Variable Action Heroes (One Piece): Nami by MegaHouse

It feels like forever since I did an Anime Saturday, but for those of you who miss it, I promise it’s going to be making a regular return. Indeed, when FFZ’s 8th Anniversary rolls around later this month, I’ll be making some change-ups to my content schedule that should free me up to do more of these, because I have a lot of figures waiting to be opened and reviewed. And yes, Anime Saturday is usually a morning routine, but today’s edition is posting late because I’m working this weekend, and it was a real struggle to get it finished in time. So I’ll trade in my usual Saturday morning pot of coffee for a nice tall evening pour of Jameson in a rock glass and check out Variable Action Heroes Nami!

The figure comes in a window box with some great shots of the figure and the One Piece logo in the upper right hand corner. It matches the other boxes fairly well and it’s totally collector friendly. I own several of these Variable Action Hero figures, all from One Piece, but I’ve only really spent any time with the leader of the Straw Hats, Luffy, which I reviewed back in 2016. I love the larger scale of these figures, and they come with some really cool stuff, but I’m not ready to see them replace Figmas or even SH Figuarts as my favorite figures from the East. The main reason I pick these up is because it’s the only way I can get my articulated One Piece figure fix. There’s actually a third version of Nami in this line shipping soon, so I thought I’d better check this one out before the new one arrives.

Nami sports her trademark orange high-heeled sandals, tight blue jeans, and a teal and white bikini top that leaves not a lot to the imagination. The sculpt really brings out the stylized beauty of this shapely Navigator, and while the jointing does break up the otherwise smooth curves with plenty of rotating hinges, it’s a necessary evil when you’re looking at this level of articulation. In additional to the usual points of articulation, Nami also includes a neck ball jointed at the top and bottom, lateral hinges in the shoulders, and hinges in her feet. In addition to the great sculpt and ample poseability, there’s some great coloring on display here. The jeans are a vibrant mix of dark and light blue to simulate the wear of the denim, and you get some soft sculpted belt loops and a button at her waist, as well as the distinctive gold and orange circlets on her hips. The skin tone is warm, with some painted highlights to add a little depth and texture. The bikini top features sculpted strings tied off on the back and some sharp paint lines for the white patterns.

A couple of other nice details include her trademark tattoo, which is sharply printed on her left bicep. She also features the Log Pose strapped around her left wrist as well as a gold bangle. I love the attention to detail on this piece. It’s cast in clear blue plastic and you can see the compass needle inside. The bangle is a cool touch too, but since it hangs loose on her wrist, it has a habit of dropping off when I change her hands, so I’ve been extra careful not to lose it.

Nami comes with four different portraits, and these are changed out just like the faces on a Figma or Figuart. You simply remove the front of the hair, swap the face plate, and replace the hair. Two of the faces are pretty similar to each other, featuring slight smiles, but one has a more sinister tone to the eyebrows. The third face is her shouty, action face, and the fourth features her winking. I will hand it to the Figuarts version of Nami, as it came with a few more creative expressions, but what we got here is still fine and I think they captured her adorable portrait perfectly. Her fiery orange hair is sculpted to cascade down her shoulders. It’s not terribly restrictive, but it can get in the way of some of the more extreme head poses.

As one would expect, Nami comes with a whole slew of interchangeable hands. Most of these are straightforward. You get a pair of fists, a pair of accessory holding hands, a pair of relaxed hands, and a pair of karate-chop type hands with the fingers closed together. The most unique hands include a right hand making the “OK” gesture and a pointing left hand.

She also comes with her trusty Clima-Tact, which appears to be a simple bo-staff with a snappy metallic blue paint job. It fits really well in her accessory holding hands, and it makes for a fun piece to pose her with. And thanks to a couple of nifty effect parts sets, she can also unleash a few of her signature attacks with it.

First off is the Thunder Charge, which includes a translucent yellow piece that snakes around the staff and a ball of lightning that pegs into the end. Put the two together and you get a pretty damn cool effect. The pieces hold in place really well too.

The other parts make up her um… I’m going to say Milky Ball attack, although I suppose it could be a few different ones. Like the other set, this effect is made by two pieces, one passed through the staff and the other capped on the end.

With how much I loved the VAH version of Luffy I have, I was a little afraid that Nami wouldn’t be able to live up to my expectations, but she really does. The sculpt and paintwork are fantastic and they did an exceptionally fine job with her weapon and its effect parts. The frustrating thing about this line is how the prices tend to go all over the place. I hunted Nami here for a while before I was able to grab her for around $70, which is not a bad deal considering Usopp and Sanjii both top out at well over $100 these days, and that’s more then I’m willing to spend right now. Nowadays, I just make sure I get the pre-orders in rather then take my chances. The Summer Vacation version of Nami is due sometime in March, but before then I’ll try to carve out some time to look at Roronoa Zoro. I’m also seriously considering grabbing the yellow shirt version of Luffy, just because it comes with a wider range of facial expressions.

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Variable Action Heroes (One Piece): Luffy D. Monkey by MegaHouse

I make no bones about my love for One Piece. It’s my favorite go-to show for when I’m up late drinking, and I’m just as fine watching it sober with my coffee the next morning. I’ve looked at a vast array of different figures from the show’s colorful array of characters, and… nope. I can’t lie like that. I’ve mainly only looked at Nami figures. Well, today, I’m breaking that trend and looking at the Variable Action Hero version of Luffy, everyone’s favorite rubber-man. Luffy is actually my first Variable Action Hero figure, so I’m super excited and curious to see what these are all about.

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The figure comes in a colorful and collector friendly window box. There are a couple of trays to hold the figure and the extra bits and lots of photos of the figure in action on the back panel. The packaging features just enough English copy to be friendly to us Western collectors. What are Variable Action Heroes? Well, I guess the best way to describe these would be as larger scale Revoltech figures. Luffy comes in at just under 7-inches, which makes him seem huge when compared to most of my other articulated Japanese figures, but apart from the larger size, there’s a lot about him that feels familiar.

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Luffy features his red pirate shirt with flared cuffs, four brass buttons, and he wears it open in the front to show his chest scars. Below that he has his yellow sash tied around his waist, and his ragged cut blue pants that end right at his knees. Luffy’s ensemble is finished off by his sandals. The sculpting here is soft, but still pretty solid. You get some nice muscle definition in his chest and abs, and all the usual rumples and wrinkles in his clothing. The coloring is very basic, but it matches the somewhat simple look of the anime art quite well. All in all, he’s a colorful and great looking figure.

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Naturally, Luffy comes with his prized straw hat… actually two versions it. One features a plastic cord so that he can wear it around his neck. The other is designed to peg into the top of his head, which involves swapping out the regular head for one with a tab on the top and smoothed out hair. Both options work great, but I think I prefer him wearing the hat behind his head.

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You get three different and very expressive portraits for Luffy and these are swapped out in the exact same fashion as any Figma or Figuarts. Just un-peg the top front hair piece and make the swap. The expressions include a slightly pissed off look, a really pissed off look, and a totally psycho, I’m going to gum-gum kick your ass! These are all great, but I really would have liked at least one face reflecting Luffy’s more happy-go-lucky persona. The figure feels a little bit incomplete without it.

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Luffy also comes with three sets of hands. You get two fists, two flat hands, and a set of relaxed hands.

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The articulation here makes for a very fun figure to play around with. You get rotating hinges in the shoulders, hips, wrists, and ankles. The elbows and knees are double hinged. There are ball joints in the waist and torso. The neck is double ball jointed. And finally, you get hinges in the middle of the feet. The jointing here doesn’t feel as solid or sophisticated as a Figma or Figuarts, but at the same time, they don’t pull apart as easily as the one sad Revoltech figure in my collection. Also, while the joints will support just about any stance or pose, they do feel a little floppy and loose in hand.

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These figures tend to run close to $100 at most e-tailers, which honestly feels a bit steep, but then I tend to expect to pay a premium for anything from MegaHouse. I picked this one up from a very cool dude over on Twitter for about $65. I like the figure a lot, and it’s great to not only have Luffy finally represented in my collection (I mean, seriously, it was well overdue), but also to finally get to see what the VAH figures are all about. I can almost certainly see myself picking up a VAH Nami at some point soon, either the first version or the upcoming repaint. As to whether or not I’ll be going after some more members of the Straw Hat Pirates, that remains to be seen.

DX Girls Snap Collection (One Piece): Nami (Vol. 1 and 2) Figures by Banpresto

I’ve been covering a lot of figures from properties that I’m passionate about on Anime Saturdays, but not today. Today I’m going back to my drunken guilty pleasure, One Piece. It’s a show that I only watch when I get back from a crippling night at the pub, and when I watch it, I’m usually simultaneously hunting Nami figures online in an inebriated stupor. Multitasking! So let’s check out some Nami figures from Banpresto’s DX Girls Snap Collection

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If I’m going to engage in drunken online anime figure shopping, I could certainly do worse than the DX Girls Snap Collection. These roughly 7-inch tall figures are simple and inexpensive, so when the package arrives a couple days later, I don’t have to panic and worry about what damage I did to the bank account. The figures come in matching window boxes and while they’re certainly serviceable, they feel flimsy and arrived to me in rather shabby condition. I much prefer the fully enclosed box that Banpresto used for the “Sea Nymph” Nami that I got a couple months back. These boxes are collector friendly, but I sincerely doubt I’ll be keeping them. Rather than go straight to the fan service, I’ll start with Nami in her Alabasta Kingdom outfit…

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As the “Snap Girls” name suggests, these figures are all about mugging for the camera and that’s exactly what Nami’s doing here. It’s a glamour shot with one hand on her hip and the other behind her head and her dress is blowing out beside her and she looks really great. In fact, I only have one negative thing to say, and that’s the ragged cut of her dress looks more to me like a fault in the mold than something intentional, but that might just be me. Otherwise, this is a surprisingly solid piece for such a low end figure.

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Donning the native dress of the Alabasta Kingdom is a big change from Nami’s familiar jeans and bikini top, but I think it makes for a distinctive figure and allowed for a lot more creative license in the sculpt. Both the dress and the half-jacket that she has tied around her top are separate, permanently attached pieces, so there’s a nice feeling of depth and complexity here. The billowing of the dress adds a bit of energy to the pose and allows the figure to show off a little leg… or a lot of legs, depending on which angle your viewing her from. The detail on her arm bands and bangles is appreciated, and while the portrait is pretty simple, it’s undeniably Nami with short cropped hair.

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The paintwork is quite good. There’s some faint blue used on the dress to make it look like thin cloth even though the plastic used is actually quite thick. The blue paint on her waist fringe and ornamentation on her top is all neatly applied. I’ve certainly seen worse examples on far more expensive figures. The eyes are printed on, so no worries there, and they even bothered to paint her toenails. The skin tone is also even and natural looking with none of that awful waxy finish I’ve sometimes encountered in budget figures. All in all, a very nice figure. And now for the fan service…

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Awww, yeah! If exotic Eastern dresses aren’t your cup of tea, here’s just plain old Nami walking along in a bikini and enjoying a refreshing ice cream cone. Nothing wrong with that! There’s not a lot of wardrobe to talk about here and by extension not an abundance of paint operations or unique sculpting. Nami looks as fit as ever and, the skin tone here is again quite good and I’m happy to say there’s no ugly seams to ruin it.

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Despite the simple and skimpy outfit, the paint and sculpt still feature some nice flourishes. The tied strings for her bikini top look good as does the ornamental waist chain that rests on her hips. And uh-oh, she looks like she’s slipping out a bit in the back. I also think it’s funny that Banpresto put the copyright information across one half of her backside. I guess there was really nowhere else to put it. The paint is excellent with a very nice shade of blue for the bikini and some sharp patterns on the top. And of course her tattoo is neatly printed on her left shoulder.

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The portrait is very similar to the Alabasta figure, but this time she’s licking her lips and the hair, while still short, is a completely different sculpt. The ice cream cone in her left hand looks good enough to eat! Also, both figures feature the same plain black disk with peg holes to hold the figure in place.

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At around sixteen bucks a pop, drunk or not, how could I go wrong? These Namis are damn great and I can wholeheartedly endorse having them even now that I’ve sobered up. Sure, I wouldn’t mind having a better example of her in my collection, but my confidence is still shaken from the dreaded Bootleg Nami incident of 2014. These are nice enough that I could have easily Featured these figures separately, but the truth is I have so many anime figures to go through that it would take me a ton of Saturdays just to get to them all. I’m still thinking about looking at my Figmas and Figuarts during the week and saving Anime Saturdays just for statues and prize figures. Now, with that having been said, next Saturday I’m going back to Kantai Collection with a look at a relatively new(ish) line from Figma… FigFix!

Creator X Creator (One Piece): Nami “Sea Nymph” Figure by Banpresto

For a long while, One Piece was my go-to show for when I came back from The Pub at 2am drunk out of my mind. I don’t think I’ve actually seen an episode sober and I don’t think I’ve ever picked up a piece of One Piece merchandise while sober either. Actually, scratch that… there was the dreaded Bootleg Nami Statue Incident, but that was an exception to the rule and it still hurts so I don’t want to talk about it. Anyway, I recently grabbed a couple of Nami statues off of Amazon while simmering in a Jameson-induced state and I thought I’d open one of these up and take a look today…

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This “Sea Nymph” inspired Nami is part of Banpresto’s Creator X Creator line and dubbed a “Deluxe” (DX) figure, which I presume is to separate it from the lower end prize figures. Although this piece is pretty low end itself, so I guess I should say to separate it from the lower-lower end prize figures. I’m honestly out of my element here, so that’s a lot of presuming on my end. What I can say for sure is that the statue comes in an entirely enclosed box, which is conspicuous because I’m used to seeing window boxes, even on the cheaper statues like this one and it made me all the more worried about what I was going to find inside. Well, inside is the most utilitarian packing for any import statue I’ve picked up. It’s just pieces of cardboard and plastic bags.

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But once I got her free of the packing and all set up, this is what I’m dealing with… The intrepid navigator of the Straw Hat Pirates, Nami is posed swimming beneath the waves in a very skimpy bikini and looking not bad at all. She’s about 5 1/2-inches tall on her base, which makes her smaller than the 1/7 or 1/8 scale of most of my anime-inspired statue collection, but she’s certainly not tiny. The pose has her arching her back, showing off two of her finest assets, and with her legs kicking up behind her making the statue best viewed from slightly above level.

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Nami features some smooth and even skin tones, which is nice because there certainly is a lot of skin showing here. Her blue tattoo is neatly printed on her left bicep and her bracelets are present on the same arm. The bikini, what there is of it, is a shimmery white with sculpted strings tied on either of her hips and on on her back. The portrait is pretty simple and a little upstaged by her rather striking fiery red hair, which fans out a bit behind her head.

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Her base is a sculpted pedestal of aquatic coral that firmly cradles her legs so the figure can be picked up and replaced with ease.

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Lastly, you get a pair of optional flippers that slide right onto her feet and really complete the look.

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When it comes to the often bitter fruits of Drunk Amazon Browsing, I’d say this purchase was a success. Sure, I didn’t neeeed this statue, but considering it cost just under $13 shipped(!), it’s hard to complain. Quite frankly, I was expecting a piece of crap, and what I got is actually a quite decent figure. The quality of the plastic is good and while the paint on the bikini is rather thin and susceptible to scratching, the overall quality of the paintwork is excellent. If I had an aquarium this would be a pretty cool decoration to sink to the bottom of it. Dammit, now I want an aquarium. Anyway, as I mentioned coming in, I picked up this one with another Nami figure, which I’ll try to get around to looking at next weekend.

S.H. Figuarts: One Piece Nami by Bandai Tamashii Nations

Holy hell, it’s my first foray into the wonderful world of S.H. Figuarts. This momentous event was supposed to start with a different figure, but since that one will be the first in a series, I thought I’d get Nami out of the way beforehand. I don’t have any immediate plans to pick up any more One Piece Figuarts, so she is most likely going to be a stand-alone acquisition. Anyway, some of you may remember a few weeks back that I picked up the Portraits of Pirates Nami Ex Model Statue by MegaHouse. Only it wasn’t by MegaHouse. It was by MegaBootlegs!!! I promptly sent it back and got my money refunded, which in itself is a joke. They’re like, “Oh, you caught us selling illegal bootlegs. Bad on us. Have your money back and we’ll never speak of this again.” Screw that… I want Interpol raining down on your asses!!! It would be one thing if it was a couple of crooks, but it was Amazon. I decided to roll some of that money over and try my luck on this version of Nami. Let’s take a look at the spunky navigator of the Straw Hat Pirates…

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There’s the box and… HOLY SHIT, IT’S ANOTHER BOOTLEG! Nah, just kidding. This one is legit. The box, however, was a little rougher than I had hoped. To say it’s rather shopworn would be an understatement. Normally it wouldn’t bother me, but I tend to keep packaging for figures like these to hold all the extras bits, and it’ll still serve that purpose just fine. The box features a simple map motif with a big window on the front to show off the figure. The back has some photos of the figure in action along with a bunch of copy in Japanese, which I can’t read. Nami comes nestled in a clear plastic tray surrounded by a crapload of extras.

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And there’s Nami looking as cute as ever. They did a wonderful job capturing all the nuances of the character. She comes clad in a top, which amounts to little more than a short vest to cover her boobs, and a really short skirt pleaded skirt. My favorite look for Nami is her jeans and bikini top, but this one works fine too. It’s cool that the bangles on her left wrist are both separate pieces… until you swap that hand and they go flying of onto the floor. It took me like ten minutes to find them again. I’d say the only odd thing about the sculpt is her enormous feet, which I suppose she needs because can be a tough figure to keep standing. And after going back and checking it does tend to agree with much of the artwork. Overall the paint is pretty good, although there’s a little bit of slop on her sandals and some slight inconsistencies in her skin tone, mostly on the backs of her legs.

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Of course, articulation is what Figuarts are all about and I dare say I had quite a lot of fun messing around with her poseability. In fact, I kept her sitting on my computer for about a week so that I could pick up and play with her on my downtime and in doing so she’s become quite a fun distraction. The skirt does inhibit some of her hip articulation, but overall what’s here is certainly good. Of course, there’s a tradeoff between the articulation and rather unsightly jointing. It doesn’t necessarily lend itself all that well to a figure with bare arms and legs, but I can live with it.

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Nami comes with a bunch of stuff, and most of it amounts to extra hands and faces. Yup, you get a total of five interchangeable faces. In addition to the normal one that comes on the figure, there’s also one with a bit more of a sly look with a smirk and her eyes looking off to the side. The other three faces consist of her crazed angry expression, the classic “greedy dollar signs in the eyes” expression, and a super happy expression with her eyes closed and a huge smile. The faces are swapped out by removing the front of her hair and then just pulling off the face and tabbing in the replacement. It’s easy to do, but it can be rather unsettling. Actually, now that I think about it anytime anime style emotive faces are translated to 3D it creeps me the hell out. The extra faces are fun to play around with, but I’ll likely stick to one of the two more conventional expressions for everyday display. As for the hands… well, they went overboard on the hands. Do I really need this many hands? You get a pair of fists, a pair of open hands, a pair of open hands slightly splayed out, a pair of weapon holding hands, and a thumbs up hand. Changing the hands out is a bit precarious because those posts sure are tiny.

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Last, but not least, you get two complete versions of Nami’s Clima Tact: Assembled and separated into three parts. One of the three parts has an attachment to peg it to the back of her skirt, which requires removing the plug that’s normally there. You also get an effect part for the tip of the assembled one.

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Nami’s definitely an unbelievably fun little figure, and considering that I picked her up for about $25 shipped, I have no complaints. Well, actually I do have one. She didn’t come with a stand. The stand that I used when shooting her is from another S.H. Figuarts release. Even for normal poses, Nami can be tough to keep standing on her feet, but when you really take advantage of her crazy articulation, you pretty much need a stand if you’re going to display her in action. Now, with all that having been said, I’m not sure that getting this figure has fully satisfied my desire to own a proper statue of the character. And so the hunt continues.

Next week we’ll revisit the S.H. Figuarts line for a little… MOON TIARA ACTION!!!

One Piece, Portraits of Pirates Sailing Again: Nami Excellent Model Series by Megahouse… NOPE! BOOTLEG!!!

Well, Toyhounds, I had a really shitty day today and the only thing getting me through it was knowing that I had a package waiting for me at home with a brand new One Piece statue of Nami. Mmm… Nami. She could gum gum my rubber person anyday. Yes, I’m a feller who does indeed enjoy his One Piece and I’ve been rewatching the series in looong marathon sessions with lots of alcohol. This is a ritualistic endurance practice that I do not recommend for the weak-minded as it could result in madness, but in truth I can only watch One Piece when thoroughly inebriated. Anyway, so after my horrid day, I got home, poured myself a nice Scotch, and opened up my box only to find out that my Nami was indeed a piece of shit knock-off. I’m not going to waste a lot of time on this disappointment, but let’s take a look at her anyway.

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And there she is in her window box. The deco consists mostly of different shots of the statue and a colorful background that suits the anime source material. This one was a little shopworn, but it was still sealed, so there wasn’t anything to really worry me. The box actually appears to be the spitting image of the official product package, but naturally, the text is all Japanese and it could very well say, “Ha Ha… You paid for a bootleg, stupid!” Inside the box Nami comes between two plastic trays with the stand behind one of them.

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So, the moment I had her out of the box, I knew something was amiss because the statue looks like poop and Megahouse does not make poop. There are various scratches and imperfections on her skin and the paint on her bikini top is faded. At first, I thought it might have just been a badly used piece that was being sold as new, but it didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t the kind of swindle I had been subjected to. The paint is horrendous. There’s all sorts of paint slop between her skin and her jeans and her hair is a gloppy mess. Even on a bad day, Megahouse wouldn’t let anything nearly this bad get through their quality control. The skin is also waxier than it should be. Seriously, parts of this statue literally look like they’re sculpted out of candle wax. The eye coloring is also totally wrong.  The other, and more definitive, tell-tale sign is that the bangle on her left wrist is black instead of a coppery, bronze. The base is another great indicator of bootleggery too, as if you hold it up to the light you can literally see right through it. It’s also made of such flimsy plastic that it can barely hold her up, even though it’s absolutely huge.

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And so, I came to the table today hoping to share my Nami love through a beautiful statue and I had to do this disappointing feature instead. I got this piece of crap from a Marketplace seller on Amazon and as soon as I was done shooting her for this feature, she went right back into the box and is getting shipped back for a full refund. It’s sad and surprising to know that Amazon is participating in the sale of bootlegs, as this one was actually marked as “fullfilled by Amazon.” The shame of it is, I would have gladly picked this one up from one of my regular and more reliable sources, but nobody else has her in stock anymore, leading me to trawl for her in the more unseamly back allies of Internet Nami Statue commerce. I’m still quite keen on getting the real thing, but I guess I’ll have to hunt her on Ebay and hope for a more honest seller.