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.

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!

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!