Sunday 6 September 2015

Toybox REVIEW: Figma Satsuki Kiryuin

When Kill la Kill first began to air in Japan I thought the one thing I could count on was for Figma to milk it to death. I wasn't necessarily expecting a wide range of characters, but at least two versions of both Ryuko Matoi and Satsuki Kiryuin along with a standard version of Mako Mankanshoku. But while Good Smile Company have arguably gotten their mileage out of the series with various scale statues and Nendoroid figures, Max Factory haven't done nearly as much as I was expecting. Ryuko was released in September 2014, and now a whole year later Satsuki in full kamui Junketsu battle mode is joining her as the second figure from the series. So while getting any more figures isn't really looking likely now, it's good to see that Ryuko still has a sparring partner this long after the series is over and done with.

Satsuki comes packaged in one of the larger square-style Figma boxes, with a royal shade of blue used for the signature colour to go alongside the thick black bar running across the bottom. Like Ryuko's packaging Satsuki also has the red life fibre lines running across this section to give it a more Kill la Kill flavour, but it feels a lot less defined here without the red backdrop to go along with it. Hopefully when the Figma line hits its 300th release they'll consider changing up the boxes again, because these get less and less remarkable with each release. Saying that, Satsuki's definitely earns some bonus points for having such a blatant ass shot adorning the spine.

If you thought Figma Ryuko was a rather risqué figure to display, then Satsuki is likely to blow your mind. The fanservice is INCREDIBLY strong with this one, with plenty of skin on show along with extremely defined boobs and a carefully sculpted exposed butt. If you're by chance one of those people who takes issue with such scantily clad figures than you might want to consider skipping this one and grabbing the Nendoroid instead. Admittedly it doesn't quite have the same charm as a properly proportioned figure, but it's most likely the best non-combat Satsuki figure you're going to get.

Semi-nudity aside, this is a really well sculpted figure. Everything is very well-defined, which is a comment you're welcome to take however you please. The paintwork is also great, with particular praise going to Junketsu's piercing eyes on those larger than life shoulders. I've handled a fair few Figma in my time as a collector (considerably more than I've actually reviewed here on this blog) and on sculpt alone Satsuki is definitely one of the best though.

It's only when you move into articulation that the problems start to become apparent. The figure does have a few minor annoyances such as the skirt pieces often becoming unpegged (not even sure why they aren't simply fixed on to begin with) but the big issues are all in the head/neck area. Thanks to those giant shoulders and long flowing hair, Satsuki's head is barely able to move at all. The joints are perfectly capable of it, but there's simply no room for it to happen without forcing it and potentially causing something to break. As you can imagine, these somewhat limits posing options - a problem for a figure that's wearing a battle suit and therefore supposed to be somewhat dynamic.

To make up for these problems Max Factory have been kind enough to include an extremely impressive amount of accessories with Satsuki - so much that going through them is going to take up more this review than usual! First up we have all of the standard pieces one expects from a Figma release - three swappable faces (neutral, smirking and shouting), five pairs of alternate hands (and an additional right weapon holding hand - presumably in case of any breakages), sheathed and unsheathed versions of her signature Bakuzan sword and of course the usual jointed Figma stand. The faces on offer here are again among the best I've seen in the Figma line, with both the shouting and smirking face oozing an extra level of personality. Another neat addition is that one pair of hands are specifically moulding to sit over each other, in order to properly do Satsuki's shouting pose where her hands are resting atop the sword's hilt. It can still be a little fiddly to pull off, but looks fantastic once you've managed it.

Rounding off the Satsuki-accessories is a curious item hiding in a plastic bag taped to the back of the box's card insert - a card cutout of generic one-star Goku uniform students! While nicely printed, the cutout isn't made of the sturdiest of materials and the "stand" part is rather vague. Rather than come with a small plastic piece for it to slot into, the cutout has a foldout section on the back - but lacks any proper instructions to say how it should be fixed. It probably isn't that hard to work out, but some direction on these things wouldn't go amiss. It certainly makes for a nice backdrop if you have room to display it. 

But one of the reasons Satsuki comes packaged in a larger box is because she also comes with a bunch of accessories for Ryuko! Specifically the other half of the now-iconic scissor blade, in both standard and decapitation modes. It should be noted that both of these pieces are moulded in the same blood red as Ryuko's half of the blade (as they appear at the end of the show when reunited with her), rather than the purple they were while being used by Nui Harime. Are we ever likely to see purple versions of the blade in the Figma line? I'd say that all depends on the likelihood of a Nui Figma, and right now that seems slim. 

This half of the scissor blade is also a slightly different shape to Ryuko's, sporting a longer blade piece but a smaller, circular handle.

But the REALLY cool thing about this pieces is that the standard blade also comes with a tiny connector piece, allowing the two halves to combine into a fully functioning (as in moving, not cutting) complete scissor blade! The connector itself is pretty sturdy and holds the two pieces together well even when there's a lot of movement, but not so strong that it's impossible to separate them once connected. It's a very cool addition to these Kill la Kill Figma and it makes me happy that Max Factory drew inspiration from the latter half of the series where the two characters were allies, rather than just the beginning where they were enemies.

Finally, for the first time ever on this blog I can properly talk about the bonus accessories exclusive to the Good Smile Company online store! Usually when I buy a Figma or Nendoroid I can happily skip these, since they never feel like essential accessories I'm prepared to pay around 3000 yen (plus the inevitable customs fees that come with ordering something via EMS in the UK) for. But being the massive Satsuki fanboy that I am, these were pieces I just couldn't do without. Any Figma Satsuki ordered from the store will also come with a loose plastic bag, containing Bakuzan Gako and Bakuzan Kōryū - the two weapons forged from her shattered Bakuzan towards the end of the series!

To many these smaller weapons (essentially a smaller sword and a dagger) won't be worth the extra price, but with them coming into the series at such a crucial turning point for her character they were a necessity for me. Honestly I feel like these should have been bundled in the mass release version and then have a sturdier version of the one-star students as the exclusive. If you plan to have Ryuko posed with both scissor blades, it only feels like that Satsuki also has the weapons she was wielding at that point in the show.

Satsuki Kiryuin is both a really good figure and an extremely unfortunate one. The sculpting is absolutely spot on, with the figure sporting some of the best alternate faces I've ever seen from the Figma line. However her articulation is woefully limited, not just by the fault of the toy's engineering but also because it's a design that was never going to perfectly translate to an articulated figure. Thanks to those enormous shoulders upper arm articulation is limited and when combined with that flowing hair, head and neck movement is practically non-existant. It does however feel like Max Factory have tried to make up for these shortcomings elsewhere though, packing the figure with a fantastic range of accessories for both Satsuki and Ryuko. Despite her flaws Kill la Kill fans are definitely going to want to pick this figure up, especially since it doesn't look like we might be getting any more from the line any time soon. Shame, I could have sworn we'd at least be good for a Figma Mako...

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