Replicade Sixth-Scale Centipede Cabinet by New Wave Toys

Good morning, Toyhounds… Today’s review is a bit different, as it straddles a fine line between collectible and video game. It’s actually both! And the subject of a Kickstarter that I backed last year by New Wave Toys. This Sixth-Scale fully operational Centipede cabinet is intended to be the flagship release in a series of Replicade cabinets and the Kickstarter was a huge success. Not only was it easily funded, but the project runners did a great job of keeping backers in the loop with plenty of updates and videos along the way. The original shipping date was supposed to be April, but it arrived to me this week. All in all, that’s not too bad a delay for Kickstarter projects. It’s easy to excuse delays when the project directors use the time getting things right and from the looks of it, it was time well spent.

The cabinet comes in a colorful shoebox style box, fully illustrated with a nice matte finish and plenty of pictures of what’s inside. Lift off the top and the goodies are wrapped in soft foam and plastic. The presentation is nice and professional and everything is collector friendly. The cabinet itself comes all ready to go, you just have to plug it in, peel the protective plastic off the screen and you’re ready to start blasting away at some goddamn centipedes.

Included in the box is a baggie with a micro USB charging cable, an instruction booklet, and a packet of miniature arcade tokens, which you can actually feed into the coin slots, or place on the deck to relay the message: “Back off, man, I’ve got the next game!” The unit can be played right away if you plug it in, otherwise it takes some time to charge in order to play off the battery. I originally charged it for an hour and found that it was still not enough. I was a bit worried the battery might be having problems, but I left it charge overnight and found that was all it took. There’s a charging light on top and when it turns from red to green, you know you’re good to go!

Also included is this die-cast Atari replica coin slot key-chain. It’s a satisfyingly heavy piece with textured edges and if you press in the face plate it lights up red. I love this thing, even if it is too heavy for me to ever use it for a key-chain. I’ll likely wind up displaying it somewhere near the cabinet itself. The key-chain was available as a $25 pledge reward, but it was also included with the cabinet at the tier that I backed. It also looks like it’s going to be included in the retail release of the cabinet. OK, enough with the extras… let’s get on to the main event!

Out of the box and measuring in at just under 12-inches tall, I have to say this cabinet is an impressive piece of design and craftsmanship. With so many cheaper playable mini cabinets on the market these days, this one really needed to stand out and now that I have it in hand, I can comfortably affirm that it does. From the shape of the cabinet to the choice of materials and attention to detail, these guys did their homework resulting in a replica cabinet that does its full-sized cousin proud. Everything about this piece exudes quality.

The marquee on the top lights up to call attention to the crisp and colorful transparency. It automatically comes on during the boot-up routine and will stay on until you power down the cabinet. There is an option in the menu screen to disable the light, but I don’t know why anybody would want to do that. The boot up is not your typical ROM boot up, but rather shows the New Wave Toys logo, followed by a screen that proudly proclaims the cabinet to be fully licensed by Atari.

The side panels are wood with beveled edges and the artwork on the sides is printed on, which was definitely the way to, as opposed to slapping on some stickers. The coloring is vibrant and reminds me of why I’ve always had a thing for early Atari artwork. Looking back, it’s like they were compensating for the simple graphics by drumming up the excitement with this stuff. It’s a lost art these days, but boy does it mash down on my nostalgia buttons. It’s a shame that most of the arcades I visited back in the day used to pack these cabinets so close that a lot of the time you couldn’t see the artwork.

And speaking of mashing buttons, the control deck has a nice satin finish with plenty of color. The deck features light up player select buttons, a fire button, and a track ball. During production, the development team posted videos about the challenge of getting the track ball to perform just right. They even added a sensitivity toggle in the menu screen. I think it works pretty damn smooth on the default setting, but the option is there to tweak its sensitivity up or down a notch. The construction here is all around solid with the buttons are all a perfect fit. The controls respond beautifully.

Indeed, I think I was most surprised about how comfortable this thing is to play. I was expecting a highly accurate scaled replica with the novelty of being able to turn it on and play it, but I didn’t really expect to spend a huge amount of time playing it. And yet that’s exactly what I’ve been doing since it turned up. Playing it doesn’t feel awkward or cramped at all, and before I knew it I was just lost in the game and trying to get my name on the High Score roster. And yes, the cabinet does save scores after you turn it off.

Below the deck you get the light up coin slots on a metal plate, and as mentioned earlier you can actually feed the tiny tokens into the slots. There’s a key sculpted permanently into the lock, which allows you to open it up revealing a little storage compartment inside. Pressing the left coin slot button will add credits to the game, while pressing the right coin slot button will bring up the options menu. In addition to controlling the track ball sensitivity and the marquee light, this menu also lets you adjust the volume and the brightness of the screen.

The back of the unit features the speaker, which puts out some very clear sound. The sound effects in Centipede are so damn iconic and they are reproduced beautifully by the machine. The default volume setting is where I keep it, but there’s room to turn it up even louder. The back also features a faux access hatch with sculpted keyhole and below it is a sticker designated this as one of the limited Backer Edition cabinets. The bottom of the cab has four rubber feet to keep it from slipping.

This initial cab has received some very positive (and well deserved) write-ups in some pretty prominent magazines and in addition to now being for sale at New Wave Toys’ website, it looks like some retailers like Best Buy, are offering pre-orders. If you can’t tell, I’m very happy with this purchase. I got in on the early bird tier of the Kickstarter, which means this beauty only cost $90. That’s quite a step down from the $160 it’s selling for now, but even at the higher price point it’s easy to see where the money went.  Every aspect of this little cabinet shows care and craftsmanship and I truly believe that this is a labor of love on behalf of its developers. I’m not usually a fan of people launching another Kickstarter project before the first is fulfilled, but I still took a gamble and jumped on their Tempest cabinet and with this one in hand, now I’m very glad I did.

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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!

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus Collector’s Edition “Terror Billy” Sixth-Scale Figure

What the hell is this? A review of a PS4 game? Yeah, you may think that the subject of today’s review is a weird item to mix in among my usual toy talk, but you’d be wrong. I’m not here to talk much about the game, but rather the Vintage-GI JOE-style action figure of BJ Blaskowicz that comes bundled in with this collector’s edition of the game. I count the original Wolfenstein 3D as one of the most influential games of its time, and there’s been a sad lack of merchandise for it. Probably because of the whole Nazi thing. But BJ and I have together blasted our way through countless miles of corridors and it’s about damn time that I have an action figure based on him.

Holy hell, this box is huge! When it comes to video games, I don’t tend to buy a lot of crazy Limited Editions because their odd sizes messes up the feng shui of my game shelves. Yeah, I really am that OCD. Obviously this one had to be upscaled to accomodate the sixth-scale figure inside. The game itself also comes in a steelbook, so I can actually fit it on my shelf. But the overall package looks like a gigantic PS4 game box. But that’s just a sleeve that lifts off to reveal the inner box.

And it’s here where the presentation just oozes charm because it is so delightfully meta. This is supposed to be an action figure from the in-game universe, where the Nazis are in power and instead of GI JOE, they have the ELITE HANS line of action figures, and this figure is marketed as Terror Billy, because our hero is a villain to them. Bethesda even produced their own in-universe toy commercial, which is pretty spectacular and makes me wish they actually produced all those other figures. Anyway, the box has a decidedly vintage feel to it, complete with some faux weathering and a window to show off Billy. The side panels include a fake Collect Them All line up on one side and Billy’s inventory of weapons on the other side. Inside the box, BJ comes in a large molded plastic tray with his weapons and jacket laid out beside him.

First off, I have to say for a collectible pack-in they did a really nice job on this figure. It’s just the right mix of retro feel, while still being a quality figure. The underlying body features some very workable articulation with only the lack of any kind of arm or leg swivels to restrict what he can do. And the absence of bicep swivels really hurts. It’s a shame that I’m not going to get a lot of cool poses out of him, but he’s still a lot of fun to mess around with and feels a lot like an old GI JOE. 

BJ’s outfit features a yellow and black leather-like jacket with elbow patches, a working zipper and some cool art on the back. The stitching is all nice and neat and it fits the figure quite well. Under that you get a yellow short-sleeved t-shirt with Ranger Airborne on the front. The cargo-style pants feature stitched pockets and buttons, and the boots are soft plastic sculpted with laces.

The head sculpt is excellent for what this is. It looks a little GI JOE like, but it’s also a nice representation of BJ’s likeness in the game. Oddly enough, the one they show in the commercial has a scar, whereas the figure in hand does not.

BJ also comes with his brown bomber jacket, and oh boy was this a bitch to get on him. It’s a tight fit around the shoulders and his hands were really tough to get through the sleeves. In the end, I was able to do it, but it really works against the arm articulation because it’s so snug. The jacket features a fur collar, stitched pocket, buttons down the front, and a velcro strip to close the front flap. Unfortunately, I don’t think the jacket looks all that great on him. While I appreciate the fur in the collar, the faux-leather pattern isn’t terribly convincing and it just looks stiff. It’s kind of a shame, because this is his more iconic look, but then it’s pretty amazing that Bethesda included an extra jacket in with this figure, so I’m willing to be pretty forgiving.

Finally, the figure comes with five weapons, four are guns from the game (the Dieselkraftwerk, Schockhammer X, Laserkraftwerk, and Maschinenpistole), plus you also get the axe which he uses for silent take-downs and melee finishes. These are all sculpted in solid pieces of plastic, and while the sculpts are pretty soft, they have some nice detail in them. BJ’s right hand is designed to hold them pretty well, but because there’s no swivel articulation in the arm, you can’t really get him to do much with them. It also would have been nice to give him a gun-holding left hand, since dual-wielding is an option in the game.

I don’t know how much this set cost originally. I happened to find it while digging through a dying Best Buy. It was on a clearance shelf for $39.99, which was worth it for the price of the game alone. BJ has spent most of his career as a non-character, but The New Order and The New Colossus instilled more character into him than most video game heroes, so it’s nice to finally have a figure of him in my collection. Sure, I would have rather someone like NECA grabbed this license and gave us a full line-up, but this works just fine as a consolation prize. More often than not premiums like this just tend to be statues, and those are nice, but this really feels like some serious thought went into it. The figure will appeal more to collectors with a nostalgia for the old 12-inch GI JOE’s, and I to be honest, the real draw here is just displaying the figure in its box.

Crash Bandicoot by NECA

Do you remember the Great Mascot Wars of the 90’s? After SEGA’s Sonic The Hedgehog arrived on the scene to challenge Mario it seemed like every game publisher out there was hell bent on developing a new animal mascot with The ‘Tude©. A few of these turned out OK, most were terrible, but from the ashes a new champion was born. In 1996 developer Naughty Dog gave us Crash Bandicoot, which was published by Sony and soon became a mascot for the Sony PlayStation until eventually flying the coop and going multi-platform. I’m glad that he’s on multiple platforms now, I’m playing N-Sane Trilogy on my Nintendo Switch and enjoying it every bit as much as the originals, but if my interactions with idiots on Twitter are any indication, there are a lot of younger folks out there that aren’t even aware that Crash was such an important poster child for the PlayStation. Kinda sad.

And with his original three games now rebuilt from the ground up, along comes NECA to deliver some toys! This Crash figure is the first in a number of offerings NECA has revealed. Also recently shown off at  SDCC were Crash with a jetpack and Crash with a hoverboard. But the first to arrive on the scene is plain old Crash. He comes in a sealed blister card, which isn’t collector friendly, but does offer up a nice whiff of plastic fumes when you break the seal. The packaging is colorful and there’s even a fun surprise folded up inside the insert. Let’s break this Bandicoot out and have a look!

Straight away, I’ve got to commend NECA on the sculpt. They really did a great job capturing Crash’s overall look and personality. A lot of the Mascots with Attitude came across as smug jerks to me, even Sonic, but I never got that feeling from Crash. OK, I mean the look he gives you when he’s about to mount the boar in Hog Wild is a little creepy, but overall I think this Bandicoot is a good guy and that really comes across in this figure. I think one of my favorite things here is the way they sculpted the fur, rather than just leaving him smooth. It definitely gets the point across that this figure is based more on the remake than the original games, but all in all I think it just makes for a better looking figure. The shorts are smooth with a sculpted waist tie, you can see his little white socks peaking out from the tops of his enormous sneakers, and the sneakers themselves are textured and have sculpted laces. His outfit is completed by a pair of finger-less gloves, complete with cut-outs on the backs of his hands, and sculpted stitching! This character has become so surprisingly iconic to me and this figure delivers on every bit of it.

Another thing that really stands out here is the coloring. Crash’s fur is comprised of multiple shades of orange from the bright yellow parts on his chest and and elbows to the darker shades on his shoulders and around his face. I can swear I remember reading an article in an old video game magazine saying something about how developers liked to use orange in their games because it looked particularly vibrant. True or not, it certainly looks great here in plastic. The blues of the pants have a nice glossy sheen to them and the paint lines are all neat and crisp, even on the shoe laces.

As far as the head goes, NECA totally nailed it. This portrait is all about the personality, and thanks to the ball jointed eyebrows, you can get some different expressions out of him. I want to say Palisades did this first with their Muppets line, but whatever the case it’s a really brilliant idea. I’ve definitely had some fun with it, and it’s just so cool to mess around with. His miss-matched pupils give him that slightly crazy look and his smile shows the delight and wonderment of a Bandicoot on a great adventure. Even his spiky fur mohawk looks great.

In addition to those eyebrows, Crash sports a decent amount of articulation throughout the rest of his body. NECA does love their rotating hinges, and here you get them in the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees. There’s a ball joint in the chest and neck, and ball joints in the hips as well.

 

As for accessories, Crash comes with a cardboard box that’s tucked between the folded inserts of the packaging. It’s pretty durable, significantly better than the ones that Jakks included with their World of Nintendo figures, and infinitely better than the tiny ones Hasbro included with their 4-inch Indiana Jones line. It tabs together well and it’s sturdy enough to hold Crash’s significant weight.

But… and here’s where the nitpicking begins, while the figure itself is fantastic, the package feels light on the accessories. Sure, Crash himself uses a lot of plastic, and I’m not expecting a bunch of stuff. It’s not the lack of a quantity of items, but rather the lack of a couple of key items. I really expected to get Aku Aku or even a foam peach and the lack of either really stings. With the follow up Crash variants being packed with jetpacks and hoverboards, this vanilla Crash release seemed like the best opportunity to get us those things. And I just don’t see how you can do a Crash Bandicoot figure without Aku Aku. If I were a betting man, I’d say they plan on releasing Aku Aku with Coco as an extra incentive for collectors to buy her. If that’s the case, I’m OK with it, because quite frankly I plan on being All-In on this line.

And the last thing I want to do is end this review on a negative, because I’m absolutely in love with this figure. The colors and sculpt come together in a way here that approaches Raziel, my favorite NECA video game figure of all time. But most of all, this release allows me to let go of one of my long-time holy grails, and that’s Resaurus’ Crash figures. For those that don’t remember, Resaurus was a toy company that cut their teeth on some great video game licenses like Duke Nukem, Sonic the Hedgehog, Quake, and Street Fighter. Their figures were great, but didn’t always age well, and most of mine wound up breaking. Resaurus’ Crash figures have become rather expensive on the secondary market, and while I look out for them, I never pulled the trigger. And now I don’t have to. My only hope is that NECA gets to a decent number of other characters. At the very least I’d love to get me Neo Cortex, Coco, Nitro Brio, and Tawna!

Half-Life 2: Gordon Freeman by NECA

1999 was a rough year for me, and I’m not just talking about the release of The Phantom Menace. HA! No, seriously. I was working a full time job while also trying to get my own business off the ground, and living in a shitty apartment with a difficult roommate. My downtime consisted of weekends playing games on my computer, which was propped up in the corner of my mostly unfurnished bedroom on a computer table made out of plastic totes and a wooden board. My PC was one of the few things of value that I owned that wasn’t in storage and it was my only means of escaping my dreary surroundings. Thank god, Half-Life came out when it did, because I was able to lose myself in it. It was the only thing that I looked forward to when I got home from work and playing it got me through a tough time. So, besides being such a mind-blowingly influential game for its time, it’ll always be extra special to me. Why did I gas on about all this in the intro? Because sometimes I like to point out that some of these bits of plastic that I collect do indeed have special meaning to me.

And here comes NECA giving the intrepid Gordon Freeman the action figure treatment. This is actually a re-issue of their original figure, and as you can see from the packaged shot, he’s based off of Gordon in Half-Life 2, a great game to be sure, but one that doesn’t instill as many strong memories for me as the first one does. Indeed, I’m drawing a blank on most of what happens in it and seriously considering giving it another play-through. So, yes, I would have rather had a new figure from the original game, but I’ll happily take this one as a consolation prize. And hell, it’s still amazing to me just how iconic Gordon Freeman has become despite him starring in a First-Person Shooter where you hardly ever see him. Anyway… enough about the games, let’s get this figure open and check him out!

Gordon comes wearing his trusty Black Mesa HEV (Hostile Environment) Suit. It’s still totally recognizable as the iconic suit from the original game, which was a Mark IV, but with some notable changes (both cosmetic and functional), upgrading it to a Mark V. Suffice it to say, NECA did an amazing job recreating the suit in 7-inch scale plastic form. Despite being all cast as part of the buck, it has a convincing layered look to its construction. The mesh under-suit can be seen between the armor pieces on the arms and legs, and it’s sculpted to have a very fine chain-mail-like texture. The armor plates feature various cut lines and the lambda logo on his chest is actually sculpted as well as painted.

The suit’s deco is darker and less polished looking than the Mark IV he wore at Dark Mesa, but it definitely fits the darker and dystopian feel of the second game. There’s less orange, but still enough to keep the sense of connection to the older suit. Most of it is done in matte colors, but you do get a little gloss on the red panels on the leg armor. I really like what NECA did with the finish on the shoulder armor as it has a cool unfinished metal patina to it. It really invokes an old medieval suit of armor feel to it, which again meshes well with the feel of the sequel. You get more of that rough metal finish to the armor pieces on the arm, only much darker. I especially like the hint of red padding that can be seen picking through the shoulder sockets. Finally, NECA did some nice weathering in both the sculpt and paint, including some scratching and scarring on the orange plates. This is a well-worn suit that shows off the wear-and-tear of Gordon’s adventures.

The portrait is excellent. This is definitely the slightly gruffer Gordon from HL2, but he hasn’t changed that much. He still sports the clean haircut and the neatly trimmed goatee. One of Gordon’s most iconic features has always been his nerd glasses and they are extremely well done here. Glasses on figures often come off as too large or bulky, but these are perfect. They’re cast in a separate piece, permanently attached to the head, and feature actual lenses. There’s a little bit of spray from the hair on his forehead, but it’s nothing too bad and looks more like dirt than anything else.

The articulation here is pretty solid, although a few of the points are a bit unconventional. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders and elbows, with the wrists attached using ball joints to allow the hands to swap out with his two additional accessory-holding hands. The torso features a ball joint under the chest and another set deep in the base of the neck. The odd bit I was referring to earlier are the hips, which feature pins running from the front and back to form a rotating hinge. They work fine, but they still always look weird to me, and these certainly do their part to identify Gordon as the reissue of an earlier release. Finally, the legs feature rotating hinges in the knees and ankles, and swivels in the thighs. Let’s move on to accessories!

Let’s face it, Gordon Freeman and his crowbar go together like King Arthur and Excalibur. Whether I was busting apart crates or putting the beat-down on head crabs, this trusty tool was always by my side. It’s not just an implement and a melee weapon, but it’s a symbol that Gordon Freeman is the average schlub turned action hero. Well, assuming your average schlub has a Ph.D in theoretical physics from MIT. Anyway, the crowbar is… well, it’s a crowbar. It’s an essential accessory, it sure comes in handy when you run out of ammo, but there isn’t a lot to say about it as an accessory. It has a nice weathered finish and you can see some of the red paint that’s been worn off of the handle. The right hand that comes on the figure can grip it nice and tight.

More interesting, and more central to HL2 is the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator and boy is that a mouthful! The Manipulator was created as a lifting tool, but it has the power to hurl heavy objects at enemies, which allows it to be classified as a pretty deadly weapon. Gordon’s second set of hands are designed specifically to hold the Manipulator and they do the job perfectly. This is a great looking piece with a lot of attention to detail, although I would advise caution when dealing with the mandibles at the end of the device as they appear to be frail. I’ll likely wind up keeping the box for Gordon, because I don’t want to risk bagging that accessory and having those mandibles wind up breaking or warping.

And Gordon also comes with a Pheropod, which he could use in the game to summon the Antlions to attack his targets. It’s a well-sculpted little ball that fits into one of Gordon’s left hands. A cool addition to be sure!

Finally, Gordon comes with a headcrab, which to me remains the all-time best copy of the Alien facehugger. These things were so damn annoying in the game and were equally creepy when you saw them attach themselves to unfortunate Black Mesa scientists and convert them into unwilling zombies. They kind of look like mutant roasted turkeys, and NECA did a fine job on this little static figure. From the blue veins that run under their golden roasted turkey skin to the unsettling orifice underneath that is meant to wrap around a person’s head and basically turn them into a bipedal murder vehicle. Ugh, it’s really disgusting inside that thing!

As grateful as I am to NECA for re-releasing this fantastic figure, I’m actually quite surprised they did. Sure, the prospect of a coveted Half-Life 3 is forever lurking in the dark corners of the PC Gaming community, but it’s been a long time since Half-Life 2 and sadly Gordon Freeman isn’t the household name he used to be. And as great as this figure is, I think this may be one of those figures where you really have to be centered on the character to appreciate how great it is. But for me, Gordon Freeman is monumental in his importance. He introduced the idea of the everyman protagonist to video games, which in turn made it easy for me to identify and put myself into the game. But most of all, he’ll always be a cherished character who was a symbol of relief in a rather rough year of my life, and I’m very happy to be able to add this figure to my shelf. I was on the fence over picking up their Chell reissue from Portal 2, but now I’m thinking I may go ahead and pick her up too.

Predator: “Concrete Jungle” Scarface by NECA

I’m slowly getting caught up on my NECA reviews, and that’s a good thing because I have a bunch more figures coming in the next week or so that will start filling up the hopper again. Today I’m checking out Scarface from the game Concrete Jungle. I originally played it on the PlayStation 2, but a little while ago I picked up a copy for the Xbox, since my OG Xbox is now rigged for HD. Alas, my poor old girl died on me shortly afterwards and I’ve only recently been able to do the surgery required to get her running again. If I’m being honest, Concrete Jungle is a decent game, but not a great one, although I’ll confess that I’ve enjoyed playing it a lot more than I enjoyed watching any of the films that followed after Predator 2.

I don’t know if NECA classifies this figure as one of their Ultimate releases, but the packaging suggests that it is. You get an extra thick window box with a folding front flap, and there are a lot of goodies inside. The box has plenty of pictures of the figure and accessories and, unlike NECA’s regular Predators, this packaging is totally collector friendly. Let the gushing begin!

Getting Scarface out of the box, I’m immediately greeted by a sense of awe that I rarely encounter with figures in this price range. Seriously! He’s big, he’s beefy, and he’s absolutely gorgeous. Sure, NECA knows their way around a Predator better than anyone other than Stan Winston. They’ve been sculpting these deadly interstellar hunters for ages now and they bring with it a passion that can be seen in the craftsmanship. Scarface features the same familiar body type as previous releases, with the creepy yellow-and-black skin and all kitted out with a sculpted body net. The outfit, on the other hand, is new and distinctive among previous Predator releases, and almost has a medieval flavor to it. For starters, you get some ragged chain-mail protecting the upper part of his torso and his groin. Segmented plate armor covers his shoulders, arms, hips, and lower legs. All of the plate armor is sculpted with pitting and wear, making it look like this dude has seen some major action in his day and the paint is totally convincing as weathered metal.

Some nice extra touches to the outfit include two human skulls, one mounted on his right shoulder and the other used as a belt-buckle. Both are missing their lower jaws and feature a realistic bone finish with a wash to bring out all the details. Additionally, he has a traditional bone sash hanging off his right shoulder and crossing his chest. Scarface also likes his spikes, as his armor is literally studded with them. He’s got some real sharp ones on his right shoulder, hip plates, and knee guards, and some more blunt and knobby ones running around his belt. He ties the outfit together with a ragged brown sash that obscures some of the chain-mail protecting his unmentionables.

As is often the case with NECA’s Predators, Scarface comes with both a masked and unmasked head, and both of these are works of art. The mask is a lot more intricate than what we saw on the City and Jungle Hunters. The configuration of the forehead is similar, but Scarface again sports some spikes on a short ridge that rises up from between his eyes. The almond-shaped eyes are black and soul-less as ever, but the biggest difference here comes in all the detail in the area that covers his mandibles, which looks damn cool and adds to the intimidation factor of the mask. The surface of the mask features the same worn and pitted look as the rest of his armor, and as always, I’m impressed by the individually sculpted dreadlocks. The final touch comes with the splash of red paint that covers the damaged side of his face.

A simple pop-and-swap gets you the unmasked look, and once again I’m faced with the impossible decision of which way to display this figure. Scarface’s naked visage features his mandibles open in full, bloodcurdling scream, allowing for quite the view of his alien oral cavity. Above, you can see his yellow, beady right eye as well as the vacant socket to the left where his horrific wound was suffered, granting him his nickname. I really need to invest in one of those packs of head stands that NECA has on the market, because not displaying both of these noggins is nothing short of a crime. Let’s move on to Scarface’s various instruments of killing…

No Predator feels complete without a shoulder-mounted plasmacaster, and Scarface’s is quite a doozy. The entire assembly tabs easily into the notches on his back and the weapon itself has a track that allows it to be slid forward and hinged into a firing position. NECA did not include a firing effect part with this figure, and I can’t say as I really miss it. If you absolutely must have one, you might be able to borrow from one of the previous releases. As usual, it’s a tight fit between the weapon and the head, but I’m used to that by now.

Next up, Scarface comes with this speargun. I’m pretty sure a version of this thing was seen in Predator 2, but it was really given its due in the Predator video games. The Concrete Jungle version is a bit more compact, not quite a rifle and not quite a pistol. I really dig the design of this thing, and the right hand is sculpted to hold it quite well.

Scarface also comes with this rather distinctive curved sword to hold in his left hand. The handle works so that it is above the blade, allowing for slashing moves with the serrated edge that rests past his elbow as well as downward swipes with the hooked edge that protrudes past his wrist. The exotic shape of the blade reminds me a bit of the Klingon swords from Star Trek and that’s not a bad thing. It’s a very utilitarian looking weapon, without any real ornamentation, save for the artistic curves of the blade.

And for added slicing, dicing, and skewering, Scarface has the retractable blades on his right gauntlet that we’ve seen with most previous Predators. As usual, these don’t actually retract into the gauntlet, but rather tab into the slots when you want to display him with them deployed. There’s also an open right hand that can be swapped out for when he’s not holding his spear gun.

And last, but not least, Scarface includes the opening wrist computer on his left gauntlet. The hinges on this one are a lot sturdier than they’ve been on some previous releases.

Generally speaking, I’ve been pretty good at resisting going nuts with NECA’s Predators line. It’s not that I don’t want to own them all, but I’m at that stage with my collecting, where I really have to think about how much space I have and how deep I want to go into any particular line. So far, I’ve restricted myself mostly to the boxed releases, and one or two of the carded ones. Whatever the case, I’m so very happy I decided to pick up Scarface, because he is a stand-out figure in a line populated almost entirely by stand-out figures. NECA worked their magic with this design and created a masterpiece of a figure that is far better than the rather average game deserved. I’ve had this one sitting around waiting to be opened for a while now, and I was actually surprised to see that he’s still available at the original MSRP of about $25, give or take a little, depending on where you find him. In terms of iconic designs, I’d say that the City and/or Jungle Predators are still the must-haves for any collection, but beyond that, you can’t go wrong picking up this bad boy. He’s quite simply a stunning figure.

Figma “Space Channel 5” Ulala (Orange Version) by Max Factory

“Groooove morning, Space Cats!” Are you ready for a rather unusual middle of the week Figma review? Yeah, most of my Figma reviews land on Anime Saturdays, but since this one is most definitely video game based, I thought I’d fit Ulala in the normal weekday rotation.  I’d forgive you if you aren’t instantly familiar with Space Channel 5‘s Star Reporter, because she hails from a game that premiered on the SEGA Dreamcast about 18 years ago. The sequel, along with a port of the original, came a little later to the US on the PlayStation 2, but after that Ulala’s been more or less relegated to appearing in stuff like SEGA All-Stars Racing and SEGA All-Stars Tennis. It’s a shame, because she’s a fun character and I think she deserved more of her own games. Now, why we’re getting a Figma release of her now, I have no idea, but I sure as hell ain’t complaining.

Ulala comes in a typical Figma window box, albeit it’s bigger than most to accommodate the three Morolians bundled with her. What are Morolians? Let me save some time and just link to a review of the game that I wrote way back when it first came out. I’ll wait… Back? OK, let’s proceed! The colors on the box are brighter than the usual Figma packaging and reflect the bright and trippy color scheme of the game. I’ll point out that Max Factory released two versions of Ulala, this one in her orange outfit from the original game, and another in her white outfit, from the sequel and a lot of her guest appearances. It was no contest for me, I went with orange and I was willing to pay the price, but more on that when we get to the end. Also, I’m not really sure what the “EX” means in the numbering scheme, but maybe someone out there can enlighten me. As always, the packaging here is collector friendly, but if you want to toss it out, they provide you with a Figma-branded Ziploc bag to keep all the stuff in.

And here she is out of the package and ready to get her groove on. Space Channel 5’s star reporter usually went through some outfit changes between levels of the game, but this is undoubtedly Ulala’s most iconic look for me with the orange miniskirt, cropped top, and high heeled platform boots. She has a blue belt sculpted around her right thigh and it features a peg so she can wear one of her guns on it. The coloring is certainly on point with her outfit consisting of a bright orange with white trim and red platforms on her boots. As an added bonus, the finish on the plastic does a nice job mimicking the glossy, rubber look that her outfit had in the game. Her chest features a perfectly printed Space Channel 5 logo and she has two blue jet packs strapped to her back. These are mounted on ball joints to allow for a little bit of re-positioning. That comes in handy for working with the included stand. And boy am I thankful for that stand, since Ulala’s boots make it rather difficult to get her to stay upright on her own.

The portrait here is spot on perfect for the Ulala’s on screen appearance. The paint on her makeup and eyebrows is super sharp and clean and her pigtails are set on ball joints to allow a little bit of movement when posing her. I particularly love the shade of pink they used for her hair. The portrait also includes her blue headset with microphone, which is permanently attached to the head.

Ulala only comes with one face, which is really odd as Figmas usually have an extra two or three to change the expressions. Instead, she has movable eyes! I own quite a few Figmas, but this is the first time I’ve encountered this sort of thing. They even provide a tool to move the eyes, and I had no idea what it was until I looked at the instructions. Basically, you remove the face as if you’re swapping it, and use the tool to direct the eyes where you want them to look. Now, Ulala didn’t really sport a lot of different expressions in the game, so I’m not really bummed out by the lack of extra faces, but at the same time, I don’t think I’ll be using the articulation in the eyes very much.

While the extra faces may be missing, Ulala compensates with a whole lot of hands. Not only is the usual sprue loaded up with four pairs, but she also has an extra pair in a baggie, plus the ones she comes wearing. Hands include relaxed fingers, splayed fingers, fists, pointing fingers, and two sets for holding her accessories. I don’t see a whole lot of use for her fists, but the accessory holding hands work well. And speaking of accessories… let’s take a look at what she’s got.

First off is her official Space Channel 5 news microphone and this little thing is beautiful. It’s cast in two shades of blue plastic and has tiny SC5 logos printed around the ring.

Next up are her twin pistols. These have a great retro sci-fi look to them that fits perfectly with the style of the show. Yes, she only has a place to wear one of the pistols. That was the case in the game as well, and through a good portion of the game she only has the single gun, but there are times when she busts out a second. One was to shoot Morolians and the other was to rescue hostages. But where does she keep that extra gun?

Ulala also comes with three little Morolians and these are just static pieces to display with her, but they look great and come in blue, yellow, and pink. I’ll toss out here that the white costume version of Ulala comes with three different colored Morolians, so if you want to get them all, you have to buy both versions. Who would be crazy enough to do that? Don’t tempt me!

And finally, the box includes the usual clear Figma stand with hinged arm and a peg adapter. If you own any Figmas then you already know what to expect here. I do have one gripe, though, and that’s the peg is not a very good fit for the hole in her back. With or without the adapter piece, it takes way too much force to get that thing to stay put. I’ve had a similar issue on one or two other Figmas in my collection, but it’s not the norm. Granted, it isn’t a huge complaint, but it can be annoying.

What’s also annoying is the price on this gal! For some reason this orange version of Space Channel 5’s star reporter dropped at just over $100 and that’s just stupid expensive for what’s included in the box. Did the articulated eyes add that much to the price? It certainly couldn’t have been the Morolians. I have Deluxe Figmas with elaborate accessories that cost a lot less than Ulala here. And with the white version dropping at $85 (also oddly expensive) the only reason I could possibly see for this one being $20 more is because most people are probably going to want the orange version. In any event, I wasn’t about to take any risks here and so I crushed that pre-order button the moment she went up. I certainly don’t regret it, as she’s a beautiful figure and a wonderful display piece to proclaim my undying love for the SEGA Dreamcast and it’s era of gaming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

RoboCop Vs Terminator: Future RoboCop by NECA

Wow, was it really over a month ago since I looked at NECA’s EndoCop and Terminator Dog from Dark Horse’s RoboCop Vs Terminator comic? I’m pretty sure I promised back then that I’d be back with a look at this Future RoboCop the following week, but things appear to have gotten away from me. Nonetheless, when I was picking up in the Toy Closet the other day, this guy fell off a stack and hit me in the head. It was clearly the Universe’s way of reminding me to make good on my promise. And finding a new NECA figure to open makes every day better! So let’s check him out!

If you were here for the EndoCop review, then you’ll know exactly what to expect from this packaging. The figure comes in a window box, but it has a hinged front flap that secures with the premium goodness of velcro. It’s also the same style packaging that NECA uses for their Ultimate figures and I hate it because it’s so nice and I can’t throw it out and it takes up so much space and oh my god, I have so many shelves of these things! Naturally, it’s all collector friendly, although I would recommend a modicum of care when removing Robo from the tray, as his legs pass through holes in it and he’s got those somewhat fragile pistons down there. The artwork on the box is superb as it looks like it’s straight out of the comic. It also compliments the artwork on the EndoCop box perfectly. The photos, on the other hand, are pretty awful. I don’t know what happened here, but most of the official promo shots of this figure look really rough and rushed. I’m glad I didn’t let that influence my decision to purchase it. Oh yeah, the lettering on the front flap is printed in rich foil blue and red and it looks super spiffy. The whole presentation is just a wonderful send up to the comic and a perfect example of how NECA pours their collective heart and soul into these projects.

And here he is out of the box and ready for action! Far in the future, Alex Murphy’s consciousness hides within Skynet’s artificial intelligence until the time is right to fabricate himself a new body. Augmented by Terminator technology and a new battle frame, RoboCop allies itself with the human resistance to take out Skynet and prevent the annihilation of mankind. At least that’s how I remember it. It’s been a while since I read this comic. As you can probably tell, there are a lot of parts shared between this figure and the EndoCop, indeed the bulk of the figure is very much the same, but there are also some cool new bits here as well. From the waist down the only thing that I can see different is the little device coming off of his right hip. I have no idea what this is, but I really hope someone can enlighten me. At first, I thought it might be a gun, but it doesn’t pivot into what would resemble a firing position. The torso is the same as the EndoCop’s and includes the fortified pistons and shoulder plates.

The right arm is the same, but his lower left arm has been replaced with what looks like a rocket launcher. The sculpt still features all the great little touches like the OCP branding on the leg and helmet, the working pistons on his lower legs and the backs of his upper arms, the thruster modules attached to the outsides of his lower legs, and the detail in the right hand is extremely intricate.

The head appears to be the same sculpt that NECA used for their regular RoboCop figures. The only major difference here is that the chin guard is painted silver instead of black. And speaking of paint, it looks great all over the figure. NECA did make use of some blue highlights here and there, and at first I thought this was to recreate that blue-purple hue the suit sometimes showed on screen. It sort of works at some angles, but it looks a bit obvious if you get in close. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that they were probably going for more of a comic coloring effect here, and if that’s the case… well, bravo!

From the back, we can see the biggest change on the figure in the form of his massive backpack-o-death. This thing is like a Swiss Army Knife of Mutual Assured Destruction. It’s got missiles, rockets, and something that looks like an anti-tank gun. Sadly none of these pieces are removable and are for display only, but holy crap does it look cool!

Future Robo does, however, have a mini-gun mounted behind his right shoulder that can be deployed for attack. I dig this thing a lot and it gives me a bit of a Predator feel. But lets not get them or the Aliens involved. This crossover is mind-bending enough.

And when a back full of ICBMs and mini-guns can’t get the job done, or just for old times’ sake, Future Robo also still comes with his trusty Auto-9 pistol. This looks like the exact same accessory that came with the EndoCop. It’s a decent enough sculpt, but it feels a little too flat and two-dimensional. The right hand can hold it perfectly and you can even thread the trigger finger through the guard.

After playing around with the EndoCop, I was pretty excited to get my hands on this figure and I have to say I am not disappointed. This line is so damn fun and it’s making me want to go back and pick up the RoboCop video game figures that NECA did a while back. I think if there are any fan complaints here, it’ll be that Future Robo and the EndoCop share so many parts, but you won’t hear me griping about it. They’re both accurate to the comic designs, and the ability to share so many parts is probably what allowed this project to happen, because I fear these figures will have a rather niche audience. To be honest, at this point I’ll take any new RoboCop figures that NECA is willing to produce. I just wish they could get some likeness rights and do an unmasked Murphy in this scale.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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