My Five Favorite Figures of 2012 & Year-End Thoughts

As is traditional during this time of the year, this post will list my favorite figures of 2012. Unlike previous years, it wasn’t easy for me to come up with this list; in fact, I changed my mind once while taking photographs of these figures. Usually, there’s at least one figure per year that I really love, the sort of figure that, if it were to be damaged, I would move the heavens and earth to find a replacement for it. That figure is usually an Alter figure; in fact, Alter has made my favorite figure of each of the last three years. What about this year?

#5. Inori Yuruziha from Guilty Crown

Inori Yuzuriha

If this post were titled “The Five Best Figures of 2012,” Inori would have no place being listed here. She’s got a bunch of problems – very small size and a corpse-like skin tone being amongst the most prominent – and could be charitably described as a missed opportunity. Nonetheless, I like this figure, even as I admit that I like this figure much more because I like the character design rather than the product. In my view, Inori is one of the prettiest characters in anime, and as this is the only figure to date that puts her in her combat leotard, it’s a figure that I like a lot. If the figure were a proper 1/8 scale, it’d almost certainly be the #1 figure on this list. Unfortunately, it’s not, and so my enthusiasm for this figure is greatly tempered by my disappointment.

#4. Noel Vermillion from BlazBlue

Noel Vermillion

I did not have high expectations for this figure, so I was very pleased that Noel is an excellent sculpt. She has a dynamic, eye-catching pose and a design that looks like her video game appearance, even though this figure is based off of her Queen’s Gate design. There are many fighting game characters who deserve figures and while Noel doesn’t have many, Hobby Japan has done a fine job paying homage to her. Being that Dizzy is also a Queen’s Gate character, hopefully Noel’s alter ego Mu-12 – an analogue to Dizzy in many ways – will get a combat book and a figure as well.

#3. Saber from Fate/zero


Surely one of the most anticipated figures of this year, Good Smile Company’s Motored Cuirassier Saber definitely does not disappoint. Their previous Fate/stay night figures have been uniformly excellent, and bike Saber is perhaps foremost amongst them in terms of sheer visual appeal. Of course, a great deal of that appeal is generated by the motorcycle rather than the figure, and I have to admit that this Saber is perhaps the most masculine figure in my collection, but nonetheless, this is an amazing product.

Curiously, this figure appears to still be in stock at Amiami.

#2. Samus Aran from Metroid: Other M

Samus Aran

I’m not a Metroid fan at all, being that I haven’t ever played any of the games, but I can still appreciate Samus Aran’s design. She’s an atypical character to have a figure made of, being that most figure companies go for visual novel, RPG, and fighting game characters, but I’m glad that Max Factory chose her, and I’m particularly happy that they did a great job of it. Samus looks fantastic, combining sexiness, confidence, and deadliness in a way that doesn’t often happen. (It certainly did not happen in the game that she comes from, from what I understand.)

#1. Ai Saeki from Fault!!

Ai Saeki

Although I have a reputation for preferring explicit figures (I’m not sure where this comes from), I’ve never included an ero figure on this list. Chie came closest last year, and if I were to re-do that list perhaps I’d place her on it. However, this year, Ai takes the honors as my favorite figure of 2012. Alphamax has made a great figure – which is quite surprising, as Alphamax isn’t really known for making either great figures or ero figures. Her sculpt is great, her paintwork is great, her breasts great – there isn’t anything I would change about Ai. Hopefully they’ll keep making ero figures, and figures of characters from ero properties.

So there’s not an Alter figure on this list; I think the one I liked best is Kanetsugu, and if I thought about it some more, maybe she might be sixth or seventh (speaking of which, I wonder if anyone can guess which figure got bumped off of this list while I was photographing it; I’ll give a hint that it is not a figure I have reviewed yet). The white swimsuit version of Jubei was pretty good too, though that is obviously a repainted version of a figure released a while back. Besides those figures, they didn’t release a whole lot that I loved. I guess the two swimsuit Nanoha figures are pretty good, though I think Nanoha is clearly better than Fate. Aegis is pretty good, too. They didn’t release as many figures as they have in years past, and many of their 2012 releases were re-releases rather than new figures. They seem to be making more male figures than just about anyone else, which is a good thing as those products cater to an audience that has traditionally been ignored by hobby goods manufacturers. However, those are also products I have no interest in buying, for the most part (I did think about buying MegaHouse’s Kenshin, though).

Compared to previous years, there were a lot of really nice figures but none that I really loved. For example, all five figures I listed last year (Sasara, Lacia, Saber Alter, Rin Tohsaka, and Dizzy) would’ve been listed ahead of Ai in my esteem, and I’d probably also put Chie and Fate ahead of her, too. Next year seems to be looking better as far as figures that I’m really excited about, which include Kotobukiya’s Yui and Cryska and FREEing’s bunny Fate. However, the figure I’m really excited about will be coming from MegaHouse, and it’s one that I’ve been wishing for for a while:

Who says wishes don’t come true?

Anyway, happy new year to everyone. We’ll get back to figure reviews shortly; I’ve certainly got no shortage of stuff that needs to be shot. Heck, there’s one in this picture.

This entry was posted in Random Thoughts and tagged , .

49 Responses to My Five Favorite Figures of 2012 & Year-End Thoughts

  1. Asa says:

    Quite a decent set. Just how many figures do you have in your (assumingly ever growing) backlog to shoot, anyway?

    • Tier says:

      Uhh, crap … just off the top of my head:

      Sister Misa
      Yukiko Amagi
      Fate T. Harlaown
      Yamato Super Sonico
      Azone Fate
      Azone Saber
      Gangsta Lean Saber
      Funky E2046 Saber with the umbrella
      Summer wear Saber
      Motorbike Saber
      Samurai (Katanako)
      Inia Sestina
      Ms. Marvel
      Kotobukiya Yukihime
      Yamato Yukihime
      Samurai Sasara
      Love Is War Miku
      Racing Miku
      Horizon Ariadust
      About a half dozen Sengoku Rance figures
      Saya Tokido
      Sena Kashiwazaki

      I think I might be missing a few … it feels like I’m missing a few, but that’s what I can remember right now.

      • Wieselhead says:

        Funky E2046 Saber with the umbrella and Horizon Ariadust please ^^

        • Tier says:

          I think those might get done soon. Well, relatively soon, I mean. I’ve had an idea for Horizon for forever but I’m not sure it’s going to work out well; in fact, I’m pretty certain it’s not going to work at all, so maybe I’ll do something relatively simple for her.

  2. bear says:

    Noel is definitely one of my favorites. She has the honor of being next to Momohime on my shelves.

    There are a lot of amazing angles to be had on Sena. is one example. I am really glad Alphamax fixed her boobflaps, but I can’t even begin to squeeze her back into my buying schedule until March at the earliest.

    Also That’s a lot of damn lights.

    • Tier says:

      I was kinda regretting ordering Sena, since I’m less enthused about most swimsuit figures than I used to be, but looking at the actual figure, I’m pretty impressed by how she turned out and I don’t feel negatively about ordering her now. In particular, I like how large she is – size is a very important factor for me – but it does disrupt my plan to display her with GSC’s Yozora; I haven’t compared them side by side, but just eyeballing them, Sena looks substantially larger.

      • bear says:

        Her face is also larger as well. Alphamax’s Yozora and Sena and Max Factory’s Kobato and Maria are all 1/7 scale, but their faces are closer to 1/6 scale. I actually have Maria & Kobato displayed with my 1/6’s because of how comically large their heads looked next to 1/7’s.

        • Tier says:

          GSC’s Yozora is also listed as 1/7 scale, but she looks closer to 1/8 maybe. That’s rather unfortunate since the main reason I got that figure was to display her next to Sena, but with that rationale invalidated, that’s probably a figure I might look to offload in the future.

  3. Elixir says:

    Do you ever sell your figures? There are a few that didn’t make your list that I’d be interested in.

    • Tier says:

      I do plan on selling some off, hopefully soon, as I’m running out of space and I could use some extra money. I haven’t listed them yet since getting them cleaned up and packed is kind of a hassle but I’m hoping to do so in the near future.

      • Elixir says:

        Which ones do you intend to sell? I’m specifically interested in both Naoes and Hotori.

        • Tier says:

          Older ones that I don’t really want anymore, which (unfortunately for me) probably means not many other people want them, either. This includes Max Factory’s first Miku, New Line’s swimsuit Revy, Vocaloid Lily, Wind Goddess Rafale, and Daiki Kougyou’s Shunya-designed Ryomou Shimei. I’m probably also going to offload the extra Collet that I’ve got. Unfortunately, I’m not looking to sell Hotori or the Naoes, unless for some reason you wanted the one with the cracked hair, and I’d be amazed if you did.

  4. EXkurogane says:

    Saeki is also one of my favorites. For inori I liked her as well but I’m getting pissed with how she turns out in my photos I take. I’m just an amateur and I’m having trouble making her look good without doing excessive post processing because her skin color always turned out to be too yellowish, jaundice yellow in my photos, and she looks different in color if lighting is different. Otherwise I find her figure beautiful.

    • Tier says:

      Hmm, could be a color temperature thing? I’d try boosting up blue levels in the highlights, maybe. It does suck when you can’t get a pleasing-looking skin tone, it’s one of the things I really struggled with for years. I agree that Inori looks great, my main wish is that she were larger; if she were bigger, she’d be amongst my overall favorites, I think.

  5. Wieselhead says:

    And here I was wondering if I intentionally ignored the Saber on motorbike review XD

    From all your reviews of last year I would have picked other figures as favorites, but since it were so many it would have been very hard to choose a top five.

    That Irma announcement moment was hilarious while having your unheard wishes in mind ;D

    • Tier says:

      It will be coming … someday … maybe. The cruddy thing is I can see the picture of motorbike Saber that I want to make; when I imagine it, it’s clear in my mind. I just don’t think I’m capable of pulling it off so I keep putting her review off while I think it over.

      I must admit that I’d given up hope a long time ago, and I was as surprised as anyone by that announcement. I figured they’d move on to Queen’s Blade Grimoire without getting back to the original QB characters.

  6. Aaron says:

    You have an interesting top 5 this year. If I had to guess at the figure that didn’t make it, then I would guess Samurai from 7th Dragon 2020 by Max Factory.

    I almost thought that 1/4 Tamaki was going to be on the list even though I know she is a pretty bland swimsuit figure.

    Going back through the year, I kind of wish I would have purchased Noel as I really enjoy BlazBlue and think she would have displayed well.

    I am glad to see Samus at number 2. She is really the first scale figure I purchased and I absolutely love her. I have always liked the Zero Suit design and I think Max Factory pulled it off extremely well with the smoothness of the paint.

    The only other figure I purchase that was new this year was Kotobukiya’s Bunny Suit Charlotte Dunios. But the hobby bit into me this year, as I also purchased Alter’s Charlotte Yeager and Minna Dietlinde-Wilke (and a FuRyu Perrine Clostermann) and purchased the 2011 Hatsune Miku Race Queen Figma as well as the GSC 1/8 scale 2010 Hatsune Miku Race Queen. Next year looks to be a pretty busy year with 4 Strike Witches preordered as well as Yui’s figma (and probably Crysaka’s figma).

    • Tier says:

      As much as I like Tamaki, she could not be on the list since I think she came out last year, so she is ineligible. The figure that got bumped off was actually a character that you mentioned (Race Queen Miku). I did think about putting 1/4 scale Nanoha on the list since that figure (and the bunny suit concept) is growing on me; maybe Fate will make the list next year.

      • Aaron says:

        Right now I have my racing Mikus next to some 1/18 scale cars. The 1/8 Miku looks a little oversized next to her car, but the figma Miku actually looks pretty decent next to the car I picked for her (just a little tall).

        I may take some cruddy pictures of their setups at some point.

        • Tier says:

          That sounds pretty neat; if I remember right figmas are 1/12 scale, so that’s modestly close. That reminds me that I’ve been thinking of getting a 1/6 scale motorcycle for the president, since motorcycles make anyone look that much cooler.

          • Aaron says:

            A 1/6 motorcycle would be awesome for the president. Were you thinking more Harley-style or Kawasaki-style?

          • Tier says:

            I was thinking more Kawasaki-style; a Harley is more traditionally American, and there’s this odd obsession with traditional American symbols when it comes to politics (as if such things have any validity), but I think the president would look a helluva lot cooler on a fast-looking race bike.

  7. Nightmare says:

    With all the conspiracy theorists around seeing Good Smile on anyone’s list is a welcome sight. In terms of uniqueness and figure execution I’d single out Lacia, Trunk Girl, Imari, Samus and Yoshii from your 41 reviews.

    Last year brought two grandeur figures in Ultimate Madoka and Saber (Motored Cuirassier) and I’m glad to see the latter escaping your box and into the limelight.

    I have no idea what Irma is wearing but judging from the illustration and prototype she makes for an interesting figure. MegaHouse scales do turn out rather well even if they seem to dedicate most of their resources to One Piece these days.

    Personally, with the most anticipated figure being pushed to 2013 and Native’s headphones girl still unpainted the year ended in minor disappointment.

    Excluding the Queen’s Blade character, are there any figures announced for 2013 that have already piqued your interest in a similar manner?

    • Tier says:

      I thought about putting Imari on the list; indeed, she was probably the frontrunner for #1 when I reviewed her, but thinking about it some more, I think her widely-spaced eyes bother me a bit too much for her to be placed that highly. She really is a great ero figure, though (but I do wish she were a bit larger, seeing how large Alphamax’s Fault!! girls are).

      Ultimate Madoka seems to be the consensus figure of the year elsewhere; having not seen the show, she doesn’t have that much appeal to me, but she does look very well-made. Bike Saber really needs to get her post done at some point; this was actually the first time I removed her from her box and she looks fantastic. Well, okay, I really mean the bike looks fantastic, and the figure looks pretty good, too.

      Irma is wearing some sort of underboob-baring bra and a thong, I think. It’s a great costume. Very practical. Not actually that different from what my Warcraft paladin wears. It is pretty funny that you mention that about MegaHouse, I was looking through their listing at MFC trying to find a figure whose name I didn’t know, and I was surprised to see all the One Piece stuff they’ve done.

      I’d say that Kotobukiya’s Yui has definitely gotten my interest, as well as Max Factory’s Tomo. I’d honestly prefer Tomo to have slightly smaller breasts, and to be standing up, but those two are amongst the ones I’m really looking forward to. I’m also cautiously optimistic about Azone’s Inori doll; she is unfortunately wearing some nondescript little black dress rather than her stripper outfit, which is rather disappointing, but I have a ton of other stripper outfits that she can wear so that’s not too much of an issue. I was very disappointed by the way their Saber doll’s wig turned out (it looks much poorer than the wig they used for promo photos), however, and I hope their Inori doll turns out better.

  8. Steve Chen says:

    IRMA! Yes, wishes DO come true! You and me be happy Tier!

  9. Devastator001 says:

    Grats on the Irma! first thing I thought when I saw this is “Tier gonna get her for sure :D”

    for my Top 2012 purchases

    1. Bunny Style Charlotte Dunois
    2. Elfriede
    3. Cheerful Miku Support Version
    4. Yui Takamura Gekka Version

    • Tier says:

      Maybe I should’ve put Yui on this list … I had kinda overlooked her and thinking about it some more, I really do like that figure a lot. Every now and then Kotobukiya makes a really great figure and Yui definitely looks fine. I’m not sure who I’d have bumped, though … Inori and Noel are fairly close in my mind, so it’d be one of those two, I guess.

      Man, you know, I haven’t even taken Elfriede out of her box … that’s how you know that maybe you’ve got too many figures, that half a year goes by without you even looking at a figure.

  10. Samus? Now that’s a bit of a surprise. I have her too but, while she wasn’t bad, she definitely didn’t set my world alight. Totally agree on Noel though. Great figure. And I was able to get a GK of Mu-12 from WF!!
    Saber didn’t really do anything for me, but that may have been due to her insane popularity from just the pre-orders! I’m not one to jump on the bandwagon and I’m not a huge saber fan anyway. Might have to try for a few NSFW figures this year. Some of the lechery figures are looking rather sweet!

    I leave my figure retrospective for May, which is my blogs birthday but at the very least, I already have AGP wing gundam girl, Noel and Racing Miku 2011 in my list of tops. We’ll have to wait a bit to see if the 1/4 T-ELOS joins them…

    • Tier says:

      I kinda felt the same about Saber Lily back in the day; I wasn’t actually going to order it because it was so popular, but then it kept getting delayed and I was like what the hell, why not. As popular as motorbike Saber is, I haven’t actually seen a lot of user-generated content of her, unlike Saber Lily, so I think that helps; I know there are a lot of figures (okay, most of them are nendoroids) that I can’t stand because I see them everywhere.

      I’m still wondering what “color resin” means with respect to T.elos … if it’s already colored, maybe I could try putting it together, if I were to get my hands on that kit. I think I might be able to build a model, but I have nowhere near the skill or equipment to properly paint a kit, particularly one as pricy as that one.

      • Once I get her, I’ll let you know. If it’s anything like Selvaria though, it’ll mean that there will be more parts than is necessary and, even though the parts are mostly in the correct colour, you’ll need to paint her anyway to make her look anything like what she’s supposed to…

        • Tier says:

          I will look forward to your writeup. Yeah, that’s what I’m expecting as well – flat-colored parts that will still need a lot of additional work to add depth and tone. I figure that if the model kit was going to be colored such that one didn’t need to do any additional painting, they’d just assemble the models themselves and sell the completed statues at a big premium.

  11. Phi says:

    Man, I am so happy for you that Irma is (finally) getting the figure treatment. Looks like you’ve finally made the right sacrifices to the right gods! 😆

    • Tier says:

      I did! All that whining and moaning finally paid off. It strikes me now that while one of the Queen’s Blade OVAs showed an Irma figure, MegaHouse actually picked a different pose. I won’t complain – I like the action-oriented pose they went with, even if it does show less backside than the anime’s rendition.

  12. Irma! Holy shit! Too be honest I’m not in love with the sculpting for her, but who cares?! We’re finally getting Irma. Now if only MH would add Buggy the Clown their Portrait of Pirates line I could die a satisfied collector.

    2012 was an interesting year. Even though I ordered quite a bit, there really weren’t that many figures I was too smitten with. Despite that, some of my collection’s best additions came from this year: MegaHouse’s Shirahoshi, Native’s Mordina, Yamato’s Violet and empty’s Solange. Speaking of Solange, I’m super glad I finally got her. Hot damn is that a great figure. I reviewed her almost as soon as I got her.

    Ah…that Samus…she’s a beaut, but it’s a tragedy the figure’s based on her Other M appearance. *sigh* You have no idea what a slap in the face that game was. I’m surprised that Inori made it on to your favorites list, considering her issues. I’m still tempted to get it since I love Sakurako Ishinaga and pink haired girls, so Inori’s a match made in heaven. If only money wasn’t so tight.

    • Tier says:

      We are! Uhh, I must admit that I have no idea who Buggy is, but I will add my hopes that they make it.

      Solange is definitely an amazing figure. I wish her game were more high-profile, since it features a lot of tropes that I like (not to mention being derived from a Saturn game that I enjoyed a lot). By that I mean I wish it were on the Xbox or PS3 instead of a handheld, since I’ll never get to play it if it stays on the 3DS.

      I really, really like Inori’s character design; I’ve conveniently (though truthfully) forgotten almost everything about her personality, though I vaguely remember she doesn’t really have one, and so I assess her purely on her visual appeal. It’s going to suck if I do go back and do that Guilty Crown review, because there’s a helluva lot there that I don’t want to remember.

  13. Tian says:

    hmm I really don’t like the face on Noel. She looks like an alien. I like Inori but I found the figure to be obnoxiously small, if that makes sense.

    My top 5:
    – Alter’s Aegis: after playing P3 I am now a fan of the character as well as the design.

    – Gift’s Saber Extra: probably because I like shiny red things. Great detail and sculpt on the dress. Pretty face.

    – Max Factory’s Asuka: cute expression, I like the character, also shiny and red.

    – Questioners’ Sayame: unique concept, original, daring in a way. No other figure quite like it.

    – DC x Bishoujo Harley Quinn: probably my favorite of Koto’s Bishoujo figures thus far. Also shiny.

    • Tier says:

      Aliens can be hot too! Haven’t you seen the green-skinned girls in Star Trek? Or Species? (Okay, I haven’t seen Species either.) Yeah, Inori’s too small. And she’s got this really weird skin tone. But I still like the figure. Really wish she were larger, though. Then again, even small things can be okay. Like that Russell Wilson guy. Man, I don’t know who to cheer for in that game, I hate both of those teams.

      Shiny is good; it’s one of the reasons why I like Samus so much. And this big-ass Nanoha figure that’s staring at me across my desk. She came close to getting on the list. I wonder if Max Factory will do an Asuka figure with her eyepatch and patched-up suit? Speaking of which, I need to watch the Evangelion movies, if only to figure out why NERV doesn’t have the budget to issue Asuka a new suit instead of duct-taping it back together.

      • Tian says:

        NERV spends all their money repairing the Evas and fixing Tokyo-3. No money left for new plug suits. Imagine what the budget committee has to put up with. “We’d love to get your pilots new outfits, but you turned the city into a lake so we have to take care of that first.”

        • Tier says:

          That’s a sad state of affairs; everyone knows that the number one priority of any pilot is looking and sounding cool, and how can one look cool when one’s piloting suit is falling apart? Besides, nobody cares about infrastructure – well, at least in the US, judging by the response to Hurricane Sandy reconstruction. Maybe they do things differently over in Japan.

  14. Wolfheinrich says:

    Interesting list, looks like two of your top five are among the figures I have acquired in 2012 as well. Ai and Saber bikes are indeed lovely figures. Noel certainly looks good too, ever since I spotted her in the arcade during my Japan trip in 2009, I have already taken an interest in her; but sadly I still haven’t gotten time to play the game. I really should open some of those figures I got last year, but I haven’t finish cleaning up my room yet, after one whole year, I am still struggling with cleaning up and picking out things to be discard so I can open these new figures.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I’m kind of in the same position, I’m needing to box up older figures to make room for the newer ones, and so a lot of my newer figures haven’t even been opened yet (also because I don’t like displaying them before I photograph them, and I am massively backlogged on that).

  15. Aaron says:


    A sport bike or crotch-rocket would fit the president much better as long as he had the right clothes for it. Although I can just as easily see the president riding on a 40’s Indian Chief wearing a sleeveless leather vest and a mustache.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, I need some more clothes for him; though to be honest, him doing everything in a business suit is kind of hilarious. (I need a regular, charcoal or black suit for him, though; as much as I like the trenchcoat, it’s not really all that presidential or executive-looking.)

  16. Blowfish says:

    Man this reminds me that I am soooooo out of figure business by now.
    De Facto I havent bought one since Dizzy/Momohime and then I came across a Scan from 4chan with Irma and I immediately thought FUCK YEAH!

    Then I had to think of you and how you must have been a good boy this christmas for getting such a gift.

    I had seen Saber at the Jaüpanexpo in Paris this year and while she looks totally badass on that bike of hers I wasnt that intrigued to own her. First is of course de fact that i dont like the Character at all and i cant justify owning so many Versions of a character i neither like characterwise nor visualwise. Too bad that they tend to be great figures though.

    After seeing Irma i surfed a bit on kumos Blog and that was a big mistake . Sure theres still very few figures that cater to me but i somehow got interested in them again.
    It also reminded me that i wanted Natives Elfriede for quite some time.

    and man I havent been here for ages but your pictures are just keeping to get better and better. Gonna have to read some more of your HOWYUDUNIT

    • Tier says:

      I’m still wondering what the big huge holdup was. Though I can hardly complain now. I feel kinda bad for Melpha fans, since I think she’s the only one of the original characters to not have a figure. But then again, are there any Melpha fans out there?

      Thanks! It doesn’t feel like I’ve been running this site for that long but whenever I look around and see all these sites that haven’t been updated in forever, I think, “Man, I’ve been doing this for a while.”

  17. Blowfish says:

    Oh and I forgot:

    I never got warm with ZeroSuit Samus since I always thoght of her as a cheap way to try to appeal to the more hardcore audience by Nintendo.
    id rather prefer a really Kikcass Samus Figure in her Varia Suit.
    or id have to buy one of the First4Figures ….

    • Tier says:

      If their intent was to sex her up, it definitely worked. Too bad I’m not likely to get any Nintendo consoles – I don’t even have a PS3 yet – cuz I’d like to play one of her games sometime, just to see what I’m missing.

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