They say that the third time's the charm, and SOTA toys is looking to prove them right with their Street Fighter line of action
figures. In the fifteen plus years since Street Fighter arcade games swallowed the quarters of America's youth, several
companies have tried to turn this license into a successful toy line. Hasbro took advantage of the release of what passed
for the Street Fighter movie to incorporate the license into their G.I. Joe line. ReSaurus did better with their line which
managed to run three waves before the company folded. And now SOTA Toys is ready to try their hand at it. After much
antisapation, the first wave made its debute at last year's San Diego Comic Convention in the form of the Evil Ryu/Psycho
Bison two pack. And after some delays, the first series consisting of Ryu, Sagat, Chun Li, M. Bison and Sodom hit the states.
While series 2 is now hitting shelves, I thought I would take a moment to check out the first wave.
Packaging - 2 pack 2/10, Others 3/10I'm not sure what happened to allow this packaging get the greenlight; but I suspect it involved a lot of alcohol. The figures are packaged in clamshell packaging like the Marvel Legends line, though a bit narrower since there is no comic book to accomadate. The figures are displayed inside with their accessories in very static poses that don't really fit either the license or the line itself. The 'card,' which is really just a paper insert behind the figure has an image of Ryu at the top along side the Street Fighter logo. The 15th anniversary logo is printed behind the figure. Fortunately it is mostly concealed by the figures because Sota used a version that was too small and digitally enlarged it. As a result the pixelation is visiable even on the narrower backer of the regular figures and quite noticable on the larger backer of the two pack. The real nail in the coffin though is the insert for the figure's name. It is designed to look like the game controls from the original stand-up arcade game. But it looks like something I could do in Microsoft Paint in about twenty minutes. A small image of the character is attached to the top of each insert to resemble the character selection icons from the game. An actual image from the game would hae been a better choice and matched up better with the faux arcade control theme of the insert. The back shows the arcade themed character selection map with the figures from series one and two visible while the actual figures are shown down below. The series one figures have a full body image of Ryu in a fighting stance in the background. The two pack replaces this with a larger, rough sketch of Ryu to make use of the wider card. But the artistic style doesn't match anything else on the card so it looks a little out of place. The good news is that packaging is fairly sturdy to protect the figures in transit and completely disposable once they do arrive.
Sculpting - Ryu/Evil Ryu 5/10, Sodom 8/10, M.Bison, Chun Li & Sagat 9/10Before I say or type anything about these sculpts, I should issue a disclaimer. I am not in any way, shape or form a Street Fighter expert. I know enough to recognize the characters and the basic background of the SFII turbo characters. So if I overlook a glaring error of some sort, don't be too surprised. And since there have been so many incarnations of the Street Fighter license over the year, finding a definitive guide to how they are supposed to look seems like an all but impossible task.
It is hard to imagine a Street Fighter license without Ryu, so it's no surprise that he anchors the first series of Sota's action figure line. The figure turned out quite well and shows a great deal of promise for the future of the line. But it not without its problems. The hinge joint in the torso doesn't line up well. The upper chest piece sticks out too far leaving a significant gap between it and the abs. While some gap was inevitable, comparing Ryu to the other figures in the line makes it quite clear that it is much worse than normal in this case. And of course the problem is magnified by the fact that Ryu's character design with the low cut gi means that the gap across the torso is the only part that is visible. I also dislike the way the tails for his belt hang, or more to the point, don't hang. They stick almost straight out. This might have been done just to show off the Japanese characters which are sculpted in relief on the end of the belt, but it looks very unnatural. Finally, I think the proportions for his head are slightly off. It seems just a hair too small for the body. But again, this probably varies depending on the particular interpretation. Overall, it is a solid starting point for the line. And the little additions like the stich marks along the collar of the gi show that Sota is looking to make figures with a lot of visual appeal.
I won't spend a great deal of time on Evil Ryu since it is basicly the same sculpt. The only differences between Ryu and the SDCC version of Evil Ryu is a new head sculpt with a rather maniacal grin and a new right fist with energy trails sculpted onto it. The new head sculpt looks great, as does the new fist. But the fist does have a limitation. The energy beams are sculpted longer on one side than the other, so the fist only looks natural in a biceps curled, palm up position.
Chun Li is an extremely well sculpted figure. There are no significant problems to the figure that I can detect. Like Ryu, Chun Li has a few additional touches to the sculpting that really impressed me, most notably the detail to the sash on her waist. It would have been quite easy to leave this blank or settle for basic cloth texturing, but the sculpters went all out and sculpted an intricate dragon onto the sash, very cool.
Sodom is the one character in the first series that I knew nothing about previously. Like Chun Li, Sodom is a great looking figure. There is plenty of detail here to keep the sculpt from appearing dull in any way. The one thing that I don't like about the sculpt is the feet. It is not entirely clear if the feet are supposed to be bare feet painted white or if he is wearing some sort of socks. It looks like he is supposed to have socks on based on the seam at the end of the toes. But if that's the case then there is far too much detail of the foot showing through.
Sagat is about a hair's width away from being a perfect sculpt. The only nitpick I can find is that the gap between his big toe and his other toes makes it look like he is either wearing invisible sandles or is practicing to pick up items with his toes. And yes, I'm aware that that is a ridiculously minor complaint. That's just how good this figure is. I am particularly impressed with the way that they sculpted the scar on his chest inorder to accomodate the torso hinge. The scar actually extends up the center section of the abs so that it matches with the upper torso whether the figure is posed with his back completely arched or bending down to look at the huge gap between his toes.
M. Bison has really beefed up since his debute fifteen years ago. I probably would have preferred the thinner version that I remember, but this one turned out well too. The body is well proportioned, or as well proportion as a steroid fuelled hulk can be. And once again, Sota went all out to add texture detail, especially to the belt and boots to simulate leather.
Paint - Chun Li & Pyscho Bison 6/10, Sodom 7/10, Ryu, Evil Ryu, Sagat & M. Bison 9/10Overall, the paint work on these figures is pretty good. But if at all possible, you should take a close look at each figure before purchasing them. Of my figures, Bison, Sagat and both versions of Ryu turned out extremely well with no noteable problems. Psycho Bison has the least paint to worry about with just the silver armor, the belt buckle, the badge on his hat, teeth and eyes painted. That's a fairly limited number of paint application. My figure has had some of the paint worn off of the foot armor. Sodom's feet seem to be a problem as well. The white paint seems to have been applied too thickly and in a fairly running state. As a result, there is a lot of bleeding at the edges and the color isn't very consistant in some areas. Plus, the paint ran into the joint siezeing them up. Chun Li seems to be the problem child of the litter. The white for the waist sash and hair buns is extremely light, with a lot of the original color bleeding though. The gold trim also leaves a lot of room for improvement with some bleeding and generally inconsistant coverage. But the problems are minor on all of the figures and the paint is overall pretty good.
Articulation - 8/10Sota designed this line with action in mind. They created a line that could and does stand toe to toe with Toy Biz's Marvel Legends line. Each of the male figures has thirty-two points of articulation while Chun Li has thirty-four. Each figure has the following:
Accessories - Two pack 4/10, Sagat, Chun Li & M. Bison 5/10, Ryu 6/10, Sodom 8/10The Evil Ryu/Psycho Bison two pack comes with two accessories, both for Pyscho Bison. He has a energy ball that can be placed over his right fist. He also has a stand of flames cast in translucent purple. The stand doesn't have much room due to the bulky design of the figure. Sagat, Chun Li and M. Bison all have a spare head and extra set of hands. The spare heads show the characters in their winning pose. The spare hands are open hands. Ryu has these same accessories as well as his dufflebag. Sodom has two weapons, a spare hand (holding a fan) and a hat. Unfortunately, the hat requires that the crescent moon symbol on Sodom's helmet be removed which opens up the chance of it being lost. The weapons can also be difficult to get into the figure's hands since there is yarn knotted on the handle of each one. But using the point of the other weapon, the knots can be forced through the holes in the figure's hands.
Value - 5/10I wish I could tell you that the Street Fighter figures were as comparable to Marvel Legends figures in price as they are in so many other ways. But you probably aren't going be finding these for $7. You can probably expect to pay between $11 and $13 for the regular carded figures, though some stores may charge $15 or more. The two pack is only available from Sota's website for $35.
Happy Hunting:Finding the two pack is pretty easy thanks to Sota. Just go to their website and fork over $35. Unfortunately tracking down the regular figures may be more difficult. Hot Topic is the one brick and mortar store the carried the line in significant numbers. You may want to check there.