The first scale PVC figure I ever purchased was Yamato’s 1/8 Aoyama Motoko, of Love Hina fame, back in 2005. It was cheap, poorly detailed, required a ridiculously ugly support arm, and was generally terrible all-around by today’s standards. Despite her failings, Yamato’s Motoko acted as my gateway drug to the figure scene and I appreciated her for what she was, at least until I knew better. As an unfortunate side effect of that experience, I’ve tended to associate Yamato with cheap, ugly figures ever since and generally wouldn’t give them the time of day.
Enter Iris Hallett as the 32nd entry in Yamato’s Creators Labo series, based on the iconic artwork of Masamune Shirow. It’s rare that Yamato figures manage to really get my attention, but Iris did the trick well enough to overcome my reservations with buying Yamato and committing to what was a pretty pricey offering for a non-exclusive, non-limited PVC figure.
My personal path to anime discovery started with collecting fan-made wallpapers back in the early 2000s. At the time, Shirow’s artwork showed up frequently and I regarded him as a prominent mangaka much as I do with Tony Taka or Range Murata today. I suspect that Shirow still commands a fair amount of respect within certain niches, but I feel as though he has faded into relative obscurity. Upon consideration of the significance of this Iris figure, I realized that figures based on Shirow’s work are surprisingly rare, especially compared to similar artists like the aforementioned Tony Taka or Shunya Yamashita. I rarely see him mentioned within the anime community anymore and it seems as though he’s mostly just pushing out a new artbook every year or so.
Shirow is best known for being the progenitor of the Ghost in the Shell franchise and most of the figures that we have seen have featured the Major, but Iris here is actually sourced from Shirow’s more recent Pieces series of artbooks. Even so, the two settings share a similar sci-fi design aesthetic that makes Iris look as though she’d be right at home alongside the Major.
Iris sports a pink leotard underneath a black tech suit featuring a conspicuous cutout that presumably affords Iris a tad more mobility while conveniently providing nearby onlookers with a generous view of her butt. The overt lasciviousness of the character design is a Shirow hallmark and one which should be appreciated by what is likely a predominantly male audience for this figure. In addition to her obvious sex appeal, Iris also carries an impressive array of weaponry and ammunition which covers a significant portion of the available surface area on her tech suit.
As I alluded to earlier, I was concerned as to what kind of quality I could expect from Yamato considering that I had not seen one of their figures first-hand since that aforementioned, disappointing Motoko figure. Admittedly, the Motoko figure is quite old (2005) and quality across the industry has tangibly improved in the time since her release. Having received Iris, I am pleased to reported that my fears were unfounded. Yamato did an excellent job with the paint and sculpt work on Iris.
I definitely appreciate that Yamato chose to render Iris at 1/6 scale, as I feel that going beyond the standard 1/8 scale tends to give sculptors more room to bring out good detail that holds up under close scrutiny. In Iris’s case, they did a great job creating texture and contrast with the intricate stitching covering the surface of the tech suit. It’s difficult to see in photos, but the crevices that make up the stitching snaking across the surface of the suit are filled with a darker, glossy black paint which contrasts with the slightly lighter, satin finish making up the body of the leather-like surface. It’s a nice, subtle touch that accentuates the craftsmanship that Yamato put into this figure.
The display base is never the focal point on a figure, but much like the frame around a painting, it plays an important support role and helps set the tone of the piece. In Iris’s case, her display base is functional, but uninspired, with nothing more than a silver metallic coat of paint for adornment. It holds Iris securely enough, but it’s easy to imagine that a little extra effort here could have made this a more complete work of art.
The obvious mark against Yamato’s Iris is that she’s expensive. The realm of ¥10,000+ figures is usually reserved for releases that are unusually large (1/5+ scale), made of more exotic materials (resin, polystone, etc.), or feature unusually complex sculpts (moto-Saber, Godoka, etc.). I don’t see Iris falling into any of these categories, which makes her ¥12,800 price tag objectionable. Now, I don’t mind paying a premium for a top-quality figure and I feel like Yamato delivered that with Iris, but they probably scared off at least a few potential buyers by positioning Iris where they did.
All in all, Iris is pretty much exactly what I had hoped she would be: a well-executed release that shows that Yamato can put out a quality figure with the best of them. Despite the price tag, I’m definitely glad I picked this figure up and I’ll be scanning the horizon for more figures like her in the future.
- Large scale (1/6)
- Impressive craftsmanship
- Faithful to Shirow’s artwork
- Sex appeal
- Expensive for a standard-run PVC (¥12,800 before vendor discounts)
- Boring display base
Credits to Tier over at Tentacle Armada for the idea I used for the backdrop in this set, which is basically a pair of gelled flashes pointed at some foam packaging materials very similar to the setup described in his Lacia shot breakdown. Prior to going this route, I shot a bunch of pictures of Iris with various setups only to come away dissatisfied with the results, which is a big part of why this review is only coming out now. I worked on and off for the past couple months trying to get a decent set of photos that I wouldn’t be totally embarrassed to publish. 😕
- Purchased from: Big in Japan
- Order date: 13-Mar-2012
- Ship date: 13-Jul-2012
- Receive date: 28-Jul-2012
- Base price (JPY): ¥10,368
- Shipping cost (JPY): ¥1,590 (SAL Small Packet, Registered)
- Total cost (JPY): ¥11,958
- Total cost (USD): $151.16
- Package dimensions (width): 200 mm
- Package dimensions (height): 310 mm
- Package dimensions (depth): 160 mm
- Shipping weight (figure + display box): 585 g
- Shipping weight (total): 1035 g