Sota Toys is back with a second series of their Street Fighter figures. Despite a few problems with the distribution, the first series was
generally well received by most, including myself. In fact, it was so well received that there are already plans through series four. But
while we wait, series two has been hitting shelves. The second series adds three Street Fighter II characters, Ken, Blanka and Vega, and
two SFII Turbo characters, T. Hawk and Cammy.
Packaging - 7/10What a difference! The reactions to the packaging for series one was pretty poor and for good reason. But Sota went back to the drawing board for series 2 and made some substantial changes. The crudely drawn arcade console for a name plaque is gone. It has been replaced by individual inserts with the figure's name, image and controls for three of their special moves. Since the figures are packaged in a clamshell type package, there is no card, just a paper backer. Sota fixed their mistakes here as well. The garish yellow color has been replaced by a much more appealing blue. Even the logo in the background has been replaced with a properly sized one instead of digitally resizing one that was too small. The back has the character select world map, but does away with the character icon grid. Sota has made great strides with the packaging after just one series. But there is still room for some improvement. In particular I would like to see some sort of character bio, possibly as a replacement for the special moves controls. While the characters in this series are pretty recognizable, a recap of each fighter's back story would be very helpful as the character selection becomes more and more obscure, not to mention as a means to refresh the memories of those of us who haven't thrown a dragon punch in the last decade.
Sculpting - Ken 5/10, Blanka 6/10, T.Hawk 7/10, Vega & Cammy 8/10Not surprisingly, Ken reuses the same body as Ryu from series one. One of its minor problems, the tails to the belt that stuck straight out, has been solved by replacing it. But the large gap across the chest remains.
Blanka is sure to be a fan favorite of this series, and in most ways the figure doesn't disappoint. The details for the muscles and the fur is all well done. Even the finger and toe nails are detailed and textured. But the head sculpt creates a problem. Due to the way that the hair is sculpted, the head only looks natural if it is tilted all the way back and even then there is a slight gap. And when the head is tilted back that far, the waist has to be bent forward all the way for the figure to look forward. Granted, this sort of slouching pose is very appropriate for Blanka, but it does create a significant limitation for the figure.
Cammy is very similar to Chun Li from series one, but it is a completely new sculpt. Creating a well articulated female form has always been a challenge for toy companies. And unlike Chun Li, Cammy has no costume details that can hid imperfections. The results are impressive. The arms and legs turned out extremely well. And the detail of the boots, gloves and even a tiny bit of her socks that shows is impressive.
T. Hawk shows just how much potential this line has. Sota went all out for this figure. The texturing and details for the clothing is outstanding, especially the belt and buckle which actually has "T.Hawk" and a hawk sculpted into it. The addition of individual frills both on the boots and vest are a first that I'm aware of. The head sculpt looks dead one. T. Hawk has just one notable shortcoming; he inherited Ken and Ryu's torso joint gap. And once again, the clothing for the character covers everything but the gaping hole above his abs.
Vega is the final addition to the series and the strongest. Sota did a wonderful job on Vega's upper body and head, though the neck may be just slightly too long. As with the others, the detailing on the pants is great, but I am surprised that no texture was added to the socks. The one thing that I do not like is the fact that Vega is wearing penny loafers! I'm not sure exactly what type of footwear is appropriate for street fighting. But I don't think it is a pair of Hush Puppies.
Paint - 8/10Sota's paint work was strong with series one and has gotten even better for round two. All of the figures appear to be cast in the appropriate skin tone which helps to eliminate any inconsistencies over most of the figures. The areas that are painted are done well. Particularly impressive are the washes applied to Blanka's shorts and T. Hawk's vest and pants. They make a very convincing looking denim. But the figures are not without their shortcomings. There is some bleeding, particularly where the painted areas are not separated by sculpted lines or details. But the problems are minor and shouldn't pose a major concern to most people.
Articulation - 8/10Ken, Blanka and T. Hawk have thirty one points of articulation:
Accessories - Blanka 4/10, T. Hawk & Vega 5/10, Cammy & Ken 7/10Blanka comes with quite a few accessories. He has a second head sculpted in a yelling pose, a set of fists, a slice of watermelon, a pineapple and a skull. I believe I recognize the fruit from Blanka's environment in the game, but the skull has me stumped. But Blanka's score takes a hit mostly due to the head sculpt. While a screaming head sculpt makes perfect sense for Blanka, Sota went overboard. His mouth is open so wide his dentist can check his gums, from another continent. He looks like he has become some sort of vampire.
T. Hawk has the least accessories of the five with just one extra set of hands and his hawk. The hands are sculpted in a fingers straight, chopping pose. The hawk is sculpted in a perched pose. A peg under his talons fits into T. Hawk's right shoulder. It looks great, but I am surprised that the hawk was sculpted to look away from T. Hawk's face.
Vega comes with his claw weapon, a second head, two extra right hands and a rose. Vega's claw is removable. The second head is Vega without his mask. The spare hands are a grasping hand and one sculpted as if to hold his mask. But neither of them can really hold the rose securely. And the lack of a removable mask or at least a separate one sculpted to the hand that is designed to hold it is a significant shortcoming for Vega.
Cammy has a second head, a second set of hands plus a third right hand and a removable headset. The second set of hands are sculpted in a chopping pose like T. Hawk's. The headset fits onto the regular head via a peg hole in her ear. It has a microphone and a clear lens that covers the left eye. The spare head and third hand are both used for her victory pose. The head is sculpted with her winking her left eye while the hand is sculpted in a peace or V for victory pose. I have no idea where the headset comes in, but the other accessories are all well done and perfectly appropriate.
Ken comes with the best set of accessories of the series. He has a second head, two extra hands and a fireball. But what makes them the best is that those four accessories allow you to recreate his final move, both his finishing poses and create a whole different version of the character. That is no small list of accomplishments. The fireball is sculpted to fit over Ken's right fist in order to recreate his dragon uppercut. Ken's two spare hands are sculpted to perform his finishing poses. One is sculpted in a thumbs up pose. The other has the index finger extended in an "I'm number one" pose. Finally there is Ken's spare head which is sculpted in his Street Fighter Alpha appearance.
Value - 6/10These are great figures, bringing together great sculpting, articulation and accessories to create figures that are sure to excite any fan of the Street Fighter games, and more than a few people who aren't. Unfortunately these are not mass market figures and they carry the higher price tags that you would expect from specialty market figures. Prices are going to range from $9 to $20 per figure with most stores asking around $13 per figure. These are great figures, but the price may force many people to pick and choose only their favorites.
Happy Hunting:Thus far, Sota's Street Fighter figures are seeing only very limited release at brick and mortar stores. The Suncoast brand stores seem to be the most common source for them. But there are no shortage of online options so you may want to check your favorite etailer. I ordered the set from Big Bad Toy Store for $65. While that is a fair price, it isn't the cheapest option. Tower Records has everyone except Ken available for just $10 each, but watch out for their shipping charges. Still, if you just want certain characters, this may be a good way to go.