Review: 1/8 scale Ayesha Altugle by Penguin Parade

I have been buying a lot of scaled figures lately, and today’s review showcases one of my newest. Get ready for 1/8 scale Ayesha Altugle by Penguin Parade!

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Review: 1/8 Natsume Takashi Renewal Version by Alter

Could it be? The first Never Outgrew Toys review since *checks* forever?!
This isn’t just the first review in forever, it’s the first of 2015, so let’s introduce our subject!
Today we’ll be looking at Alter’s 1/8 Natsume Takashi Renewal version from Natsume Yuujinchou.

Now to learn a little bit about this series. Let’s start out the review with some help from my good friend, Wikipedia sensei:
For as long as he can remember, Takashi Natsume has had the ability to see spirits, inheriting the power from his grandmother Reiko. Upon her death, Reiko bequeaths to her grandson her Book of Friends, a book containing the names of spirits Reiko had bullied into servitude. The Book of Friends is a highly prized item in the spirit world, and spirits haunt Takashi constantly. Whereas Reiko formed the contracts, however, Takashi spends his time dissolving the contracts and releasing the various spirits that come to him for help.

So why am I using a Wikipedia summary instead of writing one of my usual passion-filled six paragraph rants? That’s because I know nothing about the series *shot*
Now, it’s not that I have no interest in it. I’ve heard that the series has some semblance to Mushi-shi(although more lighthearted) which I adore, so I do intend to check it out one day. So how could a figure from a series I know little about bypass my strict PVC purchasing guidelines? Simply put, Alter’s Natsume is what I think of as a legendary figure.

Naturally there are few legendary figures, but those which exist are ones most can recognize. Many are even grails for people, but as I see it, a legendary figure is one which can be appreciated regardless of source material and purely for being a beautiful piece of art. Another figure I’d consider legendary is Momohime.

The original Natsume figure was released in July 2010–shortly after I became interested in figures. Natsume has since been highly regarded as a beautiful and well-done figure, and I’ve seen him in photographs many times throughout my collecting “career”. But while I always appreciated and admired Natsume, it was never enough to buy him. This was because of not knowing his origin and being content to admire from afar. However things began to change when a renewal of this prized figure was announced. A renewal was different from a re-release because it meant the figure would be entirely redone with a new sculpt and updated paint. I still paid Natsume little mind until his preorders opened. I saw him listed and clicked on his page expecting the usual 100,000 yen. So when it was ~6000 yen instead, I preordered immediately. Yes, Natsume was an unplanned addition to my collection, but as I admired his promotional pictures, I knew it was meant to be.

Fast forward a few months, and Natsume is here! Was he worth it? Let’s find out!

Oh, another first I forgot to mention. This is my first snow review!

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Review: Nessa 1/8 by Goodsmile Company

A review that I began in the summer and simply never finished. I figured that before proceeding with others, I should really finish this one, so say hello to a review of my first scaled figure ever: Nessa by Goodsmile Company who is from the anime Fractale.

In the future, mankind has achieved a life of ultimate prosperity and comfort through the Fractale system. Maintained by a temple, Fractale is a network of satellites that is capable of creating realistic illusions and generating doppels which are holographic robots that do everything from work in place of humans to acting as avatars and allowing people to be anywhere without actually going anywhere. This has allowed for humans to be free from burdensome responsibilities and live for their own gain. Clain is a young boy who lives alone but is occasionally visited by his parent’s doppels and finds 21st century technology fascinating. One day Clain’s carefree life is interrupted by a meeting with a priestess named Phryne who has escaped from the temple. Before leaving, Phryne leaves him with a brooch which contains a doppel named Nessa. Nessa’s appearance is that of a ten year old girl and she possesses boundless curiosity. After discovering Nessa, Clain embarks on a journey to return her to Phryne, but ends up discovering the dark secrets of Fractale along the way.

I mentioned in my nendoroid Kirito review that I often have a craving for anime that explores the human psyche. Fractale presented a very interesting world in which to do so and clearly intended to from the start. This is evidenced by the Fractale system which manufactures a life that is seemingly perfect but is actually void of interaction and has brewed a very self-centered generation of people. Watching the first episode, I was especially intrigued by a conversation between Clain and his parents. When Clain asks them why they do not live with him if they love him, his father responds that families are doing each other a favor by living apart because they are not tying each other down. Hearing this, I was thrilled that this would be the type of anime to deal with the setbacks of a civilization hopelessly dependent on technology, and could not wait for Clain to discover with or without his parents what it is that truly makes life wonderful.

But as is often the case when I get hyped up about an anime(which is why I try not to do it now), Fractale did not live up to the grand future I had envisioned for it. Instead the anime merely danced around the core conflicts, and incorporated an unusual amount of slice of life elements which are not satisfying in a supposedly epic fantasy. Clain also ended up joining a group opposed to Fractale which resulted in his spending most of the anime in agricultural areas rather than the visually stunning cities of Fractale. All in all, Fractale was a good idea, but the plot elements were not explored well enough to make it feel complete.
A side note: the paragraph above also summarizes my feelings on Kyokai no Kanata.

As I mentioned earlier, Nessa was my first scaled figure, and it takes a lot to convince someone to buy a type of figure that they’ve never owned before. I had seen the unpainted prototype figure before, but it was not until reading the painted prototype review by Mikatan(this was a long time ago!) that I truly realized the beauty of the figure. I spent the rest of the day at school thinking about Nessa, and soon preordered her. Even now, I use that feeling I got when I first ordered Nessa to judge how much I want a scale.

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Nessa comes in a classically designed white box that bears purple and black accents.
Nessa herself is of course safely packaged in a plastic blister, which is not pictured.

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Review: 1/8 Caster EXTRA by Phat Company

It’s review time! Today, instead of reviewing a brand new figure, I’ll be stepping back to look at one of the older figures in my collection. So let’s get things started with Phat Company’s 1/8 Caster EXTRA!

Caster EXTRA comes from Typemoon’s spinoff game Fate/Extra which is a dungeon style RPG for the PSP that has visual novel aspects. The game derives it’s basic concept from the Fate series(Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero, Fate/Hollow Axtaria, etc.) but adds a digital twist. Following the basic Servant and Master Holy Grail War scenario of it’s predecessors, Fate/Extra identifies itself as a spinoff by featuring many characters from other Typemoon franchises who are given new roles but are essentially the same (Rin Tohsaka for instance appears as an opposing master). Although these cameos are fun for old fans, they leave the game with comparatively few original characters for newer fans to enjoy without the feeling that they’re missing out. Thankfully of the new characters who make their debut, several are quite memorable! One of these is Caster. Being both the “weakest” servant and a brand new character, Caster is clearly the underdog of the playable servants, but her spunk and vulpine characteristics make her hard to forget.

Caster was the reason I purchased Fate/Extra. Although the game’s initial release escaped my radar(which caused me to miss out on some awesome merchandise >_<), it’s North American release sparked my curiosity. Around the time of this release came the announcement for Phat Company’s Caster. With a traditional Japanese inspired costume, a fluffy tail, and an energetic pose, Caster immediately drew my attention while reminding me of two of my favorite figures: Goodsmile Company’s Nessa(who I own) and Max Factory’s Kureha Touka(who is one of my grails). But preordering scaled figures has always been a splurge for me, and although I ordered Caster at first, I eventually cancelled her due to financial concerns. I thought I could live without her, but when pictures of the final product began to surface, I realized the mistake I had made. Thankfully a user on MFC soon appeared who no longer wanted their order, and I seized the opportunity once again to make Caster a part of my collection.

My experience obtaining Caster was fun to look back on, not just because of how happy I am to finally have the figure, but because this happened over a year ago. My Caster is from the original January 2012 release(as opposed to the September 2012 rerelease) and considering that she’s been on display for over a year, this review will cover both the figure and how it’s fared over time.

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Caster and her box are very blue(my favorite color!) which makes her pink hair really pop. The box has windows on the top, sides, and front which enables you to see Caster better while she’s inside. I like the decorative effect the scalloped edges of the box adds.

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The cardboard backing (only visible when the plastic blister is removed) has the moon and a 10101010 pattern which is a throwback to the game itself.

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I love the giant picture of Caster on the back! It’s vibrant and really captures the spirit of the figure. You know just what you’re getting!

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The figure itself is in three pieces. To display her, all you have to do is attach her foot to the stand and plug the mirror into her sleeve. I’ll show where these pieces connect later in the review.

Caster is listed as 1/8 scale which is a reasonable scale for her. She stands around 9.5 in/24 cm tall from the bottom of her base to the tip of her ear once assembled. If like me, numbers mean nothing to you, here she is next to a mug and figma Yui Hirasawa
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Now let’s take a 360 tour of Caster!
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Caster has a peppy personality which is wonderfully communicated through her pose.

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Her face bears a beaming smile as she joyously balances on one leg.

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Meanwhile her exquisite blue kimono flutters about her and her hand forms the shape of a fox.

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Being a member of the Caster class, Caster of course has a magic oriented background. Her costume incorporates aspects from traditional Japanese wear and details like the gold trim and tassels introduce an air of mysticism.

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I like that the floating mirror was also included as it further cements her magical context and really compliments her design.

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Caster’s big orange tail stands out well against all the blue too!

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But you can’t learn all about a figure from afar. Details are important, so let’s inspect Caster a little more closely!

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A lovely fox smile! Caster’s hair is a salmon pink and her bangs are sculpted dynamically. It’s not quite visible in this picture, but my Caster’s right bang has some paint missing. Also notice her moe fang, deep gold eyes, and giant fox ears!

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Caster’s head is fine, but it could stand to be better. Especially in the field of shading. She has light shading at the edges of her hair and top of the head, but it’s quite minimal.

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Here you can see ridges sculpted into the back of her head to suggest that her hair is pulled back. There are also some seam lines on her bangs. The ear fur is painted a matte white.
Also, she has a pair of human ears. H-how does that work?

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The tips of her pigtails are shaded a noticeable dark pink. Here you can also see her bow which is purple and has blue transparent ends. Light shines through the bow very nicely and the transparency is just enough that it’s not distracting.

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Most obvious here is Caster’s cleavage which is shaded lightly. Caste is usually depicted as being rather voluptuous(especially in Fate/Extra CCC), but here her chest appears quite modest. Come to think of it, Caster is my only scaled figure with cleavage!
Also notice the nice lines painted on her top. And unlike the white of the fur in her ears, these are painted with a pearly paint!

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Here you can better see her arms and armpits.
Caster is rather thin, but her arms seem a bit too thin for a lady of her size. The presence of such a deep crevice in her armpit is strange as well. I tested it on myself and such a crevice would only be visible if she were extremely tense.

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Her back is smooth and has a decent amount of detail. The edges of the sleeves are painted with a metallic gold.

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Another thing I like about the sleeves is that they are separate pieces. Rather than having the arms stop awkwardly, they actually continue into the sleeve.

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The sleeves are also layered and billow nicely.

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Another angle of the dynamic sleeves. I wonder how those would stay on in real life. The elastic on my Pureneemo Caster’s sleeves is starting to stretch out!

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Looking at the sleeves brings us to Caster’s mirror which is made with a real mirror! The mirror is her main weapon in the game and has a cool design!

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In case you didn’t believe me about it being a real mirror, say hello to my camera! Of course this does mean the mirror is susceptible to getting fingerprints and dust on it, so cleaning it every once in a while(glass cleaner works fine) isn’t a bad idea.

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On the back we see a lovely circular design. It’s a shame that part isn’t usually visible.

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Moving down gives us a better look at the metallic paint and details.

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And moving up shows us the point of connection between the mirror and Caster’s sleeve.

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Removing the mirror reveals a peg on Caster’s sleeve. This corresponds to a hole in the top of the mirror. The connection points are unnoticeable while Caster is on display and both pieces fit together snugly.
Over time, there has been gold rub off on the sleeve, but it’s minor and the peg is rarely seen anyway.

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Moving back up to Caster’s body, we have her black obi and shiny gold obijime.

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On Caster’s back is the beginning of her dangling obi and tail.

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The obi is black with gold designs

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The design adorns both sides of the obi and was applied via decal.

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And who could forget Caster’s tail? This fluffy wonder has two shades of orange and a pearly white base. It looks bushy and even curls at the tip!

Swinging back around to the front, we have Caster’s skirt
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Having only a front and back, the skirt more resembles a loin cloth, but it is sculpted quite well and even has a small tassel at the bottom.

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On the side is a larger tassel and a peek at Caster’s shimapan. That’s right, Caster is wearing blue striped underwear! I initially did not like this because it is inaccurate for Caster’s time period, but after seeing the designs in CCC, eh I don’t mind the shimapan anymore…

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I don’t know what that kimono is made out of that it clings so tightly, but ok. Nice detail I suppose XD

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Yet another pearly white tassel.

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Her socks are deep purple thigh highs. There’s some shading where the socks end along with some sculpted wrinkles.
The purple line on her straight leg is not a seam line. It is part of the design.

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Her shoe is dangling a bit which is a very cute detail although there is a small gap between the shoe and her foot. Thankfully this are is not very visible when she’s on display.
Also, how tight are those socks? I can see her toes through them! O_O

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The other foot is attached to the base.
The foot plugs in to two plastic pegs and rests on a raised area. Although leaning figures are pretty much a thing of the past, the structural integrity of one legged figures is always a concern. After a year of display, Caster’s ankle shows no sign of bending. But over time it seems that the raised portion on the base has moved back a little bit. If anything were to lean on this figure, it would be the base. But this lean is only slight and I see no signs of cracking or damage. It’s barely an issue.

Last is the base which is a blue transparent square. Although it may seem out of place with the figure, I actually think it reflects the aquatic theme of Fate/Extra quite well since the game’s dungeons are composed of bright squares.

Caster is a display piece, but that doesn’t mean she should live her life on my dusty nightstand. Let’s take her out for some pictures!

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As much as I love Caster, she’s not the most photogenic figure I own. In the year I’ve owned her, I’ve yet to take a really really good picture of her.

Final Words
There are some figures that you buy because you like the character and others you buy because they’re so gosh darn beautiful it doesn’t matter who they are. Caster is the former. Although she is well made and an excellent representation of Caster, this figure is nothing to write home about. I would not buy her as an example of the best figure ever made. I bought Caster because I love the character and that’s what matters. So if you like this figure for any reason, go ahead and get it, you won’t be disappointed! I don’t think buying her is settling for something inferior either. She’s cute, a good size, puts a smile on my face, and I wouldn’t dream of selling her.