Let’s get back to more interesting things. I’ve skipped all of Alter’s preceding Nanoha figures other than the original Fate Testarossa, but I couldn’t pass up Vivio. I wonder how popular Vivio is; almost all of the Nanoha girls had reviews up on the web right away, but I don’t think I’ve seen any of the odd-eyed girl. It is time to remedy that.
Vivio comes from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS, the franchise’s third series. She first appears as a child, but as one might imagine she is not all that she appears to be. She takes Nanoha Takamachi’s surname but is also titled “Sankt Kaiser,” which a translator tells me means Saint King in German. I’m not sure what’s up with Japanese anime and its fetish for the German language; I wonder if it’s some latent cultural exchange tendency going back to the Axis days. In her adult form, Vivio fills out considerably and, as one can see here, she is more than capable of throwing down with the best of them.
Vivio is manufactured by Alter and is the latest – and possibly the last – of their StrikerS figure lineup. She’s ostensibly in 1/7 scale, and at 25 centimeters tall – 27.5 from the base to the top of her hair ribbon – it actually seems like they are underestimating her size. It’s very rare that a figure comes out larger than expected, and it’s another reason why Alter is the premier maker, the Kwisatz Haderach of the figure business.
She comes with a big square white base which is very boring compared to the dynamism of the figure. And while Vivio is attached to it by only one foot, it seems quite stable, as I had her mounted sideways on a wooden plank suspended over a bowl of water for a couple of hours and gravity seems to have had no adverse effect on her. Her only accessory is a little plastic energy ball which fits into a notch in the palm of her hand. Note that because her hand has that notch, there’s not really a way to display her without the ball, unless you substitute something in its place.
I love Vivio’s character design; with her tight bodysuit, armored corset, and cropped jacket, she could almost pass as one of Marvel’s X-Men. Now that I think about it, there’s not a lot of difference between the superheroes of American comic books and anime-style magical girls; one of the female X-Men – Kitty Pryde – even has a miniature dragon familiar, as does one of the characters in the Nanoha series.
Alter’s figure includes numerous details that many other manufacturers would overlook. The talons and curl of her fingers, the contrasting glossy finish of her jacket and the matte, leather-like look of her bodysuit, and the faux gems in her boots, gloves, and trailing edges of her lower jacket show an admirable obsessiveness towards craftsmanship.
One aspect of this figure that may give potential buyers pause is her face – and since the face is by far the most important part of any figure, that’s a significant issue. Specifically, I can see some people not liking the shape of her mouth, which is unusual indeed. It looks kind of like Pac-Man, and while I’ve seen hundreds of figures and tens of thousands of anime-style images, I don’t know if I’ve seen a mouth shaped like Pac-Man. The other thing is that it’s hard to discern what she’s expressing. When a figure has an open mouth like this, usually there’s some emotion being expressed – usually anger, in the case of an action pose, but here, Vivio doesn’t really look all that angry. Then again, given her background, maybe that’s an appropriate look.
I’ll admit that it took a little while to grow on me, but now that I can see her live and in person, I think she looks great.
Another thing that I like about Vivio’s sculpt are the contrasting widths of the tendrils of hair flowing out behind her. The way that they cross over and under each other adds a lot to the figure’s sense of movement. Also, she doesn’t have the sort of helmet hair that most figures have; lines are etched into her head to show her hair being pulled towards her sidetail, as it should be.
I’m certain it’s no surprise that Vivio’s paintwork is marvelous. I’ve mentioned the contrasting glossiness of her clothing, and they’ve also given her armored parts a metallic texture. Shading is evident on her legs along the blue segments of her bodysuit – perhaps it’s a just a bit heavy-handed, but it still looks great anyway.
Despite being generally unfamiliar with the Nanoha series, I’ve been looking forward to Vivio since her debut, and Alter has exceeded my expectations in providing a figure that not only looks every bit as good as she did in the promo photos, but is also much larger than what I was hoping for. Vivio looks so good that I also sprung for Alter’s Fate T. Harlaown figure – and of course, the day she got here is the day her re-release is announced. Of course. I’m not unhappy at all though since Vivio needs a partner and Fate works pretty well in that role – visually, at least. I’d call this figure one of the best of this year and looking at what I’ve got preordered, I wouldn’t be surprised if Vivio wound up being my favorite of 2010.
One thing that I’m no good at is photographing multiple figures. I don’t have a good sense of depth of field and I don’t have a lot of room to shoot, which limits my ability to back up. I think I wound up shooting this shot at like f/18, which then created another problem in that I didn’t have enough power for my lights to get the effect that I wanted. Being lazy, I just wound up jacking up the ISO.
Anyway, if anybody wants some wallpapers of Vivio and Fate looking cute together, the last shot and the next one are at 1920×1200 resolution. I guess I’ll make some old-resolution versions later on, when I need a filler post.
I wound up taking over three hundred shots of Vivio, of which maybe 250 were me just noodling around, trying out some things to see what would happen. I was surprised as hell when I looked at my camera’s battery charge and it was down to like a third after I’d recharged it the night before. Still got a lot to learn.
I wonder what the odds are of Alter making a figure of Ginga? I wouldn’t mind seeing that.
You just made me realized how long ago since I last stopped by here >.< gomen gomen.
Good stuff, the background effect of this set is just simply badass! Given that Vivio is infact some sort of a relic of the past, and iirc I think she was referred to as "Saint King" in her adult form.
The shot with Fate and Vivio is simply too awesome for words! The last shot is genius too!
It is all good, I figure it’s kinda like college … even after you graduate and everyone moves off and don’t really stay in touch with people you knew, everyone is still just one click away.
Thanks! It took me a while to try to come up with background ideas … I did four separate shoots, actually, since a lot of my ideas didn’t work out nearly as well as I had hoped they would. I had the review written up and my cursor over the publish button before I decided to clear off the desk and shoot the photos with the red background.
Breasts and bodysuits are always a divine combination, but what do you think about her hair? For me, the one thing that bothered me about Vivio’s character design has always been the hair — you have this grown woman in a skintight suit, yet she still wears a kid’s hairstyle and ribbon. I guess it’s a way make the connection back to her loli self, but man, it kind of feels like putting diaper on a supermodel.
Amazing photos as always! How did you manage the water vortex effect?
I actually like it a lot, since as I understand it, she is not entirely in control of her faculties in this form so it gives her a touch of youthful innocence. I could be completely off-base on that, though; I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of StrikerS. Maybe I ought to go through with my plan to just watch all the episodes that are prime numbers to expedite my viewing.
I tied the figure to a board and stood her up sideways over a big bowl of water, set the camera on its self-timer, and stirred the water with my hand. I really could’ve used a remote cable release but Best Buy didn’t have one. In fact, the motherless turds didn’t have any DSLRs on display to play with; very disappointing, as I wanted to fiddle with some Nikon cameras to see how the other half lives.
Edit: I’ve got a picture of my water setup. You can see Vivio looking indignant while she’s dangling over a bowl of water (maybe that’s the expression she has on her face?). I’ve got one flashgun at the top of the picture mounted on a Justin clamp; I wrapped it in a ton of plastic to keep it safe since I’m sure bad things would have happened if it got wet. And it would’ve gotten wet, because I had water going everywhere during this shoot (which is why I had cardboard and foamboard and towels all over the place to protect things).
I love the details on Vivio and her pose – I’m a sucker for “action poses” in figures. You always get these figures so fast and have reviews up, my Vivio is still in transit. You have some Godly speed! lol And the shots you come up with are simply great!
Funny thing is I was just thinking today on how to do some more interesting backgrounds. One of my idea was to do some sort of water background, kind of like a Stargate. Looks like you’ve done something similar here with Vivio, I think it turned out amazing.
Really liking the second pic of Fate and Vivio that you have – great work! Any reviews for that Fate in the near future from you?
Yeah, her pose is awesome; I don’t really associate the Nanoha girls with being badasses but that description perfectly fits Vivio and Fate, at least in Alter’s renditions.
I was trying to get this one before the weekend was up, the weekend is when I’ve got time to experiment with stuff. And I gotta admit, sometimes it’s cool to be first out of the gate XD Though Starcraft 2 is kinda calling to me. I know everybody’s getting reacquainted with Starcraft and here I am drawing lighting diagrams and trying to think of ways to translate my imagination into pixels. I miss video games. On the other hand, Starcraft was one of the reasons I flunked out after my freshman year of college so maybe it’s a good thing I haven’t picked up the sequel, since I might not get anything done if I get addicted to it.
You should go for it! Not too many people seem to try out this sort of thing so I would be interested to see how other people do it. I’d also like to see what other backgrounds you come up with, so I can steal your ideas. I mean, so I can admire your work.
Yeah, I’d like to get Fate reviewed pretty soon since she apparently is going to go up for re-release soon, so I think there may be some interest in a review of her. Plus she looks too damn cool not to review. I’ll probably do Momohime next since everyone on the planet is going to buy and review her, and then I’d like to do either Fate or E2046’s Misato. I just need to think of a way to review Fate; she was sort of an unplanned purchase so I haven’t thought much about how to present her. I’m thinking red, though.
Love your pictures and in depth review(as usual). I doubt she’ll be the last in the strikers set since Caro and Erio haven’t been released yet. Thought there’s a chance they won’t be released at all, but for the sake of people collecting the whole set, I think they will. Ginga will probably get a release too.
My Nanoha fanboyism requires me to waggle my finger at you for not getting Nanoha and only getting Fate. Though kudos for getting Fate in the first place.
P.S. – Side ponytail is sexy~
This is really a dynamic figure ! I prefer Vivio child but this adpatation is really faithfull. Alter made a beautiful work with her. Congratz for your pictures, I really really like introduction pic’ !
wow,this time you’d surpassed yourself with these creative backgrounds,I love the closer pictures of her face.
I had no idea that the Vivio figure would look that awesome, as character in the show I didn’t liked her
but in figure form she is amazing.
The face in combination with hairstyle looks very well done.
Her dark combat suit looks cool and sexy and her Dangos are also very nice ;D
I think I really have to get Alter’s Vivio…
I hope Vivio isn’t the last, though it seems like figure releases up to the end of the year have been announced so it could be a long wait to the next one, if there is one.
Yeah, there’s a part of me that tells me I ought to get Nanoha if only because she’s the lead character but hmm … I guess I’d get her if she showed more skin. Not a big fan of long frilly dresses; I’m definitely a less-is-more sort of person, when it comes to anime girls and what they wear XD
Side ponytail is definitely hot. Part of my opinion comes from the fact that the first anime girl with a sidetail that I saw was Imari from Bible Black, and by the end of that show, she definitely wasn’t a youthful girl anymore.
Thanks XD I’ve read some photographers say that they know right away when they get a good shot; I was sitting in the dark with a fiber optic lamp and a little LED keychain light trying to make an interesting picture, and when I saw that image pop up in the LCD display I was like, “Alright, I got it.”
It looks like Alter’s going to give all of Vivio fans some love pretty soon, with their younger Vivio figure coming up sometime. I wish they’d give Beat Blades Haruka fans the same love and do a Subaru figure, too.
Thanks, I’m glad I did a re-shoot to do the pics with the red background because I think they turned out a lot better than the ones I had planned to use (which had a muted aqua background color; I kept some of them in the review but I don’t like them as much as the others). You should definitely pick her up, I see that she’s not sold out at Hobby Search and this figure deserves all the love in the world.
Woah Vivo looks fantastic. I like how you changed the colour of that energy ball with the different lighting effects. Vivo looks like a prefect figure – no complaints here.
You know I still don’t own a single Alter figure, but looking at the quality of Vivo it appears I am sorely missing out. (well I do have a Alpha X Omega Villetta Nu and she looks great).
Excellent pictures! This one dragged me out of lurking, as I would also like to see a Fate review. I was going to completely ignore this Vivio figure…until I saw these pictures, good job, heh.
Fate and Vivio posed together like that has some real potential.
Really? Whenever you get your first, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Unless you pick up an older one off of eBay or something, I guess; those were kinda rough-looking.
Vivio sure was a lot of fun to photograph. Wish all figures were as photogenic as her.
Thanks for the comment! I think I’ve got an idea for how to shoot Fate … well, it was gonna be the idea I was going to use for Yamato’s Compact Hog figure, but I’m thinking it’ll work better for Fate. I just hope I can pull it off because I’ve never tried what I have in mind and have no idea what it’s going to look like. I’m definitely going to try to get some more shots of the dynamic duo too, they look really good together. I just need to learn how to get their faces all in focus in the same shot.
yeah the red background suits her very good 😉
I disclaimed of buying Revy from your last review and ordered Vivio instead at amiami with 18% off.
LOL, if there are any idea stealing to be done, it’d be me doing it with your backgrounds!
I was never into Starcraft much, so the recent release won’t be sucking up my time, although I would like to give it a try some time down the road. I’m really looking forward to FFXIV and Fallout: New Vegas though!
Momohime is in transit for me, should have her tomorrow. I’ve been waiting for this figure to come out for the longest time as I have found the perfect location to take photos of her. I just have to do it at a time when not many people are around. lol
I have the original Fate and pre-ordered the new one from Alter too, even though they’re somewhat similar, I guess I’m an Alter Fate fan even though I’m not familiar with the series at all. Vivio just arrived as I’m typing this and she’s definitely a worthy purchase! So many figures are coming out, it’s so hard to catch up! But at least I’m back in the groove now and ready to start reviewing again.
Oh, and damn you and your old T-elos review. Made me buy one. XD
A good choice, you can’t go wrong with an Alter figure XD
Ha, man, I’m stealing my own ideas now; I think I’m gonna jack Compact Hog’s backdrop to use when I shoot Fate, and now I dunno what I’m gonna do for her. Maybe I’ll just roll with it twice.
I played a ton of Starcraft back in the day, but I’m hardly playing any video games at all now. My queue is so long that even if I don’t buy anything for the next two or three years, I’m not sure that I can through it before the next generation of consoles drop.
I ought to take a figure outside and see what it’s like shooting outside one of these days. In fact, I probably ought to just take my camera outside and start shooting, since I’ve never done tried it.
I look forward to seeing your reviews! Seems like most of the review sites I follow have been slowing down; I kinda feel like the last guy out on the dance floor after the club closes. I wonder if it’s WF burnout or something. Even foo-bar-baz doesn’t have reviews up of a lot of the stuff that just came out and he usually covers most of the mainstream stuff.
I am glad my review helped you to decide. Man, though, I don’t want to look at that review; everytime I look at my old stuff, I’m like, “Geez, I suck.” Makes me want to re-shoot almost all of my older figures.
LOL, well the old pics can’t be all that bad if it’s still helping convince people to buy stuff a year after! =D
The greatest obstacle with shooting outdoors (particularly in a public area) is people looking at you weirdly. lol
Haha, that’s true enough XD
And yeah, that’s probably the thing I’m most afraid of. Plus if I’m popping flashes outdoors, I’m sure that’ll draw some looks (if the big scary huge camera hanging off of my neck doesn’t draw them first … you know, I’ve never actually seen anyone in person carrying an SLR camera, outside of sports games or other entertainment events).
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If you are still wondering “how popular Vivio is”, I’m sorry to say, not very. She is another fine looking character which has ended up in the bargain bins I’m afraid (Amiami and Hobby Search’s anyway).
She’s cute enough but I’m put off by that thing in her hands and the stance (which, whilst perhaps portraying some dynamic activity – I don’t know her series which is probably why I don’t understand your obsession with Fate, just makes her look like she’s trying to do the hurdles… badly).
Yes, I am checking out the bargain bins at the moment… can’t afford too many full price figures atm, though I do have my eye on one figure at the moment providing Hobby Link drop the price a little more in the next round of deductions.
Yeah, it’s unfortunate, but not too surprising, I suppose; she doesn’t have the cuteness element that Momohime has, and I notice that the supporting Nanoha characters don’t seem to be nearly as popular as the two leads.
That’s kinda funny, you’re the second person in three or four days to ask me what it is with me and my obsession with Fate. I guess I must make it very apparent XD I’ve actually not seen much of the television series; I’ve seen maybe four episodes out of the 50-odd episodes that comprise the whole show, and I can’t really say I like it much. I pretty much like Fate since I have a lot of really good pornographic doujinshi featuring her. Yeah, that’s probably a pretty strange reason to like a character, though on one hand, it’s pretty much the same reason why people like the Vocaloid characters. I mean, other than the pornographic part, I guess, though I’m sure there’s some really good Miku porn out there, too. Oh, and Fate has a great ass; there’s a lot of magical girls who cover up but not Fate. And being ethnically part-Japanese, I might have some genetic tendency to like blondes, I dunno. Isn’t there a joke about that out there?
There have been a ton of good figures hitting the bargain bin recently, which is slightly dismaying since a lot of them are figures I bought at full price, but it’s also very heartening since I’m already blowing too much money on this stuff as it is. I thought about picking up Miku VN02 since she was down to under 4000 yen at Amiami and Amazon JP recently, but I passed on her since I’ve heard she’s pretty small for 1/8 scale. I thought she’d be really popular, though. I don’t think I’ll be too surprised if GSC’s new jumping Saber figure ends up discounted, though I think it’d be hilarious if that does happen.
Hmm lets see… is it obvious you like Fate? Hmmm… you have about 4 versions of her already and were raving over more in your preorders thread.
Yep, pretty obvious for anyone who has bothered looking… thought it might be to do with the hair colour, in which case I would wonder whether or not you had already preordered Lily from anim.o.v.e which was opened to preorders recently. – have to admit that I am tempted by that one!
Oh, you’ve probably noticed that Hensei Democracy seems to be back – slightly different address (it’s a .net extension this time) but there is a notice on the old front page.
Think Vivio would have to drop a long way before I would shell out (and would have to be in November at least!)
I’m planning to get Lily, she looks great. Admittedly, I don’t know how she sounds, but that’s fine, I need a rock star girl in my collection. I wonder what the most prevalent hair color in my collection is, hmm …
Oh snap, it’s back :O Thanks for the heads-up, I hadn’t checked the front page in a few weeks. That’s the best news I’ve heard this week.
I’m guessing that Vivio can’t drop much lower than 4k yen. I really hope that the Japanese government does another currency intervention because this 83 yen/$1 reality is really not to my liking.
Am sorely tempted by this figure at the moment. She is currently in HLJ’s sale at 60% off… am trying hard not to buy her, but she is pretty good value for money
She is, she’s a fantastic buy for 3300 yen or whatever HLJ is asking for, particularly with their discounted shipping options (unless import fees become exorbitant). I ought to get a second Vivio just as a backup copy in case something happens to mine, given how cheap they are.
Has anyone besides me noticed that Vivio’s eyes are different colors?
It’s part of her character design, so no bonus points for you, sorry :-p
I think heterochromia is a common enough feature in anime that it doesn’t draw too many remarks.