Another day, another figure from Sega’s Shining franchise. Personally, I’d like to see figures of Tao and Anri and Amon and May, but I’m quite certain they are never going to be made. It’s a shame that the figure hobby didn’t really take off before the last few years; maybe Sega could’ve saved their hardware division with their figure licensing profits.
Maxima comes from the PSP game Shining Hearts, the most recent game in the long-running Shining series. I’ve not played the game and don’t plan to, but Wikipedia tells me that it’s a role-playing game and that it has something called the Mind Over Emotion System, or MOE system. Yep. I normally wouldn’t blame Sega for selling out and ditching the gameplay and styling of the early games to conform to current convention, but given that they’ve destroyed almost all of their franchises – from Sonic to Phantasy Star to Streets of Rage to Golden Axe – I don’t think they deserve indulgence. Anyway, a bunch of figure makers have lined up to make Shining figures; this particular one comes from Kotobukiya and is sculpted in 1/8 scale, standing around 22 centimeters tall not including the base. Maxima doesn’t need a great deal of assembly out of the box; she’s attached to her base already, and her sword and card easily fit into her hands. She can separate at her midsection to give her a more modest look. More on that in a bit.
Maxima’s character design was done by Tony Taka, who seems to be a busy man, having done all of the character designs for Sega’s last three Shining games. He’s also done artwork of Miku Hatsune which was adapted into both a figure and a curious Westernized illustration which Toyota is using in a marketing campaign. Bizarre. His character designs have also entered the realm of anime, albeit in niche format, as the hentai show Fault! recently saw the release of its third episode.
Quite a few of Tony’s Shining characters look absolutely generic – generic elf archer girl, generic white-haired sorceress girl, completely generic male heroes. Maxima is much more distinctive, principally because of her outfit. She’s wearing a distinctive dress with blade-shaped ends flared out in a dramatic, eye-catching manner. Or maybe they look like neckties – appropriate, today being Father’s Day.
Unlike many of the other Shining girls, Maxima’s color scheme is monochromatic and muted, with lots of black and white and earth tones. While not visually arresting, it is still attractive in its simplicity.
Also attractive are her breasts, which are supported by some unseen force. Maxima’s costume is one of my favorite aspects of her design.
At a normal viewing distance, Maxima looks pretty good. Get a bit closer, and you start seeing problems. Get real close, or look at her through a macro lens, and you see how uneven her construction is. Kotobukiya is a decent maker but is certainly not top tier, and after having reviewed a bunch of Alter, Good Smile Company, and Max Factory figures in recent weeks, I was surprised by just how rough she looks up close. The tips of her hair, the area around her nose, and the frilly elements of her clothing around her neck and gloves look a bit like they were sandpapered. My version also has a few noticeable scratches, with a very prominent one on her left shoulder.
Her card is easy enough to get into her grasp. Keeping it there is another story; there isn’t anything that actually holds it to her fingers unless you glue it down yourself. If you’re inclined to clumsiness as I am, you might want to keep it in the box unless you’re displaying her in a safe area.
Maxima separates at the waist and you have the option of adding this translucent underskirt to cover her up a bit.
Or you can choose not to and have her proudly displaying nothing but her underwear beneath her dress. Maxima has very commendable taste, with her undergarment showing this rather peculiar but very sexy cutout. It’s a bit reminiscent of something you might see in a high school health class textbook.
And here is the back side. Tony’s art shows her wearing a bodysuit rather than panties, though you can’t tell that on this figure since her dress is not removable. I vaguely remember seeing something indicating Kotobukiya might make a version of Maxima sans dress, though.
Maxima’s expression can be interpreted many ways. Maybe she looks wry, or shy, or flirty, or content. In other words, it’s a pretty typical Tony face that doesn’t really express any strong emotions. She’s definitely quite pretty, though. Incidentally, I found it a bit hard to get pictures of her looking directly at the camera; her gaze is offset a bit to her right, but part of her hair gets in the way and shadows her right eye.
Getting back to her dress, the splayed ends dangle somewhat loosely so you can arrange them in overlapping patterns if you desire. They’re still stiff enough to hold their shape, which gives them their distinctive look but also restricts her optimal viewing angle a bit. Because Maxima is leaning back a little bit, she looks a bit fat or pregnant from the side, the way the ends extend out in front of her. Not the most flattering look for her.
Maxima is one of about a billion Shining figures out in the market and if anyone is getting tired of them, I wouldn’t blame them. Heck, I’m getting tired of them myself. It’s obvious that the Shining series seeks to supplant Ikkitousen and Queen’s Blade as far as figure proliferation goes and while the latter franchises incorporate a diverse range of poses and art styles, no maker of Shining figures seems inclined to deviate from Tony’s art. But Maxima herself is a nice figure. She’s got some quality issues which militate against me having very warm feelings for her like I have with many of my recent acquisitions but she still looks nice. Somehow I can’t help but think she looked better in the promo photos than in real life, though.
Check out foo-bar-baz for another review of Maxima. I think he liked this figure better than I did.