In the anime figure world, Tony Taka is clearly the man of the moment, with Kotobukiya’s Daisy having generally received positive acclaim and with Native having recently put Touko on the Can up for preorder. Recently, however, it has been Alphamax who has shown the most enthusiasm for bringing Tony’s artwork into the three-dimensional world. In the last few months they’ve released not one, not two, but three figures based on his illustrations, including Iris, Rikka Himegami, and Velvet, the figure we’re looking at today. Velvet stands out a bit from her Skytube counterparts in that she is not an ero figure – unsurprising, being that she comes from a PSP game – and that she’s nominally a bit smaller than her catalog cousins. Nonetheless, I’m a big fan of Alphamax’s recent work, and I had high expectations for Velvet; happily, her quality is well in keeping with the standards set by her forebears.
Velvet Batrass (a rather unfortunate last name, in my opinion) comes from the Sega game Shining Ark, which was released on the Sony PSP early last year. I’ll spare everyone my usual rant about the state of Sega’s Shining series and simply note that while Shining Ark sounds like Shining the Holy Ark – one of my favorite games on the Sega Saturn – they don’t have anything in common, as far as I can tell.
While Shining the Holy Ark had a ninja heroine, Shining Ark’s Velvet is obviously a pirate (or at least, a girl who dresses up as one). Pirates have enjoyed something of a resurgence in popularity, chiefly driven, I’m sure, by Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. I’m a big fan of the historical Age of Sail but I have to admit I’ve never been that interested in pirates, or at least the typical pop culture representation of them, which is typically highly romanticized and often more comical than I like (I saw Pirates of the Caribbean mainly for the ships rather than Captain Jack or Legolas).
Pirates sometimes even get the sexy treatment, and Velvet obviously falls in that category, which overrides my otherwise formalist preference in regard to the theme. That’s only to be expected of a Tony Taka-designed female character, and while Velvet lacks full explicitness, she does look very appealing in her own right. First, though, the usual litany of statistics: Velvet is sculpted in 1/8 scale, and she sits a bit over 16.5 centimeters in height, including her high heels. While she is smaller than the Skytube figures – which are generally listed as 1/6 scale – she still looks quite large, about as large as Alter’s 1/8 scale figures (which are typically bigger than most). She comes with several accessories, including a pirate hat, a treasure chest – which features a removable lid, so you could secret your own treasures within it should you so desire – and a base, which is modeled to look like the deck of a ship. Her skirt is obviously removable, with her torso separating at the waist, just above the waistband of her bikini bottom.
Tony’s character designs are sometimes criticized for being a bit bland, and I can’t necessarily disagree with that, as he is a very prolific artist with both a singular style and commercial sensibilities and thus his art occasionally looks a bit repetitive. However, while Velvet’s face is very obviously based on Tony’s work, she looks quite striking, with a mutable expression that seems to fluctuate from an inviting smile to scornful disdain. Her blue eyes also command attention, providing a bright bit of color in an otherwise monochromatic design.
Another impressive aspect of this figure is Velvet’s hair, which is considerably more complex than that found on the average figure. Her tresses coil and tumble below her shoulders, with no bowling ball or helmet hair to be found here. Considering that she can wear a big pirate hat, I’m impressed that the sculptor put as much detail into her hair as he did.
Speaking of which, her hat is a loose accessory which can simply be placed on her head; no magnet is provided to keep it in place but one isn’t really needed. It’s a nice, feminine take on the tricorn hat so often associated with naval fashion. The big pink flower is another attractive touch that adds a splash of color.
If the hat weren’t enough of a clue, the big Jolly Roger on her bikini top clearly points her out as being a pirate. Her skimpy clothing obviously provides a large amount of her appeal. As does her pose; Velvet pulls off the rare trifecta of figure design, with her face, breasts, and buttocks all being visible at the same time from the most typical viewing angle.
Another appealing aspect of her design is the length of her legs. Tony often draws his female designs as looking a bit older than the typical anime character, with large breasts, slender waists, and long, fully-formed legs being typical in his work. This figure takes Velvet’s design a bit further, making her legs particularly lengthy. Indeed, each of her thighs seems to be about the same length (and size) as her whole torso. Her assertive high-heeled boots further enhance the sense of length of Velvet’s legs. I think this sort of character design might look a little awkward if Velvet were standing up, but it looks great here.
For those who prefer a less showy appearance for Velvet, she does have a miniskirt, which doesn’t really hide anything but provides a little more modesty.
I prefer to display her without the miniskirt; I figure that since she’s wearing a bikini top, she might as well show off the bottom part of her swimsuit as well. Removing the skirt does make her left hand more conspicuous, though, and the finger position she shows appears rather awkward. I know I can’t replicate her gesture myself; I’d be curious to know if anyone else can manage to lower their index and middle fingers while elevating their ring and pinky fingers like she’s doing.
The treasure chest is nicely modeled, though quite plastic-looking; nobody’s going to mistake this for an old wooden chest. It mounts to the base so that it doesn’t slide around. Speaking of the base, it’s not entirely necessary, but Velvet’s perch is quite unstable without it, as there’s a peg where Velvet’s foot can mount. Even so, she tends to topple over fairly easily.
Alphamax’s Velvet is a beautiful figure that maintains the tradition of quality and appeal established by Skytube’s earlier Tony-designed figures. She’s much more than just another Tony Taka swimsuit figure; she effects a strong sense of personality with her sharp, enigmatic expression and by the seductiveness of her pose. Her crossed legs and revealing swimsuit strongly emphasize her sexiness, which is another big plus. Of course, anyone who is a fan of the sexy female pirate motif will have another reason to like this figure; for everyone else, there is still a ton to like about Velvet, and I’m quite happy to have this figure in my collection.
Another review of Velvet is available at Reflective Boundary.