My Five Favorite Figures of 2014

Here are my five favorite figures of the previous year, fashionably late. The tardiness is only partially due to laziness; I don’t think I felt as excited about many of last year’s figures as I did in prior years. Maybe I’m just getting old or something. I did see a number of figures that I liked in all the Wonder Festival (also known as KanColleFest) coverage this past weekend, so that’s a good thing (most of those figures were from Alphamax/SkyTube, curiously). As usual, the ranking presented here does not reflect the popularity of the figures or the characters they represent, it doesn’t reflect preorder hype or community consensus, and it doesn’t mean that I think the number one figure was the very best figure released in the last year. This list solely expresses my own thoughts and preferences.

#5. Tomo Asama from Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere

Tomo Asama

There are a few figures that I could place here, but why not go with Tomo Asama, one of my favorite characters from a show that didn’t get quite as much love from figure makers as one might have thought it would. Tomo looks great, particularly with her combination of a dynamic pose and a sexy suit. Again, it’s unfortunate that the characters from the show haven’t gotten many great figures (particularly Horizon, curiously enough; all she got was a Beach Queens figure and a couple of subpar and overpriced figures from Wave and Volks, if I remember right), but at least this figure shows why Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere’s design sensibilities are so nice.

#4. Alleyne from Queen’s Blade

Alleyne

I’ll be honest; when I think of Orchid Seed, I tend to think of figures that are undersized and underwhelming. However, Alleyne was a very welcome surprise; she’s far larger than I thought she would be, and her quality is superlative, particularly in the detailing of her body. It’s a bit of a shame that many of Orchid Seed’s products aren’t as good as her.

#3. Sena Kashiwazaki from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Sena Kashiwazaki

This one is partially because I like the character and the series that she’s from, but mostly because this figure is really, really big. This is really one of those figures one needs to see in real life, next to other figures, to appreciate, I think. It’s also a shame that Gift doesn’t make more 1/4 scale figures, particularly being that Takayuki Kondo is one of the more skilled sculptors in the business when it comes to working at that size.

#2. Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier

Sheryl Nome

There were two figures last year that I really looked forward to. This is one of them, and it’s not hard to see why; the combination of the bondage theme and Sheryl’s thong suit is highly compelling. Moreover, Macross – in the form of Robotech’s first set of episodes – was the show that initially got me into anime, and so anything that has to do with Macross carries personal meaning with me. That Sheryl looks very sexy is a very nice bonus. I could probably flip a coin to determine the ranking of this figure and the next and feel comfortable with either outcome. But regardless …

#1. The Muse of Range Murata from JC.com

Muse

After an absence of a few years, an Alter figure returns to the number one spot on this list. The visual attraction of this figure is obvious, with lots of exposed skin, a nicely-arched back, and a charming smile, but the appeal of this figure to me goes further than that; one of the things that pulled me back into anime about twelve or thirteen years ago was Range Murata’s design work on Last Exile. If I hadn’t gotten into that (along with a few other anime series, including Noir and Angelic Layer), I probably wouldn’t have gotten back into anime after having lost interest in it during the mid-90s, and I probably wouldn’t have started this website or gotten into photography, either.

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24 Responses to My Five Favorite Figures of 2014

  1. TomTheCat says:

    It’s funny you should mention Alphamax in the introduction. It was exactly the same with me. Another funny thing is that one of those Alphamax figures is Saber holding a parasol. Didn’t you mention a few times that you had a “Silly Saber” figure you wanted to review one of these days?

    • Tier says:

      Indeed I did! I’m hoping to review it very soon, actually. It was kinda weird at first but then Saber Bride debuted, and now there are all these other Sabers, like that one in hotpants (whom I’m sure is Mordred or some other nonsense rather than a genderswapped King Arthur but whatever), so that some of her strangeness has worn off. I was actually thinking about doing Wacky Saber Week in which I reviewed all these peculiar Saber figures (such as gangsta lean Saber), but then I’d have to figure out how I want to photograph that one motorbike Saber and I haven’t done that yet.

  2. Cerberus says:

    I like Alleyne from OS best in this group, but I gave my personal #1 last year to Iris Hartley from Alphamax/Skytube. OS just have to push their productivity and spend less time playing with alternative colors. I don’t even see anything interesting from them on this recent WonderFes. Just get those old ones that has been displayed for years out quickly and they will be good.
    I gave my #1 to Alphamax just to appreciate their big effort for bringing us so many figures based on very recent ero illustrations. Looks like they are growing fast and is very likely to become #1 in R18 prepainted figure market in terms of productivity. Native is still doing good, OS need work harder.
    Murata’s muse is great too, huge in size plus Alter’s great quality, sweet smile. Alter made quite a few half naked figures last year, Asuka from Senran Kagura, Super Sonico, I like these slightly more seducing ones, not like some of their other swimming suits ones which you don’t really feel like visually stimulated.
    By the way a year has past now and we still haven’t seen your full review of MaxFactory’s dark elf except that one picture from your last year-end recap 🙂

    • Tier says:

      I liked some of the stuff Orchid Seed showed; I just hope that they’re not all undersized as their products chronically are. Their Seven Deadly Sins stuff has been nice at least; I had some misgivings about that since I don’t recall them having worked with Hobby Japan all that much prior. Alphamax has definitely been awesome, though. It’s still a little hard to believe that they went from doing really expensive polystone statues to making PVC figures of just about everything.

      I definitely agree about the Muse and how she looks; even though she’s wearing what looks like a swimsuit or bra and panties, she looks a lot more interesting than the average bikini figure. I have to admit that it still feels a little strange to say that a pretty girly figure in a bikini is boring, though.

      Indeed we have not! I came across the dark elf’s box while rummaging in the closet for Sheryl … I really need to get that review done. That one and the other elf figure, too … I didn’t know that her skirt was removable and if I had, I might’ve gotten her review done right away.

      • Cerberus says:

        Yeah looks like OS always put HJ stuff at highest priority. They got Mammon the greed out first which is HJ limited, but their own Satan the wrath which took preorders way earlier is still no where to be seen. A few of follow up Seven Sins are pretty interesting after you mentioned that. I had the newer envy on my ordered list already and maybe a few more depending on their final look. I’m more happy to see more of them come through OS’s normal release not HJ exclusive.

        • Tier says:

          The lead time on those 7 Deadly Sins figures is a little excessive, though I guess I can’t complain too much since everything I’ve read suggests the USD/JPY exchange rate will only improve in the months to come. The exclusivity situation is pretty annoying though, as it always is. It’d be nice if Hobby Japan sold more of their products overseas; I know they have a small part of their website in English and I think I saw some of their English-language Queen’s Blade books, so it’s not like they aren’t aware that there’s a market here.

  3. BostonBrandon says:

    I recently paid a visit to LA’s Little Tokyo. As always for food purposes, but it provides an interesting opportunity to pop in on a few stores that do retail these figures. The prices are almost always outrageous, however getting to see them in person is always a good way to make observations.
    Muse of Range Murata is one of those interesting cases where while I liked her design I paid little heed to her release. After seeing her in person. Well, now I’ve become a bit more interested if only because of her massive size. I feel like I’ll never understand the scale system. She looks to be almost as large as a 1/4th!

    • Tier says:

      As much as people romanticize local stores, I generally find that they offer more expensive stuff and worse service than the big online shops. Being able to see stuff in person is definitely an advantage, though (usually the only reason I go to Best Buy is to play with their products, which I then order from Amazon or something). Yeah, I was surprised by how large she is. Alter’s products seem to be like that a lot; their Yuuki Mikan figure is 1/7 scale but she looks like she could fit in with Max Factory’s 1/6 scale figures from the same series.

  4. Rene says:

    very nice picks this year, of those 5 I’d say 4 and 3 where my favs, but all in all there very nice. but I been wondering on thing about your pics, how do you get/make the tentacles that where with Sena, just asking XD

    • Tier says:

      It’s made by a group called the Real Art Project; they generally make pornographic stuff for dolls. I have a review up of it listed in the figure review section (just search for “tentacle stand”).

  5. Somnophore says:

    Great to see The muse of Range Murata as your number one, that just reminds me how HLJ cancelled my pre-order and I don’t have her. I’ll have to pay a premium to still get her. I suspect she’d also be my number one if I actually had her. Looking at my MFC page.. Hmm. Didn’t get many scale figures (got some Nendoroids though :P). My favourite may be actually the cheapest: Mara Jade. Oh well I love them all.

    • Tier says:

      Ouch; that sounds like a really annoying situation. I know nothing of Nendoroids 😛 Irrespective of price, I tend to like figures more if I’m familiar with the character or the series they come from – or in this case, if I like the artist. I’d probably have gotten Mara Jade if I were more of a Star Wars fan (or fan of its extended universe), but I grew up watching Star Trek 😛

      • Somnophore says:

        Yeah, I think I’ve mentioned in one of your other posts, knowledge of the character isn’t required for me (but is a bonus). I just go after character designs I like. I didn’t know who Mara Jade was before I bought the figure. I think I’ve heard the name being dropped, but that’s it. And I still don’t really know who she is. Nor should I have to, because Disney dropped the expanded universe bla bla bla. Quality-wise she’s outmatched by my other figures, like Alter’s Kazuno or Heather from Silent Hill, but Mara Jade’s the sexiest of the figures I got in 2014

        Regarding Star Wars vs Star Trek: I guess I grew up with both, but I consider myself more of a Star Trek fan. I like the original Star Wars trilogy, I liked some of the games, but I didn’t like the new trilogy overall. Haven’t seen much of Star Trek TOS, but I like everything up until the final episode of Voyager regarding the TV episodes, and everything up until Star Trek Nemesis regarding the films. At some point, both Star Trek and Star Wars were dead to me. Then came the famous Star Trek reboot, which started off well, I liked the first, but it went quickly downhill after that. I really didn’t like the 2nd. I’m probably going to see the 3rd when it comes out, but I’m really not looking forward to it. I did discover some fanmade shows of TOS recently, I’ll check those out some day, and I think there’s going to be a pilot of a new series with some Star Trek veterans behind (and in) it. Then of course there’s the new Star Wars film. At first I had no strong feeling one way or the other, but now I’m cautiously looking forward to it.

        • Tier says:

          Ah, okay; she’s, uhh, Luke’s wife, I think? The only thing I remember about her is that on one of the covers of the novels she was featured in, I think the artist used Angie Everhart as a reference.

          I was a little too young to really get into the Star Wars movies when they first hit the theatres (I vaguely remember making my dad leave the theatre during The Empire Strikes Back, when I started crying at the part when Luke got stuffed into the disemboweled animal). I think my Star Trek fan experience mirrors yours; I was still over a decade from being conceived when TOS first aired and I’ve never watched those episode, and I didn’t watch Enterprise, either. I loved the rebooted alternate universe movie so much I watched it again after I first saw it, and then I watched it once more a week later, which is when I started noticing how contrived it all was. I watched the second movie with much diminished expectations and I guess I kinda liked it … I don’t think it was very good but I was entertained, at least. I’m not really looking forward to the third movie but I suppose it could be good. (These days, I’m more of a fan of Star Trek Online than the movie franchise.)

  6. Sheryl is in there so I approve. Still, I would definitely put in the Shinonono Houki from AmiAmi in any top 5 figures list for 2014!

    Tomo is nice too but I’m not sure if she’d make top 5 for me. Then again, i’d have to take a look to remember which figures came out in 2014… aside from Houki

    • Tier says:

      I was pretty much undecided about the order of this list until the moment I wrote it. I was really thinking about putting Sheryl at number one and I kinda wonder if I should have. I don’t think there’s anything about her I don’t like and man is her outfit awesome.

  7. Tsunami3k says:

    It’s hard to believe a year has passed since your last ‘Top 5’ list. I have yet to get that Alleyne despite the near universally high regard for her; I went for Sugie Sun instead with no regrets. Alleyne is sure to find a home on my shelves too as soon as I can catch her for a reasonable price.

    Muse is indeed fantastic and a top-tier rendition of a Murata design is almost too good to pass up yet I almost did solely on price and I too wouldn’t have had a problem had Sheryl and she been swapped in your lineup as they’re both gems.

    Probably my biggest surprise is not seeing Olivia. She’d be #1 on my 2014 list without reservation so it’s a bit of a surprise to see her not even place though I suppose that, while we do seem to have highly similar tastes, we’re bound to differ here and again.

    Anyway, I always love these ‘Year in Review’ type posts to an irrational degree. I’m really curious to see which of these [un-reviewed] ladies gets the full review treatment this year.

    • Tier says:

      Thanks for the kind words! I actually haven’t taken Olivia out of her shipping box. I think I would have ranked her higher if she were wearing a more revealing outfit. I’m a little surprised that she did not seem to make an appearance in the anime adaptation (though I haven’t watched the last few episodes so I don’t know for sure).

      I’m really hoping I can get to some of these figures soon. The weather has unfortunately been highly uncooperative, as I have some ideas in mind but I can’t paint the materials until it gets a little warmer and stops snowing.

  8. Tian says:

    Sheryl’s great! I love when Max Factory just makes a big fuck off figure and dares anyone else to do better.

    Alleyne is nice too, although the cast-off process wound up in mine getting a bunch of scuff marks. I must say her bent over pose and facial expression lead to some… photographic possibilities.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty awesome when they (or Alter, who tend to make a habit of it) just goes all-out on an ambitious figure that nobody else can match. Would that the top-shelf companies would do that more often.

      I probably shoulda broken out the tentacle stand for Alleyne, too; she’s close enough in size that it could have worked, I think. And that reminds me that I guess I’ve only got a couple more years to use the presidential doll before I have to find something new.

  9. Wieselhead says:

    The Muse of Range Murata sure looks, good I think seeing her in person is more convincing than just seeing it in pictures, unfortunately I did not order her.

    Stupid me looked for the Sheryl Nome review, I don’t know how she’s like, but it appears very elaborate with the base and stuff.

    Alleyne was a really attractive figure this year, I liked the skintone and that she portrays an elf, In retrospective I don’t really like the pose when she just stands on the shelf. Hopefully OS delivers another big QB figure soon, I guess Tomoe was listed You know I actually think their older than 3 years prototypes are dead, not in a sense of being canceled, but some people won’t care anymore after years of “grey”. I always liked the Push cover girl they finally painted this year, I was excited for a moment, but after so much time, it’s difficult to tell how I feel about it now.

    • Tier says:

      Yeah, one reason I like the Muse so much is that she’s a very large figure; that’s an important thing when I evaluate how much I like a figure. I’d really like to get her review done and Sheryl’s; I can already picture what I want to do so I don’t think it’ll take too much more work to make it happen.

      Interesting, I didn’t know they had a Tomoe planned, though I guess Tomoe isn’t amongst my favorite Queen’s Blade characters so I probably just wasn’t paying attention. It’s a little odd how they’ve done some one-off figures from franchises that got a ton of figures (I recall they also did one of … uhh, Chouhi Ekitoku, I think? The short-haired girl from Ikkitousen).

      I saw they had a painted version of that cover girl figure (though for some reason, I was thinking it was an Alphamax figure). She looks pretty nice, I think, though the levitating skirt is a little odd. I hadn’t really paid too much attention to it so maybe I’m more interested in it now than I would have been had I been following it for a while.

      • Wieselhead says:

        1/6 is a quite nice scale for figures and considering that this certain Main is made by ALTER it must be a really nice sight. Don’t worry sometimes good things take a little longer 😉

        Oh it’s this entry http://myfigurecollection.net/item/236662 while Nanael is still my #1 I like how Tomoe is portrayed in this illustration
        I had Chouhi , she wasn’t perfect but had beautiful butt ;D

        It’s not that I hate the figure, it’s actually still the opposite. It just felt a little unreal all of a sudden, I guess overall it’s better when you just notice a figure shortly before release haha.

        • Tier says:

          Ah, okay; I never saw that figure before but the artwork does look pretty good. I guess for Orchid Seed, six months is like a New York minute; if we’re lucky, maybe we’ll see one of those printed posters at the Orchid Seed exhibit in next year’s winter Wonder Festival.

          Yeah, sometimes when you look forward to a figure and you pay attention from the promo art stage to the unpainted prototype to the sample product, it can be a little hard to stay excited all the way through, versus when you see a cool new figure on Amiami that you didn’t know about it. Like the Hell Seducer figure! Okay, I knew about the model kit but I had no idea it was going to get a PVC figure. I bet this site is going to be the only on the internet that will be placing it in any kind of year-end list.

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