Dark Elf Female from Lineage II

Good Smile Company Dark Elf Female from Lineage II Review

Now this is a figure that I never thought I would own. The dark elf female was originally produced back in 2007 and sold in limited quantities in Japan. Those on this side of the pond had to contrive alternate means to acquire her, which usually entails exorbitant expenses. As my means were quite limited back then, I had to pass on her, much to my chagrin. My regret was compounded by the reality that in this hobby, if you miss out, you seldom get a second chance.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that she would be sold this summer not by Japanese retailers like Hobby Search or HLJ, but by Entertainment Earth and Big Bad Toy Store, each an American toy retailer that principally offers American products. I got my preorder in with the quickness and the dark elf arrived last week. There are lots of reviews of her already – this figure being two years old – but here are my thoughts.
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Marie Mamiya from Starless (NSFW)

Volks Marie Mamiya from Starless Review

It’s yet another figure from an H-game. Looking at my traffic statistics, my ero-figure reviews are by far the most popular pages on this site. Here’s hoping that this review continues that fine tradition!
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Meiya Photo Reshoot

After a protracted period of figure repair and familiarization with the new camera lens, I’ve finally finished reshooting Meiya. In retrospect, even though her armpit is looking rather ragged, the arm repositioning turned out better than I could have initially hoped for, given my cluelessness with respect to modeling techniques and the limited hobby resources available to me.

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Random Thoughts VI – Fixed-up Meiya and Cheap Lens Impressions

I got Meiya put back together and as one can see, she’s actually holding her sword now. Am I making a note here, huge success? Hardly; I did an awful job of reattaching her arm, but fortunately the paint is dark and her armpit isn’t visible from the front. Given a choice between ugly arm joint and a straight sword versus a clean arm joint with her sword passing over her right hand, I prefer the former.

I’ve been playing with the new cheap lens; it’s tempting to abuse its capabilities by jacking aperture width as wide as it’ll go. It’s noticeably sharper than the kit lens I’ve been using for all my earlier shots, but it seems more difficult to focus where I want it to. It’s also unusual in that I have to position my camera farther away from the subject than I’m used to; with the kit lens, I’m usually no more than a foot away from the figure, but with the f/1.8 lens I usually need to move back a meter or more to get it in the frame. It’s fun to experiment with, but it does provide a humbling indication of how little I really know about photography.

In miscellaneous news I looked at my preorders and I have something like ten figures scheduled for release this month. It’s gonna be spensive.

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Kotone Ousaka from the Art of Tony Taka (NSFW)

Native Kotone Ousaka from Taka Tony Review

Those in this hobby know that if you sleep on a figure, you can miss out. I had already preordered Kotone Ousaka from a domestic retailer, but with no assurance that they’d be able to fulfill my purchase and encouraged by the spate of reviews popping up on Japanese websites, I went ahead and picked her up off of eBay. Reactionary? Certainly. Worth it? Oh hell yeah.
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Random Thoughts V – New Cheap Lens and Fixing Meiya

I got the famous cheap Canon f/1.8 50mm lens today, although I haven’t had a chance to do much with it yet. I’ve heard that it’s a pretty good portrait lens though, so my hopes are high.

Instead of taking pictures, I spent most of the evening wrestling with Meiya, and not in a good way. As I mentioned in my review of this figure, Hobbyfan screwed up her arm positioning so that her sword doesn’t line up properly. It bugs me to have a nice figure with such an obvious error, so I figured I’d tear off and re-position her arm. As I found out, that’s much easier said then done; her shoulderguard and hand make it near impossible to saw through the joint, and I discovered that my Dremel is busted. I resorted to using a hobby knife to cut through it; I was really tempted to try batoning the blade but I guess that wouldn’t have worked all that well. After cutting maybe half of the way through, I pried the arm off with a can opener. Let me tell you, the can and bottle openers on Victorinox tools are some of the most useful things around. I don’t think I’ve actually ever used them for their intended purposes, but they are outstanding small pry bars.

I think I can position her arm so that the sword is reasonably straight, but as one can see, doing so leaves a conspicuous and hideous gap between her arm and armpit. Sigh. I do have some modelling putty around here, but having never used it before, I have no clue what to do with it. I’ll also have to paint over the putty as well as the damage I inflicted on Meiya’s paint job. I hope the results turn out okay.

As everyone in the figure collecting hobby knows, the summer Wonder Festival recently ended. Lots of good stuff was shown, but Good Smile Company didn’t unveil any new Sora Kake Girl figures. Come on GSC, where’s the Itsuki figure? Don’t let your sponsorship of the show go to waste.

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Black Widow from Marvel Comics

Kotobukiya Black Widow from Marvel Comics Review

Curiously, the pop culture comics industries of Japan and the United States do not intersect all that often. Sometimes an American property like Star Wars gets a manga adaptation, and Witchblade has the very rare honor of becoming a full-blown franchise with an anime series and all the ancillary accoutrements – soundtracks, figures, its own manga spinoff, and so on. On this side of the ocean, the two big comics companies toy with Japanese visual style – Marvel occassionally churns out titles in their Mangaverse line, and DC has its Ame-Comi series, a catalogue of mediocre toys done in pseudo-anime style. Usually its up to smaller publishing studios like Udon, Devil’s Due, the long-defunct Dreamwave, and very minor imprints like Alias (who I think are also gone) to create comics in anime style.

So imagine my surprise when I learn that not only will a major Japanese toy manufacturer be making 1/8 scale figures of Marvel characters, but that Shunya Yamashita is going to be the one to do the source designs. This has to be the best thing that’s ever happened in the history of humankind, right? Well …
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Mikuru Asahina from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Orchid Seed Gothic Punk Version)

Orchid Seed Mikuru Asahina from the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Review

HARUHI: Alright, since our last movie was so great, our next movie has to be even better! And we need to make sure that it appeals to the Americans.
KYON: Why America?
HARUHI: Because all the best movies are big in America! If we can make a movie that hits it big over there, we can expand the SOS Brigade overseas. We’ll start the SOS Brigade North American Division! I’ll still be the leader, of course.
KYON: … I see. And just what sort of movie are you planning to make?
HARUHI (pacing in a circle): It has to be profound. It has to speak to the cultural sensibilities of Americans. It has to emphasize their rich history, their resiliency, their unshakeable passion for freedom and their love for life. And it has to have sex. And lots of violence. And sex. (looks up) I’ve got it!
KYON (thinking): Oh no.
HARUHI: The movie will be called … “Mikuru Asahina in Escape from Guantanamo Bay!”

Orchid Seed Mikuru Asahina from the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya Review

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Sasara Kusugawa from To Heart 2 (School Swimsuit Version)

Griffon Sasara Kusugawa from To Heart Review

I liked Griffon’s first Sasara so much that I picked up their second. This particular offering retains the school swimsuit motif, albeit in a more conventional manner by dolling Sasara up in a standard-issue blue swimwear under her school uniform.
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Rei Ayanami from Neon Genesis Evangelion (Volks Version)

E2046 Volks Rei Ayanami Review Review

Another Rei! They never stop coming. What is the world coming to? I’ll tell you what the world is coming to. Obviously Rei and her army of clones have become real. They’ve jumped from the small screen and big screen to reality. To conquer the world and then the galaxy beneath the weight of their multitudes. There is no thwarting them. There can be no defense against their replication. They’re coming for us.
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