Yamato’s vmf50 lineup hasn’t always had a clear identity. Its closest analogues – Azone’s original and Hybrid Active Figure series and Volks’s Dollfie Dream line – have, in contrast, clearly-defined target markets. The Dollfie Dream and HAF dolls are generally modeled after characters from anime culture, whereas Azone’s original dolls are simply happy-looking female characters, with the occasional scowling Goth-loli character thrown in on occasion. The vmf50 series is, however, much like Yamato’s larger product line: all over the place. At first, it seemed like they were interested in appealing to anime fans, and their early dolls, such as Risa and Yumi, featured anime-like styling. Then they made a doll of Nitroplus mascot Super Sonico, which was quite unexpected, at least by me. Subsequently, they switched over to using artificial eyes in their newer dolls and introduced a host of body types, principally distinguished by bust and leg size. After observing their product line for the last several years, I think one can simply say that Yamato wanted to make really sexy dolls, with costumes and characteristics that frequently strayed into ero classification. This doll, named Shiho, is one of the more overt examples, as can obviously be seen.
Shiho was released last year as vmf50 Original Concept Image Girl #9. Like most of the other vmf50 dolls, she was sold through Yamato’s web shop and at various conventions and doll shows. However, unlike those other dolls, Shiho hardly ever turns up on the secondary market, making her much more difficult to acquire. Many of the other dolls were available at Hobbylink Japan – and some still are, though I would imagine supply will dwindle due to Yamato’s curious present circumstances. The older dolls are also available on Yamato USA’s website, though at significant markup. Admittedly, part of that markup comes from the wig and clothes supplied with each doll; the Japanese releases generally come nude with nothing more than a face-up. That was the case with Shiho; she comes only with a pair of extra hands and the same flat metal disc base included with every vmf50 doll (quite effective when the doll is barefoot, since the vmf50 [and Obitsu] 50-centimeter dolls have magnets in their feet, but it’s useless when the doll is wearing shoes).
Speaking of Yamato’s present state, as most figure collectors know, they’ve apparently re-branded themselves as Arcadia. The vmf50 line has also been renamed “Angel Philia.” I’m not sure how I feel about that; “vmf50” was a bit of a clunky name, rather mechanical or technical-sounding, and it also implied a relationship to Yamato’s earlier Variable Motion Figures, which was not the case. I liked it anyway, though; it was distinctive and easy to remember. Angel Philia sounds a bit odd to me, but perhaps it will grow on me in time. For now, I’m going to continue to refer to these dolls by their old name.
Incidentally, I have no idea why Yamato folded up shop and re-launched as a new company. I suspect the motivation was financial, as it seems that it’s either finances or a public relations problem that compels a company to re-brand itself. While Yamato is perhaps not a well-regarded toy maker – an opinion I don’t hold, by the way – I don’t think they’ve had any major scandals, and I hope that they make it through whatever problems they might be having. I’m thinking I ought to get that TERA Elin figure, just to support the company; I think I’ve been a bigger Yamato fan than many figure collectors over the years.
Also, according to a post on Macross World, it seems that it will be business as usual for Yamato’s North American division. Curious indeed.
Anyway, on to this doll. Shiho’s body is classified as the Type-G model. I have some comparison pictures of the earlier body types in the Super Sonico post, which I’ll link again for convenience. While Yamato has re-used bodies in different dolls, I think Shiho’s body is unique to her, at least when it comes to official products.
There’s a few interesting aspects about the Type-G body that make it special. First, it’s a tanned body type, which is a bit unusual for a doll – though not vmf50 dolls, as not only are Shiho and Yumi tanned, there are also darker-skinned versions of Miu and Risa, and I think Miki has a tanned version as well. Shiho’s skin is lighter in tone than Yumi’s, though, and her skin also doesn’t have its gloss; rather, it has a notable matte finish.
The most obvious visual characteristic of the Type-G body is its impressive bust size. I’m pretty sure that this is the largest bust size available on any of the vmf50 dolls (though I don’t doubt that even larger aftermarket parts are available). Shiho also has very thick thighs and though her musculature isn’t as evident as on Miu and Miki, she does have noticeable bicep definition. While Risa and Yumi have a slender, supermodel-ish look to them, Shiho definitely has a more robust body build.
In terms of poseability, she also feels more solid and well-built than my earlier dolls. I’ve had some problems with loose hips with Yumi and Miu, which causes their legs to swing freely (this may be because I bought them from Yahoo Japan Auctions). Shiho’s limbs, however, move smoothly and stay in position very well; despite their large size, they don’t sink or slack under their own weight. As with all the other vmf50 dolls, Shiho is built on an Obitsu 50cm skeleton and thus features good flexiblity, despite her relatively bulky body parts.
Those same body parts do present another problem, though – it’s hard to find clothes that will fit her. This is particularly true for anything form-fitting; her breasts and legs are so large that it’s difficult to get normal vmf50 clothes on her. Looser clothes – like a kimono or sundress or something – will obviously present less of an issue. At present, this sports leotard is the only fitted garment I have that Shiho can wear, and I cannot remove it from her now since her nipple has poked a hole in the fabric; taking the leotard off would probably result in its destruction. I meant to buy a replacement earlier this year, but then Yamato did their corporate re-launch thing and I’m not sure if they’ll offer their old girl*holic products through their Arcadia web store.
As I’ve said in probably all of my older doll reviews, I like painted eyes. In fact, in many cases, I prefer painted eyes to artificial eyes, and artificial eyes are one reason I never bought a Dollfie Dream. Many such dolls have eyes that feature huge irises and little eye white, and I think those dolls often look like space aliens. Unfortunately, the vmf50 dolls with artificial eyes all tend to suffer from that problem to some extent, which is why I hadn’t bought them, aside from Miu. However, that issue bothers me less now, and I really like Shiho’s face. The early vmf50 dolls – and most dolls in general, I think – had fairly typical cheery smiles (except for Miu, who actually just used the stock Obitsu head that comes with their blank 50-centimeter doll body); Shiho, in contrast, has doe-like eyes and slightly parted lips, and it’s harder to guess what sort of emotion she is expressing. It works pretty well for a number of situations, particularly those involving the tentacle stand.
A few miscellaneous notes before wrapping up: I said that Shiho’s body was unique to Yamato’s product line. There are, however, other dolls that use the Type-G body, including several offered by the Real Art Project. While Yamato’s dolls tend to straddle the line between sexy and ero, the RAP’s dolls tend to be planted firmly in the porny category, as one can see with vmf50 Sayaka and Romina. Interestingly, while such dolls do have a certain niche appeal – there are a number of customizers on Yahoo Japan Auctions who sell modified heads with gaping mouths and extended tongues – Arcadia seems to have made such a doll an official product, in the form of Angel Philia Liza. She can be seen in the background of the official Angel Philia Twitter account, seemingly in the throes of orgasm. In a less lecherous note, there will also be an Angel Philia doll with a head designed by Yoshizawa Mitsumasa of REFLECT, who has had many of his sculpts released as PVC figures by Yamato. That doll is named Maya and has a mature – and rather more dignified – look to her.
I really do like Shiho a lot. She’s probably the second favorite vmf50 doll in my collection. I wish I had more clothes for her – though being that I have a big thing for sportswear, I like how the leotard and Chuck Taylors look on her. I’m not sure what will be my next vmf50 or Angel Philia doll; I like Maya a lot, and it might be her, as I’m a big fan of REFLECT’s work. My next doll review will probably be Azone’s 50-centimeter Inori Yuzuriha; I’m really hoping that she looks as good as her prototype, since I was let down by Azone’s 50-centimeter Saber. Guilty Crown was a pretty bad show, but I think it would’ve been improved had they brought in some tentacles for the female cast, and I aim to make it happen.