I wanted to take a brief moment to acknowledge the purchases that I was most pleased with this year, particularly since I haven’t gotten around to reviewing any of them.
Dragon Toy – 1/6 Sonsaku Hakufu
Quantity has never been a problem when it comes to figures of the Ikki Tousen heroines, but the quality of those options has often left something to be desired. Dragon Toy’s Hakufu was the first in many years that I felt compelling enough to warrant a purchase and also my first experience with Dragon Toy as a manufacturer, who seems to be somehow related to Daiki Kougyou, maker of my lovely miko-Kan’u figure. She’s also my first figure to feature overt nudity in the form of one exposed nipple, which goes along with the series’ whole motif of girls beating the clothes off of each other. The pose is quite attractive, the sculpt and paint work are quality, and the whole thing is done in my preferred 1/6 scale. Perhaps most impressive of all, the figure presents Hakufu, a character I’ve long found uninteresting, in a way that I find very appealing.
Alter – 1/6 The Muse of Range Murata
Alter rarely does 1/6 scale work, much as I might wish otherwise, but they do seem to pull one such figure out as a statement piece every so often. The last example that come to mind is the wonderful Art Works edition Aegis. Happily, they chose the underserved greatness that is Range Murata this time around. The Muse is basically wearing a bikini, but Murata’s trademark neo-steampunk touches make the design feel fresh and unique rather than also-ran. Accessories like the gloves, boots, and scarf further differentiate the figure from the vanilla swimsuit variety. The pose is equally attractive, putting the Muse’s curvaceous and immaculately sculpted backside front and center. All in all, it’s a gorgeous piece that further reinforces my view of figures as art rather than toys.
Max Factory – 1/7 Cerberus
2014 saw the first Rage of Bahamut figures emerge, of which I bought all three. Any of the bunch were worthy of consideration here, but I felt Cerberus edged Olivia and the Dark General slightly as a personal favorite. Let’s see, check-boxes that Cerberus ticks: twintails, thigh-high leggings, a corset/bikini hybrid top, a string bikini bottom, and … dog-muffs. Okay, the dogs are still a little weird, but the moe homage to the mythical three-headed hellhound makes Cerberus true to her namesake and I don’t think they detract from any otherwise supremely attractive character design. Max Factory’s usual standard of quality craftsmanship is in full effect here and I find the glossy deep maroon/purple paint work particularly fetching. Rage of Bahamut is currently batting 1.000 in terms of producing figures I want to buy, so I’m quite eager to see what else might come out of this series going forward.
Alter – 1/8 Aty
2014 saw a record number of bargain bin purchases for me, none of which was more fruitful than Aty. At $68 and change, she was my least expensive purchase of the year, but she has also proven to be one of my favorites, which makes her a tremendous value. I was initially attracted to Aty by her dynamic pose, pleasing color arrangement, and fantasy-themed ensemble. The final product is flawless and looks every bit as good as the prototype. The figure also has an unusual heft or solid feel, if you will, which provides a further impression of quality and, oddly, didn’t translate into a big shipping bill. The leaning pose does necessitate a visual support, an area which Alter has flubbed in the past, but the simple metal rod they went with here is unobtrusive and performs its job well.
Wing – 1/8 Sansei Muramasa
One thing I’ve discovered about myself in the last couple years is that I really appreciate dark-skinned anime girls. Wherever they (rarely) appear, they tend to get my attention in a big way. Muramasa is one such heroine and she’s been enjoying an odd merchandising renaissance of sorts for the star of a niche five-year-old eroge. Of the three Muramasas that went up for preorder this year, I felt that Wing’s take was the most compelling and the only one I opted to order. This is my first time sampling Wing’s work and I came away largely impressed. For a figure that has elaborate cast-off and customization options–top, skirt, and face all have optional parts–the figure has a surprisingly solid, polished feel. The sculpt is simple, but effective in terms of presenting Muramasa in an fetching manner. I also find Muramasa’s vibrant red and black dress a fine complement to her dark chocolatey complexion. I don’t think Wing’s example dethrones Max Factory’s maid version as the definitive Muramasa figure, but it’s a different look for her character and a quality offering in its own right. I look forward to seeing what Wing does with the recently-announced bunny variant.