Preorder Outlook XV

Happy Christmas to everybody. Nominally this is a time to celebrate with one’s friends and family but we all know it’s also a time to buy lots of really cool stuff. And since this site is all about figures, let’s take a look at some figures that look pretty cool and are worth some money.
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Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha (Swimsuit Version)

Fate Testarossa Swimsuit Figure Review

Alter kicked off 2011 with Fate Testarossa and yet another figure of the blonde mage is among those that will close this year. In fact, Alter released five figures of Fate in 2011 alone, demonstrating that she is one of their favorite characters. Their love affair with the lightning wizard will surely continue unabated, as Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force is still untapped and more significantly, the second movie is on the way, with a new costume for Fate. Admittedly, it looks quite like her old costume with just a few changes but that certainly will not deter figure makers and Fate’s fans will certainly not object.
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Shot Breakdown – Sasara Kusugawa

When I shoot figures, I try to come up with an idea that will make them look interesting. My ideas often fail; sometimes they’re beyond my abilities to create, sometimes they don’t look as good I had hoped, and sometimes some unforeseen problem comes up that prevents me from getting the picture that I want. However, with Sasara, I mostly got the pictures that I had hoped to get which, frankly, surprised the hell out of me. They weren’t all exactly what I envisioned before I started but the general look and mood were close to what I was trying to achieve. Here’s how I made the first shot.
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Miku Append from Vocaloid

Max Factory Miku Append Figure Review

Miku Hatsune’s popularity among figure collectors is ascendant, and though it seemed like she would have to share the 2011 hobby spotlight with Tamaki Kousaka and Super Sonico, most of Sonico’s figures won’t be coming out until next year and many of this year’s Tamaki figures are manifestly forgettable, leaving no competition to contest Miku’s prominence. From her humble origin as an image character of a niche software package, she has become a titan of commercialization, appearing not only in her own games but also games such as Pangya Fantasy Golf and the PlayStation 3 port of Idolmaster 2, becoming the mascot of Good Smile Racing, and selling Toyota automobiles. And of course, she’s gotten figures – not just numerous figures, but a numerous variety of figures. A few years ago, one could justifiably complain that Miku figures all looked alike – Good Smile Company’s Miku looked very much like Volks’s Miku which looked very much like Max Factory’s Miku. However, in recent times, figure makers have offered new takes on the Vocaloid mascot, casting her as a sort of warrior clad in robotic armor and as a pit crew worker. Even more conventional takes on the character, such as Good Smile Company’s Lat-type figure and Max Factory’s Tony Taka-designed figure present distinctive poses and facial expressions. The latest Miku figure to be released is perhaps the most distinctive yet, but whether that’s a good thing is debatable. Let’s take a closer look at it.
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Dakimakura Review – Charlotte Dunois from Infinite Stratos (NSFW)

It’s time for pillowcase show-and-tell, and today we’ve got one from Infinite Stratos, that sci-fi harem show whose most notable contribution to anime culture is the tremendous amount of quality porn it has inspired. While the show’s plot is nothing special, several of the characters are agreeable enough, with Charlotte Dunois perhaps being the most likeable. Leaving aside her initial assumption of a male identity named Charles, she’s the one sane girl in a school packed with psychotics and lunatics. Even-keeled, friendly, and cheerful, she stands out amongst the principal members of the cast, and so it’s not surprising she’s got a ton of doujin merchandise, including a bunch of pillowcases. This one is from Evening Call, a circle that specializes in making dakimakura covers.
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Random Thoughts: On Prints and Post-Processing

For most of us, the process of taking pictures is digital from start to finish. The picture is captured by a digital camera, uploaded to a computer, optionally imported into Lightroom, Photoshop, or some other processing application, and then is typically viewed on a monitor or a device LCD, probably in a browser window. However, there’s something really neat about seeing a printed version of a photograph. Even though I scarcely used a camera during my childhood, I was always thrilled to see pictures after my dad brought them back from the one-hour photo processor (unless the pictures were of me – I hated having my picture taken). Now, it takes a bit longer than an hour to get prints delivered – unless you go to a local Costco or other print shop – but it’s no less delighting.
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Ming Yue

E2046 Ming Yue ORI Figure Review

Ming Yue is the latest figure in E2046’s ORI series. Probably best known for making prepainted figures of recast resin, E2046 also sculpts their own figures, which they label their ORI lineup. Many of their figures feature female fighters, and while Ming Yue doesn’t appear ready to throw down, she belongs to the same fictional universe as figures like Jian Xue. These figures belong to the “Elegance” subgroup within E2046’s ORI product section, and that’s a fitting name since Ming Yue is elegant indeed.
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Ivy Valentine from Soul Calibur IV (Queen’s Gate Version)

Ivy Valentine from Soul Calibur Figure Review

There ought to be more figures of fighting game characters, and of the fighting game characters who deserves figures, Ivy Valentine should be near the top of the list. She has one of the most easily-identifiable designs in fighting games, she is one of the mainstays of one of the best fighting game franchises in existence, and yet, only three or four figures have ever been made of her, and one of those is from Todd McFarlane’s toy company. Fortunately for Ivy fans, Hobby Japan has recently shipped a brand new figure of her as part of their Queen’s Gate figure lineup. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as good as one might have hoped for.
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Sasara Kusugawa from To Heart 2: Dungeon Travelers (Paladin Version)

Volks Sasara Kusugawa Paladin Figure Review

Despite not being particularly religious, I always like to play as a paladin in role-playing games. I’ve always admired the ethos of the paladin: the self-sacrificing knight devoted to justice and charity. My party leader in the Bard’s Tale games was always a paladin. My Baldur’s Gate parties always had two paladins – my player character and Ajantis in the first game and Keldorn in the second. I played a paladin in EverQuest despite the hindrance of the hybrid experience penalty. I stayed away from World of Warcraft for years because I was told that paladins were only good for healing and I didn’t care to spend my game time staring at a CTRaid status window while mindlessly spamming the Decursive key (I wound up doing that after I bought the game, anyway). When Volks announced that their Sasara figure was called the “paladin” version, my curiosity was piqued, and when I saw the promo pictures, my interest was confirmed. I had some slight misgivings because Volks’s Moekore figures tend to not feature the cleanest production quality, but I figured Sasara looked good enough that I wouldn’t care. I figured correctly, because pally Sasara is a very impressive figure indeed.
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Yui Takamura from Muv-Luv Alternative Total Eclipse (Lingerie Version) (NSFW)

Alphamax Yui Takamura from Total Eclipse Figure Review

The sexy bodysuit is a staple of science fiction anime. The most famous, of course, are the Evangelion plugsuits, but personally, the Muv-Luv Alternative pilot suits are my favorite designs. They are borderline ridiculous and very sexy, and are instantly identifiable by anyone with even a passing familiarity with the series. There aren’t many Muv-Luv figures out there, so I was happy to hear that Alphamax was going to be making figures of the Total Eclipse characters, and I was looking forward to seeing Yui in her black suit and the Scarlet Sisters in their distinctive navy and turquoise suits. But instead of featuring the distinctive Muv-Luv piloting suits, Alphamax has chosen instead to put the characters in their underwear. Oh well.
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