12" Ghost in the Shell

Hi, all you fans out there in toy land. I'm Laine and, thanks to Michael and his cool site, I'll be your guest reviewer for today. I've been wanting to review these Ghost in the Shell toys for quite some time, but while they've been in my house for quite a few months I didn't actually own them until recently 'cause I got them as a Christmas present from my dad. Anyhow, with that out of the way, on with my review. Toycom has imported two 12" action figures of Motoko Kusanagi, the protagonist of Masamune Shirow's Ghost in the Shell manga. Both figures are similar, but they have different uniforms and one of their weapons is different. I managed to find both toys for AU $60 each, but most places I've seen them are asking for $90.

Packaging - ***
The packaging of these toys is kind of a mixed bag, being marvelous and under-whelming at once. On one hand the boxes these dolls come in are extremely nice, made of sturdy cardboard with a fifth panel held shut with Velcro and four holes cut in the front to display the doll and all its weapons in the box. The packages are perfect for collectors because the entire thing is collector friendly with a re-sealable box, easily removed plastic tray that holds the doll and its accessories and a clear plastic cover that fits over the top of the tray. No rubber bands or twisty ties are used at all. On the other hand the packages aren't too impressive to look at because of a lack of any impressive graphics. One of the dolls is packaged in a totally black box with some red writing and red inside behind the toy, and the other comes in a maroon and green box with an eggshell white colored panel on the front and green writing. The only photos on the back of the boxes are of the figures lower body from behind. I'm not entirely sure why these photos were used, or what they mean, but they do break the monotony of such bland packaging a bit. If you keep your toys in their boxed you will be disappointed, but if you open them and keep the packages you'll be in heaven.

Sculpting - ****
Fans of Masamune Shirow's art will instantly recognize the face of this well known character. Although simple, the facial sculpt used on his doll perfectly captures Shirow's style and the look of Motoko Kusanagi. Everything from Motoko's large, rounded eyes, to her tightly pursed lips, to her trademark hairstyle is superbly crafted. The only thing I would have appreciated is a different facial expression to separate the two dolls instead of them having the same head. Also, I must point out that the hands on both dolls are fantastic, with fingernails and crinkles all meticulously sculpted.

Paint - ****
Although very little of these dolls is actually painted (only the head, actually) the paintwork is exceptionally clear. Motoko's eyelashes are all appropriately fine and perfectly placed place while her eyes suffer no bleeding or smudging.

Articulation/Body - ***1/2
I'm not entirely familiar with all the different kinds of 12" body around, but I do know that there are very few nice female bodies being used at the moment. Generally unposeable doll bodies are used, and are not particularly useful for action based characters. I believe the body used for these dolls is unique to Alpha and features limited ball joints on the neck, waist and hips, as well as joints at the shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and ankles. All of these joints are very clearly seen when the doll is naked, but they generally aren't too bulky and fit in with the doll's feminine curves. All these joints allow a very fine range of motion, however they are slightly hindered by the doll's construction which includes a thick elastic band holding the toy together inside (very much like 3 " G.I.Joe toys). Something else that sets this body apart from most I have encountered is that the doll is more or less anatomically correct with (unpainted) nipples and genitalia (if that doesn't get people buying these toys, nothing will).

Accessories - **1/2
Both figures come packaged with three guns and a pair of black Cyber Hands which can replace the doll's removable human hands. The guns included with both dolls are a handgun with what looks like a long silencer attached (labeled a K-287-4C, for those who care) and a small, snub nosed pistol called a Seburo K-1C. The third guns included with the dolls are very similar one having a short barrel at the end and being called a Seburo C-26A, and the other having a laser sight at the end and being called a Seburo C-25A. None of these weapons have any painted detail, but they do look nice in the flat black of the plastic. I personally would have liked to see both toys come with different accessories.

Uniforms - ****
The clothing that these dolls come wearing is very nicely made and looks quite different between them, even though both uniforms are essentially the same jumpsuit made out of different material. The first uniform is a black vinyl jumpsuit with shoulder pockets and a removable belt that has a holster for the snub nosed pistol (and holds the gun extremely well) and a large pouch for ammo. The uniform opens at the front and is held shut with four tiny black snaps. The inside of the uniform is partially lined with white fabric and has padded shoulders.
The second uniform is a camouflage suit made of thick military green fabric with brown and olive green camouflage. Velcro sealed pockets are found on the chest and thighs of the uniform and deep pockets are found on the thighs. The same belt with the same gun holster and pouch are included with this doll (in more fitting colors) and the uniform includes a non-removable black shoulder holster type piece. The same shoulder padding and snaps are here too. Both dolls come with identical removable underclothes, being a white bandana, white crop-top and white panties.
The boots included with each doll are different. The doll dressed in black has black knee-high boots, while the camouflaged doll has shorter, chunkier black boots.

Value - ***1/2
Considering that these are imports, one should expect to pay a bit more to get hold of these toys than one would to get a domestic release. I think $90 Australian is a bit steep, even for such high quality toys, but $60 Australia was a steal compared to the price of other 12" toys and if they had been bought with my own money I would feel no regrets at all.

Overall - ***1/2
These are great looking figures and Ghost in the Shell fans, or fans of large scale action figures in general, will love them. I personally prefer the black leather one, but the camouflage version has some very attractive detail that the other doesn't.

Figure from the collection of Laine Severyn.

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