After a slew of SD Gundam reviews, I think it is about time that I review something a little
less mainstream. So it's fortunate that I just happen to have just such an item waiting: the
Rei Ayanami promotional figure that was included with volume 9 of the Neon Genesis Evangelion
manga in Japan.
Packaging - 9/10The figure comes packaged in a very attractive window box. They did an amazing job of showing off both the figure, accessories and the book that the figure comes with. The box itself is decorated with various images of the figure in different poses as a background. The back of the box has a few more images of the figure and the book. But the majority of the back of the box is devoted to text. Given that I have no idea how to read most of the text, it holds little interest for me. The front of the box has a window cut out of it, behind which is the figure and unassembled chair in a clear plastic tray. Behind them is the book. Then there is one final addition, a clear plastic insert over the top of the figure's tray that has the character's information: name, title and series name.
Sculpting - 8/10The sculpting here is certainly not perfect, but given the limitations due to the size of the figure and the amount of articulation they managed to pack in, it is a very impressive offering. The head sculpt is superb. It captures the looks and quiet demeanor of the character exceptionally well. The proportions of the figure match the long, slender character designs of the show and manga. The only real drawback is that a few of the joints are extremely noticeable and really break up the flow of the sculpt. The two biggest offenders are the ball joint for the mid-torso and the joints at the middle of each thigh. The thigh joints are designed to give an extra degree of flexibility for seated poses but they completely disrupt the sculpt. The mid-torso joint is better, but is not quite right. The contours of the upper torso do not quite match those of the lower torso. The result is a significant gap. The character design manages to minimize the effect when viewed from the sides or behind. But the gap in the front is very noticeable if viewed from a low angle.
Paint - 9/10The paint isn't perfect. But it is about as close as one can get. The colors are clean and consistent. They even included the lettering on the backpack, chest and left thigh. The only drawback is that the figure is so small and slim that even the most minute blemish or paint bleed seems far more extreme.
Articulation - 7/10The articulation on this figure is very impressive. There are a total of 18 points of articulation. The neck is a ball joint, as are both shoulders. There is a rotating joint on the biceps. The elbows are hinged and the wrists rotate. The torso has a ball joint. Both hips rotate. And for once a company got it right and put the hip joints at a right angle to the body rather than the traditional 'V' cut hips. The thighs each have a ball joint and each knee is hinged. Finally, one of the oddest points of articulation I've seen, the heels of her shoes are on a hinge joint. The heel joints allow the heels to support the figure when standing, though I don't recall Rei ever wearing 6 inch stilettos in the anime. But when the figure is placed in a seated pose, the heels can be flipped into the soles of the shoes to create a flat foot look. The amount of articulation is certainly impressive. Sadly the quality of some of the joints is not quite on par. The heels, knees, hips, and elbows are all connected with a metal rivet, making them very secure. The ball joints for the shoulders, neck and torso are all very tight and secure. But the ball joints for the thighs tend to pop off very easily. The wrists and biceps cut joints are fairly tight but are only held in place by friction so when the joint is turned, the joints can tend to come apart.
Accessories - 3/10There is just one accessory included for the figure, the chair from the entry plug of Rei's Eva. The chair is nicely done, there just isn't much of it there. They only sculpted and included enough of the seat to allow the figure to sit and nothing else. The idea is to allow you to recreate the image on the cover of the book. But including the rest of the controls from the entry plug would have made it much more impressive. You could also consider the book to be an accessory, but since it is all in Japanese, most people aren't going to have much luck reading it. (Unless you happen to be able to read Japanese.)
Value - 3/10This is not a figure for the casual fan. It was available only as a promotion with the 9th volume of the manga books, and only in Japan. I found this one on Ebay for around $30. I don't know what the original retail price was. Depending on you luck, you may be able to find the figure for less, but probably not for under $20. If you were buying the book any way, the price would not be too bad. But if you are purchasing the set just for the figure, it is a steep price.
Happy Hunting:Forget retail. The only place you are going to find this figure now is on the secondary market or the occasional import shop. A quick search on Ebay turned up several sellers offering the set for auction. That will likely be you best hope for find the set.