When you’re out swinging a big-ass sword that’s taller than you are, it’s best to dress right for the job.
Making her debut – I think – at Wonder Festival all the way back in February 2011, Solange is the first – and to this point, only – figure made by empty. She was initially sold only through empty’s online shop, but like Native’s figures, a bunch of US retailers are also selling her; I got mine from BBTS. She’s listed as 1/7 scale, although that might actually be a pessimistic estimate being that Solange stands about 26 centimeters tall without the base. With the base, the figure is about 31 centimeters tall; whatever scale size she is, she is very large and quite impressive.
Solange Blanchefleur de Luxe is the star of the upcoming Nintendo 3DS game Code of Princess, though there are other playable characters in that game. The game is a side-scrolling beat-em-up reminiscent of Guardian Heroes on the Sega Saturn – and well it should be, since some of its developers worked on the older game while at Treasure. It’s a game I’d very much like to play, being that I liked Guardian Heroes a lot on the Saturn, but I have no plans to ever buy a 3DS. Unfortunate, but perhaps someday it will hit Xbox Live, like Guardian Heroes has.
This figure is based off of an illustration by Kinu Nishimura. It’s the second figure I own based on her artwork, the first being Max Factory’s old but highly-regarded Mai Shiranui. Curiously, I think that the Code of Princess game was announced after the figure was unveiled, which makes me wonder if the figure is from the game or if the game was inspired by the figure and Nishimura’s illustration.
At any rate, we’re here to look at the figure, and it is reasonably faithful to the source illustration. Solange wears the same abbreviated outfit and carries a very elaborate greatsword of some sort and is captured in mid-stride, ascending some sort of ruined platform while wearing chunky high heels.
A quick look reveals some differences, and perhaps foremost is the change to her expression. In the art, Solange appears mildly worried, as she should be, given the implicit unsteadiness of her choice of shoes, but in the figure, she looks positively terrified. Much of that effect is due to the small pupils of her eyes; also, she now appears to be definitely looking at something, whereas in the art, she’s staring off into space in an abstract manner.
Her eyebrows are also crucial for establishing her disposition, and I think they would look better if they were darker than they are. Solange is obviously blonde but her eyebrows are the same yellow color, which makes them difficult to see, and it also makes her forehead look larger than it is. Indeed, in the source illustration, Solange’s eyebrows are darker than her hair color.
Solange has a very stylized body design, with broad hips, an extremely thin waist, and rather pendulous breasts. It’s an eclectic design, I think, and probably a controversial one, as well. It’s not the sort of design that everybody is going to love.
And I suppose her outfit isn’t going to win universal acclaim, either. In the great tradition of fantasy art, Solange is wearing minimal armor plating – basically gloves, a gorget, and cast iron pasties – and some war panties with a thong back. Her belt is removable, as is her gorget, but her chest armor is not. She also has some fashionable high heels, as mentioned earlier, which look incongruously contemporary compared to the rest of her clothes – what clothes she has, anyway – but I’m not going to quibble about that.
What I will quibble about is that silly crooked crown she’s wearing on her head. I really do not like this sort of tilted hat – I blame K-On! for starting this trend, though it might predate Mio Akiyama. Unfortunately, Solange’s crown is stuck to her head. I passed on ordering Native’s Mordina because of her hat, and I also passed on Alter’s Houmei (from some Shining game – I forget which one) because of that – later on, I found out that her hat is removable and felt a bit silly, but that’s how much I dislike this style of hat.
However, perhaps it’s a bit unfair to single out her hat as it can be easily overlooked given the complexity of other aspects of her design. For instance, despite not featuring a girlish body in the least, Solange does feature a number of feminine details, such as the lace trim on her armor, the heart patterns under her collar, along her garter, and on her shoes, and the flowers in her hair. They give her a younger appearance that seems more in accord with her illustrated design.
The straight-on front view seems to be her best viewing angle; the thinness of her waist is less conspicuous. From other angles, the size of her hips becomes more prominent.
As do other anatomical issues, like the way her hipbone juts out. Admittedly, this is a rather unusual viewing angle that isn’t likely to be seen very much, but still, I can’t help but be reminded of the bulge an alien xenomorph makes just before tearing its way out of its host.
Her sword is certainly one of the highlights of this figure; it is elaborate to an almost ridiculous degree. Curiously, the hilt includes an hourglass and the tip of the handle comprises some kind of astrolabe. It’s about as unrealistic as her outfit is but strangely, you never hear any arguments against impractical weapons from those dreary, tiresome people who deride bikini armor.
I’ll freely admit that Solange’s bikini armor is a major reason that I like this figure, and it may be that I like the themes espoused by this figure more than the figure itself. She looks a bit unusual, more like a perversely adult-oriented Disney design than an anime design, I think – the Disney of the early 90s, that is, when they did ordinary animation rather than the computer-generated 3D stuff everyone does now. Solange seems to have been enthusiastically received, with a number of people liking this figure and quite a few 3DS owners eager to play her game. That’s surprising to me, since I thought the anatomical quirks of this figure might put people off, as it did with the mysterious, illusory gangsta lean Saber figure. At any rate, I think this is a pretty good figure; perhaps not worth the premium price tag it commands, but I’m happy to own it anyway.
Let me qualify that last sentence – I’m happy to own Solange but I’d be happier to own the upcoming black version of the figure, which has a cooler color scheme and, it seems, darker eyebrows. Unfortunately, I forgot to cancel my preorder for the original figure in time to order the newer one.