Lately it seems like my toy buying has been dominated by Toy Biz and their Marvel properties. Fortunately, after
considerable delays, Sota Toy's latest series of Street Fighter figures was plopped on my desk last week. While I must
admit that the character selection is stretching well beyond my limited knowledge of the Street Fighter franchise, I do
know what I like in an action figure. And Sota has had a pretty good track record of delivering just that.
Packaging - 5/10The packaging design remains unchanged from the last two series. The entire package is a clear plastic clamshell. There is a red paper backer with the SF logo at the top and round number along the left side that is shared by all five figures. The back has all of the figures from the series displayed in the style of the character selection screen from the video games. The only character information comes from the insert at the bottom of the bubble. The figures are centered in the bubble with all of the accessories around them. The simple standing pose of the figures is okay for the large figures like Birdie who really fill up the card on their own. But for some of the smaller figures like Fei Long and Ibuki, a more dynamic pose would both show off the figure better and improve the perceived value of the figures by filling up the packaging. Ideally, it would be cool to see the figures packaged in one of their finishing stances. I like the way Sota is using a different color for the backer cards for each round and different insert colors for each character. While it is a small touch, it give each figure's package some individuality. There are two things that the packaging could really use: individual character bios and a list of character variants available. I know a little about the Street Fighter universe, enough to recognize Fei Long and Akuma. But I know nothing about the other three. Wikipedia is a good reference if you want to learn their back story. But it would be better if that information was available on the packaging. But the color variants are another story. With more than twenty different paint variations available, it can be very difficult to keep track of them all. And if you happen to have a favorite color scheme, the only way to know if it happens to be one of the available variations is if you stumble upon it or search the net. That shouldn't me necessary. That type of information should be on the packaging. I like the packaging, but as they to more and more obscure characters and include more variants, they need to update the packaging to reflect it.
Sculpting - Birdie & Ibuki 8/10, Fei Long 10/10, others 9/10Sota Toys has done a tremendous job of sculpting the Street Fighter figures over the last three series. Round four doesn't disappoint either. Fei Long is the best of the five. The sculptor captured the look of a perfectly toned body without resorting to just adding bulk. The head sculpt looks great as well. Credit is also due to whomever sculpted Birdie. The character design doesn't lend itself well to translating into 3D with its thin legs. The detail work is great. But I think his feet should be a bit smaller which is an issue for all five figures to some extent. Remy isn't a very exciting character design. But the figure follows it well. Akuma is a figure that I'm sure many fans have been waiting for and he doesn't disappoint. He has enough added bulk and height to look imposing when posed with Ryu or Ken without being too big. Ibuki is my favorite for the line. The slender ankles make the feet look even bigger in comparison. The costume is also a problem near the hips. It should cover the insides of her thighs and connect to the waist of the figure. But on the figure, the clothing is completely missing from the hip joints. The result is that it appears that the legs of her outfit have been surgically tucked into her legs. (I don't even want to know where you would have that procedure done.) But small quibbles aside, these are some great looking figures.
Paint - 9/10I was a bit concerned as I read the early reviews of these figures as there were complaints that the quality of the painting was not up to par with the previous series. I don't know if those issues were resolved for the production figures or if I simply was fortunate, but all of my figures turned out quite well. Particularly impressive is the use of subtle washes to add shadow. It is used to terrific effect on Fei Long's chest. The figures are not without problems though. There are a few chips in the paint, including one on Remy's chin. The white for Fei Long's socks is sloppy as well with a lot of the color from the darker plastic underneath showing. But none of these are serious problems. The biggest thing to note is the sheer volume of paint variants that are available. There is a listing of all of the available variants on Fwooshnet.com. According to their listings there are eight versions of Akuma and five versions of each of the others not including the Japanese versions. That is a total of twenty eight different figures. I guess the good news is that if you have a favorite color combination from the games for one of the characters, there's a good chance that there is a paint variant to match.
Articulation - Fei Long 4/10, Birdie 7/10, others 8/10Remy, Fei Long and Ibuki all have the same thirty six points of articulation.
Accessories - Remy & Akuma 6/10, Birdie & Fei Long 8/10, Ibuki 9/10Remy comes with two extra sets of hands, an energy trail and a spare head. The extra head has his hair blowing across his face. It looks great. They did a surprisingly good job pulling off the hair as a separate piece without it being too thick. The hands include a pair of fists that the figure is packaged with, a pair of hands with the fingers spread out and a pair with the fingers straight out in a chopping pose. They are nothing special, but that does cover most of the poses you might want. The energy trail is designed to attach to the left fist with the tail sticking out in front of the figure. I suppose this has to do with one of his special moves, but it still looks backwards to me. Plus it falls off far more easily than the accessories for the figures in previous waves.
Akuma comes with a second set of hands, a second head, a clip on energy flash and his necklace. The hands are a pair of grasping hands that can replace the fists that come on the figure. The second head has an open mouth sneer instead of the closed mouth sneer of the first head. The energy flash clips onto the right fist and trails back along the arm. It is difficult to get it on, but once in place it is quite secure. The necklace is his best accessory. It is comprised of twelve separate beads threaded onto a string. Making the necklace removable does open the possibility of losing it, but it also allows it to move with the figure and look more natural in most poses.
Birdie has some more interesting accessories. In addition to the pair of fists that come on the figure, he has three extra hands including a grasping left hand, a right hand giving the thumbs up and a right hand shaped to hold his comb. I'm particularly impressed that they got the rings to match on all of the different hands. He has a second head with the tongue sticking out. He has a switchblade comb with a blade that actually folds up. (Do you really need a comb with a mohawk like that? And how do you comb a hole into it?) Birdie's necklace is removable, but since it is not as flexible as Akuma's it doesn't always drape correctly. But the nicest touch is the use of a real metal chain on his left arm. The chain attaches to the cuff on his left wrist and has a loop on the other end that can go around his right wrist or just be wrapped around his left arm.
Fei Long comes with a second head, three extra hands and a pair of nunchakus. The figure comes with a pair of fists and a head with a very neutral pose. But with the extra head that has an open mouth, screaming pose, the nunchakus and the pair of hands designed to hold them you can pull off the classic Bruce Lee style pose with the chuks held out in front of the body. The other hand is another right hand with the index finger pointing. The nunchakus are terrific, with a real metal chain that allows you to recreate a lot of classic poses.
Ibuki has the most accessories of the round four figures with two extra sets of hands, a second bandana to go around her neck, a knife and her pet raccoon. The hands include a pair with the index and middle fingers extended and another pair of hands to hold the knife to go along with the fists with which the figure is packaged. The extra bandana allows you to pose the figure with her face exposed or the mouth and nose covered. Changing them does require removing the head, but that is not too difficult. The kuni knife is a nice touch, but it is thicker than I think it should be. Her best accessory is the PVC raccoon which has a nicely detailed sculpt and a great paint job. It's almost too bad that I have no idea why she has a raccoon with her.
Value - Fei Long 4/10, others 7/10The biggest downside to Sota Toy's Street Fighter line is the price tag. Since they haven't found a large audience in the mass market toy world, the price has to be higher to compensate for the smaller production runs. You can get the figures for as little as $10 each by shopping around. But in most cases you will probably end up spending around $12 to $15 apiece for them. And if you factor in shipping when ordering online, that price can creep up even more. For a fan of the Street Fighter license, they are going to be well worth that price. But even if you just like the Marvel Legends inspired style, these are worth at least a look. Even Fei Long with his floppy hips is a pretty strong figure. I just need to find a way to tighten up his hips.
Happy Hunting:I pre-ordered a set of the regular figures from Big Bad Toy Store.com. While they didn't get their shipment as quickly as I was hoping, at $49.99 for the set the price was hard to beat. They still have sets of the regular figures for $55 as well as quite a few of the variants. But many online toy stores carry the line, so it may pay to check your favorite site. If you prefer the brick and mortar option, Hot Topic seems to be the best place to find the figures along with all of your teen angst-ridden clothing needs.