There ought to be more figures of fighting game characters, and of the fighting game characters who deserves figures, Ivy Valentine should be near the top of the list. She has one of the most easily-identifiable designs in fighting games, she is one of the mainstays of one of the best fighting game franchises in existence, and yet, only three or four figures have ever been made of her, and one of those is from Todd McFarlane’s toy company. Fortunately for Ivy fans, Hobby Japan has recently shipped a brand new figure of her as part of their Queen’s Gate figure lineup. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as good as one might have hoped for.
Isabella Valentine is one of the stalwarts of the Soul franchise, having appeared in all of the games since Soul Calibur. Perhaps the preeminent bad girl in all of video games, she cedes leading-lady responsibilites to Sophitia and maybe Taki but nonetheless, she is probably one of the franchise’s best-known characters.
To the uninitiated, fighting games all look alike, but many of the series in the genre have a unique aspect or ethos to their design that sets them apart from one another. Mortal Kombat is about over-the-top gore. Guilty Gear and BlazBlue enbrace the bizarre (and rock music). Dead or Alive is completely shameless. And Soul Calibur seems to have a level of dignity, a certain gravity that distinguishes it from other fighting games. Thus, when I heard that Ivy and Taki were going to appear in Queen’s Gate books, I thought that was weird as hell because the Queen’s Blade and Queen’s Gate series are anything but dignified.
On the other hand, if any Soul Calibur were to appear in a Queen’s Gate book, Ivy would probably make the most sense. The Queen’s Blade franchise revels in excess, pushing the boundaries as much as it can without becoming full-blown hentai. Similarly, Ivy encompasses lewdness and her design borders on absurd. She has the mannerisms of a dominatrix, several highly suggestive moves, and a costume that’s become more abbreviated with every iteration of the game – though lamentably, the fifth game reverses this trend. Such a shame.
This figure is manufactured by Hobby Japan and, as its name implies, was sold only in Japan, and so required a proxy service to purchase. She’s nominally sculpted in 1/8 scale and stands about 18.5 centimeters tall to the top of her head. Her character bio lists her height as 179 centimeters, so she’s really closer to 1/10 scale. She’s notably smaller than almost every other 1/8 scale figure out there, including most of the other Queen’s Gate figures and just about all of MegaHouse’s 1/8 scale Queen’s Blade figures, which is rather disappointing.
One interesting design choice is that the sculptor based this figure off of her normal appearance rather than how she looked in her Queen’s Gate book. Her artbook – illustrated by Nigou, a member of the very well-known hentai art circle Lolita Channel – diverges from her canon look in favor of a far more anime-esque design. It’s about as moe as Ivy can possibly look.
Ivy is depicted in a confident stance, her whip-sword raised. She looks a bit awkward, with her right arm raised and her right leg extended. Her right side looks like she’s about to thrash someone and her left side looks like she’s striking a sexy pose. Movement and aggression are apparent and yet, the figure has a very stiff, static look. It just doesn’t seem to come together very well.
Though this figure is rather small, Ivy is quite detailed. Her armor has all the requisite embossing, the leather parts of her clothes feature stitch lines, and the straps of her suit pinch into her skin. Ivy’s Soul Calibur IV outfit is fantastic and overall, it is rendered very well here.
Similarly, Ivy’s paint job is quite attractive. The purple parts of her clothes feature an appealing metallic sheen, and her armored pauldron and gauntlet sport a dull finish, giving them an old and antique look.
Several aspects of her face doesn’t fare quite as well, however. The sculpting of her bangs is rather ragged – though admittedly, given Ivy’s small size, it’s doubtful anybody’s going to notice unless they are nose-to-nose with her. In addition, her look is a bit blank; she doesn’t have the psychotic look she has in the video games nor the moe-fied cute look she has in her game book.
Ivy comes with a sword blade if one would prefer not to display her with her whip-sword. It looks really weird with her pose. I think the whip-sword is much more appropriate. Unfortunately, the whip-sword seems to be made of wire and doesn’t stay coiled very well. A peculiar orange part is provided to install on her base to brace the tip of her whip against.
I think my biggest beef with this figure is that I wish it were better. There aren’t many figures of Ivy – or Soul Calibur figures – and as one of the most iconic and recognizable characters in all of video games, there was an opportunity to make a really special figure here. Just making it an actual 1/8 scale figure would have greatly improved it, and while I’m fantasizing, a more dynamic pose and a more evocative facial expression would have been nice, too. That said, beggars can hardly be choosers, and if one really desires a figure of Ivy Valentine, pickings are very slim. I wish I could tell you that there’s a better figure of her out there, but I’d be lying if I said so.
Here’s Ivy next to Queen’s Gate Junko Hattori. Junko is manufactured by a different company but even so, the difference in size is readily apparent, despite both figures being listed as 1/8 scale. Junko is about as tall as Ivy even though her leg is splayed out nearly horizontally.
And here is Ivy with fellow Queen’s Gate member Dizzy, though this version is Alter’s version rather than Kotobukiya’s version. Both of these characters appeared in the recent PSP game Queen’s Gate Spiral Chaos. Note that while Alter’s Dizzy is also a bit smaller than actual 1/8 scale, she’s still noticeably larger than Ivy.
“That face! I get goose bumps just looking at it. If you’ll only keep showing it to me, I’ll tease and bully you as much as your heart desires.”
Two fighting game girls who don’t mind showing their behinds.
I’ll shamelessly admit that when it comes to fighting games, I tend to choose the most attractive – and often most scantily-clad – female character. I think pretty much the only exception is in King of Fighters, where Iori is my favorite character to use (though Mai is obviously my favorite character to look at), and maybe Street Fighter, where I mostly use the shotokan characters because I suck at the game and Ryu and Akuma are easy to play. However, I hardly ever use Ivy in Soul Calibur, mostly because I never got the hang of switching between her weapon forms. I like to play as Seung Mina, since she’s not hard to use and her Opening Treasure move is one of the best moves in all of fighting games.
Incidentally, isn’t the internet amazing? I was wondering if anybody had recorded a video of that move, and I was thinking that it’d be great if somebody could show it being performed on female characters. And so someone has!
While it’s great seeing these famous female fighters get figures, I’m kinda hoping somebody does a figure of Mars People one of these days.