Dark Horse Shi

The College Bum, Sean Teeter, is back in town tonight with a review of the new Shi figure from Dark Horse Comics.  What's the scoop, Sean!

There is a shelf in my room that holds nothing but female figures. Okay, I have more than one shelf like that, but there is one reserved for the oddballs. I donít always need to collect every figure in a line. I have the two Lara Crofts from SOTA, but not the Shadow Guardian. I have Kyra from the Chronicles of Riddick, but no others of that line. All these random ladies end up on that one shelf. Tonight I add another.

Iíve been a follower of various Dark Horse comics on and off over the years. I was a big fan of Ghost and Hellboy, and also picked up the occasional Alien title. Oh yeah, do I even need to mention Sin City folks? 

One title that Iíve always meant to pick up, but could never find in my area Ėironic since I live in Dark Horseís home stateó was William Tucciís Shi. Iíve admired the artwork Iíve seen for years and know the storylines from what Iíve read online, but I have to sadly admit that Iíve never picked up a Shi comic. That doesnít mean I canít collect the brand new action figures coming from Dark Horse however.

Series one consist of only two figures: Shi and Tomoe. Since my Tomoe order seems to have been temporarily held up, tonight I only have Ana Ishikawa up for your perusal. bbi has previously done a sixth-scaled version of this character as a Tower Records exclusive, but this is the first twelfth-scale version. So, how does Tucciís Sohei she-devil stack up against her predecessor?

Packaging - **
While the bright yellow background with the red rising sun motif certainly catches the eye, this is a pretty basic affair. Shi comes on a large blister card with very few graphics. The back has a large single picture of Tomoe, the other series one figure. Other than some website information, thereís really no text to be found. A nice write-up on the back and some artwork would have gone a long way.

Sculpting - ***
At first glance, this figure looks pretty damn good, especially in the package. However, after playing around with her for a few minutes, I started noticing problems. Dark Horse tried to combine aesthetics and articulation, but ran into problems. First off, there are some pre-posing issues that really work against the look of the figure. Anaís head sculpt is clearly biased towards one pose: looking to her left. From the front this gives you a nice profile shot of her face, and from that angle she looks pretty good. When you look at her directly her face is uneven, and itís not because of the tilted angle. Her right cheek is simply bigger than her left and this makes her face look fatter than it should from some angles. The slightly twisted neck sculpt doesnít quite match up at the joint either. Her ďblowing-in-the-windĒ hair is also a bit of a sore spot with me. While sculpted with some nice detail it only looks good in one position. I would have preferred either rooted hair or a neutral sculpt. 

Just the overall look of the head seems a little off compared to the source material.
The body sculpting also has additional problems. Her trademark outfit is done rather well, from her low-cut mini jacket to her Spiderman go-go boots. Her forearm guards look pretty nice, but the left one is actually a tad longer than the right. Also, the very tip of the right one is incomplete because of the elbowís hinge pin. The pre-posed hand sculpts look okay, but really limit how she holds her weapons. The left one is closed with two slightly extended fingers, while the right is open, but at an angle. 

Shiís also got some manly abs on her as well. While weíre in that area, letís move up a little and take a look at why this character is really popular . . .

Shiís bust line is a little sloppy, especially since itís in two parts (no, not those two parts . . .). The front of her sculpted body actually stops where the skin meets her built-in Wonderbra. The jacketed portion of her bust is an inserted piece of sculpted hard rubber. The mold lines donít match up completely on the sides, and the color shade is slightly different from the rest of the jacket. 

While Dark Horse clearly stuck with the sex appeal of her upper body, the same comic-book femininity is absent from below the waist. Basically it looks like Shiís wearing a pair of peach-colored booty-shorts with black trim as opposed to the G-String getup she usually boasts. Iím not saying this to sound like a weirdo Ėlook at other figures out there: Toy Bizís Elektra, Square Enixís Final Fantasy figures like Yuna and Paine, or any of the females found in the Batman Hush line. These ladies all have comic-book curves despite the varying qualities of their sculpts. Ana Ishikawa only has it from the waist up, and the plastic-shell look of her butt just really looks weird in contrast.

Paint - ***
Thereís very little bleeding to be found on this figure. The black on her collar runs a little onto her jacket, and the straps on her forearm guards are a little off but thatís it. However, despite the relatively clean job, there are still some issues to be had.

The face job is very nicely done and captures the color scheme of the character quite well. The porcelain white really makes the eyes and lips stand out. 
While not overtly apparent from a few feet away, Shiís jacket is two different shades of red. The vest on the main body is a brighter red than the boots and sleeves. The separate bust piece is about the same darkness as the sleeves, as opposed to the main jacket itís supposed to be a part off.

However the biggest issue is her skin tone. Her upper body has a really thick, darker peach color than her paler, less glossy thighs. Itís a pretty obvious muck-up, but wonít be noticed from afar. 

Articulation - ***
For a figure that has fifteen points of articulation, three stars is a pretty low score. This is definitely a case of missed opportunity.

Shi has cuts at the neck, boot-tops, limited ball-joint shoulders, ball-jointed hips, double hinge-pinned knees, and hinge-pinned elbows and ankles.

The shoulders are limited because of the jacket sculpt. While they are hidden quite well, the end result really cuts down on the possible arm positions. The hinged elbows work well, but feel really tight. Iím pretty sure theyíll loosen up after a while, but I fear that they might become really weak after too much movement.

The leg articulation is the best feature on this figure, but her weak ankles kind of sink her a bit. Itís really hard to get her to stand on one leg without her ankles collapsing Ėand thatís with the stand.
The real disappointment here is that there are joints that could have easily been incorporated into this figure without compromising the look. A waist joint would have been really nice. Either some combination of cut or swivel joints are sorely needed on the arms since the sculpting and existing articulation really hamper upper-body poseability. 

Accessories - ***
Shi comes with her sword, a spear, and a stand. The handles of her weapons seem sturdy enough, but the thinness of the blades makes them a little too flexible. The paint job is serviceable enough with little bleeding, but not overly exciting. The stand is a thin molded piece of plastic in the shape of the Shi logo. The paint wash is very nice. Iím glad the stand was included since my figure has some weak ankle joints which make posing a little harder. Some extra hands would have been a nice addition to this figure, not to mention it would have created some sorely needed wrist joints. 
While thereís no holster or scabbard for either weapon, they can be pinned between her back and her hair sculpt for to give that illusion. This works better with the spear.

Durability/Quality - **
Those hinge joints have me worried. The ankles are already starting to go, and I suspect the knees are about to follow. Pick one pose and donít mover her around too much. 

Value - **
Shi and Tomoe are going for around $15 retail price. This is pretty high when you can snag one of Toy Bizís Marvel figures for under ten bucks, or even the Batman Hush figures at $10 to $12 depending on which series. If Shi had had better articulation and a more neutral sculpt in some areas I might have given her a higher score. Luckily you can get her cheaper at a lot of places. Plus, thereís always Ebay. 

CornerStoreComics has her and Tomoe at $13.49 each. 

Overall - ***
In the end I was a little disappointed with this figure. Uneven is the word du jour here: her paintjob, her sculpt, and her articulation is all uneven. Thereís no real standout feature on this figure. She displays well enough, though. Up on a shelf from a few feet back her flaws arenít as noticeable. I still have Tomoe on the way. According to advertisements she has three more points of articulation, so weíll have to see. So far thereís no beating the bbi sixth-scale version in any respect. Sheís not a bad figure, but I wouldnít recommend adding her to your collection unless youíre a fan. Also if you wait awhile Iím sure the price will come down.

Packaging - **
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***

Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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