t a lot of assembly required. You just plug Akizuki into her base, put her Chou-10cm-hou-chan onto the base, and then put the Susuki grass into each of their hands.

And here she is all set up and ready for display. Akizuki stands on one foot with the other leg bent at the knee and clutching a handful of Susuki Grass, which is a traditional offering at the Otsukimi harvest celebration, or Moon Viewing Ceremony. Her pleated skirt is a palate swap of her sister’s, so instead of black with a white stripe it’s white with black stripe. The top, however, is the same, mostly white with a black collar and white stripe, and an orange neckerchief. And while Teruzuki wears her Anti-Aircraft Fire Detector on her neckerchief, Akizuki wears hers up in her hair.

Of course, this “Moon Viewing” version is the equivalent of Taito’s “Day Off” figures, so Akizuki is not wearing her armaments. She does, however still have her arming mount belt around her waist where her weapons would attach if she were out on a mission. On the other hand, she does still have her rudder boots. While her sisters boots were all red, Akizuki’s are mostly gray with red platforms and rudders.

The paint on this figure is quite good, both in quality and application. The white is very bright and clean and the flesh tones are smooth and warm. But that’s not surprising, as Taito rarely lets me down in this category. The lines between the white and black in her gloves could be a little sharper, but it’s not something that I’m going to fuss about when dealing with a figure at this price point. Sometimes her neckerchief is depicted as being more yellow, but here it’s orange, the same as it was with her sister’s.

The portrait is excellent. Akizuki is the older of the two sisters, and I think that’s reflected, as her eyes are not as wide as Teruzuki’s. I really like the depth to her hair and how it frames her face. Like her sister, she has a headband that reads “61” in Japanese, indicating that she is part of the 61st Destroyer Division. And as mentioned earlier, she wears her AA Fire Detector above her ahoge. The Susuki Grass does have a habit of slipping out of her left hand, something I noticed as I was handling her a lot, but it snaps back into place easily.

Like her sister, Akizuki also comes with her very own Chou-10cm-hou-chan, which is basically a little sentient gun turret, and he’s every bit as adorable as Teruzuki’s. He has both viewing ports open, giving him wide eyes and there’s  a cat-like smile drawn on his face. The guns are articulated and are kind of expressive, like antenna. He’s also holding an offering of Susuki Grass in his little flipper-like arms, which attaches via a peg. Unlike Teruzuki’s little friend, this one doesn’t have a post to attach him to the base, so you can just position him anywhere you like.

Akizuki’s base is a clear hexagon, identical to her sister’s. They’re set up so that if you put two of the sides flush with each other, the girls will be standing back to back and I think they look great together.

And here’s a quick shot of her with SEGA’s Super Premium Akizuki, which is all armed up and ready for action.

This is another fantastic figure from Taito and I love how she displays with Teruzuki. The only shame is that neither Taito nor SEGA appears to have released the third Akizuki Class sister-ship, Hatsuzuki. Good Smile has released a Nendoroid figure of her, but I’m not really into those all that much. Like her sister, Akizuki set me back only $13 shipped and that’s a pretty amazing deal. The sculpt is sharp, the paint is on point, and I have to say once again how happy I am that Amazon has been a source for these figures, because if it weren’t for them, my collection would be a lot smaller. Next Saturday will likely be another helping of KanColle love, but I’m not sure whether it’ll be another prize figure or a Figma release. Either way, I’m starting to get really badly backlogged.

KanColle: Destroyer Teruzuki (Moon Viewing Version) by Taito

Welcome to another Anime Saturday! I’m a little bummed out today because my vacation is coming to a close, so I’m drowning my sorrows this morning in coffee and opening up a new figure to cheer me up. It’s been a little while since I dipped my toe into that sweet, sweet pool of Kantai Collection prize figures, so it’s time to remedy that by unboxing another one of Taito’s lovely Fleet Girls. This time I’m checking out the Akizuki Class Destroyer, Teruzuki! This is the “Moon Viewing” version which is sort of akin to the “Day Off” figures, some of which I’ve looked at before. I’ve actually been on the hunt for SEGA’s Super Premium version of Teruzuki, as that one is all geared up, but I have yet to find a domestic source for her. In the meantime, I wound up buying this one just to get her in my collection. And also because Taito usually does some really nice work with these figures.

Teruzuki comes in a fully enclosed box with some shots of the figure on the front and side panels. It’s an attractive enough box, but these things are so flimsy that they’re usually pretty rough by the time they get to me. This one was even wrapped in plastic and it still took a pounding. The only English on the box is on the top and bottom panels where it has the figure’s name. You get the ubiquitous JAMMA logo in the upper corner and there are perforations to make handles on the sides.

The back panel of the box shows her paired up with her sister-ship, Akizuki. These two Fleet Girls are sold separately, but they’re actually meant to be displayed together. Inside the box, you get some extra bits of reinforcing cardboard and the figure is wrapped in plastic with a little minor assembly required. And as always, these figures are scaled at about 8-inches or so.

And here she is all set up and looking adorable. I really dig the pose here. Teruzuki is leaning forward and proudly offering up a box of Dango, which as I understand it are like sweet dumplings and are often enjoyed at the Otsukimi, or Moon Viewing Ceremony. Her sailor uniform is pretty typical stuff with a short pleated skirt, black with white stripes and a white top with a black collar with white stripes to match the skirt. She also has a bright orange neckerchief to add a little color to the ensemble, and it’s secured below her collar with her Anti-Aircraft Fire Detector. What a great little detail! Her outfit is rounded out by a pair of white knee socks and tall red rudder boots.

From the back, we can see that despite this being a leisure figure, she still has her arming mount on the back of her waist. One of the reasons I really want to get a regular version of Teruzuki is because her gear includes a really cool and distinctive pair of drum magazines that she wears on her thighs.

The portrait is nice and simple. Her blue eyes are printed looking off to the side and she’s offering a little smile. I love the golden propellers at the ends of her pigtails. Her headband is also marked “61” in Japanese, as she is part of the 61st Destroyer Division.

Her mound of tasty Dango are neatly stacked in a pyramid with white linen unfolded to display them. If anyone out there knows how to make Dango, be sure and send me a batch because they sound delicious.

Like the fan favorite Fleet Girl, Shimakaze and her Rouchouchan, Teruzuki is accompanied by her own adorable little sentient gun turret, in this case referred to as Chou-10cm-hou-chan. This little guy is mounted on a ball jointed post and hovering over the base, so you can position him whichever way you like. The guns are articulated and he has one view port closed to make it look like he’s winking. He also looks like he’s sucking down a Dango, probably the one missing from the top of the pyramid. As you can see the base is a simple clear plastic hexagon and Teruzuki is positioned on it so the flat side behind her can sit flush with the opposite side of her sister ship’s base. There’s no name inscribed, which is fine by me. Taito doesn’t tend to put the girls’ names on the bases.

And here’s a shot of her with Taito’s Battleship Yamato “Day Off” figure, just to show that they scale really well together. The OCD in me wishes they would stick with one style of base, but I guess they each have their merits. Also… So much food being served… now I’m hungry.

It’s been a while since I bought this figure, but I seem to recall her being a whopping $13 shipped off of Amazon. Honest, folks. I don’t get any kickbacks from mentioning Amazon, but it really is a great place to grab some of these figures. Anyway, I really like Teruzuki a lot. Taito continues to deliver some especially sharp sculpts and clean, vibrant paint for figures in this price range, and all with a wonderful attention to the character’s personality and appearance. Naturally, I picked her up with the “Moon Viewing” version of Akizuki, and I’ll be checking out that figure next Saturday, as long as time permits.