Review: Good Smile Company 1/8 Kaname Madoka

Kaname Madoka, heroine and main character of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica (aka Puella Magi Madoka Magica in the US), arrives as the first in a rapidly expanding line of Madoka figures from Good Smile Company. The series is notable for winning a number of awards in Japan, breaking Blu-ray disc sales records, and generally receiving a lot of positive buzz from the community. It is no big surprise, then, that GSC has moved quite aggressively with the Madoka franchise, pushing out a complementary set of the four core heroines in the first half the year and unveiling a second Madoka design–colloquially known as “Goddess Madoka”–as an unpainted prototype, presumed to be released later this year.

Gallery

Review

Madoka is seen wearing her signature magical girl guise, which is stereotypically frilly and frou-frou–and apparently one of Madoka’s own design rather than some cosmic happenstance. On one arm she carries her familiar, Kyubey, in tow while her other hand carries her unstrung (magically strung?) bow. Both hand-arm loadouts are interchangeable with empty variants, allowing Madoka to be displayed in four unique configurations.

GSC’s sculpt imparts Madoka with an impression of vivacity and good cheer, with a hint of timidity, which is in line my impression of her character from what I’ve seen of the series. The design obviously plays up Madoka as a cheerful, cutesy heroine, which is a pretty traditional representation for the magical girl genre, though I find it a curious juxtaposition to the weighty, darker themes that become apparent early on in the show.

Quality-wise, Madoka features the same solid craftsmanship I’ve come to expect from Good Smile Company in recent years. Paint and sculpt work is smooth and tidy. The interchangeable bits fit snugly, without obvious gaps. Though I was unable to identify any major defects with my particular Madoka, I would still rate her a step below something like Saber Lily in terms of total craftsmanship simply because Madoka doesn’t feature any particularly notable design elements that have a big wow-factor.

GSC supplies Madoka with a translucent pink display base lacking any other ornamentation. The design is notably less ambitious than my last several GSC figures (Black Rock Shooter, two Sabers, Rin, and Canaan), which have all featured textured terrain bases. I’m not particularly surprised given the subject matter, but it would have been neat if all four of the recent GSC Madoka girls had interlocking display bases since they’re obviously intended to go together.

Honestly, I’ve struggled to nail down exactly how I feel about this particular figure. I feel that Madoka is technically sound, as a figure, but I question my motivations for ordering her in the first place. Normally, I make purchase decisions on aesthetics alone, frequently opting to buy figures featuring characters I know little to nothing about and passing on figures of characters I love because I found them lacking a certain level of subjective aesthetic merit. With Madoka, I feel like I let myself fall under the influence of the hype surrounding the anime and made a purchasing design based on association to a popular series rather than judging the figure strictly on its own merit. As such I’m inclined to say that it wasn’t the best decision, despite the fact that I think Madoka is a decent enough figure.

Highs

  • Big cute appeal
  • Satisfactory craftsmanship
  • Reasonably priced

Lows

  • A bit boring in scope compared to GSC’s upcoming Goddess Madoka

Other Reviews

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

Miscellany

Financial Data

  • Purchased from: AmiAmi
  • Order date: 9-Aug-2011
  • Ship date: 14-Jan-2012
  • Receive date: 1-Feb-2012
  • Base price (JPY): ¥5,780
  • Shipping cost (JPY): ¥1,080 (SAL Small Packet, Unregistered)
  • Total cost (JPY): ¥6,860
  • Total cost (USD): $89.49

Technical Data

  • Package dimensions (width): 220 mm
  • Package dimensions (height): 250 mm
  • Package dimensions (depth): 140 mm
  • Shipping weight (figure + display box): 459 g
  • Shipping weight (total): 897 g

10 thoughts on “Review: Good Smile Company 1/8 Kaname Madoka

    • Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. 🙂

      Yes, I mostly use patterned fabrics for my backdrops at the moment. The darker of the two is a batik I found on an online craft shop–Etsy has a lot of this stuff, though I think this particular one came from Fabric.com–and the lighter is a painted muslin piece sold alongside the EZcube series of light tents.

      I shoot a Nikon D90 and I mostly stick to my 60mm macro lens when shooting figures.

      • Nice nice! I would definitely trying using different patterns for my photoshoots too, I’m currently using a Nikon D3100 and I’m still unsure what kind of lens I should buy for photoshooting figures and the like, any ideas and suggestions? And btw, I love your content! Added youto my blogroll! 😀 =3 =3

  1. I have a weak spot for cute magical girls ^ – ^, so I like the design of this Madoka a lot.
    I haven’t ordered this figure, overall it wasn’t the kind of pose and expression I would have liked. I decided to order Sayaka, not because I liked her character a lot, but the pose and feel was convincing enough.

    The outfit of Madoka looks very well done I love her shoes, but I have to say that there are a few angles where her face looks rather odd.

    Your pictures turned out nice, I really like 04, 05 and 14.The purple background is great =D

    It’s hard to resist certain hyped anime or figures, but sometimes it leaves a bad aftertaste after the purchase. Well, I’m quite attached to the Soniko character, but I don’t order every figure of her, I’ll just concentrate on the things which really convince me with their appearance..

    • Yeah, after seeing Sayaka, I think I like what GSC did with her pose better than Madoka. Of course, after seeing their new Madoka, I’m liking what they did there better, too. 😕 Hindsight and all…

      It’s funny you should mention Madoka’s face. Madoka wears one of those 😀 smiles that seems to be hard for sculptors to pin down. I think it’s because they don’t really try to sculpt the inside of the mouth, so you don’t get any depth and that looks odd from certain angles. Madoka’s definitely not the first figure with this expression that I’ve noticed that on.

      I’m glad I finally found a use for that purple background. I bought it because I thought the pattern looked cool and then I had trouble finding somewhere to use it because it’s purple. 😛

  2. The best way I can describe the whole Madoka series from GSC is unambitious. While I don’t think they’re flawed in any way, they’re kinda just there standing. For such a popular series I’d expect them to go the extra mile. I guess GSC didn’t like the anime?

    • I think that’s a fair assessment. After the initial wave of euphoria wore off, I was able to step back and evaluate the GSC Madoka releases a little more objectively and I basically came to the same conclusion. The designs are quite conservative. I suppose the logical explanation is that GSC saw the success of the Madoka anime (e.g., BD sales records) and made a safe play to try to maximize their potential audience.

      I don’t think GSC is done with Madoka, as evidenced by the Goddess Madoka prototype, which looks a good deal more ambitious than this first wave of figures. I doubt they’ll just stop there, either.

      Kind of sucks for the early adopters, though. 😦 Knowing what I know now, I would probably have skipped this first Madoka figure and went straight for the second one. I suppose I could always sell this one, but I have a hard time letting go.

  3. I was mega hyped for GSC’s Madoka merchandise…but I’m really let down that they decided to go with such boring poses the girls. In the end I opted on passing up the PVCs in favor of the painfully adorable Nendoroids. This Madoka figure IS really cute, though. Just check out those frills!

    She looks a little silly delicately holding her bow while being all cutesy…

    • I find myself wishing that I’d just waited for the Ultimate Madoka figure, which recently went up for preorder. GSC did a much better job of creating an interesting pose this time around. She’s pretty expensive and I find the colors more muted than I had anticipated, but I’m still quite tempted to sell normal Madoka and buy the fancy-pants version.

      GSC’s Madoka is quite cute, but cute is an attribute that I feel works better in Figma and Nendoroid-like figures, as you point out. I’m not a posable figure guy, though, so I tend to ignore anything outside of the scale PVC market.

  4. Pingback: Sayaka Miki by Good Smile Company

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