Unsurprisingly, virtually all of my preorders from the last two months have been delayed, and so I’ve only received one figure order in that time (a virtual cookie goes to whoever guesses which figure that might be). Therefore, we’ll take a look at Kotobukiya’s Scarlett, which came out last summer. I actually took these pictures shortly after receiving it, as this was a figure that I had been excited about since I saw Shunya Yamashita’s concept art the year prior. Growing up, G.I. Joe was one of my favorite cartoons – no surprise, as I spent much of my childhood on an Army base – and Scarlett was my favorite character. To say that I was eagerly anticipating this figure would be an understatement.
Unlike many of her compatriots – many of whom are based on stock archetypes – Scarlett’s roles, characterization, and appearance has varied through the years. As I recall, she’s listed as an enlisted intelligence specialist on her original action figure filecard. In the cartoon, she was sort of a generalist – I remember her flying a Skystriker fighter jet – and a love interest for Duke (contrary to the comic book, which paired her with Snake Eyes) as well as an occasional damsel-in-distress. She’s also variably been a helicopter pilot, a ninja, and a very high-ranking commander type; I’m not certain but being that she’s gone from sergeant to colonel over the years, she may have the widest disparity of all the Joe characters in terms of rank.
This figure is manufactured by Kotobukiya as part of their long-running Bishoujo series. Despite my fondness for Japanese interpretations of American entertainment properties, I haven’t actually bought many of them, for no reason that I can discern. Given their willingness to incorporate characters from both horror films and fighting games, I hope that they one day produce figures of characters from the Mortal Kombat series; that would be hilarious and I think I would buy them.
Also of note is that Kotobukiya launched a website for the Bishoujo series this month. It’s a very comprehensive site that provides a detailed overview of more than a decade of figure production.
Scarlett is sculpted in 1/7 scale and is about 21 centimeters in overall height. She’s attached to her base and is thus ready for display right out of the box.
Scarlett is one of the most iconic and easily-recognizable characters from G.I. Joe but she’s gone through myriad costumes over the years. Her later outfits have generally been more reminiscent of military-issue battlefield dress, with the unfortunate result of deemphasizing her sexiness. That’s not the case with this figure, however; Kotobukiya and illustrator Shunya Yamashita have adapted Scarlett’s appearance from the old Marvel comic books, with her clad in a purple bodysuit and yellow leotard ensemble. It’s an outfit that is emblematic of the 80s but with nostalgia for that decade so prevalent in the contemporary zeitgeist, it’s a welcome sight.
Her bodysuit features an unusual snakeskin pattern; it’s a bit unusual to see since texturing on her costume was never apparent in her earlier appearances and any sort of ophidian styling cue was more of a Cobra thing. Nonetheless, it certainly catches the eye. Also attracting interest – probably in larger measure – is the way her bodysuit positively sheathes her body. G.I. Joe toys have never really been noted for their sex appeal and one wonders what sort of opinion the approvers at Hasbro had when they viewed the prototype figure. A high-cut leotard further emphasizes the curves of her body.
Scarlett’s outift is completed by elbow gloves, boots, and a practical belt that, while certainly not required to hold up her trousers, offers some useful pouches. Indeed, her costume is festooned with pouches. Tight-fitting clothing typically offers little in the way of storage options but Scarlett was seemingly determined not to suffer that inconvenience.
G.I. Joe is a military-themed series and as such virtually of the characters are associated with weapons. The women of G.I. Joe have some atypical preferences regarding their weapons of choice, though; Lady Jaye chucks javelins, Cover Girl rolls with a tank, and Scarlett is usually associated with a crossbow, which is what she is holding here. No reloads are visible, but she does have what looks like a grenade clipped over her left breast.
Scarlett is aiming that crossbow in a threatening posture, but her pose is decidedly relaxed; she’s depicted as casually leaning on a large rock or something. There’s this odd thing on this rock; it looks like a sea urchin or a nautical mine or a stylized coronavirus, but the illustration shows that it’s actually some sort of laser beam hitting the rock (and very narrowly missing Scarlett’s foot). As I recall, the Joe team used red lasers and Cobra fired blue lasers, but this laser is yellow, so who knows who’s shooting at her.
The design of Scarlett’s face is instantly recognizable as being Shunya Yamashita’s handiwork. It’s kind of amazing that both he, Kotobukiya, and the various licensors have maintained their relationships to keep the Bishoujo line going for this long. We’ve seen so many trends in the figure industry come and go – Black Rock Shooter, Ikkitousen, Nanoha; even Kantai Collection seems to be on the way out, at least as far as figures go, but the Bishoujo series is still going as strong as it ever has.
Going back to Scarlett’s costume, it’s particularly pleasing how well it clings to her form, particularly her backside, the view of which reminds me a bit of Konami’s G.I. Joe arcade game. Indeed, one of the very best aspects of this figure is how most views of Scarlett highlight the prominent swell of her hips.
There are a lot of things I like about this figure, so it’s no surprise that it was one of my favorite figure releases of 2019. I hadn’t really expected anyone to ever make a superb scale-size figure of Scarlett, so I was happy that Kotobukiya took a shot at it, and I’m even more thrilled that they did such a great job of it (I’m not as big a fan of Prime 1’s 1/4 scale statue of her, and I’m curious to see if Pop Culture Shock makes one of her). Scarlett is a figure I’m very happy to own, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing where else Kotobukiya’s Bishoujo line goes.