Review: Max Factory 1/6 Shikinami Asuka Langley ~Test Plug Suit ver.~

First up on the review pile for 2012 is Max Factory’s Asuka, which features the legendary fireball wearing her new test plug suit duds from the recent Rebuild of Evangelion movie remakes.

Gallery

Review

The enduring popularity of the landmark 1995 series, Neon Genesis Evangelion, and it’s subsequent movie spin-offs and remakes has ensured a steady flow of merchandise for as long as I’ve been collecting, but I’ve thus far managed to not pick up a single figure out of what must surely be hundreds of options at this point. Rei and Asuka are two of the most iconic heroines in the history of anime and I’m big on iconic character designs, so picking up an Eva figure or two seems like a natural development, but for whatever reason I haven’t been all that enthused by the offerings we’ve seen up to now.

Alter’s test suit Asuka came close. She made it onto my wish list and I had sincere intentions of picking her up, but poor timing of her release relative to other preorders and my budget situation saw that it never happened. Perhaps it is fortunate that I waited, because I think I prefer Max Factory’s version in large part. She’s bigger, cheaper, and wears a more character-appropriate facial expression. I would give Alter the nod, though, for a more elaborate and appealing display base.

Max Factory’s Asuka stands an impressive 275 mm (10.8″). She’s officially a 1/6 scale, which seems accurate given that she dwarfs Max Factory’s own bikini-clad Clalaclan, who’s only 240 mm (9.4″) at 1/7 scale. I like my figures about as large as can be reasonably fit on my shelves, and Asuka is just about the perfect size.

From most angles, Asuka’s facial expression and body language suggest a girl nervously playing with her hair while exchanging glances with a (presumably male) onlooker (see pic #11). Move to Asuka’s left side where you begin to catch her in profile and she begins looking decidedly less vulnerable and considerably more pissed off (refer to pic #13). Both extremes strike me as more character-appropriate for Asuka than the placid smile seen on Alter’s version. Yes, it’s a pretty static pose, but it looks good and sends the right signals, so I’m not going to get too hung up on what Max Factory might have done here instead.

Then there’s the question of Asuka’s outfit. Obviously, this figure features the new test plug suit design from Evangelion 2.0 rather than the classic plug suit design from the original series. I’ve seen a fair number of comments from people who seem to dislike the new design for whatever reason, but personally I quite like it. I feel the test suit has a more contrasty color scheme and better accentuates Asuka’s curves than the original design.

Paint and sculpt detail are excellent. The glossy finish on the plug suit is gorgeous, if annoying when snapping photos. Asuka’s hair sculpt is wonderfully detailed and the subtle definition of her midriff through the skin-tight, semi-translucent plug suit is a visual treat. 100% zoom and a macro lens might reveal some flaws in the finish, but I was hard-pressed to discover anything amiss when inspecting the figure in normal light.

If this Asuka falls short of expectations anywhere, it’s in the display base. It’s a flat, circular design of clear plastic featuring a large NERV logo. In other words, boring as hell. 😐 Some buyers seem to be perturbed by an apparent wobbliness of Asuka on her base, but I inspected the connection between the figure and the base and I’m confident that it’s quite secure and satisfactory to my expectations.

All in all, I’m quite pleased to finally have a proper Eva figure and I think Max Factory’s take on Shikinami Asuka came out quite well. She’s pleasantly large, quite well-made, very attractive, and a relative bargain considering the aforementioned qualities.

Highs

  • Iconic character design
  • Large-scale
  • Relatively inexpensive for the quality and size
  • Character-appropriate expression and body language
  • Exquisite craftsmanship

Lows

  • Unambitious display base design

Other Reviews

As usual, I’m not the first to review this figure. Check out these other reviews for an alternate take:

Miscellany

Max Factory

Seeing Asuka turn out so well also reminds me that I’m still annoyed that Max Factory decided to transition from being a major player in the scale figure market to being a major player in the posable figure market and a niche player in the scale figure market several years ago (2008, I believe). Yeah, they throw us a bone every now and then, but figmas are very much Max Factory’s bread & butter these days.

Don’t mind me, I’m just bitter. 😐

Speed-lighting

This review marks my first time using off-camera flash. Can you tell? I picked up a could Nikon SB-700s around Christmas in order to explore the world of shooting Strobist-style and hopefully up my lighting game a bit, which I feel has been a weak point in my photography up to now. Credit to the Strobist blog and guys like Tier over at Tentacle Armada for showing what you can do with really nice light.

Financial Data

  • Purchased from: AmiAmi
  • Order date: 20-Oct-2011
  • Ship date: 13-Dec-2011
  • Receive date: 14-Jan-2012
  • Base price (JPY): ¥5,780
  • Shipping cost (JPY): ¥1,180 (Unregistered SAL)
  • Total cost (JPY): ¥6,960
  • Total cost (USD): $89.67

Technical Data

  • Package dimensions (width): 150 mm
  • Package dimensions (height): 340 mm
  • Package dimensions (depth): 150 mm
  • Shipping weight (figure): 286 g
  • Shipping weight (figure + display box): 543 g
  • Shipping weight (total): 1,115 g

10 thoughts on “Review: Max Factory 1/6 Shikinami Asuka Langley ~Test Plug Suit ver.~

  1. Ah good to see, that we have the same good impression of her, sometimes I get the feeling that Im a bit too nice to the figures in my reviews 😀

    I also didn’t felt the urge before to get one of the thousand Rei’s and Asuka’s, I bought one Asuka from Wave, but sold her a few weeks later. Now Im really happy with my 1/6 Max Factory Asuka, she’s exactly what I wanted in terms of look and design.

    Ok, the base is quite simple, but that don’t bother me much since the figure itself is beautiful. After some weeks on my moveable desk, It turned out that the wobbliness doesn’t really affect the connection between foot and base.

    Picture 9, 11 and 12 are really good pictures, the background is also very fitting in these.

    Max Factory should make more nice figures like that, the few figures I have from them, Asuka, Kureha and Waitress Mugi are among my favorite figures.

    thx for linking.

    • Actually, I also think I might be too forgiving in my reviews. 😳 But I really do think Asuka turned out almost perfect, so there wasn’t much negative I could say about her except to nitpick the base design. 🙂

      I wouldn’t mind also picking up the Alter version of Shikinami Asuka at some point, but she’s not too high on my list at the moment. I would like to see a nice, new Rei design here soon. Max Factory did Mari and Asuka, so there’s hope, right?

      The background for pics 9-12 is actually just a plain old sheet of light blue construction paper. I got the idea to cut up a piece of cardboard and have the flash shoot through it. The effect turned out much better than I had expected. 😀

      You’re quite welcome for the link.

  2. This is such an awesome figure. There’s so many little details that I like about it, like how her bright blue eyes contrast with he orange and red of her hair and suit. I’ve been debating whether to get her or not for the longest time now. I should just splurge and get her haha.

    Your photos are really good. I especially like the first one and the last couple ones with the rays of light in the background. Till now I’ve only really used conventional lamps to take pictures of my figures. I didn’t really want to use flash because I have a feeling it’s going to be expensive. But lately I’ve been seeing some pretty nice photos taken with it, including yours, so now I’m interested in this flash business.

    • I think Asuka’s a great value if you like what you see. Max Factory did a really nice job on the final PVC. She’s not even that expensive, which is pretty amazing considering the quality you get.

      Thanks! I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. The “rays of light” were a happy accident where I found I could use some junk cardboard as a gobo and carve patterns out to throw weird light effects across the background. The background itself is just a plain piece of light blue construction paper. The light is what makes it come alive.

      You’re not unwise to be wary of the costs of jumping into flash lighting. My SB-700s (mid-range Nikon model) were about $300 each and I feel like two lights is about the minimum required to do much of anything–I’m already considering adding a third flash head. Then you have to consider the costs of lighting support, light modifiers, how to sync the flash to your camera, etc. It’s a bit daunting to take the plunge when you don’t know how well you’re going to like the results.

  3. Another great scale from Max Factory. I’ve been quite impressed with their figures during last year and it looks like it’ll continue in 2012. I’m probably one of the few that has not yet watched Neon Genesis Evangelion but I’m liking the character regardless. Production value seems to be high and to see yellow, orange, red and green in harmony is a neat sight indeed. #12 is where she looks her best I think, with a good crop and composition to boot. Because of the way she leans her body, arms and head she’s rather limited when it comes to interesting angles.

    I certainly don’t feel like lighting has been a weak point of yours prior to trying out flash photography. The general consensus seem to favor overexposure on everything and you often see people who try to cater to the public instead of listening to their own artistic voice. As you’re probably well aware of already there are things that you can do with ambient light that isn’t possible with flash, and vice versa. The deciding factor for me when switching to flash photography was the basic concept of absolute control; you start out in complete darkness and continue building your scene with light without ambient intrusion. That and a fascination with basements.

    • I haven’t picked up much that’s come out of Max Factory in recent years, but Asuka’s certainly impressive so I’ll probably be paying closer attention to what they’re doing going forward.

      I’ve only seen the original Eva TV series and the first movie remake. I totally skipped the original movies (not sure if that’s a good idea or not). Supposedly, they changed some aspects of Asuka’s characterization when they changed her name (from Souryuu to Shikinami), but I haven’t gotten to that point yet with the new movies.

      #12 is my personal favorite of the set and it came about as a result of trying a weird camera angle. It’s a practice I found myself trying early on with my figure photography that rarely produced anything that I was happy with. Funny that it should work here. 😆

      Thank you for the kind words. 🙂 I do feel that lighting is an area I want to concentrate on, though. When dealing with my lamps, I frequently found it difficult to control the spread and intensity of the light, which is frustrating when I want to move toward creating a more dramatic look (e.g., deeper shadows).

  4. In regards to your thoughts on Max Factory, I’m with you. It KILLS me that they’re spending 95% of their time and money on Figmas. Figmas are good. They’re fun. I like ’em, but I fell in love with the Max Factory that made top of the line static figures like…well, this Asuka. I picked up Asuka and Xiao Mei since I’ve been desperately craving MF PVC figures for AGES.

    I’ve got no regrets. Both Xiao Mei and Asuka are gorgeous. Max Factory did drop the ball with Asuka’s base. I feel like her peg’s going to snap every time I so much as breathe on her.

    • Curiously, for me at least, a lot of Max Factory figures fall into a sort of weird limbo where I can recognize that I like the designs, but not enough to order them ahead of competing products from other manufacturers like Alter, so I tend to pass on a lot of figures like Xiao Mei and Muramasa.

      I’m really stoked about their upcoming Samurai figure. No clue what she’s from, but her design looks terrific. I’m sort of holding back on some other potential preorders for fear that she’ll suddenly go up for preorder and I’ll be broke.

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