Female Mercenary Heart King Sixth-Scale Figure by Very Cool Toys

With all the Hot Toys and TBLeague figures waiting for their turn at the review table, I probably shouldn’t be going off on tangents like this one. But, I picked up a couple of figures from Very Cool Toys to see what they were all about and as long as I had them accessible, I thought I’d take a look at one before finding a space for her up on the shelf. Very Cool seems to specialize in pseudo-military-style figures, usually ladies, many of which appear to be based on characters or skins in Wefire, a shooter from the Chinese megacorporation, Tancent Games.

Suffice it to say I know absolutely nothing about these games, but a retailer I deal with was having a sale and the figures looked pretty cool, or maybe they looked… VERY cool! . I didn’t know what to expect, but when they arrived I was fairly impressed by the packaging. It appears to be an enclosed box, but it’s actually more like a box in a slipcase with a little strip of ribbon to help pull it out. The slipcase is illustrated on all sides, has a picture of the figure on the front, and a lot of Chinese writing on the back. The spine simply identifies the figure as NO.VC-TJ-04 which sure is catchy. Indeed, the only reason I know that she’s called Female Mercenary Heart King is because that was the name of the listing on the site where I purchased her.

Heart King requires a fair amount of work to get her all kitted out and ready for action. Basically she comes out of the box wearing her basic clothing, and all her gear is placed around her in the foam trays. It took some doing to get everything on her, but I don’t mind. It gives me some quality time with the figure before she’s ready for display. First off, let’s talk about the body, which is a hybred of the seamless stuff we usually see from Phicen/TBLeague and a regular jointed figure. OK, actually nothing on the figure is seamless, but she does make use of a silicone covered torso, which mean’s the exposed skin is squishy and has more of a life-like look and texture. The limbs are all jointed and the costume does its best to cover these joints. So, the swivels in her biceps usually line up with her sleeves, and the jointing in her elbows are covered by sleeves and elbow pads. Similarly, the joints in her knees, which tend to show through the super tight pleather pants, are concealed by soft cloth sleeves and armor pads. In the end, the arm joints do tend to show from time to time, but it’s not too unsightly.

Her uniform consists of the yellow-orange pants, a white sports-bra kind of thing, and a crop-top jacket that matches her pants. I like the color they went with here, as it really does look like something a character in a video game might be wearing. There’s a shoulder patch on each of her jacket sleeves to give it a little bit of a military vibe. Her brown pleather boots sip up the sides and have pretty high heels, which demonstrate the figure’s balance quite well. I never had to rely on a stand for her when shooting the pictures, which is impressive. The tailoring on the clothing is all very well done. The stitching is neat and and everything fits the figure perfectly. The only downside is that the super tight pants inhibit her hip movment a lot. It’s hard to get anything resembling a wide stance out of her without fear of popping that stitching, so I”m not even going to try! The sleeves have a cool honeycomb pattern on them, she has a pair of matching WeFire bracelets, and her fingerless gloves are sculpted and painted onto her hands.

The attention to detail on her gear is also quite nice. She has a trio of magazine pouches strapped ot her left thigh, which holds in place by friction and doesn’t show any sign of slipping. Her right thigh has a hard plastic holster, which pegs into the plate that’s strapped to her leg. Again, this holds in place perfectly. There’s even a retaining strap for her pistol. Her backpack attachces to her shoulder rig, and can be removed while leaving the shoulder rig in place. There are straps with working buckles holding the top flap down and non functional pouches on the sides. And finally, she has a studded belt, which is worn loose on her hips and does it’s best to conceal the straps of her G-string peeking out of her pants.

I really dig the head sculpt here. It’s a great compromise between realism and stylized game character. The skin texture is good, albeit far from Hot Toys or Sideshow quality. The paint used on the eyes and lips, however isn’t too far off. The sculpted red hair features some fine detail and it’s sculpted from a separate piece of plastic to allow it to hang over the head and give it some depth while framing her face. The head is ball jointed, but it is an absolute chore to get it off and back on again. Fortunately the only time I had to do that was to put on her dog tag and choker.

As a Mercenary, this lady comes with some essential Tools of the Trade. First off, she has her trusty automatic pistol, and this is a fantastic piece. The detail is absolutely exquisite, from the brown checkered grips to the silver painted trigger. Even more impressive is that the slide actually works and the magazine is removable. They even painted the bullets that can be seen in the top of the magazine. This scaled pistol is every bit as good as any that I got with my Hot Toys or Sideshow figures, and that’s no small boast! The figure comes with two sets of hands, one relaxed set and one for working with the accessories.

Next up we get a couple of canister grenades. These are fun with a cartoony skull-and-crossbones printed on the side of each. They have clips to attach to her belt and actual rings to pull before she throws them!

And finally, our Mercenary comes with an AK-47, which is another beautiful piece of work. The stock and foregrip are painted brown and the rest has a blued finish. The action on this thing actually works thanks to a rather tight spring inside the receiver. The sites can be flipped up and the magazine is removable. Actually, she comes with two magazines for the rifle. The detail is impecable, right down to the paddle to eject the magazine and the fire selector.

I have to say that I’m fairly impressed with the way this figure turned out, especially for a figure that is priced at around $140-150. Very Cool didn’t skimp on anything. The costume tailoring is great, the attention to detail in the gear is solid, and the weapons are absolutely fantastic. And this is all coming from someone who has absolutely no connection to the character or game that the figure is pulled from. I’m not sure that she’ll spend a whole lot of time displayed on my shelf right now, but if I can clear off a corner somewhere, I may actually wind up putting her in with my Resident Evil Sith-Scale figures. I think she would fit in perfectly. I’ve got another one of these ladies to check out, and I hope to get back to her in a week or so.

Fate/Grand Order: Caster Nitocris “Super Premium” Figure by SEGA

I’ve recounted recently about how I’ve pulled back from buying Prize Figures, mostly because they were starting to get out of hand and I had no space to display them. All in all, I’ve been pretty well behaved on this newly imposed restriction, but I still had the odd pre-order pending here and there, and I decided to let most of them ride. I still dig these figures a lot, they look great, they’re inexpensive, and they come in handy for days like today where I don’t have a lot of time and need something quick and dirty to feed that content beast. So let’s check out this Caster Nitocris Super Premium Figure (SPM) from SEGA!

Nitocris hails from the Fate/Grand Order game, and I like to call this purchase a Consolation Prize Figure, because I really wanted to pick up Amakuni’s Scale Figure of her, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger on that price, and so I satisfied myself with this figure instead. Yup, there’s more of that self control again. I’m not entirely hopeless. As with most of SEGA’s SPM figures, Nitocris comes in a very colorful and fully enclosed box, featuring some nice shots of the statue and a bit of English copy on the box to help you know what you’re looking at. Inside, the figure comes wrapped in plastic and requiring some minor assembly. Here you attach the head and the right arm at the elbow, plug in the support piece for her hair, and then plug the figure into the base. All told, she measures about 9-inches tall and now that she’s all set up, let’s have a look…

There’s something about chicks in Egyptian costume that does it for me, and this is indeed a very beautiful figure. Nitocris stands proudly with one leg in front of the other, her left hand resting on her hip, and her right hand clutching her staff. Her outfit doesn’t leave too much tot he imagination, and I ain’t complaining. She has a white top to cover her Upper Deltas and a sculpted blue sash to conceal her Lower Nile Valley. Her hips are covered in plastic pink “fabric” and the whole ensemble is held together by some sculpted beaded chains. She has some brown wraps on her forearms, and her plastform sandals have sculpted wraps that reach up to just under her knees.

Nitocris’ curvy figure is framed by her copious coif of cascading blue hair that balloons out in the middle and comes to an end with a chunky red ring. This hellacious waterfall of hair looks cool and distinctive from the front, but sadly covers her entirely from the rear view. Seriously, from behind she looks like just a big blob. Besides the excellent sculpted detail on this figure, I think the colors are probably what I dig the most. The combination of white, pink, and deep indigo blue all looks so lush and striking against mocha colored skin. But what really shines is the wonderful gold leaf paint they used. Just lovely!

The portrait is suitably adorable, as Nitocris features a pair of Anubis-like ears, large printed purple eyes, and some face paint on her cheeks. She has a cute pointed nose and her mouth is pressed into a grin. Her gold and blue gorget and headpiece both frame her portrait perfectly. And as if she didn’t have enough hair pouring down the back of her, she also has two bunches running down either side of her head and nearly reaching her hips.

Her ebony staff is quite striking and is permanently attached to her right hand. I also dig the loose bangles that hang on her wrists.

The base is a simple translucent disk with the game’s logo printed on it in vibrant blue lettering. It’s simple, functional, and doesn’t take away from the beauty of the figure.

And that’s it for this Wednesday’s admittedly brief review. It’s always a treat to take a look at a new Prize Figure, especially since I won’t be doing it all that frequently here any longer. If you’ve been kicking around with me on FFZ for a while then you probably already know that I’m a big fan of SEGA’s SPM figures. At around $20-25, they offer plenty of bang for the buck and Nitocris here is no exception to that. I’m not even a big fan of the game, but I do love me my Servants and this one in particular has been calling to me for a while. I pre-ordered this lady a little while back, but she’s been available on places like Amazon for a while, and to me this one makes for a nice alternative to those pricier Scale Figures. Now, if Max Factory should happen to release a Figma of her, well I’d probably have to come back for seconds.

One Piece “Treasure Cruise World Journey, Vol. 1:” Luffy, Nami, and Roronoa Zoro by Banpresto

I’ve come to face the sad fact that I’m going to have to give up buying prize figures. Yeah, it sucks, but space continues to grow tight and I refuse to rent a storage to throw toys into. Eventually something has to give and I’ve ultimately decided to make one of those cuts here. Now that doesn’t mean these will be the last prize figures I review here, because I still have a bunch left to open. It also doesn’t mean I won’t make the occasional exception and buy something that I can’t live without, but the casual buying stops here. No, really. I mean it!!! I know that’s a bummer way to start a review, but let’s press on and check out three fantastic figures from my favorite of guilty pleasures, One Piece!

Mosey on aboard, Pilgrim, and bring along, all your hopes and dreams, Pardner! It’s One Piece meets Wild West? Yes, please! That’s what World Journey Vol. 1 is all about. Banpresto has been delivering on some wonderful fresh takes on the One Piece crew and this one is just right up my ally. As usual, these figures are roughly 9-inch scale and come in fully enclosed boxes, which are very colorful and are confident enough to let pictures of the figures themselves do the talking. These are imports, but there’s enough English copy on the boxes to help you know what you’re getting. Each figure requires a little bit of simple assembly to get them ready for display. Let’s start with Luffy!

Our favorite rubber pirate comes donning his Old West duds and looking damn great! Luffy stands with confidence with his left hand resting on his gun belt and his right hand reaching for the brim of his hat. The figure gets his rather lanky proportions down quite well and the details in his outfit are exceptional for a figure in this price range. His cowboy boots feature scrollwork patterns, and I really dig how they’re sculpted so the jeans disappear into the tops of the boots. That really gives the figure some fabulous depth. The jeans show sculpted rumples and wrinkles, he’s got a red billowy sash tied to the back of his belt and a leather-like vest on top of his pale green shirt. The vest has sculpted buttons set in a zigzag pattern and frills hanging off the pockets. His shirt sleeves are cuffed just above his wrists and he’s wearing a pair of work gloves.

Luffy’s primary belt has a big gold belt buckle and his secondary gun belt hangs low on his hips with a holster attached to a sculpted thigh strap and a row of cartridges. The holster has two buckles and you can see his shootin’ iron protruding from the top and ready for a quick draw. I’d love to see this gun out of the holster, because with the way the grip is configured it almost looks like some kind of hybrid between a six-shooter and an old fashioned pirate pistol.

No matter what he’s wearing, it’s easy to recognize Luffy in this head sculpt. His saucer-like eyes and his broad slit of a mouth give it away. His neck is wrapped in a red scarf and his black hair  spills down out of his brown cowboy hat. I think they did a fantastic job transforming one of my favorite pirates into a cowpoke and Luffy looks like he was made for the role. I should note here that all three of the figures came with bases that attach to the feet, but the one I got with Luffy was sadly cracked. Fortunately, he doesn’t need it to stand. Next up… Roronoa Zoro!

The infamous swordsman sets aside his three katanas in exchange for a trusty lever-action rifle. He stands proudly with his right hand on his hip and his left hand cradling his rifle on his shoulder. Like Luffy, there’s some amazing detail work on this figure’s costume. The boots have sculpted brass-painted tips, his blue jeans are accompanied by a pair of black chaps, and just a little bit of his vest can be seen underneath the billowing duster. The flaps of the duster have individually painted gold clasps, while the sleeves feature reinforced elbow pads and the sleeves disappear into a pair of brown gauntlets. And the top half of his outfit is obscured by a red poncho-like garment.

Roanoa’s portrait is excellent. He’s expression exudes confidence as he peers out from his good eye. His green hair can be seen disappearing into his cowboy hat and he looks like he’s just itching for a fight. I know if I saw him enter the Saloon, I’d clear out the back lickity-split!

I love the detail they put into his rifle. The stock has a brass band sculpted around it along with a couple of plates stamped with X’s. There’s a sculpted saddle ring and sights. The stock and foregrip are painted in a deep brown finish and the rest of the weapon is in gun metal gray. And now that we’ve looked at The Good and The Bad, let’s check out The Beautiful…

Nami rounds out this trio of Straw Hat Plains Drifters looking as dead sexy as ever! She was actually the figure in this series that caught my eye first, which I’m sure is a surprise to no one. She may be dressed as a cowgirl, but she’s leaning forward, advertising her pirate booty, both aft and stern, while bringing her six-shooter up to the ready (practicing poor trigger discipline, I might add!) and offering an alluring wink. Down below, her outfit consists of high brown boots with scrollwork patterns, etched on the sides, and a pleated blue skirt, which leaves little to the imagination, Up above she’s got a glossy black top holding up her cowpokes and a sculpted red blouse open at the top and tied at the bottom. She has a full glove sculpted onto her shootin’ hand and a finger-less glove on her left.

Banpresto has become experts at sculpting the portraits of pretty much the entire Straw Hat crew, but I think they probably know Nami best of all. They always manage to capture her whimsy and spunk, no matter what outfit she happens to be in. I really dig the wild sculpt to her orange hair and the way her cowboy hat is perched almost on the back of her head.

I was already trying to swear off Prize Figures when this trio went up for pre-order, and even a whole wagon full of willpower wouldn’t have been able to stop me from buying these once I saw them. I’m a sucker for everything Old West, from history to fiction. I love shooting my old-timey single-actions revolvers and lever guns, and I scarcely let a weekend go by without having a Western playing on the TV. So naturally when you mash that up with One Piece, one of my biggest guilty pleasures, it’s money already spent. But thankfully not a whole lot, because these beauties set me back only $22 each and for the amount of detail and care that went into their design and execution, I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. My only sadness is they didn’t work Usopp into this line.

One Piece: “Grandista” Grandline Lady Nami by Banpresto

Once upon a time there was a thing around these parts called Anime Saturday, wherein I would devote the day to opening new prize figures, scaled figures, Figmas or any sort of anime figures I happened to acquire. Well, I’ve kind of taken a few steps back from collecting these sorts of things these days, mostly because of limited space. But that’s not to say a few pre-orders haven’t slipped through this embargo. And maybe I do have a short stack of these figures in the corner of the closet left to be opened. Whatever the case, I had a little time this morning and I figured, what the hell… let’s do an Anime Saturday (on a Wednesday!) for old time’s sake. Besides, it feels like forever since I gave Nami some loving!

As you may know, I adore One Piece and I love Banpresto’s One Piece prize figures. They’re cheap, they’re beautiful, and they scratch that nasty itch for One Piece merch. Today I’m checking out Nami from Banpresto’s Grandista line. And since Nami is a lady that needs no introduction around here, let’s jump straight to the packaging. She comes in a colorful box with photos of the figure all around and both Eastern and Western lingo printed on the box. And don’t forget that hologram sticker proving that this is not some shoddy bootleg. Inside, she’s wrapped in plastic and comes in two halves, so you’ve got some simple assembly ahead of you. A lot of the the Nami figures I’ve looked at recently have featured some kind of new spin on the character, so it’s kind of refreshing that this figure takes us back to basics.

With Nami’s two halves plugged together, there are two things that immediately struck me as interesting about this figure. First, she’s really big. Most of the Banpresto prize figures I get are around 7 to 9-inch scale, whereas Nami here tops out at about 11-inches. Second, there’s no base and, quite miraculously, she doesn’t need one, as she stands just fine on her own, even in those high heels. Other than those two points, this figure holds few surprises. It features Nami wearing her trademark blue jeans, blue and white bikini top, and high-heeled orange sandals. This is traditional Nami through-and-through with her weight tossed to her left hip and her left hand resting on her fine backside.

The paint and sculpt here are both excellent. The jeans are wrinkled in all the right spots and have those double rings cut out of the hips. The stitching around the pockets and belt loops is all sculpted in place and they are fastened with a simple silver snap right under her belly button. The blue of the jeans contrasts nicely with the orange of her hair and shoes, and her skin is a warm and smooth without too much of a waxy finish, as we sometimes get in these cheaper figures. I think my only nitpick would be they went a little heavy with the shading around her lower midriff.

And all the necessary Nami-detail points are hit along the way. Her tattoo is neatly printed on her left shoulder, and she has both her Log Pose and a loose bangle around her left wrist. But that’s not surprising. Banpresto has been doing Nami for a while now, so they know her backwards and forwards.

The portrait is also as classic as you can get. She has a broad smile, with just a hint of mischief and her large eyes are perfectly printed. The hair sculpt flows down her back with the rest of it framing her face and partially covering her forehead.

Yup, today was a quickie, but there’s not much more to say about this lovely lady. If you’re up for a very traditional Nami figure, than it’s hard to beat this new one from Banpresto. At about eleven inches, she really stands out among her peers. The sculpt and coloring are both fab, and the quality of plastic is top notch. I think she’s also a perfect pick up if you just want that one excellent representation of the character on your shelf. Sure, there are plenty of scaled figures that outshine this offering, but when you’re talking around $200 versus the $25 this one cost, I think the value can’t be beat. And I gotta say it felt good to open one of these again! I’ll try not to wait as long before I do it again.

Cowgirl Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen/TB League

It’s a brand new year, and boy am I ready for that! One of my many little resolutions for 2020 around these parts is to start digging into my Sixth-Scale figures and get caught up before all the pre-orders that were delayed last year start piling up in about a month. Yeah, that’s like a year’s worth of Hot Toys that all got bumped. So, this week I had a perusal through a stack of boxes looking for something to open and review, and I decided to go with one of TB League’s (formerly Phicen) offerings. This little lady was released last year and marries two of my favorite things… Lovely Phicen figures and The Old West! Giddyup, Cowgirls!

Yee-Haw! Here’s the part of the review where I gush over TBL’s packaging and lament that we don’t get the same quality out of Hot Toys’ more expensive figures. Seriously, the presentation is really solid with a durable cardboard shoebox and an illustrated tri-fold magnetic cover. Ok, so the artwork here isn’t anything special, but these boxes feel so much better than the flimsy window boxes that Hot Toys has been using for a lot of their releases these days. Remove the top and you get your figure and all her accessories nestled in a foam tray. And as with all TB League releases, this lovely cowpoke’s head comes separate from her body. It’s creepy, but I think they do that so it can be wrapped in plastic better. TBL is known for mining their source material from Indie (read cheaper to acquire) licenses, but this little lady is one of their concept figures, or at least I’m 99.9% sure she isn’t based on any specific license or property. But hey, if there’s a comic somewhere with Cowgirl in it, I’ll jump on board. There’s a little bit of set up required here, but nothing too bad, so let’s check her out and see how The West was fun.

Cowgirl is the result of a painstakingly researched pursuit of authenticity. The creators of this figure really wanted to capture all the historical details of your average late 19th Century hawt blonde gunfighter absolutely perfectly, and it shows! From the leather studded top that does little more than hold her large doggies in place to the leather panties that protects her modesty south of the border, she looks like she jumped straight out of the history books! Yeah, I’m funning with ya, but if you weren’t expecting something like this outfit out of a TBL female gunfighter, than you need to revisit some of my other reviews and acquaint yourself with the copious T&A of their previous releases. Apart from her skimpy top and bottom, Cowgirl sports a pair of long black leather leggings with knee-pads and some nice fringe coming off the sides. Each of these leggings hooks to her panties similar to a garderbelt. The outfit is rounded out by a dual-holstered gunbelt, a pair of boots, complete with spurs, fingerless gloves sculpted onto the hands, and a felt fedora to top off her pretty head.

And speaking of pretty heads, TBL has been getting better and better with their portraits, and I have to say I like this one very much. She sure is purdy and the rooted blonde hair falls naturally about her head. The paint quality on the eyes and lips are both quite lifelike, even if the eyebrows and overall skin texture don’t quite meet that uncanny realism we see in those top-tier Sixth-Scale figure producers. There isn’t a lot of expressiveness in the face to support some of the more action-packed poses, but I still like what we got here a lot, it’s quality work. Indeed, I have a feeling that the customizing community of Phicen collectors will be happy to add this head to their collection. The hat holds it’s shape well and fits her head nicely. It stays on quite well too. I’m always happy to see an actual felt hat in this scale, rather than a plastic one.

The skimpy outfit does it’s job in allowing the Seamless Phicen Body to strut it’s stuff. I’ve lost track of what body type they’re up to, and to be honest I could never really keep them straight anyway. Suffice it to say the soft plastic skin surrounds a stainless steel skeleton that offers what is probably the most realistic human articulation available in the action figure market today. And without actually seeing where all those joints are, it’s fun to discover all the crazy little nuances that are locked away in her articulation. Likewise, this is an extremely well balanced figure (insert joke about her being top-heavy here), and I found her able to hold her own without needing a stand. Which is good, because she doesn’t come with one. Not that I would trust her to stand on the shelf for long periods of time without one. Thankfully inexpensive stands for figures in this scale can be had pretty easily.

And as great as the body is, that’s not to say the craftsmanship and detail in the outfit take a backseat. The stitching and studs on the leather (well, leather-like substance) look great, along with a little bit of weathering, and that big red stone in the middle. And while my Cowgirl does suffer the occasional nip-slip when posing, the top piece of her wardrobe does a good job at rustling those doggies. The gunbelt features a silver painted buckle and a string of sculpted cartridges running around its length. The holsters fit the guns very well, although they tend to slide to the front from time to time. Another thing to watch for when posing Cowgirl are the clips for her leggings. These will sometimes come un-clipped with leg movement and have to be re-clipped. Finally, the sculpted boots include some lovely decorative work around the tops, silver studs across the fronts, silver medallions on the sides, and working spurs!

Moving on to accessories, and here’s where the figure takes a couple of hits, and I’m talking about her shootin’ irons. Make no mistake, these are incredibly detailed revolvers with silver finish and brown painted grips. The detail and level of articulation on these are quite impressive. The hammers can be cocked back, the chambers spin, and they can even flip out for loading or be removed from the guns entirely. What’s my gripe? Well, they’re obviously modern pistols and not age-appropriate single-actions. It really feels like the folks at TBL just re-purposed some guns from another figure set. And I get it, I don’t really know the intent behind this character. Taking the outfit into consideration, maybe she isn’t supposed to be from the past. Maybe she’s some kind of sexy cowboy-themed bounty hunter or vigilante, and if so that’s fair enough. But, I’ll still be looking for some more authentic pistols for her online. Naturally, Cowgirl comes with a pair of trigger finger hands and these work very well with the pistols.

And as impressive as the articulation on these guns is, it may be a little too much. The action on these is extremely delicate and the chambers are held in only by friction, so it’s not uncommon for the chamber and the retaining pin to fall out when I’m posing the figure. Indeed, one of them even disappeared somewhere on the floor of my studio while I was taking pictures for  this review. The hunt for it continues. It’s a race against time to find the little shiny things before my cats do. But all the more reason for me to hunt down some new guns for her.

Fortunately, she does come with a rifle that better suits her presumed time period, and that’s this beautiful lever-action. Now, I’m a real sucker for lever actions. I own four of the real deals, so this accessory is near and dear to my heart, even if it doesn’t seem to be based on any specific firearm that I can recall. The sculpted detail here is just packed with character, from the wood-grain patterns in the stock and forearm to the screws, barrel bands, and bolts holding the receiver together. Even the coloring is beautiful, with a lush brown for the wooden pieces and a convincing gun metal gray for the rest. This accessory features no articulation, and considering the troubles I had with the pistols, maybe that’s for the best. I sling or maybe even a scabbard to carry it on her back would have been cool, but either way it’s plenty cool.

You do get a few other extras in the box, the first of which is a rope, which while simple enough doesn’t go unappreciated. I’ve even tied mine into a noose for he to hold.

The final accessory is a combat knife and sheath, but it suffers the same issue as the guns. With it’s black segmented grip and sawback edge, It looks like a modern survival knife and not something someone would be carrying around in The Old West. I would have loved to have seen a beefy Bowie knife included here or maybe a Civil War era sword-bayonet, but no such luck. Hey, extras are always nice, but I doubt I’m going to display this piece with her. Nonetheless, she does come with a tight grip right hand that holds it very well.

Most of the TBL figures I’ve purchased lately have been Deluxes, which means they often come with elaborate bases or some kind of set piece prop, but Cowgirl bucks that trend. The plus side of that is she was a little cheaper, around $149 if I remember correctly. The downside is, I think they could have done something cool like a saloon door or a wagon wheel or something to display her with. As she stands, I think she’s a pretty cool figure. I love the outrageous costume, the portrait is great, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop being impressed by Phicen’s seamless bodies. My biggest gripes here come in the accessories, and maybe that’s more my personal preference. A couple of single action six-shooters and a big Bowie knife would have been perfect for her, but maybe I’ll be able to supply those things somewhere down the road. As it is, she’s certainly a nice break from the fantasy and medieval style warrior women we’ve been seeing from TBL lately. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but Cowgirl adds a little spicy variety to my shelf.

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

In case you missed it, I’m a little bit smitten with Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series of roughly 9-inch scale One Piece ladies. I came for the first releases of Nami and Boa Hancock and stayed for the rest. And since it’s been so very long since I last did an Anime Saturday feature, and because I have so many of these piling up, let’s open up a new figure in this series. Yeah, I know it’s Wednesday, but things are so discombobulated on my end, who cares anymore? Oh, hey… it’s Perhona! The Ghost Princess!

As always, these figures come in fully enclosed boxes with some lovely shots of the figure inside and the CRANEKING logo. The package is fairly bi-lingual in that it bears the line’s mission statement in English on two of the panels. Perhona comes wrapped in plastic and requiring a little simple assembly before she’s ready for display.

And here she is, standing with a wide stance, her left hip thrust to the side, her left hand tucked behind her and her right hand tugging on her top. She’s sporting one of the more interesting outfits in this series, and that’s really saying something! Starting at the bottom, Perhona’s showing off a pair of glossy black high-heeled boots, with the toes pointed slightly inward. The boots end just above her ankles giving way to what I can only describe as some kind of kinky latex stockings laced up the side, with pink stockings peeking out the tops and secured with sculpted garter belts. Wow! The platforms on her heels are gray and she’s got a red ribbon tied around her right ankle.

As we go higher, she’s sporting a super-short black mini-skirt with a wide pink padded strip running around the top and a brown ammo belt fanning some cartridges just below her exposed mid-riff. Up top, she has a cropped sailor uniform blouse, gray with a red collar and a big black bow up front. The ensemble is punctuated by a pair of long, glossy black fingerless gloves, with exposed elbows. The result of this costume is a peculiar mix of cutesy fun, dark sailor scout, and BDSM Dominatrix.

Oh yeah, Perhona also sports a rather unique looking flintlock rifle, slung over her right shoulder. I really love what they did with this piece. The stock feature a sculpted wood-grain pattern with the barrel and fixtures painted gold. There’s even a beautiful scroll-work motif sculpted into the panels on the sides.

And that brings us to the portrait, and this is where I have to confess that Perhona’s eyes creep the hell out of me. Those giant perfectly round pools of inky black look like they were made to suck the souls right out of people. What’s even more disturbing is the contrast between those eyes and her large coif of bright pink hair. It flows down her back in giant locks and spills down each side of her face in braided pigtails with black bows on the ends. Finally, a black and gray cap is crookedly perched on here head.

It’s worth noting that the coloring and paintwork on this figure are quite good. From the mix of dark glossy black to matte black to the warm skin tones and the cotton candy pink of her hair, there are a lot of contrasts here and it certainly makes for a very unique looking figure. She even has her little pink bat tatt on her left shoulder.

I didn’t set out to collect this line. I originally just wanted Nami and Boa Hancock. Then I decided I would just cherry-pick the ones that I really liked, but so far that’s been all of them. Perhona is a great example of that because her character doesn’t do a lot for me, and I already mentioned that her eyes creep me the hell out. But I still dig this figure a lot and I’m mighty glad I added her to the lineup. And at about $25 a pop, this line still feels like it offers a decent value for the money.

Transformers: Masterpiece Ratchet (MP-30) by Takara

Folks, I’ve been a bad MP Transformers collector. After a long run of scarfing up each of the releases, I hit a wall. My last MP purchase was Ironhide, and I reviewed him over two years ago! I love this line, so I could only attribute me falling off by the rising prices. I thought Ironhide was well worth the extra bucks, but $90 for a repaint? That’s considerably more than each of the three Datsuns set me back. And I didn’t want to skip Ratchet and go for Inferno, because that would be cheating. Ultimately, it was a renewed sense of urgency that got me back on track. Ratchet was selling out at a few places, and I worried that if I didn’t buy him now, I’d regret it later. Even better, I sold off a couple of Third-Party Go-Bots that I didn’t need in my collection and that more than paid for him. And so here we go!

It’s been a long time, but the packaging hasn’t changed. Ratchet comes the same kind of collector friendly enclosed box as Ironhide did, which is bigger than the previous MP Autobot cars. You get plenty of pictures of the toy in its various modes, but you don’t get a lot of English copy. All in all, I dig these boxes a lot. They aren’t flashy, but they are classy, and they’re made of heavy stock, so they store well. I actually keep my MP Collection boxed for the time being and they look great all lined up on the shelf.

Inside, the figure and goodies come on clear plastic trays, and it’s easy to see where the extra money went. Not only is Ratchet a big boy, but he comes with a whole bunch of accessories. You also get folded instructions, a character card and a set of stickers with two optional layouts. Yup, stickers! I went with the Autobot crosses because I just think it looked neat, but I’ll come back to the stickers in a bit. Ratchet comes packaged in his alt mode, so let’s start there!

It’s common knowledge that the early 80’s was the pinnacle of Japanese van design and nothing illustrates that better than the Nissan Cherry Vanette. And I’m not ashamed to say that after 35 years, it was only recently that the MP Collection taught me the make and model Ratchet and Ironhide’s alt modes. And yes, in van mode, Ratchet is just a straight recolor of Ironhide with a lightbar added to the top. He’s nearly entirely white, with a red stripe running along each side, blue windows, chromed out bumpers and matte silver wheels. All in all, it’s not a bad looking van, but there are a hell of a lot of seams breaking up the sides.

I’m not a huge fan of the exposed robot face behind the windshield. OK, it’s a cute nod back to the original toy, but probably not one that needed to be so in my face every time I look at it. Also, it serves no purpose at all, which makes me even more sorry that they added it. Does it ruin the van mode? Nah, not really, but it’s worth picking at all the same. You do get a nice Autobot emblem right on the front of the van, and while there are stickers for the auto mode, I’ve chosen to leave them off for now.

Initially, I thought the lightbar would prevent Ratchet from catching a ride in MP Optimus Prime’s trailer, but it’s spring-loaded and you can push it down to roll him inside. It does sometimes get caught when trying to get him out and a few times, I’ve had to pop open the trailer, rather than risk scratching it.

Finally, like Ironhide, there’s a flip up socket on the top of Ratchet’s van mode, which can be used to insert any of the weapons that are designed to be held in his hands. And who doesn’t love a weaponized ambulance, eh?

As expected, the transformation is identical to Ironhide and if you want to share my wonder at experiencing it for the first time then dip back into my Ironhide review. Sadly, the magic is old hat now, but I can still appreciate what Takara’s teams of convertorobot engineers have pulled off here. This shouldn’t work. You shouldn’t be able to get that much robot into that little van. Hell, they couldn’t even come close with the original toy. And yet here it is. Ratchet’s resulting robot mode is almost identical to Ironhide. Takara changed up their pelvic plates, but from the neck down the only other difference is the coloring. And that’s a good thing, because I absolutely loved this robot mode on Ironhide and it looks just as fabulous here on the Autobots’ Chief Medic. From the front, everything looks so impossibly clean and boxy and every other ideal that a G1-designed Transformer should strive to be. The legs are nearly devoid of any van evidence at all and I dig the little armor plates that land on his hips. The front windshield of the van is worn perfectly as the chest, and it impresses me to no end that there aren’t even any wheels visible from the front.

Turn him around and things aren’t quite as polished. There are a lot of exposed screw holes and for the money involved, it would have been cool if Takara had plugged these, or at least offered plugs for us to do it ourselves, like TFC did with their set of Not-Aerialbot figures. You do get a smidgen of van kibble from the back, notably the chrome bumpers on his heels, the windows on the backs of his forearms and his wheel butt… WHEEL BUTT!!! I’ve been in forums where fans complained about this stuff and I was amazed. Hey, complain about whatever you like, that’s your right, but I think this figure is a great achievement of design. He’s also a hefty, solid bot and so much fun to play with!

Obviously we got a brand new head sculpt, and it captures all the character of Ratchet from the Sunbow cartoon. I love the rounded “helmet” and the giant wings over his eyes. The eyes themselves are a bright and beautiful shade of blue, and the rest of the face is finished off in a pleasing matte gray. And if you want to add a little variety to your display options…

He also comes with a second face plate, this time offering a delightful smile. And as long as we’re focusing in on the head and shoulders, I’ll toss out there now that I’m not a big fan of the stickers for the shoulders. To be fair, they look pretty good, and I understand why Takara had to do it. Apparently there were trademark issues concerning the use of the Red Cross. Personally, I would have been fine if they just printed the ones I used on there and been done with it, but I guess some collectors were looking for something more traditional. I just hope they stay on well and don’t yellow over time. But, enough about that… let’s look at some accessories!

Ratchet comes with a boat load of accessories. Or in this case, a sled load. Like Ironhide, Rachet includes a plastic base, which is an homage to the sled that was made up of the bottom part of the original toy’s van mode. This isn’t a direct copy, there’s no treads on the bottom and it isn’t involved at all in the transformation. It is, however, a place to store all those accessories in a way that nods back to the original. For a medic, Ratchet comes with a lot of guns, so let’s start with those first!

A number of the accessories are recycled from Ironhide, the first of which are the twin laser guns. I love these things! They have a nice satin gray finish and fit perfectly into Ratchet’s hands with a tab to secure them into the palms. Getting them out can be a little tricky, but he looks great wielding them.

Next up is what I think is called a Static Laser. It’s instantly recognizable as the gun that was positioned on the front of the original toy’s sled, and I used it to demonstrate the way Ratchet’s mode can be weaponized. It’s got a chrome finish and a white handle. It’s a very distinctive design, but probably not one that I’m going to display him with a whole lot.

Next up is the last recycled accessory from Ironhide ant that’s the missile launcher that plugs into his back. I can remember Ironhide shooting this thing off while flying in the Sunbow cartoon, but I don’t recall Ratchet ever using it. Still, it’s a logical accessory to recycle seeing as a similar piece was included with the G1 vans and I dig it quite a bit. The launcher has a satin gray finish and the missile is chromed out. It can come out of the launcher, but it doesn’t actually fire. Moving on to the new stuff…

Ratchet has one new gun and it’s this little pistol. It’s a cool design, but I really don’t have much else to say about it.

Like Ironhide, Ratchet could retract his hand and deploy various tools. In this case he comes with what is either an arc welder or a cutting torch… or why not both? To attach it you just flip his hand back into his arm and tab it into the spot where the hand used to be. It’s a useful tool for when he needs to do a weld on one of his wounded cameras or cut human survivors out of fallen debris. I don’t know why, but I always loved when the Transformers made use of these types of gizmos.

Ratchet can also produce a repair beam from his forearm. This just plugs right into the peg hole on either of his arms. There’s also an effect part that pegs into the end of the emitter and you get an illustrated cardboard insert that can be slipped in behind the windshield on his chest to produce vital signs. I’ll likely be displaying him with this all the time!

And finally, Ratchet comes with some wrenches, two regular and one magna-wrench.

I collect a lot of toys and other shit, so naturally my budget has its limitations. So throwing $90 at what is mostly a repaint of Ironhide certainly gave me pause. It was my love of Ratchet that finally got me to knuckle down and take the plunge, and I think the fact that it took so long for me to do it worked to my advantage. Two years after getting Ironhide made picking up Ratchet a lot more of a fresh experience and it made me fall in love with this mold all over again. I’m still in awe of how they made this toy work, and it’s a tribute to its intuitive engineering that even after a long while away from this mold, I was able to transform Ratchet without using the instructions. And it makes me happy to finally have the two Autobot vans together at last. If anything, I came away from this review with a renewed passion for the MP line.

One Piece: “Glitter & Glamours” Shiny Venus Boa Hancock by Banpresto

I had to sit out last Anime Saturday because real life got in the way. This weekend isn’t much better, but I did want to drop in for a quickie and so I decided to open up my second figure in Banpresto’s Glitter & Glamours series. Last time it was Nami, this time it’s Boa Hancock! And since I am crunched for time, let’s get right down to it…

I’m still not 100% sure what the running theme in this line is supposed to be. The first two figures I have happen to both be One Piece babes reclining in their skimpy bikinis, but looking ahead, the line seems to have a lot more variety to it. The Glitter and Shiny probably have to do with some shiny finishes applied to some parts of the figures’ clothing. But hey, I’m not here to over-analyze things. Like Nami, Boa comes in a fully enclosed box with lots of photos of the figure inside. The figure itself requires some simple assembly before she’s ready to spruce up your desk with some sex appeal. I’ll likely be referencing back to the G&G Nami during this review, so if you missed that one, you might want to check it out. I’ll wait. OK? Let’s go…

And indeed she is sexy. Boa reclines on a lump of sand, propped up with her right hand while her left hand fiddles with her hair, and her long legs are  stretched out for what seems like miles and miles. She’s wearing just a black bikini with a white cover-up, tied under her exceedingly ample bosom, and a thin gold anklet at the end of her right leg. I’ve got no problems with the pose here, it looks great, but unfortunately the figure doesn’t really lay flush with the surface she’s resting on. Part of that might have to do with the base, and I’ll get to that in a bit, but her feet hover a bit off the surface and that looks a little unnatural.

I’m also going to go ahead and say that the coloring here isn’t terribly exciting either. Boa’s skin is a lot paler than Nami’s and that’s accurate, but the rest of the figure also lacks any real punch when it comes to the deco. You’ve got the black bikini and her black hair. The white cover-up has a bit of that pearlescent sheen that we saw with Nami’s, but the effect isn’t nearly as strong here either. A little gold on the trim of her sleeves and her earrings, and the bright red nail polish on her fingers and toes helps a bit, but not really a lot. If you’re looking for a colorful figure, this ain’t it.

I do like the portrait a lot. The hair sculpting is excellent and I dig Boa’s little smirk as well as the perfectly printed eyes and lips. On the other hand, her face is pointed downward, so this is one of those figures that you absolutely have to display at eye level, or above, if you want to glean her pretty peepers. Likewise, this really isn’t a statue that has a lot of sweet spots, which is a big part of why I was able to do her justice fairly quickly. Sure, she looks nice from the back, but she’s best viewed dead-on from the front and that’s about it.

I’m really not enamored with the base here either. Nami was able to make due without one, as they just flattened her tushie a bit and that worked fine. Instead of doing the same thing here, they molded this little piece of sand, which is supposed to snap around her hand and cradle her right hip. It works fine keeping the figure upright, but then you’ve got that thing going on where her feet aren’t resting on the display surface and it looks a bit off. I am not a big fan of the way this went.

I don’t mean to beat up on poor Boa here too badly. This is a pretty good figure and she’s definitely a sexy addition to my One Piece shelf. But she lacks the color and pop that Nami had. At $20, I have no regrets over picking her up, the quality is there and the sculpt is great, but I feel like a few tweaks could have helped the figure along. Get rid of that base, design her to sit on her own, and maybe add a little more color and this pretty good figure could have been a great one!

One Piece: “Glitter & Glamours” Shiny Venus Nami by Banpresto

I know what you’re thinking. Another One Piece Prize Figure from Banpresto? How about a little variety for Anime Saturday. Sheesh! There were complaints when it was all KanColle, all the time, then complaints about Anime Saturday going away, and now it’s too much One Piece? There’s just no pleasing some people. I’d argue you could never have too much One Piece, but a couple of years back when I was really sick, I did nothing but lay on the sofa for two days, coif NyQuil and watch my One Piece DVDs while I drifted in and out of fevered sleep. To this day, I’m convinced it broke part of my brain. But anyway, I will get to some other stuff. I have plenty of Figmas left to look at. But I don’t have a lot of time this weekend, so I needed something quick. And now that I’m all caught up on Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series, I thought I’d open up some of their Glitter & Glamours figures.

And what better on a chilly Saturday morning than a little hot Nami to warm us up? The G&G series features girls spanning a few different animes, and I can’t detect much in the way of a coherent theme. The packaging hasn’t changed much, as you still get your figure in a fully enclosed box with plenty of shots of the cutie inside.  And after just a few simple assembly steps, Nami will be all ready to brighten up my desk.

The roughly 9-inch scale Glitter & Glamour Nami offers a contrast to Flag Diamond Ship with our gal laid back, relaxing, and reclining in the sun. She’s wearing a white blouse, buttoned once just below her ample bosom, and a two-piece orange bikini. Her long legs are crossed and stretched out in front of her, her right hand is behind her head, while she leans back on her left hand. There’s no base at all, but she doesn’t really need one as she’s very stable and rests evenly on any surface. Her tushie is even flattened a bit to keep her from rolling around.

There’s some nice attention to detail here in the sculpt. Some highlights include the bracelets on her right arm, the single gold bangle on her left wrist, the double-looped chain necklace, and the ruffles ringing her bikini bottom. I dig the coloring as well. Nami’s showing a lot of skin and the skin tone is warm and even and not at all waxy, and her tiny fingernails and toenails are painted red. There are a couple of shades of purple displayed on her bracelets, as well as some shiny gold on the rest of the jewelry. But the real draw here where the coloring is concerned is the beautiful pearlescent white finish on her blouse. It has a striking sheen to it that looks absolutely gorgeous. I’m guessing that’s where the “Shiny” in Shiny Venus comes from.

Of course, the portrait is pure Nami. By now it should be no surprise that Banpresto knows what they’re doing with Nami’s likeness. She glances off to the side with her large, perfectly printed eyes, a cute smile, and her signature flowing orange-red hair. If you look closely, you can even see the pearl studs in her ears.

Heaven knows that there’s no shortage of Nami figures out there on the market, so when Banpresto can add another to the pile and still have her stand out, well that’s no small feat. Oh sure, you can get better figures, but they’re going to cost you, and the fact that Banpresto is delivering quality in this scale at or below the $20 mark is mighty impressive. It doesn’t hurt that Amazon is selling these at competitive prices and with free shipping if you happen to be a Prime member. At that point, these practically become impulse buys for me!

One Piece: “Flag Diamond Ship” Nico Robin by Banpresto

Three Saturday Anime reviews in a row means It might be becoming a habit again, which would be great because I have a big backlog of Prize Figures and Figmas to open and review. Then again, with the Silly Season upon us, my time will be getting tight again, so we’ll see how this goes. Today I’m getting completely caught up with Banpresto’s Flag Diamond Ship series with a look back at Nico Robin. I missed this one when it first came out, so I had to double back for her. It cost me a little bit extra, but I didn’t get beaten up too badly.

As usual, this roughly 9-inch scale figure comes in a fully enclosed box with lots of pictures of what’s inside. It’s collector friendly, and I dig these boxes because, rather than tossing them, I can flatten them out and file them away so they don’t take up a lot of room. There is some minor assembly required here, mainly putting the two halves of Robin together at the waist and while the fit was a little tight on this one, I was eventually able to get her set up and ready to go.

I’m fond of pointing out that my first two figures in the Flag Diamond Ship series, Nami and Boa Hancock had a strong pirate flair to them and after that the series just started doing it’s own thing. Well, Robin here fits more closely with the design of those first two figures, but she’s still sporting something of a pirate-cowboy mash-up. She’s also one of the simpler designed figures in the series, as there isn’t a whole lot to her costume, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. Robin sports a tan jacket with red liner, which she is holding open to expose her skimpy black bikini-style top. Moving downward, she’s got a black micro-skirt with a wide gray belt, and finally, a pair of brown buccaneer boots. The ensemble is punctuated by an oversize brown fedora, a multi-colored head scarf, and a single flintlock pistol strapped to her right thigh.

The portraits in this series have all been great, and Robin does nothing to buck that trend. She sports a somewhat serious expression with her hair and the head scarf both blowing off behind her. Her facial features are perfectly printed and the white, purple, and lavender pattern of the scarf is also neat and clean and offers a nice contrast to her black hair. The fedora is tipped down low over her face, so this is a statue that really demands being displayed at eye level if you don’t want to obscure her pretty face.

I’m not sure whether Robin is putting on her jacket, taking it off, or just flashing her goodies, but whatever the case I like the pose. As I mentioned there isn’t a huge amount of detail here, but that’s more because of the style and not an intentional omission. Most of the outfit’s detail can be found in the boots. They have a cool suede look about them, with sculpted gold painted fixtures and laces. There’s a nice braided band around her hat, and the jacket features stitch lines on the outside as well as the liner. Finally, they put some excellent work into the flintlock. The paint is simple, but overall pretty clean and her skin tone looks great.

Rather than traditional bases, this line has been using plastic pieces that fit into one of the figures’ feet as a stand. The more recent releases have abandoned the effort to make these pieces look like anything other than hunks of plastic. Robin’s on the other hand is sculpted to look like… eh, a crumpled piece of cloth? Maybe? I don’t know, but whatever it is, I like that they gave it some detail. Unlike some collectors, I haven’t had any major issues with these unconventional stands, although Robin’s doesn’t fit quite as flush as the others so there is a tiny bit of wobble to her.

When I pre-order these figures, I can usually get them for between $20 and $25, but I had to go to hunt Nico Robin down and she set me back a full $30, and you know what? She was still well worth it. The quality on these figures continues to impress me and at about 9-inches tall, they make for impressive display pieces. These are definitely not what I tend to think of when I think of Prize Figures. As of now, I believe Banpresto has three more of these figures planned, including second versions of both Nico Robin and Boa Hancock, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be arriving until next year.