Street Fighter Series 2
Ken, Blanka, Cammy, T-Hawk and Vega

One of the most popular themes for action figures in the 90's was video games. That should be no surprise considering their popularity, and one of the most popular was Street Fighter.  Done many times by other companies, SOTA Toys is once again bringing your favorite fighters to plasticy form.

The first series was released last year to rave reviews, and the line and the company took may best of awards for 2004.  We've got an early review of the second series, which includes Ken, Cammy, Blanka, Vega and T-Hawk.  These should be hitting retailers very soon, and I have some suggestions for you at the end of the review to get your pre-orders in.

Just like the first series, there's a fair share of additional exclusives and variants this time around.  This is what I know...

Blanka has the most variants, with five: Translucent Blanka - GITD Blanka -
Blue Blanka - 
Yellow Blanka - SOTA Toys
Olive Green Blanka - GameStop (packed randomly in their cases)

Vega has only (that's a joke) three:
Black Vega -
Green Vega (extra head ) - SOTA Toys  
Red Vega - GameStop (randomly packed in their cases

T-Hawk has three also:
White T- Hawk -
Green T- Hawk - SOTA Toys 
Grey T- Hawk - GameStop (randomly packed in their cases)

Ken jumps back up to four:
White Ken - 1 per regular case
Ken ( Yellow ) -
Purple Ken - SOTA Toys
Dark Grey Ken - GameStop (randomly packed in their cases)

But Cammy is back down to just three:
Pink Cammy -
Blue Cammy - SOTA Toys 
Grey Cammy - GameStop (randomly packed in their cases)

*whew*.  Now that's a lot of variants!  Series 3 has already been announced, and will consist of Guile, Adon, Balrog, Sakura and Gen.

Packaging - **
SOTA went with a clamshell that was intended to look like the video game itself with the first series, but it didn't go over all that well.  Here we get another clamshell, but it's simply rectangular.

The shell itself seems a tad thin to me, and they definitely went with the basic graphics.  It does show off the figure well, and I like the addition of the power moves on the front insert, but in general it's as basic as you can get.

Sculpting - T-Hawk, Vega ****; Ken ***1/2; Blanka, Cammy ***
Whenever I see a line in advance, I always naturally decide which one I'll end up liking the most once I have them in hand.  Usually I'm pretty accurate with my guess, but every so once in awhile I get surprised.  This was one of those surprises.

I assumed my favorite figure would be Blanka, simply because he has such a cool visual design and was one of my favorite characters in the game.  That is not the case though, and he was actually a bit disappointing.  Mind you, he's not a bad figure, but with the SF series so far, the bar is pretty high.

To get the heads to work properly with the ball jointed neck, and to get a good range of movement, the hair was sculpted very high on the back of the head.  This leaves a very big gap between the hair and back when he is facing forward, and the hair only really looks good when he's looking up.  Also, since the hair is quite heavy, he ends up slowly drifting into that position on his own.

That's his only big issue though, and if you can look past that you may give him a higher score here.  I thought they did an excellent job on the body work, particularly the hands and feet.  The musculature looks good, and he matches up with the game nicely, while taking on a three dimensional aspect.

Cammy was my other less impressive figure.  Again, compared to many other figures out there, she's certainly above average.  But in the Street Fighter series, she didn't do quite as well.

The female SOTA body has lots of articulation, but in a skimpy outfit like this, with her hips plainly visible, it doesn't work all that well visually.  Also, this poor girl has no butt - I'm talking less butt than me, and that's no butt - and it's accentuated by the painted on outfit.

However, both head sculpts are quite good, as are the various hand sculpts. The hair is actually a soft rubber, and really worked well. Would I be willing to sacrifice some of the articulation for better sculpting here?  Nope, as I like the consistency across the line.  I simply accept the fact that her character design doesn't lend itself quite as well to this style.

Ken is, well, Ken.  His sculpt is solid, but he's not the most visually arresting character to begin with.  Big fans should be happy with the head sculpts, and the various hands are a nice touch.

My big surprise was Vega and T-Hawk.  While I liked Vega in the game, T-Hawk wasn't even a blip on my radar.  Yet these two worked best in this style, particularly our Native American friend.

The sculpt on Vega is excellent, particularly if you ignore his second head (I'll get into that more in the accessories department).  The upper body sculpt is well muscled, yet the articulation works great.  He has nice large feet that work well with many poses, and the hand sculpts also add to the various looks he can strike.  Perhaps most importantly, his 'claws' are made of a fairly sturdy plastic, with no bend or warp.  Don't you wish most Wolverine figures could say that!

The biggest surprise really was T-Hawk though.  His big bulky appearance fits the body style from SOTA perfectly, and the majority of his articulation is hidden nicely by the outfit.  His head is a tad small, even for this character, but I can give him that one nit.  The vest fringe, boot fringe, and body work are all excellent examples of small details done just right.

Paint - ***1/2
In general, the paint ops are very clean and neat, with nice, bright, consistent colors.

There's a few instances where the eyes are a little buggy or crooked, particularly on the extra heads, and there's the occasional stray mark, but overall I'm very impressed with the quality of the paint work.

Articulation - ****
Are you an articulation junkie?  Than look no further than this set of figures to get your fix.

Every figure includes tons of joints, including a ball jointed neck that works great (one of my favorite joints for getting great looking poses out of a figure), ball jointed shoulders with an excellent range of movement, double jointed elbows and knees, chest (which moves forward and backward), waist, wrists (which both turn and move forward and back), ball jointed hips, pin ankles, cut half foot and pin toes.

These are some of the most poseable figures on the market right now, and with a few exceptions (like Cammy that I already discussed), the articulation is well hidden and still works great.  The joints were all very tight across the board, and the extra hands pop on and off the wrists with little danger of breaking.

While some folks might question the need for all the foot articulation, it really does make it possible to do some poses that would be otherwise difficult if not impossible.  The large flat feet help as well, but being able to position the front of the foot separately from the heel is more important than you might realize at first.

Accessories - Blanka ****; Cammy, Vega, Ken ***1/2; T-Hawk ***
The number of accessories varies pretty widely with this series.

Blanka is the big winner here, with his extra huge head, another set of hands, a human skull, a pineapple and a large slice of watermelon.  All of the accessories look great, and he's the only character that I prefer the second head to the original.

Cammy has a second head as well, sporting a wink, along with three extra hands.  She also has her ear 'bauble', which I forgot to stick in her ear before shooting the photos, but you can see it laying in front of her in the accessory shot.  Again, the sculpting is great, and the hands pop on and off easily.

Ken has his extra head, with long hair and a nasty grimace, plus two more right hands and a red fireball.  I love the additional hand giving the thumbs up sign!

Vega's blades are actually removable, but I'm not counting them as an accessory.  He has his second head, with a goofy surprised expression.  I'm betting you never use it.  He also has two excellent extra right hand sculpts, and his trademark rose.

T-Hawk is the only real loser here, and I'm not sure why the poor guy got shorted.  He comes with his hawk, which pops on his right shoulder with a peg, and an extra set of hands in a knife pose.  The hawk is quite well done, but comparing him to the rest of the line, he's a tad light.

Fun Factor - ****
And we'll have fun, fun, fun did your daddy takes the T-Hawk awaaaayyyyy...

Okay, that was about the weakest thing I've ever said.  Still, these are awfully fun action figures, combining the best of what makes a toy great - great articulation with fun accessories - with what makes a toy 'collector' happy - excellent sculpting and paint.  There are no losers here.

If you know some kids that love this game, you can't go wrong grabbing some of these figures.  They will have hours of fun, and there's very little chance of breakage or problems, with the one exception of Vega's blades.  You might want to be a tad careful there, so that little Billy doesn't lose an eye.

Value - ***
I'm scoring these at around $12 - $13, which is the most common price point.  That's not a bad value at all, considering the number of accessories and level of articulation.  Since these are specialty market item, around $12 is a good price.

However, I have some suggestions at the end of the review where you can find them as cheap as $10 each, and at that price point you can add another half star.

Overall - Vega ****; T-Hawk, Ken ***1/2; Cammy, Blanka ***
I'm really quite surprised with how much I ended up liking T-Hawk and Vega.  It's not that Cammy and Blanka are awful figures (although I suspect if you hate articulation and much prefer sculpting, that you'll be much harsher on Cammy than I was), but that when compared to some of the other Street Fighter figures, they come up a tad short.

After getting the second series, I'm kind of sorry I gave away the first.  These really will look terrific as a complete set up on the shelf, although I pity the completist trying to get all the variants.

I guess that means though that I'll end up giving this set away as well...perhaps that will be part of the big February contest!

Things to Watch Out For - 
I would be careful giving Vega to a child that might get too wild with the blades.  They are far from razor sharp, but the are a little stiffer than most mass market toys.

Packaging - **
Sculpt - T-Hawk, Vega ****; Ken ***1/2; Blanka, Cammy *** 
Paint - ***
Articulation - ****
Accessories - Blanka ****; Cammy, Vega, Ken ***1/2; T-Hawk ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - Vega ****; T-Hawk, Ken ***1/2; Cammy, Blanka ***

Where to Buy - 
Your local comic shop might have ordered some extras, but there are also plenty of online sources:

- if you're looking for the regular figures (non-variants), Circle Red has an excellent price of just $50 for the set of five!

- Southern Island has the regular figures for $10 each, plus they have their exclusives!

- CornerStoreComics has the individuals for $12.

- has their Blue Blanka exclusive for $13.

- Killer Toys has the set for $52, or the individual figures for $12

- QwikSand Collectibles is all sold out already of their series 2 pre-orders, but still have some of series 1 for $13 each.


And because it was asked for by popular demand, I added a shot of Cammy with Catwoman for comparison sake.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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