29 May 2014

Kotobukiya Street Fighter Bishoujo Chun-Li

Kotobukiya are a company famous for its amazing variety of statues of varying sizes from different source material. Their categories of statues include the ArtFX, ArtFX+, Fine Art, and Bishoujo lines which cater for all collector price points, from the sub-$100 ArtFX+ 1/10th scale line to the larger Fine Art statues of several hundred dollars. But no matter the price point, Kotobukiya has developed a well-earned reputation for awesome sculpts and incredible paint applications.

The source material has always had a heavy focus on Japanese anime, comic book superheroes from Marvel and DC, and have now branched into other high profile pop culture icons such as Star Wars and 80s classic horror movies such as A Nightmare on Elm Street.







Their Bishoujo (Japanese for “beautiful young girl”) line of statues has been around for quite a few years now, with lots of classic and iconic female characters from comic and anime source material. This line has now only just started branching out into the Street Fighter franchise, which has a huge cast of beautiful female fighters! Why it has taken so long for Street Fighter to make it into the line is a mystery, but once I got the first Chun-Li statue in hand, I was very glad indeed that it has finally arrived, with more on the way!!

To buy the statue, head on over to Big Bad Toy Store on the link to see all the details! Read on to find out more on my thoughts :)

Statue:
Of all the female Street Fighter characters, none is more iconic than Chun-Li, and so it’s fitting that she is the first in the Street Fighter Bishoujo line. The sculpting of the statue perfectly replicates the prototype artwork by master Japanese illustrator Shunya Yamashita, with Chun-Li in her famous kicking pose.




The pose is both strong and playful, fully showing off her huge thighs that have come to be synonymous with her. The detail in the sculpt is great, with lots of little accents in the blue qipao and gold trimmings, as well as her hair buns and wrist gauntlets. The more delicate parts of the statue appear to be a soft plastic to prevent any accidental breakages, but most of the statue is made from a hard lightweight material.





No matter the angle, the sculpting is beautiful. The flow of the skirt with the bends and wrinkles really conveys a great sense of dynamic motion. The statue is attached to the clear stand via a peg in her right foot that is quite sturdy but easy to take off. The stand itself comes with two pieces of artwork that can be placed inside – one with the prototype art, and one with simply the Street Fighter logo.




As with all Kotobukiya statues, the paint application is a stand out, and her facial features are as perfect as they come! The likeness is a great representation from the game, and the soft almost translucent skin tone is beautiful up close.

Perhaps the only fault with the paint application is the positioning of her eyes. When looking at the prototype artwork, you can see that her eyes are firmly focused on her foot, as they would be when performing this strong kick. But on the statue, the eyes have been painted to be more front on, so seem to be focused not on her foot but somewhere to the front of her. It’s a minor quibble, and her face overall is beautiful, but this minor change would’ve made it more faithful to the original artwork.





Final Thoughts:
If you’re a fan of Street Fighter and its female characters, then this line of statues is perfect for you! The price is not excessive, but still comes with all the incredible Kotobukiya sculpting and paint work. This Chun-Li statue comes highly recommended and is a perfect start to the line.

Kotobukiya have already teased their upcoming statues. The next one in the line will be Cammy later this year, and as you can see by these new photos, she looks to be just as, if not more, dynamic and beautiful than the Chun-Li statue.




Then slated for 2015 is Juri, another sexy character from Street Fighter 4. Her prototype artwork has now been shown, with a great pose as well. With so many other beautiful female fighters in the Street Fighter universe, such as Ibuki, C. Viper, Rose, and Poison just to name a few, there seems to be huge potential in making this Bishoujo Street Fighter line a centrepiece in any statue collection!




If you haven't already, check out the full video review below of the Chun-Li statue on the Kool Kollectibles youtube channel! Hope you can subscribe, like, and comment with your own thoughts :)




25 May 2014

Star Wars 6" Black Series Han Solo Giveaway Pose-Off Battle Competition

Hey all, check out my video here for some details of the next Pose-Off Battle on the Kool Kollectibles Facebook page!

All the details are in the video description! Hope you can check it out and participate!

And thanks again for following the website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel! You guys are great :)


23 May 2014

Star Wars 6" Black Series Wave 3 - Stormtrooper, Bespin Luke, and Ep3 Obi-wan

Hey all, as you know I finally got my case of Wave 3 from the Star Wars 6" Black Series from Big Bad Toy Store last week. This wave included the new Stormtrooper, Bespin Luke, Ep3 Obi-Wan Kenobi, and the stupid repack of the Wave 2 Han Solo figure.

Here are the review video links to the Kool Kollectibles youtube channel! Hope you can check them out, subscribe, like, and comment with your own thoughts! :)

Stormtrooper - definitely the best out of the wave! Hasbro should've packed another one of these in the wave instead of Han!



Bespin Luke - nice upgrade to the great 3.75" figure from the Vintage Collection line. The head sculpts definitely been tweaked from the prototype pics shown, and overall it's a nice figure.



Ep3 Obi-wan Kenobi - I actually really like the head sculpt, but the lack of accessories is a real bummer! Where's the Jedi robe dammit!!!



If you're looking to get this Wave 3, or any of the previous and future waves, click the link here - Big Bad Toy Store - to head straight on over for a look! :)



Talk to you all soon - happy collecting! :)

15 May 2014

Which retailers do I normally use, and my first ever Pile of Loot from BBTS!

I'm usually pretty loyal with the retailers that I use because I'm fairly anally-retentive about how I like things packaged and delivered, and how well I can communicate with the customer service folks. The main retailers I use are:

1) Robot Kingdom in Hong Kong for all my Masterpiece Transformers since they always include the exclusive coins and accessories for free, and have some of the best shipping protection around.

2) Sideshow Collectibles in the USA for 1/6th scale figures, especially exclusive items that you can't get elsewhere.

3) Popcultcha Supastore in Australia for 1/6th scale and other miscellaneous figures because of their amazing shipping protection and customer service.

4) Animarket, an Australian owned Hong Kong based retailer, for 1/6th scale figures because they normally have some of the cheapest prices on pre-order figures.

But I have been looking around at other retailers recently that have good reputations and that have been around for a while. The two that have mostly caught my eye are Angolz in Hong Kong and Big Bad Toy Store (aka BBTS) in the USA. Both retailers stock a lot of the stuff I collect, from 6" figures to MP Transformers to 1/6th scale figures.

I heard a lot about the Pile of Loot system at BBTS and how it saves money on combined shipping while you pre-order your items. And they had the cheapest price around for some items I really wanted, so I decided to take the plunge and order from them. It's taken about 5 months for the Pile of Loot to get big enough for me to decide I wanted to ship it, and here's the unboxing video!

Hope you can check it out, subscribe, like, and comment with your own thoughts! :)



10 May 2014

Hot Toys MMS218 Batman and MMS219 Robin (1966 TV Series)

If you're like me, who grew up in the 80s (best decade ever to grow up!), then most likely you have memories of the 1966 Batman TV series. These were re-run on Australian TV seemingly every day for years, where I can still remember coming home from primary school and watching episodes of this campy classic show!

Everything from the opening theme, outlandish costumes, comic-inspired sound effect text splayed across the TV during fight scenes, holy campy acting and dialogue.........it's all nostalgic bliss for me! I loved it as a kid, and I still love it now looking at these amazing figures come out from the TV series.

There must have been some licensing change or agreement behind the scenes somewhere, because the last couple of years has seen a big increase in merchandise released for the classic TV series, from various manufacturers in all sorts of scales and price ranges.

When Hot Toys first announced that they were releasing figures from the series, and showed prototypes of the iconic Batmobile at various international conventions, I just knew that my wallet was going to take a pounding. The prototype photos of the figures looked amazing, and I had my preorders in very quickly. The wait didn't feel too long for these figures (although the Batmobile is still in work apparently), and for the most part they turned out to be perhaps the best ever figures made of the Adam West and Burt Ward incarnations.

Read on below to find out all my thoughts on the good, and the not so good, for the Dynamic Duo :)

BOX ART:
I absolutely LOVE the box art for these two figures, and am glad that Hot Toys have gone with such a bright, colourful, and campy style perfectly in tune with the source material! I still would've preferred the shoe box style like the Hot Toys Spiderman and recent Sideshow Darth Vader figures, but these boxes are pretty decent.

The outer cover is essentially a slip cover over the main box, and has artwork that's perfect to display as well. These will certainly be going up on the display shelf alongside the awesome box for the Christopher Reeve Superman figure.




After removing the slip cover, the figure and accessories are visible through the windowed box, which in themselves have some great campy artwork too. For those collectors that like to keep their figures mint inside boxes, at least way you can still get a glimpse of the figure and appreciate it.




Taking out the clamshells reveals all the contents, that are all neatly and securely placed into the plastic shell. The capes are draped through a gap in the plastic at the back, and so you need to be careful when taking the figure out so as not to damage the cape if it scrapes against the plastic edge. I noticed that for the Robin figure, Hot Toys actually stuck some foam around the plastic edge of the hole to prevent any damage to the cape, but this foam was not included in the Batman figure box. So just be careful!




The final beautiful touch by the Hot Toys package designers is that the cardboard insert in which the clamshells sit is designed to be used as a diorama piece for the figures. The TV show always had the Dynamic Duo climbing up the side of buildings, and with the box and integrated opening windows, you can recreate those scenes perfectly! It's a really great homage to the TV show and one that shows Hot Toys really did put a lot of thought into the packaging.




ACCESSORIES:
Accessories wise, both figures are pretty light on when compared to some of the more deluxe figures, but I guess I can't complain too much. With Batman you get no less than 13 hands in total, all designed to be used with the various accessories or with the usual poses. The sculpting on the hands is actually quite nice, and the plastic is soft to slightly adjust the fingers without the fear of breakage.

Like previous Batman figures, it also comes with two swap out face sculpts in addition to the standard. The first is a slightly open mouthed look, and the second is the wide grimace that he had when running around with the bomb in the movie. All three face plates attach to the headsculpt with magnets, and work perfectly to make for one amazing likeness to Adam West (more on that later!).

Also included is the bomb of course, along with his Bat Radio, batarang, rope, and the can of shark repellent. I love how the can even has a cap that can be removed, and used with the appropriate spray painting hand sculpt, it just looks great in a pose.




For Robin, he's even lighter on than Batman, with only 10 hands in total, and the same Bat Radio and batarang. His only unique accessory are the handcuffs, which appear to have a metal chain. All the hands are fairly easy to swap out, and I never felt I was about to snap the wrist pegs. And again, the hands are sculpted and painted very well and match the colours on the main body.





FIGURE - BATMAN:
First up with the figure, the crowning glory has to go again to the head sculpt. Hot Toys simply does the best head sculpts in the 1/6th scale world, with an incredible accuracy to Adam West. The eyes have an unbelievable gloss and realism in the way they reflect light.

The face plates are also very well done. In past Batman figures, the plates never really sat that well in the lower half of the face, and some had tiny edges that stood out from the cowl, spoiling the realism. But not on this new 1966 Batman figure. The face plates sit nicely inset into the cowl for a perfectly realistic look. The paint app on the skin texture is very realistic, and is the usual high Hot Toys standard.




The paint on the cowl and neck piece is nicely done too, but is a slightly different shade to the cape. Normally this might bother me, but in hand the difference is fairly minor and not too noticeable. Moving the head needs a little care though, as the neck joint seems to come off quite easily. Mine only came off once when I was trying to adjust it, and hasn't come off since, but just something to be aware of.

The ear pieces are a soft plastic and curve nicely with the cowl. Along with the lighter coloured eyebrows and nose features, the head sculpt is as perfect a likeness of Adam West as anyone is going to make for a long time I think!




The cape is made of a nice, fine, and light material much like satin. It drapes and folds quite nicely, and is aided by little clasps that can be clipped to the buttons on the shoulders and back of the figure. These little clasps are similar to those used previously on the DX08 Joker jacket and DX04 Bruce Lee jacket. And like those figures, the clasps here are an absolute pain in the butt to connect.

The outer suit has a fat suit underneath that makes the shoulders soft, to trying to secure the clasp in place was almost impossible by just pushing the clasp on. You had to somehow tightly grip the outer suit around the clasp, and then push the other part of the clasp on the cape into the suit. I managed to do it for one side, but I ended up snapping the little bug off the clasp on the cape (just like I did when trying to close the jacket on the DX08 Joker!)

The shoulder clasps have two positions on the cape to allow draping behind the shoulders, or allowing the cape to still flow over the shoulders. Without the use of the clasps you can still almost achieve both variations, so I decided to leave both of mine unclasped.

Either way, trying to attach the clasps was an exercise in frustration, hampered further by the one main design issue that almost threatened to ruin the figure for me entirely - the fragility of the outer suit (more on that later!) I would've much preferred if HT had clasped the cape on in the position that allowed the cape to drape over the shoulders.





The belt is a nicely molded yellow plastic, with a metal centre buckle piece. The buckle is protected with a small sheet of plastic, so remember to peel this off before displaying your figure! Another point to note about the buckle is that it has small clips on the back which pose a significant risk of scraping and damaging the outer grey suit. The belt and clip tend to run high on the waist and if moved above the blue shorts, may well cause pulls and scratches on the suit, so be extremely careful in this area.

The blue shorts are a nice satin material like the cape, and look pretty nice. But they do seem to sit a little low and aren't perfectly symmetrical. It takes a little frustrating adjustment to get it to look nicer. But still, it looks great on display as a hallmark of an era where superheroes did wear their underwear on the outside ;)




The forearm gauntlets are nicely molded in soft plastic, with a consistent paint app with the cowl and neck piece. Taking out the hands may cause the gauntlets to slip off the arms, but there's no real issue there. Just adjust the suit underneath and slide the gauntlets back up securely, and then insert the desired hand sculpt.





The boots are also a nice soft plastic, with actually pretty great ankle articulation, both up and down and the ankle rocker for wider stances. I love the sculpted details too, like the zip that can be seen in the photo below. That's the sort of little detail I love seeing from Hot Toys.




As I mentioned above, there is a fat suit of some sort under the outer grey suit, which does limit articulation. The torso articulation is particularly limited, but the neck, shoulders, arms, and lower legs all have pretty good range of motion.





Now lastly, as mentioned before, there is one major design issue with the figure in the extremely delicate outer grey suit. I cannot even begin to stress this point enough - make sure you cut your fingernails, trim off any excess skin from your fingers, and in general just make sure you can't snag the suit on anything! At times I felt like just breathing on the suit would damage it!

The suit is made from a very fine, cotton like material similar to thin business socks. I first thought it was going to be a similar material to the Reeve Superman figure, but the Batman suit is not reflective. It is a similar, stretchy type material, but since it has a cotton feel and not a satin feel, it tends to catch on even the tiniest bit of skin. It's so delicate that it was even damaged in the box. The picture below shows a pull in the suit near the armpit that I saw as I folded back the cape away from the shoulder, just as I took the figure out of the box!

So before I had even really touched the figure, it was already slightly damaged. Then while posing for some quick photos, I was sure I started noticing more and more tiny fluffs and pulls that were just waiting to get worse. I'm not sure why they didn't use a more durable material like the Reeve Superman suit. I used to think that one was very delicate, but that is far more durable than this Batman!

I would highly recommend choosing one iconic pose that you're happy with, put the figure into that pose, and probably never touch it again! It's such a shame for this figure to have such as issue, because everything else is so much fun! But not posing this figure through fear of damaging it pretty much means it'll be a statue for me, more or less.





FIGURE - ROBIN:
As with the Batman figure, the Robin figure has an excellent likeness to Burt Ward. It's incredible how Hot Toys can capture the actors' likeness even through molded pieces like the mask or cowl. The paint app again is very nicely done, with realistic skin texture and glassy eyes.




I found the Robin suit to be far more durable and much more fun to play with, so overall, I actually like the Robin figure more! The suit has awesome layering and use of different textures. The red vest with attached cape is made from a fine canvas type material that is not overly delicate.

I love the loose yellow stitching down the centre of the vest, and the Robin logo is stuck on fairly straight unlike my Batman chest logo, which was slightly crooked. The green undersuit is actually a one piece with the green underwear I think.




The cape is made from a very similar material to the Batman cape, and is a great golden colour. It comes already folded and clasped to the shoulders, so there's minimal futzing around with it. Looks pretty great just straight out of the box.





Just like with the Batman figure, the forearm gaunlets are nicely molded and painted. Again the hands are pretty easy to swap out too. One thing I'm not overly impressed with are the elbow joints. They only bend 90 degrees, unlike the double jointed elbows with Batman.

I guess they did this to minimise the visibile elbow joint since Robin's suit doesn't cover them. But I found it difficult to get his arms up and elbows bent into his iconic fist in hand gesture that he always does in the show. I managed to finally get a half-decent pose with the arms positioned enough to get some semblance of that look (see further down for pic).





The leggings are a much more durable material than the Batman suit, and don't feel as delicate at all. I was able to move the legs and knees around quite a bit without too much fear of damaging the suit. The only negative point on the leggings is that they are such a fine material that they make the knee joints stand out more than they should, reducing the realism. The little fold down boots are also really nicely molded, and are soft enough to still allow some great ankle articulation.




Overall, the Robin is a really solid figure, and perfectly complements the Batman figure. Together they make for an incredible display in your collection.





SUMMARY:
I've included a couple of quick photos of the two figures together, as how could anyone have the Caped Crusader without The Boy Wonder? Each figure is pretty decent in their own right, but together they just draw attention in the display cabinet.

The bright colours, perfect head sculpts, and great accessories really make them pop on the shelf. If you have even the tiniest pang of nostalgia as you see these figures, then they'll be great for you! I loved the TV show back in the day, and these figures just bring all those memories flooding back.




Just be very careful with their suits and you should be fine. For me, I'll maybe make one or two more adjustments as I find a final pose that I'm happy with, and then leave them pretty much as statues. That is until the 1966 Batmobile is released! The day these two can be posed next to that awesome machine will be a day long remembered!




If you haven't already, here's the full video review of the Batman figure on the Kool Kollectibles youtube channel! Check it out, subscribe, like, and comment with your own thoughts!




And of course here's the full Robin review up on the youtube channel too! I've got quite a few more things coming in over the next week, so subscribe and stay tuned for more reviews :)