Takara Cool Girls

With all the hoopla over the recent releases for Batman in the 12" arena, folks have been ignoring another sixth scale Bat character just now shipping - Catwoman. Takara, who have just done their own version of Batman from Batman Begins, has also released a Cool girls Catwoman, a perfect character for their style.

There have been a slew of Catwoman action figures over the years, and even a couple in the sixth scale arena. Who can forget the nightmare that was the Kenner Catwoman? She still gives me nightmares. The poor girl has never been given the respect she deserves in this format, but Takara is going to give it a shot.

Unfortunately, like most Takara product, you'll only find her through a very few importers. If you preordered it originally, you paid around $100, maybe less, depending on the retailer. You can still find her in stock if you do some searching, but I suspect she won't last too long.

Packaging - **
Some recent releases in the land of 12" men and women have sported amazing packages, like those from Sideshow and Medicom. Unfortunately, the Takara packaging hasn't quite caught up, especially considering the price point.

Catwoman comes in a basic five panel box, with the accessories attached to the inside of the fifth panel. While the front graphic is pretty cool, showing the front of her costume, the rest of the box is almost devoid of interesting graphics, and there's no actual product shot to be seen. While they probably figured it wasn't necessary - you can open the panel and see the figure of course - a shot with the mask on would have been a welcome addition.

My other big problem with this package is that it is NOT collector friendly. They have glued or taped the accessory pack into place against the inside panel, making it impossible to get them out without tearing up the box. That's pretty much unacceptable when you're working in this high end market where other companies are handling the issue without much trouble.

Sculpting - ***
Takara's Cool Girls (branded Cy Girls by bbi) all sport pretty standard head sculpts. Their ladies are pretty, but fairly simplistic, with a slightly anime appearance to their features. They're also more Barbie-ish than some sculpts, with hollow heads and rooted hair.

The head sculpt is pretty and sweet, but perhaps a touch too sweet for Catwoman. The features are soft, as you'd anticipate from a hollow head. She has short, rooted hair that looks terrific, and actually makes complete sense for someone who is going to be wearing a cowl. It doesn't get in the way of the outfit, and it remained pretty stable and flat through several wearings of the cowl.

The main hand sculpts are well done, with the right designed to hold the whip, and the left in a rather interesting pose that will work in a number of seductive encounters. There are other additional hands included, but I'll cover those in the Accessories section.

And yes, she wears earrings, just like every other Cool Girl.  For those who might be wondering, she stands 11" tall without the cowl/ears.

Paint - ***1/2
There's not a lot of paint work here, but what there is shows nice quality and a clean application.

The eyes and lips are clean and neat, if a bit on the Barbie side. The skin tone is light and even, and although you probably won't display her much with the cowl off, the paint work on the head is good enough that you can.

The only other real ops here are the hands and feet. Both are done in a black that matches appropriately with the leather uppers of each, making them appear fairly seamless. Again, the jet black is even in tone and application, and looks terrific.

Articulation - ****
The Cool Girls body is a wonderful example that you don't have to be uber-articulated to be articulated enough. She doesn't have double jointed knees and elbows, and there isn't a cut joint or pin joint every where you look. But she has enough joints to do all the cool poses, plus they are tight and sturdy. Takara has the best female body on the market today.

Of course, there's the all critical ball jointed neck, and it's at the base of the head. There's no visible joint however, because she has a black pleather wrap around her neck that's a seperate piece form the oufit.  She can tilt, turn and twist, no problem, and no visible joint. When you're trying to convey sexy, as you know Catwoman does, you absolutely have to be able to tilt the head. Because the soft piece of interior cowl that fits around her neck is made of material, there's no impediment to the full range of movement in this joint.

She also has ball jointed hips and shoulders, pin elbows and knees, a waist joint, and terrific wrist and ankle joints that allow for a ton of mobility and possible poses. The joints work in a realistic fashion, and can create lifelike stances. She comes with a stand, but you really won't need it.

The ankles and wrists are worth another mention. The wrists are pin joints, but also plug into a socket. That means they can move back and forth, and still twist all the way around. The cuff material on the outfit is not attached to the arm, so once you pop the hands on, you can move it down to completely hide the joint if you so choose.

The ankles are designed to flow underneath the soft upper material of the boots. You get almost the full range of movement in these joints, even though they are covered by pleather.

Outfit - ***1/2
Meow! One thing Takara always does well is create tight fitting pleather outfits that still allow for plenty of posing. Catwoman was a natural choice for them, and they've done her proud.

Now, some folks will find the size and/or style of the cowl annoying. And let me say it IS large, no doubt about it. But cowls will always look large if the head underneath is properly proportioned to the body, since the material used for the cowl can't possibly be thin enough to actually be sixth scale itself.

However, the rounded, helmet like design they've gone with actually works in their favor. It's very much like a motorcycle helmet, which is something we're used to seeing large, since they are well padded and thick. It's made of hard plastic, with movable goggles on the front, again very much like a helmet. I wasn't a big fan from early photos, but now that I have her and I've played around with her a bit, it's really grown on me.

There's a pleather hood that fits on the head first, under the helmet/cowl, that runs down the neck, covering most of the skin. That was a smart idea as well, since it will gap less than hard plastic, and not impede the articulation. It fits tightly, and keeps her rooted hair in line as well.

The pleather body suit fits like a glove, but allows the arms plenty of mobility, and the legs a fair share. You won't get real deep stances, but you can still get her in action stance. The zippers are in scale - something that's rare to find - and the front zipper moves cleanly. There's a body shirt on underneath, with plastic shoulder pads stitched to it. These shoulder pads give the figure a little fuller look in the upper arm, and reduces the obviousness of the ball joints. You might have to move them around a bit to get the arm just where you want it, but because you can unzip the costume, this is no problem.

I'm not sure if she's wearing anything else from the waist down, since getting the suit completely off is no easy task. I'll just let my imagination run wild, and I suggest you do the same.

The pleather uppers on the gloves are not attached to the body suit, so that when you pop the hands off they can come off as well. That means you can move them up out of the way when swapping hands, and bring them down after to hid the joint.

The boots look fantastic, and the soft upper material (complete with non-working zipper) allows for almost the full range of movement in the ankle joint.

There's also a low riding belt, with a silver buckle on the front, but an actual buckle that can be opened on the back. This buckle is the type where a plastic end snaps into a plastic buckle, much like a seat belt. These are more expensive, but work terrific and last forever. They hold up to repeated use too, unlike some other more fragile styles.

The belt has a couple buckles for appearance around the outside, and also has a 'holder' for the whip. The handle snaps in place easily enough, and looks good on her side.

Finally, there's a pair of elbow pads included. I think they are elbow pads, although you could use them for her knees as well. There goes the old imagination again. I'm not particularly fond of them though, and I didn't even snap a shot of her wearing them. Your mileage may vary.

Accessories - ***1/2
Catwoman comes with three full sets of hands, the original already discussed, and two more sets in unique poses. One set of hands is designed into claws, while the other set allows for some interesting sign language. The hands have very long pins to attach to the arms, making it almost impossible to break them or for them to fall off. They pop on and off easily, and always look terrific.

She also comes with a Cool Girls stand, and the pegs can attach to the bottom of her feet. The stand looks great, with a clear green top over a silver base that gives it depth, but won't be something you HAVE to use.

Finally, she comes with her trademark weapon, the whip. This whip actually has a wire running almost the entire length, making all kinds of cool poses possible! The handle is scaled a little on the small side, but it's a minor transgression.

Fun Factor - ***
While I would never recommend this figure as a toy, it actually would be a lot of fun for playing. The suit is well constructed and sturdy, as is the figure itself. The joints are solid and tight, and kids could get a lot of play value here - if she didn't cost so damn much.

Value - **
We've seen a big boom in high end 12" figures in the last year, with lots of companies swimming in the pool. While this figure sports some terrific quality, if you compare her with other figures on the market (along with other Cool Girls and Cy Girls in general), you' find that she's more of a $60 than a $100. The extremely well engineered body and great suit help make up for some of it, but she's still overpriced. This is largely due to the fact that she must be imported, but even taking that into consideration, she's overpriced.

Things to Watch Out For - 
Not much. I had to work a little to break the goggles free from the hard plastic top of the cowl. It might seem glued in place, but it's not. Take your time freeing it up though, to avoid scraping or damaging the paint.

Overall - ***1/2
While she's not quite perfect - the head is a bit oversized, and I do wish the head sculpt were a little less generic Cool Girl - she is damn sweet.  In all the discussion around the various Batman Begins figures hitting, she's kind of gotten lost in the shuffle, and she certainly doesn't deserve that.  If I could only pick up one figure between the Hot Toys Batman, Takara Batman, and the Takara Catwoman, I'd make it the Catwoman.

Score Recap
Packaging - **
Sculpt - ***
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ****
Outfit - ***1/2
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ***
Value - **
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy - 
You'll need to do some searching around the web. There are some online retailers that still have these available for about $100, but I suspect they'll dry up pretty fast and never be this cheap again.

Related Links:
Well, there are plenty of Batman links, but what about Catwoman?

- there's the Microman version, the silver age version from DC Direct, one of the more recent animated versions, the Yamato version, the Long Halloween version, and the Kia Asamiya version.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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