Review: Alter 1/8 Louise Françoise Le Blanc de la Vallière ~Gothic Punk ver.~

Alter recently reissued their goth-punk take on one of my favorite tsundere heroines, Louise Françoise Le Blanc de la Vallière–a mouthful of a name if there ever was one–from from the light comedy-meets-Harry Potter anime series Zero no Tsukaima. This particular figure is one of four unique designs–six counting re-colors–from Alter to carry the likeness of Louise. I elected to pass on this figure the first time around, much to my later chagrin, so I was thrilled when Alter announced their plans to re-release goth-punk Louise late last year. Was she worth the wait? Read on to find out.

Gallery

Review

Zero no Tsukaima is a series where I feel the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. My viewing is limited to the first season, but I remember enjoying the show a good deal at the time and I felt that it didn’t rely too heavily on any particular crutch typical of comedy-romance series (ecchi, slapstick, etc.). The second and third seasons of Zero lack official North American releases to this day and the license for the first season has lapsed, though Sentai curiously opted to license the fourth series, Zero no Tsukaima F, for eventual NA release. While I’m happy that we’re getting anything new from this series, I’m still pretty miffed that no one felt that the middle two seasons were worth bringing over, leaving fans with no options outside of fansubs.

I’ve long been fond of Louise as a character, both aesthetically and personality-wise. She fits the tsundere archetype to a T. In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of another character who embodies those traits better than Louise does. It’s a personality type that I frequently find endearing in anime characters, but it’s questionable at best whether or not one could actually live with such a person in real life.

This particular rendition of Louise sees the heroine trade her school uniform (shirt, skirt, thigh-highs, and cape) for something Alter dubs “gothic punk”. Despite that label, Louise is only properly goth-punk from the waist down. Her thigh-high socks and boots look convincing enough, but the upper half is pure French maid without any special trimmings. Pedantry aside, I think the combo works quite well and looks like something Louise might wear in one of her dere moments.

The figure design is actual based on this artwork, which has Louise wearing a goofy, embarrassed expression and holding her skirt in an a highly immodest fashion. I often find that figures translated directly from artwork tend to lose something in the process, but in this case I think the figure actually comes out better than the original. Louise looks less flustered here and has regained some modicum of propriety, which I feel makes for a more effective tease. In revealing less, she heightens the anticipation of the voyeur.

Quality-wise, Louise delivers exactly what you would expect from Alter: crisp, tight sculpt and paint work with a smooth finish. Detail is excellent at this scale, with Louise’s ribbon-filled hair and maid dress being the obvious highlights. Her hair, skin, and maid dress feature a matte finish, while the stockings and boots are more of a semi-gloss.

The display base features a five-sided star etched in white against a pink base color that matches Louise’s hair. The star is a rather obvious reference to the summoning circles that so often appear in magical iconography. I feel that Alter is often a tad too conservative and unambitious in their base designs, and while this isn’t a fancy base design by any stretch, I like it better than Alter’s typical fare.

The aggregate user rating for Louise over at MFC is 9.58 at the time of this writing, which is a high mark and one that I feel is well-deserved. Goth-punk Louise is one of the better Alter figures I’ve had the pleasure of owning, and experienced collectors will know that Alter sets a high bar for craftsmanship. With the re-release of Louise and other recent re-releases like the Saber maids and Narika, Alter shows that they’re willing dig deeper into their back catalog than they’ve shown us in the past. As someone hoping for an eventual Yoko reissue, I find this trend encouraging. On the flip side, those who already had Louise from the first go-round or were hoping that Zero no Tsukaima F would bring some new figure designs will probably be disappointed.

Highs

  • Tsundere character appeal
  • Alter craftsmanship
  • Nicely detailed for this size
  • Big tease body language
  • Improves on the source material
  • Reasonably priced

Lows

  • “Only” 195 mm tall… (I’m reaching here, folks.)

Other Reviews

Seeing as this is a re-release, there are plenty of reviews from last time around, as well as a few new ones. Check out these other reviews for an alternate take:

Miscellany

Financial Data

  • Purchased from: AmiAmi
  • Order date: 6-Dec-2011
  • Ship date: 16-May-2012
  • Receive date: 2-Jun-2012
  • Base price (JPY): ¥5,380
  • Shipping cost (JPY): ¥880 (SAL Small Packet, Unregistered)
  • Total cost (JPY): ¥6,260
  • Total cost (USD): $77.99

Technical Data

  • Package dimensions (width): 139 mm
  • Package dimensions (height): 245 mm
  • Package dimensions (depth): 130 mm
  • Shipping weight (figure + display box): 373 g
  • Shipping weight (total): 774 g

6 thoughts on “Review: Alter 1/8 Louise Françoise Le Blanc de la Vallière ~Gothic Punk ver.~

  1. Man, your pictures of her rock, setup, light and angles are very well chosen =)
    I can’t say which one is my favorite you did a great job with this figure.

    Makes it hard to resist the purchase of her ^^ I like everything about this figure, she’s beautifully sculpted, just… just the ‘0’ mouth is something I can’t bring myself to like, a bright smile and the figure would already be mine.

    Im a fan of Zero no Tsukaima, haha I agree it really felt like Harry Potter at some points.
    I also love the character of Louise, she’s just too cute in her role.I like her so much that Im ultra picky with figures of her, so far I don’t have a single figure of Louise, its so sad 😦

    You can’t imagine how disappointed I am if Zero no Tsukaima F will bring no new figures at all, we will see on the next Wonfes.

    • To be honest, I was in a bit of a creative slump going into this review. I tried a different tack with Louise by creating the background from scratch (using foam board and spray paint) and using gelled flashes to light the scene. I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

      The ‘O’ mouth never really phased me. I’m much more apt to take issue with the ‘D’ mouths like the one seen on GSC’s Madoka than the expression Louise is wearing here. She’s quite a nice figure, overall. It’s a shame there aren’t too many other good Louises out there.

      My other Louise is Amie-Grand’s fairy bustier version (shown in #18). As you can see, they got the hair color badly wrong and she’s pretty fragile (polystone) to boot. Mine came with a broken arm out of the box. 😦

  2. As always a thorough review. It’s obvious you put a lot of thought and effort into it. Your background looks great. Taihen yoku dekimashita.

    • Thanks! The process of making the background didn’t go exactly according to plan, as the painter’s tape I used for masking did a number on the surface of the foam board, but the lighting conveniently overexposed the affected areas, so it all worked out.

  3. Very nice Louise you got there. I passed on this version myself, instead opting to get Wave’s 1/10 Beach Queens (Black Bikini) version. I’ve never been a fan of goth-loli, though Louise really does look cute.

    Great shots and review. And thanks for the information regarding Sentai. Did they really choose the fourth season over the second and third?! What’s the logic behind that? I’ve only seen the first myself (it’s a great popcorn anime) but I imagine some pretty serious stuff goes on in both 2&3. Like…ya know…introducing new characters and stuff.

    • I’m not normally a big fan of goth-loli, either, but every now and then I’ll see something that strikes my fancy, as was the case with Louise. Wave’s Louise looks pretty cute, too, so I can see why you chose her. I normally don’t pay the Beach Queens series much mind, because they’re only 1/10 scale.

      Sentai has only publicly announced their licensure of the fourth season. Maybe they’ll announce something about the other seasons later, but I’m not overly optimistic. The reasoning from their side is probably that the majority of potential customers who would be interested in the fourth season will have already seen prior seasons on fansub at this point.

      I also just noticed that the ANN news piece on the license acquisition only mentions a DVD release. I’ll be pretty upset if we don’t see a Blu-ray set in this day and age.

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