[An older version of this review was originally posted on Geek Ink in June 2014]

The Mechawhale universe is an original concept created by German graphic designer, Hauke Scheer. Set in a world where whales have gained psychic powers, the discovery of a hostile alien race forces the whales to undergo enhancement procedures so they can fight in enormous mech suits. Hauke created a number of digital sketches for different whale fighting suits, ranging from smaller orca and narwhal suits, to a massive blue whale operated tank. Sadly, only the sperm whale infantry suit (aka The Whalehammer) made it into production as a figure. (Check out his art and other figure designs here: http://hauke3000.deviantart.com/).

The figure comes in a sturdy, collector-friendly orange box. A small piece of concept art – a cropped still from one of the Mechawhale animations – adorns the bottom right of the box front. The back of the box briefly details the Mechawhale story. This is somewhat eclipsed by a large warning label which, among other things, advises you not to lick, suck, or place the figure in your mouth. Hey, you can’t tell me what to do! The figure is secured within a plastic shell, but as it comes partially wrapped in a sheet of soft plastic, it makes viewing the figure through the box windows a little difficult until removed. The shell pops open easily and can be re-used.

The Mechawale is a relatively small figure, standing in at under 5”, although its boxy shape gives it quite a bit of bulk. The overall design is somewhat cartoony, matching the animations rather than some of the more realistic artwork Hauke has produced. The sculpt is reasonably detailed, but is a little on the soft side, no doubt due to the vinyl material the figure is made from. The whale itself is a good sculpt and has quite a bit of character in the head/face. The mouth is moulded open. There is, sadly, no jaw articulation. The head features a number of scars, just as you might expect to see on a seasoned warrior.

Clamps hold the whale in place in the suit – a set for its mid-section and another around the base of the tail. You can see a whale activating a suit in the first of the animations if you want to see how it puts it on. As expected for something referred to as the Whalehammer, this mech is armed to the teeth. Rockets are mounted on the rear, with further pairs mounted on the wrists. The wrists also feature linked miniguns. The arms end in large, heavy-duty clamps. Additional mini-guns and some sort of cannons are mounted underneath the suit. Four huge jump-engine exhausts project from the back of the suit. Yep, this whale can fly, because why not. The animation shows exhausts in the feet, but they’re not present on the figure. And speaking of the feet, they’re fairly small, but the figure is very stable and maintains its balance with no problems.

The paint apps are nice and clean, if fairly simple. The orange of the mech parts remind me of heavy-duty construction equipment. The whale itself is grey, with a subtle greeny-grey drybrush to add some depth to its finish. Details like the eyes, teeth, rockets, and gun muzzles are picked out in brown, black, dark grey, and red. The eyes are particularly well done and add an essential bit of life to the character. A brown dry-brush over the suit highlights all the details and simulates a worn, grimy appearance. The only thing I’m not that crazy about is the light drybrush over the rockets which has turned them a washed out pinkish colour. I’m tempted to repaint them gloss red at some point.

As far as movement goes, the Mechawhale only has five points of articulation. Both mech arms can swivel around a full 360 degree arc, as can the wrists. The only other articulation is the whale’s tail, which is also a simple swivel, but is very much restricted by the suit. Still, limited as the articulation is, you can get a reasonable bit of life out of posing the arms in various ways.

I forget how I stumbled across this figure now, but I really dug the design when I first saw it. It came with quite a steep price-tag as expected from a limited run, independently produced figure and the only way to get it was to bite the bullet and import one. It was actually the first figure I ever imported from big Bad Toy Store. Was it worth it? Hell, yes! It’s a great piece, and easily one of the most fun and unique figures in my collection.

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Sometime after getting the figures I took a look at in Part 1, I stumbled across two larger Myth of Void figures during a routine trawl through AmiAmi’s pre-owned items. In contrast to the blind boxes of the others, these two come in sturdy, collector-friendly window boxes. Most of the text on the box is in Japanese, with only the series name, Myth of Void, in English. The character’s names are printed in tiny, easy to miss katakana letters on the front below the title. There is more kanji on the sides of the boxes, which seems to be some sort of poetic character information from what I can gather using Google Translate. Rather than any images of the figure, a pixelated, blue and orange lightning pattern covers the boxes. It’s a bit strange, but suits the alien nature of the contents. Both figures are held securely in place inside clear plastic shells, though mine have discoloured with age. These figures were released in 2006 after all.

Let’s start with Marimu Ru Gugu (talk about a mouthful) my favourite of the two. She’s the tallest of the figures at just under 15cm (roughly 6“) and also the most well endowed. Apparently it’s quite chilly on her planet. The sculpt is great. Her face is very pretty, with an almost wistful expression. She reminds me somewhat of Belldandy from “Oh My Goddess!” Her outfit consists of a body suit, covered in metal pieces. She has armoured knees, shoulders and gauntlets, with skeletal ribbing on her arms and legs. This ribbing pattern is carried over to her skirt, which is made of soft plastic and is removable. While her face is framed with hair, most of her head is covered with a mechanical helmet.Two long tails, that creepily look like thin scorpion stings, hang from the helmet down her back. She comes with a white plastic base similar to all the others.

Marimu’s paint is simple, but very well applied. Her body suit is cream, with all her armoured pieces in brown and copper shades with a dark brown wash applied to add depth. All the lines are sharp, with no slop in evidence. The bindi on her forehead is perfectly painted in gloss red. Her eyes and eyebrows are tampos, and are cleanly applied. Some of the copper paint from her skirt had rubbed off onto her waist. I was able to get it off with a vigorous application of a cotton swab dipped in surgical spirits.

Next up is Dahlia Me Gijiku. She’s about 13cm tall (just over 5″), but thanks to her headdress, actually comes in a shade over 15cm. Her sculpt is just as intricate as Marimu’s, though her theme leans more towards scales than bones, especially when you consider her cobra-like headdress. That headdress is a large piece, and I have to wonder at its weight as the poor girl seems to be wearing a neck brace to help hold up her head. Her face is more pointed and harder to see as her head is tilted forward and her fringe comes down over her eyes. She wears a large, net-like cape, which fortunately is removable as we’ll see later on. She has four-fingered claw hands, which look like they could do some serious damage. Wherever she is, the aircon is definitely turned down. She’s also been seriously working on her glutes.

Her paint is very neat, with only the tiniest amount of overspray on her back. Her body suit is a pearly white, with metallic blues and greys making up the rest of her clothing. She has a tiny orange bindi on her forehead. Scattered here and there are a number of dark red translucent jewels. Each is a separate piece that has been glued to the figure and are wonderfully translucent, even under normal light. Her yellow eyes are tampos and as neatly applied as Marimu’s. She comes with the same white plastic base.

This brings us to the only real issue I have with these figures. They seem to be made from a slightly softer plastic than the blind box versions. Add in that they are top heavy, over time they’ve had a tendency to sag forward, especially in the summer heat. Dahlia really suffers here with her heavy headdress and that voluminous cape. As I mentioned, it’s removable, so I’ve been displaying her without it. Marimu’s high heels give her a slight forward stance, so she is a bit harder to keep straight. By turning the base around and forcing the larger foot peg into the smaller foot hole and angling her leaning back, she seems okay for now. Not ideal, so at some point, I may glue them to the bases permanently.

As you can see, these two figures go great with the other four. They seem more regal to me, so maybe they are rulers of some sort. I guess with no offical canon to draw on, they can be whatever I want them to be. Coming up, in Part 3, I’ll take a look at the last two figures I managed to get my hands on.

When it comes to prize figures (boxed, non-scale figures you can win in arcade claw machines in Japan), you never quite know what you’re going to get. I’ve bought a few that have been pretty terrible, and others that have been quite amazing for the price point. This figure of a Graceful Valkyrie from Puzzles and Dragons falls solidly in the latter camp. I came across her during one of my routine trawls through Mandarake’s online store. I had no clue where she was from, I just liked her design. A bit of Googling around, and I discovered she’s from a mobile game (a match-three puzzle thing with RPG elements) and is a Thorned Guardian type based on her mostly green colour palette.

She comes in a colourful, if somewhat flimsy packaging. There are no windows to see what you’re getting, so the pictures of the figure that cover the box are the only clue as to what’s inside. I don’t have space to keep the boxes for all my figures, so the cheap ones go into the recycling. Opening the box, the figure comes in four parts wrapped in clear plastic – body, right hand with sword, left arm with shield, and a base. It’s a simple matter to put her together, although the arm joints could be a little tighter. I ended up securing them with a spot of glue.

The figure is cleanly molded and the sculpt is quite elaborate. It include numerous small details, including a pair of tiny earrings. Her face is rather on the cute side, with the determined expression of someone who isn’t going to put up with any nonsense. Her armour consists of vambraces and gauntlets for her arms, and small armoured sections on the tops of her wings. While she may be lightly armoured, she’s absolutely armed to the teeth. Not only is she wielding a huge, spiky axe-sword in her right hand, but she also has a short sword in her left, and three daggers on her belt. Even her shield has spikes on it that can be used to put the hurt on her enemies. She needs the base to stand as the pegs are in her feet rather than the other way around. She’d need it even if this wasn’t the case as she’s rather top heavy and I don’t think those heels are helping her case. The base is made from clear green plastic, embossed with a stylised dragon and an archway, which I assume references the game in some way or other.

One of my biggest issues with this type of figure is how often the finish lets it down. I’m pleased to say that in this case, the paint is really well applied. There are only a couple of minor areas were there is a little paint slop, and you really have to go looking for them. There are a couple of rough spots here and there – most notably on the rear of her right wing – but even these are small. I’m really picking nits here. For this price point the paint is pretty damn good. Her clothes are a mixture of gloss and semi-gloss paint that contrasts really well with the bare plastic of her skin. Her eyes, the patterns on her bodice, and the stripes and thorny pattern on her stockings are tampographs. All are neatly applied and in perfect register. Her armour and weapons are painted in metallic greens, golds, and purples which really pop. The base figure is available in a number of colour options for the armour, weapons, and hair, though this is the one I liked the best.

It’s relatively rare that I buy figures outside of properties that I know and love, so when I do they need to be at least a little bit special. I really liked the look of her when I first saw her, and once out of the box, she’s a very cool display piece. Add the fact that she cost me the princely sum of all of 300 yen (before shipping) this makes her a figure I was well pleased to acquire.

Stranger Things was a complete surprise to me when it came out. The first time I even heard anything about it was when I saw an ad for it on FaceBook. I decided to check out the show as the trailer was really intriguing and it absolutely blew me away. It had a great setting, great characters, and a suitably freaky monster in the form of the Demogorgon (named after a D&D creature it doesn’t really resemble). Figures from the show have been sparse, with initially only some POPs and little 3 3/4″ figures from Funko. McFarlane have since stepped into the gap with a range of 7″ scale offerings. You can now add Eleven, Dustin, and Lucas, along with Chief Hopper and a deluxe figure of the Demogorgon, to your shelves. Barb, Will, and Mike are coming soon.

I ordered my Demogorgon from BBTS, buying one in a damaged box to save three bucks off the regular price of $33. Yes, I’m cheap ;). It was quite badly scrunched on the back, but I wasn’t too bothered as the box is going into the recycling anyway. The box features a large window on the front, some promotional art on the one side, and images of the monster on the other side and rear. The Demogorgon is held in place by a clear tray and looks a bit odd as the legs are bent to fit it in. It’s secured by a bunch of annoying plastic ties, but some work with a small pair of wire cutters freed him to terrorise the Upside Down .

This thing is massive. Once straightened up, it stands just over 10″ (nearly 26cm) tall. It makes the tiny Funko version look seriously wimpy. The sculpt is great, with all sorts of wrinkles, tendons, musculature, and bony protuberances in evidence. There’s a discrepancy with the feet though. They look more human than the digitigrade ones as seen on the show and present in the Funko figure. It also seems heavier-set than it should be. It comes across more as a man in a suit rather than the on-screen creature. This makes me wonder if McFarlane was working on a pre-production version of the monster, which is rather odd considering how late in the day this figure was released (actually after the conclusion of Season 2 if I recall).

The Demogorgon is reasonably poseable. It has firm joints that hold its weight well. Most of the joints at ankles, knees, wrists and shoulders seem to be of a ratchet-and-swivel type. There seem to be ball joints at the head, chest, and waist, though the movement is somewhat stuff and limited. The figure has a sort of H-crotch joint allowing for back-and-forth and sideways movement. Depending how far you move the legs, this can be quite unsightly, but as long as you don’t overdo it, is hidden by the sculpt for the most part. The wrists were quite stiff and I was worried about breaking them, but by carefully turning them, they freed up okay.

The finish is fairly simple. It’s mostly grey with a bit of a dark wash and a lighter grey dry-brush to bring out the details. To be honest, the wash could be a bit darker, especially in places like the chest cavity, to help add some more depth to the figure. The open face is a nice glossy red with a darker red in the throat area. The teeth are all picked out individually in an ivory colour. Nothing too exciting, but it’s effective for what it is.

The figure only includes a small, clear base with the title of the show neatly stamped on it in red. The figure stands just fine on its own, but the base adds a bit of extra stability. I’m not a fan of clear bases as more often than not you can see the ejector pin marks from the moulding process on the rear, which just looks cheap to me. It’s a pity a closed-up head wasn’t included as well, especially considering the price point. Regardless, this is an impressive beastie and is going to look awesome added to my creature shelves.

Super Hentai Artist Mercy Rabbit is a Japanese artist/designer/mangaka. There’s very little information about him online (that I could find in English anyway) and there even seems to be some confusion as to if he isn’t perhaps a she. What I was able to find out is that he’s worked on erotic dating sims, various doujinshi, and even did design work for Takara’s Zoids line, some transformers, and even busou shinki characters.

As far as this range goes, there is about as much information floating around. The series is a concept line that came out in 2005. It seems to be known variously as “Myth of Void”, “Race of the Cocoon”, or “The Whole Family of a Cocoon”. Aside from some ancient listings for the figures on various figure sites (most of which are now unavailable), I can’t find any information about what this series is about or whether there is a larger universe involved. Either way, I really like the designs of these weird, busty, alien girls and have been lucky enough to snag the whole of the second blind box set, plus two of the larger window boxed figures.

The blind box packaging is just that – a sealed box that you have to rip open to find out which figure you get. It features a lovely artistic shot of all four of the girls on the front, although in much more dynamic poses than the actual figures. I lucked out and in my first purchase got the two I wanted the most (Tereba Soyasu and Reima Raima). Much, much later I was able to purchase three more blind boxes, and got the remaining two figures I needed to complete the set (I got a double of Gumu Rarei). Each figure is further sealed inside the box in a white plastic wrapper. There are a couple of variants, as can be seen on the back of the box, but I got the basic versions in each case.

The sculpts for the girls are quite unique and suitably techno-organic. The paint applications are neatly applied, with each figure having a distinct colour palette. Tereba Soyasu, in grey, has a soft organic quality. She has two wing options (either open or folded) that plug in above her breasts. She also has a creepy, bloodshot eye between her wings. Gumu Rarei, in a lovely metallic blue and silver, is definitely fish inspired. She’s like a sexy Gill-man. She also has a pair of tentacles (or perhaps they’re lures like on an angler fish) that plug into her back. Reima Raima, in dark green with orange stripes, features bug-like spiky armour. She has four bug legs that plug into her back, though they are less secure than Gumu’s tentacles. Finally Datorl Kedan, in pink, has puffy sleeves and sucker-like protuberances that lean towards an octopus-inspired design. The figures come with a white plastic base, each of which is essentially the same except for the size and location of the foot pegs.

The bases are somewhat uninspiring so I’ve repainted a couple of them. I redid Tereba’s in a weathered silver-grey and Reima’s in a glossy green. I plan to do the rest at some point to match the other girls, but who knows when I’ll get around to them.(Somehow I forgot to take shots of the backs of the figures when I originally planned this review. I’ve added a couple of quick snaps here to rectify this).

Overall, this is a great little set and certainly some of the more fun and unusual figures in my collection. (Tereba and Reima were amongst the first figures I bought when I started collecting anime subjects many moons ago). In Part 2 of this post, I’ll take a closer look at the two larger window boxed figures you can see in the header photo.

Introduction
I’m a big fan of Kotobukiya in general, and of their Bishoujo (literally “beautiful girl”) line in particular. Based on designs by artist Shunya Yamashita, the range features some absolutely stunning work. Their Star Wars Jaina Solo Bishoujo is one of my absolute favourite figures.

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Just in time to catch the wave of the fantastically successful Deadpool movie comes one of their more recent offerings – Lady Deadpool. Lady Deadpool (or Wanda Wilson) is the female counterpart of Deadpool from the alternate reality Earth-3010. If you want to know more about the character, I highly recommend the Lady Deadpool one shot “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”, as well as the “Deadpool Corps” series. She’s very much a fan favourite and this statue does not disappoint.

Packaging

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The figure comes securely packaged in a sturdy box with clear windows on two sides. She’s actually a bit hard to see inside the box, as she’s wrapped in layers of protective plastic within a plastic shell. The box features an attractive red and white colour scheme, and has a full-length portrait of the original concept artwork on one of the sides.

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Once you open the box, you’ll need to slit some tape before you can crack open the plastic inner. There are then a number of smaller plastic wraps and sleeves that will have to be removed before you can display the figure. They protect the figure from any scrapes or scratches in transit, and my figure was pristine out of the box. A small instruction sheet is included to show you the included alternative pieces and what goes where.

Sculpt

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As expected from this range, the sculpt is clean and beautifully detailed. There is barely a mould mark anywhere and the few I did find are hardly noticeable. You really need to be looking for them to see them. Lady Deadpool comes with options to be displayed either with a masked or unmasked head, and a couple of alternative hands. All parts plug in securely and are easily swappable.

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Also separate is a single M-26/61 Fragmentation Grenade that plugs into a hole in her right hand. It’s a small piece, but even has the safety pin ring sculpted as an open piece.

face

The Bishoujo-style face is very pretty, although the features are a little sharp for my tastes, particularly in the chin which is a bit narrow. She is smooth skinned rather than suffering from the pizza-face of comic book Wanda (which also fits the Bishoujo styling – you can see a similar approach to the Freddy vs Jason Bishoujos for instance). The unmasked head also has short hair compared to comic Lady Deadpool who features a long ponytail, but it works quite well on the figure.

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Her costume on the other hand, closely matches what she wears in the comics (minus a few leg pouches), with the same red/black demarcation, belt buckle, crossed katanas etc.

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Her base comes attached out of the box. Out of interest, I removed the small screw located underneath, but even with it taken out, the base didn’t budge and I wasn’t going to force it and potentially break something. Due to the way the feet are posed, I don’t think she’d stand very well without it in any case. It’s one of the simpler bases I’ve seen with a Bishoujo figure, but is quite effective, with a Deadpool logo neatly tampographed onto it. With the base, the figure stands about 23cm tall.

Paint
The paint finish is for all intents and purposes, perfect. Aside from the protection afforded by all the little plastic wraps, the actual colours are applied faultlessly. There is no splatter, overspray, or dirt in the paint anywhere that I could see.

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The overall paint has a slight sheen to it, rather than a dead matt which I really like. The metallic used on the belt buckle and bracelets has a very nice gunmetal shine as well. There is a beautiful, subtle shading applied to her uniform that scales wonderfully without muddying the finish. A light drybrush highlights the details on the pouches on her belt.

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The figure’s eyes – probably the most important aspect of the face – are perfectly aligned, and her lips have just enough of a darker pink shade applied so they stand out without looking as if she’s been chowing down on an overly garish lipstick.

Overall
This is a stunning, high quality figure of Lady Deadpool. She works as both an addition to an overall Bishoujo collection in her unmasked form, or as a comic book version if you prefer her masked. I rate her as a superb figure and I’m extremely pleased to have her in my collection.

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Where to buy
There are currently only two stores in South Africa who stock all the very latest Kotobukiya products. The Bishoujo Lady Deadpool figure is available at “Cosmic Comics” (visit Cosmic Comics or go to their FaceBook page at: https://m.facebook.com/Cosmic-Comics-South-Africa-44462875336/) and at “Project Mayhem Collectibles and Action Figures Durban” (visit Project Mayhem or https://www.facebook.com/ProjectMayhemSA/?fref=ts) (courier available on all orders country-wide).

This review was first posted on the Figures in SA Facebook page.

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For anyone who may be interested, I’ve started writing reviews over at Geek Ink. There should be a new one roughly each week. Click around the rest of the site for other insights, news and reviews on geekly things from a South African perspective.