Next on my review pile is Alter’s Buddy. Keen observers of detail will note that if my review queue were a proper FIFO the next review after Momohime should rightfully go to Clalaclan, but decided to bump Buddy up to the front for whatever reason.
I’ve struggled a bit to put my finger on exactly what it is about Buddy that I find appealing and why I moved her to the top of my wish list almost immediately after preorders opened. She hails from 18+ visual novel game Voices from Har Meggido, for which I have no prior experience or special appreciation. Her outfit reminds me of a magical girl series a la Cardcaptor Sakura or Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, although Buddy would appear to be a bit older than the heroines from either of those series. The outfit itself is suitably suggestive for an 18+ game heroine, featuring an open front that makes Buddy’s preferred color no secret to anyone.
The hues that make up Buddy’s garments suggest that she is either a witch by trade or filling the tragic villain role like Fate Testarossa did in the first Lyrical Nanoha series. Maybe that would explain her melancholy expression. It’s like she’d rather be doing something else or she expects a bittersweet conclusion to her endeavors—or perhaps it’s just resignation the poor girl feels for being saddled with a boy’s name. Her demeanor does give Buddy an added air of mystery, which I find appropriate for a girl we know so little about.
Introductions asides, how does Buddy stack up as a figure?
I’m tempted to compare her to Momohime as they do share some high-level similarities. Both are 1/8 scale, pre-painted PVC figures launched by Alter in 2010 at similar price points which feature cute girls wielding bladed weapons. They differ in that Momohime stands out as something of a masterpiece within the field of volume pre-painted PVC figurines, whereas Buddy comes across as slightly more mundane. I’m not saying she’s a bad figure by any means, but I really don’t see her on the same level as the Momohime figure. Buddy’s paint and sculpt work isn’t quite as detailed and her pose doesn’t convey a strong impression the way Momohime’s does.
Alter’s Buddy is a fine figure who fills the mature magical girl gap in my collection nicely. I don’t regret picking her up in the slightest, but collectors worried that they might have overlooked the next essential entry in the bishoujo figure market can rest easy.
- Magical girl mystique
- Nice balance between sexy and demure
- Gorgeous hair
- Solid build quality
- Less impressive than some of Alter’s other recent works
- Paint finish appears somewhat dull in normal light
The background used for this review was a 1.5 yard section of cloth purchased from a local craft store for about $12. The lack of variation in my backdrops has been bugging me for a while, so I was looking for an inexpensive way to bring in some new material and this was the best solution I’ve found so far. When picking out the fabric, I tried to find patterns that were multichromatic and non-uniform so that they would provide an appealing bokeh. Expect to see more of these in future reviews.
Buddy marked my first order from AmiAmi since they went international in late 2009. AmiAmi’s web site is a little clunky at times, but their prices are terrific–a fact which will forgive many a fault. Given that I had no difficulties with this particular order or any of the several others I’ve placed with them since that time, I have little reason not to give them more of my business.
I feel kind of sorry for Hobby Search having to compete with AmiAmi now. I know they were my preferred Japanese shop before AmiAmi was an option. I appreciate the fact the Hobby Search supported the international market long before AmiAmi did and I still think their web store is the best I’ve seen, but I find it hard to justify consistently spending more to give them my business. It’s a bit unfortunate that it comes down to that.
I decided to try Registered SAL over EMS in order further pinch pennies. Even with AmiAmi’s discount, shipping with EMS can easily negate any cost savings of buying direct from Japan versus some of the discount American shops like HobbyFan and Kid Nemo. I was pleasantly surprised by the speed of both this particular order and several since then that have used Registered SAL. I’ve been keeping track of the ship dates as indicated by AmiAmi and the dates on which I’ve actually received the package and I’m seeing a very consistent 10 calendar day transit time, which I feel is still quite reasonable given the savings.
In the future I plan to try Unregistered SAL to cut shipping costs even further. The extra fee associated with Registered SAL is fixed (i.e., it doesn’t change depending on the size or weight of the package) and it covers nice-to-haves like insurance and delivery confirmation, but I suspect over the long haul it is cheaper to have a lost or damaged package every now and then than to always pay the fee, especially if the postal system in your country is generally reliable, as it is here in the US. I think it’s also worth noting that the insurance on Registered SAL caps out at only ¥6,000, which isn’t enough to cover full replacement cost on a lot of figures these days.
- Purchased from: AmiAmi
- Order date: 30-Oct-2010
- Receive date: 29-Nov-2010
- Base price (JPY): ¥6,250
- Shipping cost (JPY): ¥1,490 (Registered SAL)
- Total cost (JPY): ¥7,740
- Foreign transaction fee (USD): $2.52
- Total cost (USD): $95.69
- Package dimensions (width): 220 mm
- Package dimensions (height): 240 mm
- Package dimensions (depth): 160 mm
- Shipping weight (figure + base + accessories): 143 g
- Shipping weight (packaging): 262 g
- Shipping weight (shipping box): 611 g
- Shipping weight (total): 1,016 g