Thursday, December 09, 2010

Zach's Figure Reviews: Marvel Girls

Like I've said before, Kotobukiya produces my favorite figures, including my most recent acquisition (Tamaki Kousaka) who will be reviewed later. I was going to review all three of these girls separately, but then I realized that they're all by the same sculptor, they're all about the same size, and they're all Marvel girls. From left to right, we have Rogue, Black Widow, and Phoenix. All three have at least two varients--Phoenix has three. I love 'em all. They go wonderfully together. The figure line is Marvel Bishoujo ("pretty girl") and while three other figures have been released under this line (Scarlett Witch, Psylocke, and Emma Frost), I don't really like their sculpts. Kotobukiya recently got the DC license, and are soon releasing two DC characters, Catwoman and Wonder Woman, which I'll have to get. Anyway, let's get down to bizz-nezz.

First we have Black Widow, an assassin for S.H.I.E.L.D. and recently portrayed by a disappointing deflated Scarlett Johanssen in the otherwise excellent Iron Man 2. I love the angles of this figure. Her head is turned toward her bent, crossed arm, her back is arched, and her legs are at strange angles. There's a lot going on here. She has an oversized belt that is not held down--it acts more like a hula-hoop that you can position any which way on her waist. Our girl is wearing her usual black bodysuit which, itself, has some interesting geometric designs wrapping around it.

You can really see all the strange angles from this side. Also, yes, the boobs. We'll get to those in a minute. One of the only downsides of this figure is that her hair appears to constructed from three separate pieces that form two seams. The designers could have tried to hide one seam as a part to her hair, but as it stands it doesn't look great. I really like her wristbands, which appear to be made of .50 calibur bullets and her surprisingly detailed gun (couldn't get a picture of the gun with any sort of clear focus). Her high heels also don't appear to be stealthy or comfortable, but that's a common feature to these three.

Oh yeah, the yellow. About half the pictures I took of these girls came out yellow-tinted. I have no idea why. Anyway, here's a good look at Black Widow's face and you can see how "shiny" her catsuit is. I like her expression--cool, confident, with a hint of suspicion, as if she just heard a branch snap or a pin drop. The flow of her hair suggests a quick body motion, and it's still trying to catch up. I love it--the pose is dynamic, a second caught in time.

This is the picture that would make my friend Erik say, "Dat aaaass." Indeed, Black Widow has an impressively rounded posterior. Note also her slim waist--another thing I like about pin-up (or cheesecake) figures is an exaggerated waist-to-hip ratio, and Black Widow certainly has that. You can also see the other side of her sidearm here, and a look at the back of her hair.

Now then, the bewbies. Something about them looks wrong. They're too round, or maybe not scrunched together enough given the width of her zipper. The "Y" shape at the top is too hard, too indented, if that makes any sense. Her breasts look like boulders, know...bags of sand (quick--guess the movie reference!). I've seen better-looking racks on other Kotobukiya figures, let's just put it that way. You can see from this angle how the belt sits right on the hips. I'm not sure what that symbol is on her belt--it looks like an hourglass. Now, I do like the fact that her catsuit has an upturned collar. Something about that is cool. If only she could zip it up all the way. Of course, Catwoman (coming out in...April?) has the exact same problem.

And all this time you thought I was going to open with Rogue. Well, here she is. She's by far the best of these three girls, although Phoenix has very impressive hair. Rogue is by far the most voluptuous of the three, not just because of her pose, but also because her body isn't angular (like Black Widow) but very rounded. The pronounced outer curve of her hip almost defines the figure in frontal view. The striking paint scheme helps promote Rogue's curvaceous midsection.

Rogue isn't quite as gifted in the backside department as Black Widow, but she's no slouch, either. My favorite parts of this figure are actually her boots, belt, and 90's midriff jacket. The sculptor got all the creases right, all the motion captured. I especially love how the boots are kept on with (I assume) elastic straps, and the boot material bunches up between and above them. Great little touches here. Her double-belt is pretty awesome too, with little metal-looking accessories dotting its length. Even Rogue's rolled-up gloves are creased and bunched-up.

From the other side, Rogue looks a bit more angular. Like Black Widow, she's reaching back with her right arm. Note the ruffles in her jacket here. Rogue's hair isn't as dynamic as Black Widow or Phoenix, but it's pretty all the same and clearly part of her pose. She really does have quite a long torso. I don't know what your feelings on 90's midriff jackets are, but I've always liked them. People whined when DC gave their new Wonder Woman a 90's jacket, but I think it's fine. It's not like you always have to wear the thing.

I'm not sure why I took a picture from this angle. It was yesterday, and I'm having a hard time remembering what "Big Bang Theory" was about tonight. Oh, I remember: her collar. The jacket has a striped inner lining which is nice touch. You can also see the "X" stamped on her breast. Hey, that reminds me! Not all of my cheesecake figures are topheavy. Rogue here has a modest bra size compared to, say, Venus on the Beach Kasumi or, must I even remind you, Power Girl.

She's expressive in a modeling-for-the-camera kind of way. Great paint detail on her lips and eyes. I like how her hair overlaps her ears. Rogue's bodysuit ends in a distinct collar. Hey, here's a question for you: how do superheroes and superheroines get in and out of their suits? Superman, for instance. There are no zippers. Why would he wear pants, then underpants over his pants, and a shirt? The neckhole isn't big enough for his head! This is something that's always bothered me about superheroes with painted-on catsuits. I propose that they are drawn this way because the artists don't want to fiddle with the creases and bunches that make up actual clothing. Anyway. Let's get on with the show. Our final figure in the lineup? Phoenix!

There are three things that really stand out about Jean Grey: her wild hair, her awesome base, and her incredibly large, sidewinding breasts. Her belt (is that a belt?) is nice, too, and her arms are in dynamic poses. But who's paying attention to that? Her rack is too big. I'm saying--I'm saying--that her rack is too big. Or at the very least, it doesn't conform to the normal laws of physics. If I had to accuse any of my girls of having fake boobs, it would be Phoenix.

Tearing our eyes away from her lethal breasts, we see Phoenix's wonderful hair, which twirls and extends in all directions in some sort of pantomime of fire or electricity. Her outfit is suspiciously similar to Rogue's in both color scheme and overall composition. The catsuit, the boots, the gloves--all basically the same. There's a red variant of Rogue, but it looked a little too dark. Thinking back, maybe I should've gotten that one. Seeing Rogue and Phoenix right next to each other really underlines their similarities. Anyway, things to notice here: the emblem on her chest--clearly a rising phoenix--is something I really like. It has a medieval feeling to it.

Here's Phoenix's awesome base. It's on fire, baby! The only problem is that it's not as wide as the simple white bases of Rogue and Black Widow, and the bottom isn't perfectly flat. I mean, it stands just fine, but when I walk by, out of all my girls, Phoenix is the only one who shudders. The other problem is that the base isn't particularly heavy, so it lacks grounding. I do really like the sculpting of the fire, though, and how it appears to be swirling around her foot.

Here's Phoenix in, uh, posterior view. I suspect she has some junk in that trunk, but said trunk is largely covered by her scarf-belt (scelt?). Notice the creases in the scelt, which I like to see. Her hair is impressive even from the other side--here especially it looks like a smoldering fireball. All she needs is a transluscent orange orb to put in her outstretched hand for the full effect. Phoenix is arguably more slender than Rogue and maybe even Black Widow, although this could be an optical illusion caused by the sheer breadth of her chest.

See? Even I think it's a little ridiculous. And when I think it's ridiculous, it not only is, it means I'm making some modicum of progress. Note here the kicked-up leg. I especially like how both her scelt and the fire on her base are both flowing in the same direction, giving the subtle indication of wind. Phoenix actually provides a great drawing reference from this angle because you can see the inward curve of the side up to the bottom of the ribcage thanks to her arched back. I don't have a lot of figures that preserve that angle, and it's surprisingly tough to intuit.

So there they are. If I had to put them in order of like most to like least, I'd go Rogue, Black Widow, and Phoenix. They're all fantastic figures in their own right, though, and I'm glad I have them all. Rogue and Black Widow stand about 7.5" high while Phoenix adds another full inch thanks to her skywardly-directed arm. The part you may find hard to swallow is that, despite their small statures, each of these ladies cost $60 (actually, Phoenix was $65--but I got her with store credit). I'm fairly certain they all have limited "print runs," because I haven't seen Rogue or Phoenix since their initial releases. Phoenix is still relatively new. I'd check Amazon or eBay if you have to have 'em. I certainly like them, though.

I have GOT to get a better camera and area to take pictures in.


Sciroccopteryx said...

The symbol on Black Widow's belt is the marking on the back of a Black Widow spider. Definitely agree with you about the boobs though; and on Phoenix. D:

Yellow tint- it's probably a quirk of the auto white-balance. If your camera has a non full-auto version, or the ability to use white-balance presets, I'd use them.

Tier said...

I've wondered the same thing about how superheroes get into their uniforms, and I wonder how the fabric conforms to their bodies the way it does, too. I agree that Rogue is the best of the ones released thus far, and I wish Psylocke turned out better than she did. I'm still waiting for a good Psylocke figure; the recent Sideshow and Bowen ones are okay but don't quite capture her comic book design, and the upcoming Kotobukiya one looks kinda manly to me (she also seems to be missing her midsection). All of the upcoming bishoujo figures look really nice though, and I'm really looking forward to Ms. Marvel. I'm also hoping they re-do Rogue and Psylocke in the new 1/7 scale; I've seen a concept sketch for Jean Grey in her yellow-and-blue uniform, so another Psylocke and Rogue doesn't seem unreasonable.

The yellow tint might be caused by your lighting; incandescent and halogen bulbs tend to give off yellowish light and if you've got mixed bulb types lighting up the area, your camera's white balance might not be able to compensate properly.

Jay B. said...

I agree that the white balance might be out of order because of light bulbs, you are going to need much brighter light even if your camera has high white balance compensation ability. Especially if you want to take detailed shots of such small objects. The Rogue is very nicely crafted, I have to agree again.