Voice synthesis software and eroge company mascots get scads of figures but fighting game characters are mostly an afterthought in the corporate mindset of figure makers. Heck, I’ve got another Super Sonico on order and another one still in its box, and I’ve got an unopened Miku Hatsune figure sitting on the stack, waiting for me to build her machine of joy. If you’re looking for a figure of a fighting game girl, you’re going to have to look at Kotobukiya’s Tekken figures or Hobby Japan’s Queen’s Gate series, which is where this version of Noel Vermillion comes from.
Aside from being licensed for the Queen’s Gate books and the spinoff PSP game Queen’s Gate Spiral Chaos, Noel Vermillion comes from Arc System Works’s fighting game BlazBlue. A spiritual successor of sorts to Guilty Gear, the game is now up to its third iteration, BlazBlue Continuum Shift Extend, which succeeds its predecessors Continuum Shift and Calamity Trigger. Its game mechanics are similar to Guilty Gear’s, more or less, though BlazBlue’s Drive button gives the movesets of BlazBlue’s characters a larger level of distinctiveness.
Personally, I like Guilty Gear quite a bit more than BlazBlue; I much prefer its characters and music, and though I shamelessly admit that I’m terrible at both games, I never really got the hang of playing as any of BlazBlue’s characters. BlazBlue seems to have attained a greater level of popularity than its forebear, though; this might be due to each version being released simultaneously on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, where as Guilty Gear’s releases were wildly inconsistent with respect to platform and release dates. I think that the fighting game resurgence led by Street Fighter IV also played a large role in BlazBlue’s mainstream acceptance.
Noel is nominally the lead female character of the game and plays an integral part in its surprisingly convoluted story mode. Time was that if a fighting game had a story at all, it would invariably be about some shadowy organization staging a tournament for combatants from all over the world. In contrast, BlazBlue’s story is a tale of heroism, rebellion against authoritarianism, family ties lost and regained, and a helluva, helluva lot of confusing, made-up vocabulary. I’ll – again – shamelessly admit that I understood almost none of the plot while I played Continuum Shift, though I was really going through it just to unlock Mu-12 so I can’t say I was paying much attention.
In the game, Noel is a young lieutenant in the Novus Orbis Librarium, the organization that governs the world. She is depicted as kind but shy, diffident, and naÃ¯ve. She fights with a pair of guns called the Arcus Diabolus Bolverk. They are magical artifacts rather than ordinary firearms, and many of her moves involve using them as physical weapons. Her fighting style is strongly patterned after the gun kata movements featured in the film Equilibrium (which was also set in a futuristic, dystopian city with a dictatorial governing body). Incidentally, this isn’t the only Japanese product to borrow some of the style from Kurt Wimmer’s film: one of the fight scenes from the anime series Grenadier was directly patterned after the movie’s final battle, and I think I remember that one of the fight scenes in the recent anime Aria The Scarlet Ammo also featured a gun kata sequence.
Noel possesses a number of similarities to Dizzy, one of the characters from Guilty Gear. Like Dizzy, Noel is not entirely human; her true form is actually that of Mu-12, a dispassionate agent of the apocalypse intent on destroying the world. She also trades Noel’s short dress and socks for a crotch plate, a pair of striker units, and wing-like projections. Her Steins Gunner moves thematically resemble Dizzy’s laser-shooting fish. Like Dizzy, Mu-12 hovers over the ground. They also share a birthday – December 25. In their debut games, both characters are the final bosses of each game’s story mode and must be unlocked to be made playable; subsequent games make them playable from the start.
I’m hoping that Alter will make a Mu-12 figure to go with Dizzy; the only other BlazBlue figures that have been made thus far are a couple of uninspired efforts from FREEing.
This particular figure derives from Noel’s appearance in Queen’s Gate, the spinoff series of Queen’s Blade which is itself derived from Scottsdale, Arizona-based Flying Buffalo‘s and Nova Games’s Lost Worlds series. Her entry is illlustrated by Takatsuki Nagy.
I felt some trepidation about ordering this figure because the Queen’s Gate figures are so variable in terms of quality. Part of the blame for this inconsistency can be laid on the diversity of manufacturers who have made these figures – they include Kotobukiya, MegaHouse, Alpha Omega (which includes Alter), Good Smile Company, and Hobby Japan. I was not very impressed by Hobby Japan’s figure of Ivy Valentine, nor was I very pleased with how small Yagyu Jubei turned out. I was expecting Noel Vermillion to be undersized and undetailed. Also, there was also a compulsory added cost due to having to order this figure from a proxy service, being that it was a Hobby Japan exclusive. As usual, I used Tokyo Hunter to buy it.
In this figure’s favor was the fact that it is sculpted by Hiroshi of Sakura Zensen, the same sculptor who created Saber Alter for Good Smile Company and 1/6 scale Fate Testarossa for Cospa, among numerous other figures. I figured that if Noel turned out to be smaller than her listed 1/8 scale size, at least she would still probably look good displayed next to Dizzy, who is also somewhat smaller than her scale size suggests.
Happily, Noel is reasonably-sized. She’s 16 centimeters tall to the top of her hat and about 20.5 centimeters tall overall, even though her wideset stance lowers her closer to the ground. In terms of body proportions, she’s similar to Alter’s Buddy, and as both characters appear to barely be five feet tall, that seems realistic. Noel’s accurate scale size is a very welcome surprise, particularly since Hobby Japan’s Ivy disappointed in that respect.
Noel requires minor assembly after unpacking her from her box; the two red ribbons need to be inserted into slots in her armbands. Pop her onto her base – which is a rather peculiar transparent aqua color – and she’s ready for display.
Noel is set in an action girl stance, sighting along one gun barrel while holding the other one ready, her arm cocked and the gun pointed skyward. The energy of her pose is one of the most attractive aspects of this figure, though her left leg looks awkwardly contorted when viewing her from behind, with her face turned away. Then again, even though she has an attractive back, I’m not sure why anybody would display her facing away from the viewer.
Her dynamic pose is accentuated by the red ribbons twirling around her body as well as the movement of her short dress. Her dress also emphasizes her backside, providing a good deal of fanservice from a character who isn’t really cast as a sex symbol within the game. However, Noel is sexualized to an almost ridiculous extent in the game’s supplemental artwork, and of course, her Queen’s Gate artbook is all about fanservice. Nevertheless, her bust is as reserved as it is in the game, perhaps even moreso – in a rather extreme example of anime-style body proportions, her eyes appear to be about the same size as her breasts.
One of the enduring mysteries of BlazBlue is whether Noel Vermillion wears panties while in uniform. I’m not even kidding about that. And while this figure doesn’t definitively settle the issue – being that it’s based off of her Queen’s Gate appearance – it should come as no surprise that she is indeed wearing underwear: white thong panties, to be exact.
They’re not very easy to see, though; the figure is cleverly sculpted to provide the illusion of no underpants from most viewing angles.
Aside from her pose and her shapely rear, her face is also very attractive. Her expression embodies steely determination, evincing none of the timidity that typifies her personality. Rather, she appears resolute, her mouth turned down in a defiant scowl. It perhaps doesn’t represent her true nature but she looks great regardless.
She also looks great from a technical viewpoint. The paint application is sharp and clean, with no visible issues, at least to my eyes. A mixture of paint finishes is evident; metallic paint is used on the band of her hat, the toes of her boots, and her armbands, her socks are a matte black, and her necktie is a glossy red. Subtle shading on the two red ribbons trailing off her arms gives them more of a three-dimensional look.
Overall, I’m very pleased with this figure, much moreso than I thought I would be. She looks like the quintessential anime action girl: two guns, a dangerous look, and a strong dash of sex appeal. The manufacturing quality is quite good, much better than Hobby Japan’s effort on Ivy, which comes as a very pleasant surprise. I don’t want to suggest it’s as high quality as an Alter or Good Smile Company figure, but I don’t see a great deal to criticize, except perhaps the additional expense requisite to all Hobby Japan exclusive figures, but that’s just the reality of the hobby, and for a figure that looks as nice as Noel, I’m not going to complain.
Here’s a size comparison with Alter’s Dizzy; perhaps a better comparison would be with Kotobukiya’s Dizzy instead, since that was also based off of her Queen’s Gate incarnation and features the same anime-style body proportions as Noel. My figure is covered in dust and I remember her hair was a colossal pain in the ass to keep in place, so I didn’t use it for pictures.
Here’s Noel’s theme song, Bullet Dance. Of the songs in BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger, I like Oriental Flower (Litchi’s theme) best.
Dang I envy you for managing to get her T~T… and even more so that she looks as good as I though. Congrats to you good sir 😀
Thanks! XD Maybe she’ll get more figures; it’d be really nice if more figures of fighting game characters came out. Like, maybe Phantom Breaker. Or Vanguard Princess, even.
Oh damn !!! Noel looks a lot better than I imagined her to be. Being a HJ Exclusive I never considered ordering her but now I am regretting it.
As you I preferredr GG over BB since it has the more memorable cooler Designs and music.
So Noel =mu12 ? Damn I really didn’t pay attention to BBs storyline XD
Yeah, she’s Mu-12. I need to build a new joystick for my 360 so I can play BlazBlue, I bought some fightpad – a Hori one, I think – but it doesn’t seem to work too well for me.
Bridget from GG hmm..
I didn’t saw it coming that she would turn out so awesome.WTF XD
Pose is great, face is great, outfit is great, everything seems to be great.
I really like the petite body and the amount of skin her outfit reveals, she has a really pretty back and the thighs aren’t less attractive. Its also nice that her face shows such a strong expression. The price is always a hassle with exclusive figures, so sometimes I just pass because the price seems unreasonable. I still think that I paid too much for my Queens Gate Kotone chan from Hobby Japan.
Too bad I hadn’t ordered Noel earlier, well with that said I could still get her from an local shop, maybe I’ll take this chance. Judging by your pictures It doesn’t seem like I would regret it ^^
Yeah, the Hobby Japan figures seem to be hit or miss; I’m regretting spending so much money on Ivy. I remember way, way back in the day, I really wanted this Rider figure, which was an HJ exclusive, but I couldn’t get it since proxy services weren’t nearly as common as they are now. I remember that figure was #1 on my wishlist for a while.
Good luck if you do try to get this figure; it’s really nice.
Mine is on her way but I did get to see a few shots from Moeyo before I got the email. Not sure what to make of the “thong revelation” tho. Kinda feels like they just skirted the issue while trying to remain SFW.
Also, Equilibrium borrowed heavily from the old 90s Hong Kong action flicks, like the good John Woo stuff. It’s just a shame that Noels tier level feels like it’s following John Woos Career after he moved to the US. straight down!! I don’t play particularly well, but when I a guy like me can tell that a character has been badly nerfed in the latest iteration of the game, you know you probably went too far…
I guess they didn’t have much of a choice there; maybe the sculptor could’ve been clever and made her dress in a way that would cover her up.
Random trivia: like most people outside of the UK, I first saw Sean Bean in Goldeneye, and he’s showed up in several movies I’ve seen without me knowing that he was in the film beforehand. I remember going to the theatre to see Ronin and I was surprised that he was in it, and particularly surprised that his character was much different in demeanor from his role in the Bond movie. Then I saw him in Troy, or at least he was in Troy, but I don’t remember a thing about the movie (apart from having to use the restroom before the movie started; I remember that movie theatre’s restroom much more vividly than the film itself). I didn’t know he was in Equilibrium before I saw that movie – in retrospect, that movie had a pretty strong cast between him and Christian Bale, and I didn’t know he voiced the emperor in Oblivion before I played the game last year. I was like, “Hey, this guy is 006!”
At least you know him as the uber-cool 006 (when I played goldeneye on the N64, I ALWAYS defaulted as him. If someone had the gall to pick him first, I’d distract them and move their cursors off so I could sneak in!). For us Brits, Sean Bean will always be remembered for his role in the Period Drama Sharpe, where he played the title character who was a british soldier in the Napoleonic wars. He’ll never EVER escape that association!!
Oh, and going back to the post, Alexandrite and Condemnation Wings is several levels above any other music track in Blazblue and easily stand alongside or above the music in Guilty Gear!
I usually liked to play as 006 in Goldeneye as well. Strangely, nobody else in my dorm liked to play as him; everyone seemed to want to play as Oddjob.
I probably should rip the Continuum Shift Extend soundtrack already; I paid the money for the limited edition so I might as well get my money’s worth.
That’s cos Oddjob was broken. He was a really short character so if any other character fired at eye level, the bullets would pass harmlessly over his head! you had to consciously aim down to hit him and back in those days, that was really hard to do. (No, I didn’t make that up!)
I got the BB: Song accord disks. They’re the soundtracks to the games but with vocals from the VAs who did the characters. The Litchi one was a weird rap like thing done by Takahashi Chiaki. But I loved the one done by Imai Asami!!
Yeah, we had some cheap guys in the dorm. We had a rule that players were to be spared if they didn’t have a gun, so there was one guy who always screamed “No gun!” whenever he saw anyone, and then whipped out his gun and shot people in the back. We just shot him on sight after a while. Good times, good times.
Now that I remember it, the Nintendo 64 was the only game console anybody owned out of a dorm suite of ten people. Kinda odd that nobody had a Playstation, looking back.
You know, that bent leg of hers is really bothering me. Shouldn’t her heel be raised? Ah, maybe it’s just me. Aside from that leg the rest of the figure looks great. I’m not a huge fan of Noel’s design so I passed on this one, though I admit she came out better than expected.
I wish they’d make some other BlazBlue figures though…where’s the Taokaka love?
Yeah, her foot seems to be connected to the ground at a rather awkward angle. It kinda reminds me of one of the first promo images of Ninja Gaiden Sigma.
More BlazBlue (or Guilty Gear) figures would be fantastic; I’m really hoping someone makes a Mu-12 figure. I’d rather not it be from FREEing, but if they’re the only ones making them, I guess it’d be okay.
I really liked this figure. I thought about buying it, but ultimately decided against it. I am glad you took a few pictures of her panties. Playing BlazBlue left too many questions about whether she has something underneath or not. I like how they made her underwear though because it is a mix or wearing something and not wearing something.
After seeing your review, I think I am glad that I didn’t buy her. I don’t like something about her face. I don’t think it looks like her from the BlazBlue games. Maybe it matches the Queen’s Gate art, but I am not familiar with it.
This just reminds me that I need to buy CS:Extend. Is that art from CSE because I don’t remember seeing it before.
It’s pretty close to her Queen’s Gate art; she looks quite a bit different there than she does in the game, much younger and with a more stereotypical anime style than her game design.
The art in the Youtube video? I think that’s actually from Calamity Trigger.
I wish I had gotten this. Wasn’t comfortable with the idea of proxies while this was on preorder 🙁
Yeah, it can be a hassle, or even intimidating. I remember the first time I ordered a product through a proxy, I was half-certain I was going to get ripped off.
I like those crotch shots! :3
It is good that they are appreciated!
Now this figure reminds me of alter teana, although she was posed in a crouching manner. I think the greatest aspects of this figure is her backside and face, not mention her big guns. This one would leave a big hole on some wallets due to its exclusive nature it seems. Great review and photos as usual.
Yeah, it does look quite a bit like Teana, doesn’t it? I remember seeing that figure on Mandarake a few months back and was thinking about picking it up. I don’t know her character too well, though. Maybe I’ll look again if Alter makes a swimsuit version of her or something.
Hmmmm as a character herself, she’s a kind of teenage emo girl during the mid training arc on strikers, haha. I wish that she was fleshed out more on that show though doing some ridiculous gun kata poses. But as a character design (including the figure, even the figma) she’s gorgeous as hell. A wish for a rerelease or another version would not be a bad idea but given her fanbase, I suppose I should not raise my hopes high.
Ah, okay. Yeah, that’s what she seemed like, from what little I know of her, since I only watched the first episode of StrikerS (and parts of the last couple episodes, to see Fate in her Shin Sonic stripper outfit).
I was kinda hoping Alter would do a figure of Ginga; she seems to have some popularity amongst the fanbase, at least judging by the amount of fanart and doujinshi she’s gotten, so I was a bit surprised that they didn’t do one of her. Maybe she and Teana will get swimsuit versions, if Alter decides to keep going with that line.
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Nice shots! I really love the way you light things, and the camera angles! 😀
Not sure if you noticed this, but I did the EU cover art for Blazblue:
The resemblance to the pose… I wonder if they used my pose! 😉
Thanks! Perhaps the sculptor did see it; that’d be pretty cool if he did.
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I think this one IS quite inspired despite being a Freeing release. Take a look at those….Wings hehehe
Yeah, she looks pretty neat. I didn’t quite get my wish regarding Alter making this figure, but this will do, I think.
Is it still possible to buy this figure or its already too late? If so can post site or somth?
Would be great …