Women of Dynamite: Vampirella Limited Edition Statue by Dynamite

I know, I haven’t been back since Marvel Monday. My apologies for the lack of content this week, but that pesky thing called life took its toll on me and my time, along with plans to write about and photograph toys, crumbled. I did, however, have a little time today to check in with something, and since October is in full swing, why not check out a spooky statue. And by spooky I mean erotic. And by erotic I mean, it’s Vampirella! This was the first release in the Women of Dynamite series of statues, and one that I’ve had my eye on for a while. I mean, it’s Vampirella based on J. Scott Campbell’s artwork. How badly do you think you need to twist my arm? Alas, the paint quality on these statues have a reputation for being infamously bad, so I’ve stayed away. But when Dynamite subsequently re-released Vampirella and said, “We painted her good this time, honest!” that was enough for me to give her a try. Well, that and a deep discount, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.

The Temptress from Drakulon comes in a fully enclosed box with a lot of artwork and shots of the statue. I really dig the presentation here, as it sort of reminds me of the old Aurora model kit boxes, and that sure ain’t a bad thing. Oddly enough, one of the panels is orientated in landscape format, but it does this to facilitate showing the statue from all angles. The packaging calls out that it’s based on the art of J. Scott Campbell and that it’s sculpted by Jason Smith. One panel actually states that the statue was “meticulously painted” which probably went over big if you got one of the original run. Inside the box, Vampirella comes sandwiched inside a styrofoam brick and there’s a certificate taped on one end with the hand-numbered limitation. In my case, I got #970 of 1969. You may also note the II beside the number, denoting that this is from the second production run. Vampirella is approximately 12-inches of cold-cast porcelain and comes fully assembled for display.

When it comes to composition, Vampirella can’t get more iconic than this pose. She stands with one knee drawn slightly in front of the other and with her cape clutched in each of her hands, trailing behind her. This piece may not win any points for originality, but it’s sure to be a favorite with the fans, and yes that includes me. And since the first thing I did when I opened her was scrutinize the paint, let’s just go ahead and start there. Overall, the precision of the application is actually pretty solid. There are certainly some uneven lines between her skimpy suit and skin, but nothing outrageous, and certainly nothing that stands out if I’m just admiring her on the shelf. Other areas, like the lines around the tops of her boots or the edges of her jewelry are notably better. As for the quality of the paint itself, I dig the high gloss on her boots, the gold leaf is fine, and the red used for her outfit is OK, if maybe a little flat. The skin tone is appropriately on the pale side, but it’s still an even tone with no scratches or rubbing, which is sometimes prevalent on these pieces. All in all, the paintwork here isn’t going to win any prizes for best of show, but based on some of the atrocities I’ve seen from the first run of this statue, I think Dynamite succeeded in stepping things up.

As for the sculpt, I think they did a beautiful job on her figure and it certainly fits Mr. Campbell’s rather distinctive art style. She’s got curves in all the right places, legs that go on forever, a tushie that won’t quit, and a bosom that is barely contained by her wardrobe. But let’s be honest, it isn’t even really trying. She isn’t showing a whole lot in the way of musculature, but you do get some wrinkles on her suit, and the folds of her cape certainly look natural. But when it comes to replicating the great J. Scott Campbell, the body is not usually the problem, it’s the portrait…

And here’s where Vampirella takes a bit of a hit. Now, to be clear, I don’t think this is a bad portrait at all. Maybe the hair is a little chunky and the eyes can seem a little bulbous from certain angles, but overall, I think it looks good. The paint application here is also especially precise on the lips and eyes. But does it invoke Campbell’s work? Not to me. Maybe there’s a hint of it in there, but not enough to really sell it. As a result, the Vampirella fan in me is quite pleased, while the J. Scott Campbell fan in me is rather disappointed. It’s nowhere near what we’ve seen out of Sideshow’s Abbey Chase or Fairy Tail Statues this past year, and sure those are more expensive pieces, but I’d even point to McFarlane’s Danger Girl figures from many years back as more accurate representations of Campbell’s work. Let’s move on down to the base…

I love this base both in design and execution. The circular dais of stone with sculpted crossbones and skulls supports a mound of dirt with skulls and various other human remains. The paintwork on the bones is excellent and reeks of age and off-colored decay. Her high-heeled boots are perfectly placed on them, triumphant and impossibly sure-footed. If only I could end things there, but here’s where the Quality Control on my statue took a huge and unexpected hit. Check this shit out…

Yeah, this crud is all over the side. At first, I thought it was some kind of intentionally disgusting weathering, but nope, it’s unintentionally disgusting goo. It looks like some kind of grease. It has no real odor. And luckily, based on a small area I tried to clean, it looks like it will come off with a little effort. But… Why? How? What kind of QC allows something like this to go out? How do they miss this and how many statues went out like this? It’s a shame that Dynamite went through all the effort to re-release this statue with improved paint quality only to allow something this obvious and easily avoided to get through. If you flip the statue over, there’s a full plate disclosing the artist, sculptor and the numbering of the piece. And as you can see, more of the goo carried on down here. This bit might be tougher to clean without smudging the numbering, but I’ll likely give it a try. But what a shame!

Even when the second run of this piece came out, my hesitancy kept me from pulling the trigger. It took a clearance sale at an online retailer and a price of $50, which is around a third of the original selling price. And as it turns out, I’m pretty satisfied with this purchase. I don’t think that would have been the case had I picked it up at the original price, especially not when I have to clean goop off of the base, but all in all, not a bad deal. It’s not as evocative of J. Scott Campbell’s art as I would have liked, but it is a nice representation of Vampirella for my statue shelves. But does it give me the confidence to invest in one of the other Women of Dynamite statues I’ve been looking at? Mmm… not quite. At least not unless another sale comes along.

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Vampirella (Asian Edition) Sixth-Scale Figure by Phicen

Happy Halloween, folks! I don’t always do special content for the holidays, but this time I remembered to save a figure for just this occasion: Phicen’s Sixth-Scale Vampirella! And when you take Vampirella’s scant outfit and pair it with Phicen’s seamless female body, well… I can’t think of a better match between license and figure producer! Vampirella is one of those timeless characters that’s been around a long time and has enjoyed varying forms of success and popularity, and yet she never really seems to hit it big. Debuting in 1969 (she’s only a few years older than me!) as the host for a series of horror themed comics (think The Crypt-Keeper, only a lot nicer to look at) before eventually evolving into a lead character in her own adventures. I first discovered her in a stack of comics and adult stowed in a top shelf of one of my uncle’s bookcases. It wasn’t until the fairly recent Dynamite Comics run that I really reconnected with her and I can’t recommend that series enough! I got this figure a little ways back and ever since she’s been on my display shelf begging for some attention, so let’s check her out.

The figure arrives in an extra large brown mailer box, which is designed to accommodate not only the figure’s box, but also the block of styrofoam containing her base. Note the “Asian Edition” on the box? It’s there to signify that this initial release of the figure features a portrait designed with Asian features. And believe me, I’ll touch on that more when I discuss the portrait.

The figure itself comes in an illustrated box with a front cover that wraps around the sides and is held on by magnets. You get plenty of shots of the figure on the front, back, and side panels and naturally everything is collector friendly. While still relatively simple, I have to say the quality of the box and presentation here feels better than the standard window box and sleeve we’ve been getting from Hot Toys these days. Lift off the top and it reveals a foam tray, which holds the figure and her accessories. As with most Phicen figures, the head needs to be attached, and in this case her jewelry has to be put on.

Vampirella comes wearing her iconic and skimpy costume. I am told on good authority that it’s called a monokini, which is a type of swimsuit. OK. That works. In this case it’s crafted of vibrant red fabric and fits the figure perfectly. And by perfectly, I mean it’s snug. So snug that it doesn’t take much scrutiny to recognize that these figures are anatomically correct. The garment terminates at her neck with a flared white collar, which always gives me a smirk. It’s like her creators wanted to give her something a little more vampire-y, so they just tacked the collar onto her outfit. Brilliant! The only ornamentation on her red modesty-sling consists of a gold triangular medallion strategically placed, um… right where you see it up there in the photo. Her outfit is rounded out by a pair of stiletto-heeled boots, which are made from a pleather-like material and end just below her knees, an ornamental golden bicep cuff on her right arm, and two golden bangles on her wrists.

I’ve reviewed three Phicen figures this year, but if this is your first experience with them, then the thing to know is that the Phicen body consists of a fully articulated stainless steel skeleton wrapped in silicon that mimics not only the look (and sort of the feel) of skin, but also the musculature underneath it. What’s more, the skeleton is designed to articulate in a way that accurately reproduces the joints of a human being far better than just about any other action figure on the market. There are still some things they need to work on, like the elbows still look a bit flat to me when they bend, but other areas are downright incredible. I’m mesmerized by the way the torso can pivot and crunch and the way the ab muscles look so damn real. My other Phicen figures have much less-revealing costumes, so Vampirella is one of the first times I’m really getting to see everything at work on one of these bodies. Phicen has a number of different body types at their disposal and surprisingly they went for one of the more realistically proportioned ones for V here. Some have complained that her caboose doesn’t fill out the costume as well as it should, but it works fine for me.

And speaking of complaints, one of the loudest choruses of whining came from the fact that this “Asian Edition” uses an Asian head. The obvious complaint here being that Vampirella has never been depicted as someone with Asian features, and I can understand why that might irk some people. In reality, V isn’t really Caucasian either. She’s an alien from the planet Drakulon. I’ve already mentioned this at the beginning of this review, and I’ll touch on it more at the end. For the time being, let me just say that this head sculpt has grown on me quite a bit, to the point where I don’t really even notice the Asian features being out of place for the character. She’s attractive, they did some cool and crazy shit with her eye makeup, and I love the quality of paint they used on her lips. She even has a cute little birthmark just above her left cheek. The rooted hair can be a bit of a chore. It’s prone to getting caught in the neck seam, but with a little care it looks fantastic. When I first bought her, I thought I’d be quick on the hunt for a replacement head, but it isn’t really a priority for me any longer.

Vampirella comes with three sets of hands: Grasping, Relaxed, and what I can only describe as “Immagonnagetchu” clawing hands. If you read my previous Phicen reviews, than you may remember that I’ve had a hell of a time swapping out hands on these ladies. Instead of using a hinged peg, these hands go right onto the steel skeleton’s ball joint. Sometimes, they’re so hard to get out that the ball comes with them, and then you’ve got a whole world of headaches getting things right again. In the case of V, her hands pop off easily and go back on just as well. No fuss, no muss. And if the wrist seams on what is an otherwise seamless body bother you, those wrist bangles are nice to strategically cover them up. All of her hand sets feature really long and sharp fingernails, which require a bit of care, when having them interact with her delicate skin. I think a lot of what has been said about the extreme delicacy of these figures has been overstated, but you still have to be more careful with these than you would a regular plastic figure. Anyway, my favorites are the claw hands, although they don’t really match the serene expression on her face.

There is one more aspect to Vampirella’s costume that I neglected to mention, and that’s her cape. It fastens easily around her neck with a snap-clasp, and it is an absolutely beautiful little garment. It’s made of super soft material, and it’s black with a stitched red lining. It has a remarkable weight to it that allows it to fall about the figure in a very realistic manner, despite the scale. Also, this is where her grasping hands come in. They’re designed so that you can place the cape between her fingers and have her hold it out at arm’s length for some wonderful poses.

In addition to the hands and cape, Vampirella comes with a vampire skull, a vampire bat, and a diorama base. The skull and bat are just cool little props to use while displaying her. The bat has a clip near its feet so it can be clipped onto one of V’s fingers. It’s a nice looking piece, with excellent sculpted detail and paintwork, but the clip is ridiculously delicate and I can see it breaking very easily.

The base is easily the showpiece of V’s extras. It’s large and heavy and features a felt lined bottom. There’s a muddy patch of grass with some rocks and creepy vines, a pile of skulls, and a bone, and a couple of decrepit grave markers. This piece is so large that it comes encased in its own styrofoam brick inside the mailer box, but beside the actual figure’s packaging. It’s beautifully painted and I was really blown away by the quality of it. Hot Toys could learn something here, because with over 30 Hot Toys figures in my collection, I can honestly say that none of them have come with a base or stand as cool as this piece.

Now, on the downside, it doesn’t have any pegs (yes, Phicen figures have peg holes in the bottoms of their feet), which at first seemed like an oversight, however, the mound of skulls is actually intended to be something for her to sit on. She can also stand on the base very well, but with nothing supporting her, I wouldn’t trust displaying her like that, as she’s liable to take a shelf dive.

I picked up Vampirella for $145, which feels like a great deal in a market where it’s getting harder and harder to get a quality Sixth-Scale figure for under $200. Indeed, with Phicen’s bodies selling for around $100 by themselves, I’d say Vampirella and her accessories alone were worth the price, and it feels like the diorama base was a freebie. Now, here’s the sticking point around the whole “Asian Edition” controversy. I pre-ordered V when she was first solicited, because several of Phicen’s boxed figures have been selling out upon release lately. Was there eventually going to be a Non-“Asian Edition?” Nobody knew… until a couple of weeks ago when the “Western Edition” was revealed at the Shanghai Comic Con (of all places) and subsequently went up for pre-order at all the regular sites for around ten bucks more than the “Asian Edition.” Would I have preferred that version? Yes. Am I going to double-dip on this figure because of it? Probably not. Hey, these are the pitfalls of being an early adopter. When I pulled the trigger, I asked myself if I would be happy with this figure no matter what, and the answer was yes. And now that I have her in hand, I’m still very happy with her. She’s a great looking figure and I’m happy to have the character so beautifully represented in my collection.