Yamato never got a lot of love from figure collectors. Most of their products aren’t particularly well-remembered and nobody seemed to mourn their demise; indeed, I don’t think many people even noticed, nor was it really acknowledged when they briefly came back as Arcadia. I’ve always liked Yamato, however; I have quite a few of their figures and I also own a number of their 50-centimeter dolls and Macross variable fighter toys. In fact, one of the first figures I reviewed for this site – nearly nine years ago – was Yamato’s Shunya Yamashita-designed Rei Ayanami. It’s a figure that I still like a lot, and when a spiritual successor to it was announced, I was quite pleased. Flare’s catalog comprises a continuation of series and themes that Yamato used to feature in their own products, though I’m not certain if the two companies are actually connected in a business sense (I’ve heard that Flare actually has some affiliation with Alter, though I’ve never seen that corroborated anywhere). Regardless of who they are, I’m glad they’re around, for while Yamato may not have been amongst the most respected of figure makers, I missed them.
There’s a bit of a parallel between the entity formerly known as Yamato and Rei Ayanami in that both have sort of fallen out of memory amongst their respective fanbases. The comparison isn’t that great, admittedly – Rei was one of the most recognizable anime characters of the early 1990s, but it’s surprising to me just how little love she’s gotten over the last few years, particularly compared to her mercurial castmate Asuka, who now seems more popular than ever. Even Mari appears to have surpassed Rei as far as fan appreciation goes. In fact, I can’t remember the last time we got a scale-size Rei figure; it might have been that one ridiculously expensive figure that came with an entire Eva cockpit.
Nonetheless, here we have a figure of Rei and we are all the better for it. As mentioned, this figure is brought to us by Flare and in keeping with Yamato’s peculiar tendencies, no official scale size is listed for this figure but like its stylistic forebear from Yamato, it’s about 24 centimeters in height, making this figure roughly 1/7 scale. This figure was sold in two versions, a standard model sold at the normal retail shops and an exclusive version, which is what we have here. This exclusive version merely has an additional head with a cheerful expression, versus the regular one, which features a seductive pout. Otherwise, the figure features no accessories and is ready to display once she is fixed to her base.
This figure is based on an illustration done by Shunya Yamashita. A few liberties have been taken with the design; notably, Rei is standing upright instead of leaning forward and her legs are set wider apart. Her sculpt tends more towards a realistic design rather than Yamashita’s pinup style; the noticeable facial flush is gone as well, giving Rei a more enigmatic look that seems better in line with her typically inscrutable disposition.
Rei’s pose is one of the most appealing aspects of this figure. Her stance is sleek and sexy, complemented by her strongly arched back and torso twist towards the viewer. Her attire is equally striking: she’s wearing a scandalously short, black butt-twitcher of a dress, as Salinger would describe it. The way her hands frame her buttocks draws attention to her femininity, and the contrast between her lithe body and the futuristic design of her outfit makes for an attractive juxtaposition. The color scheme is also startling, at least for anyone familiar with Rei from the television series, as she’s normally associated with a white and blue color scheme rather than the black and red shown here. The overall effect is to make her seem much more provocative than her anodyne personality would suggest.
That said, her outfit does highlight one aspect that could be improved, which is the size of her ass. Yoshizawa Mitsumasa – better known by the handle REFLECT – has always preferred flat backsides for some reason, which is a little strange to me; while there are proponents of all sorts of different body shapes, breast sizes, hair colors, skin tones, and levels of muscularity, I have never heard of anyone who preferred a flat rear versus a curved one. Nonetheless, this is what it is and it is what we have to live with.
As mentioned, the exclusive version of Rei gets the smiling head that we’ve been looking at, along with the normal head, which is this one here. Rei looks a good deal more sultry in this version, with her lips slightly parted and pursed. Both heads look fantastic, though I prefer the smiling one a bit more, partially because I paid extra cash for the extra head, but also because we seldom see a figure of Rei smiling and she’s pretty when she does so.
A close-up examination of her outfit shows that her dress does feature a sort of thong part, rather than being open on the bottom. I suppose this makes it more of a unitard than a dress. A neat detail is the contrast between the glossy black parts and the brownish panels, which I imagine are supposed to be see-through mesh cutouts. The palms of her gloves are colored aqua, which is an interesting touch. The way her thighhighs constrict the flesh of her legs is nearly unnoticeable but it’s a really nice aspect of the figure; it’s one of those things that helps present Rei in a sexy way.
Her base is a bit odd in that it’s colored pink, which really clashes with the rest of the figure. I suppose most people – including myself – don’t pay a lot of attention to bases, though. Yamashita’s artwork is printed on the disc, though I notice she’s smiling here; I haven’t looked around but I wonder if the standard version of this figure uses the alternate head style for the base’s illustration.
Of course, Rei is wearing high heels, which are a common theme with Yamashita’s designs.
And since I’m sure someone will ask, here’s Rei with the older figure. They’re about the same size, though I think the newer Rei is a bit more slender, with more of a wasp waist. The difference isn’t all that conspicuous though, these pictures notwithstanding, as the newer Rei is turned at an angle here and thus looks quite a bit slimmer than the new one.
The effect is less pronounced from the rear.
This is a figure that I am thrilled to own. I liked the previous version but this one is quite a bit better in my view. Aside from its obvious appeal, this figure reminds me of my earlier collecting days, when Yamato was still around and Shunya Yamashita’s figures weren’t limited to Kotobukiya Bishoujo products. It’s a very nostalgic figure, one that brings back warm feelings, which I find helpful and comforting at a time when I’m really wondering how long I can keep up with this hobby. It’s a great figure all around, and I’m quite looking forward to their accompanying Asuka figure, which I expect to turn out just as well.