I’m rather embarrassed by my lack of activity this year, having pushed out a paltry two reviews, which means this post will have to stand in as a set of mini-reviews until I get around to something more formal. The list below represents my personal selection of my five favorite purchases of 2013. The usual year-end financial report will follow tomorrow.
Good Smile Company – 1/8 Insane Black Rock Shooter
The Black Rock Shooter series seems to have quickly faded into obscurity after its sudden boom back in 2010. GSC’s Insane BRS may be the last hurrah for the franchise as far as scale figures go, but it’s a worthy send-off as the beauty and detail here is second to none. GSC uses texture to great effect to bring out the grungy aesthetic that the Black Rock Shooter setting is known for. IBRS was quite a pain to assemble, but she’s worth the effort… and the hefty price tag.
Max Factory – 1/7 Sansei Muramasa
I mostly stuck to preorders and rarely sourced figures from secondary market sources in 2013, but Muramasa here was a high-priority target from my wish list coming into the year and she didn’t disappoint. Muramasa’s dark-skinned complexion, French maid outfit, and demure expression make for a wonderfully alluring figure. Max Factory’s sculpt and paint work is immaculate, as has been typical of their work in the modern era. The base is unusually large to make room for the table and tea set that Muramasa comes with, which makes the figure less space-efficient than it might otherwise be. This is probably the only figure I have ever bought where I feel that I genuinely prefer the look of the cast-off to the fully clothed figure and I fully intend to display her that way indefinitely.
Alter – 1/8 Amane Suzuha
When I’m not working, playing video games, or drooling over bishoujo figures, I like to hit up my local singletrack on a custom full-suspension mountain bike, so I was pleased to see Alter turn out the rare bicycle bishoujo figure. Artwork featuring girls perched on bicycles isn’t notably rare in the world of anime and manga, but much like motorcycles, such designs are rarely sourced for mass figure production. Alter did an amazing job fleshing out detail on Suzuha’s Rianchi (an obvious play on Bianchi) bike, which is fully-modeled down to the derailleur and brake cable runs. The bike detail is so good that it risks overshadowing Suzuha herself, who looks fairly unremarkable by comparison. Suzuha is noted for having a sort of vacant look to her eyes, which I’m not entirely fond of, but it is faithful to Huke’s original artwork for Steins;Gate.
Kotobukiya – 1/7 Takamura Yui
I more than doubled my total number of Kotobukiya figures in 2013 and I was considerably more satisfied by those purchases than in years past, so I’d say Kotobukiya had a pretty good year. Four of those additions hailed from the Muv-Luv franchise, which is notable for the form-fitting “fortified suits” pilots wear when piloting their TSFs. Strangely (at least to me), the first round of figures to roll out featuring the Total Eclipse generation of Muv-Luv heroines eschewed the distinctive look of the fortified suits for generic fanservice articles like swimsuits and lingerie. Kotobukiya has since rectified this problem by providing a modest lineup of Muv-Luv girls in their fortified suits, of which I have Yui, Cryska, and Meiya. This tech-suited Yui is my favorite of the bunch, though I rather thought I’d be saying that about Cryska going in. The paint and sculpt detail here isn’t world-beating, but it’s quite satisfactory and a step up from what I’ve seen in past Koto offerings.
Orchid Seed – 1/8 Lucifer
This year saw the roll out of the first wave of figures from Hobby Japan’s new Seven Deadly Sins franchise. I skipped Asmodeus, but picked up Leviathan and Lucifer. I’ve already covered Leviathan here. Lucifer shares a good number of the same qualities as her sister Levi. Both demon girls feature sin-appropriate poses, elaborate display bases, and cast-off options with partial nudity. Where Leviathan was handled by Hobby Japan’s house brand Amakuni, Lucifer was the product of the team over at Orchid Seed. Of the two, I give a slight edge to Lucifer for sporting a bit more detail and a much better cast-off implementation, but I feel both are good enough figures to make this list.