Samurai Showdown
Nakorura and Shiki

Awhile back, I had a guest review of the Samurai Showdown boys - not it's time for the girls!  Take it away...

I was very impressed with the Vampire Hunter D figures that Epoch and Cworks produced. So, when I had a chance to snap up the entire set of their Samurai Showdown figures for $20 Ėthrough Side Show ToysóI didnít hesitate.
SNKís Samurai Showdown fighter series has somewhat faded from the public view over the years, but it still remains one of the most popular fighting arcade series of all time. The fighters have also made the leap from the videogame screen to Anime as well. While these figures have been out for a few years, theyíre tough to come by outside of Japan. Cworks has produced four fan favorites from the long line of warriors: Haohmaru, Hanzo Hattori, Nakoruru, and Shiki. Since Iíve already covered the boys in my previous review, itís time for a girlsí night out . . .

Packaging - **1/2
The large blister card looks nice enough. The graphics are well done and displayed nicely, but the bubble is too thin for the heavy figures within. Out of the four figures I bought, only one bubble wasnít smashed at some point or another. Everything looks fine; I just wish the card were sturdier.

Sculpting - Nakoruru: **; Shiki: ***
While the sculpting looks good on these two, artistic interpretation is constantly at odds with practicality in these figures. Nakoruru loses here. From above the waist, she looks fine; complete with flowing hair, a big bow, and her sheathed knives Ėitís all rendered nicely. However, her arms are so thin and flimsy that itís hard to actually move them into poses without damaging the joints. To circumvent this, you have to turn them at the shoulders, which is hard since her hair kind of blocks access. Below the waist is another story, and that story is about pastry. In an attempt to portray her billowing pant legs, Epoch makes Nakoruru look like her bottom half has fallen into a vat of cream pies. Her legs are just one big white lump, with two little ridiculous boots sticking out of the ends. Not the greatest . . .
Shiki looks so much better. While she still suffers from thin limbs, theyíre nowhere near as bad as Nakoruruís. Her face, robes, hair, and boots all look game accurate, and are rendered nicely. Her weight is also distributed pretty evenly, so that she can actually stand on her own. The one major compliant is the sculpt of her hands. She can only hold her weapons after some juggling and balance work. Each hand has a dainty little finger curled up to hold her sword by the hilt ring, but the fingers are so thin, and the angles arenít enough to keep the swords from falling out constantly.

Paint - Nakoruru: ** Ĺ; Shiki: ****
Nakoruru gets her highest marks in this category, mainly on her face ops. Theyíre clean, and her big Anime eyes are cute as hell. On the downside, her outfit is sloppy. Thereís red and white bleeding everywhere on the edges, but luckily itís only noticeable close up.

Shiki manages to capture the one perfect score of the entire four-figure line. Her paint ops are simply beautiful. There was only one small spot of bleeding on her whole person, and itís hardly noticeable. Her red and blue eyes, outfit, and tattoo are wonderfully done. The detail on her back is very clean, and quite an eye-catcher. But I think the red flowers on the side of her skirts are the most striking feature with her paint. After seeing that wide-open skirt, all the male collectors just might be wondering how far do the paint ops go. Well, her tattoo goes as far up her leg as you can see. Thereís another McFarlane moment here as well. There were some versions of Angela from the very early Spawn lines that were referred to as ďPartyĒ Angelaís because they lacked the paint ops for their underwear. Well, Shiki carries on half of that tradition: she has white panties painted in the front, but nothing in the back. Fan-boys, wipe up that drool . . .

Articulation - Nakoruru: **; Shiki: ** Ĺ
Nakoruruís eight points (cuts at the neck, waist, shoulders, wrists, and ankles) do very little for her. The ankle articulation is next to useless since she canít stand on her own. The neck is limited on the left side because of her hair, and her arm articulation is so damn fragile that the figure feels like itís going to come apart when I even look at it. Her waist works wonderfully however. : )
Shiki suffers from what I like to call McFarlane Angel disease. She reminds me a lot of the warrior angels from the Spawn series, especially Lotus from the Samurai Spawn set. Their sculpted pose and articulation is uncannily similar. Shiki has nine points: a neck cut, upper bicep cuts, forearm cuts, wrist cuts, and boot-top cuts. Her posing is very limited: sheís a statue with a few arm and head variations possible. But at least her ankles allow her to stand on her own. The stand still helps for stability purposes though.

Accessories - Nakoruru: * Ĺ; Shiki: ** 1/2
As I said with in the first Samurai Showdown review, the problem with figures based on videogames is the lack of possible accessories that could be included with the figure. In a fighting game, what can you really include besides the weapon wielded by the character?
While none of the four figures really blow this category away, Nakoruru comes in as really disappointing. She has two interchangeable arms, one interchangeable hand, and her stand. The two arms are really the same sculpt, only one has her eagle sculpted onto it, and the other is blank. The eagle looks fantastic, but itís so freaking huge and heavy, that Nakoruru keeps falling over. The extra hand is permanently holding her knife. The limbs are so fragile and the removal points are either so slipshod, or just plain unclear as to where they are, that every movement runs the risk of breaking something on this figure (see durability). It would have been better to design the eagle to detach as opposed to pieces of her harm, or to sculpt and open grip to hold a separate dagger, but thereís got to be a loser in every figure line. Nakoruru is also missing something rather blatant: her wolf. Heís drawn on the cardís artwork, but is inconspicuously missing from the set itself. It would have made the arm problem much easier to include the wolf and ditch the eagle. Her stand comes in three pieces, and resembles a miniature doll stand that clips around the waist. Itís a good thing too, since she canít stand on her own.

Shiki fairs much better, but still seems a little lacking. She comes with two wakizashi swords, an extra right hand, and her stand. The stand is the same as Nakoruruís, except that the clip is vertical; it clamps onto the back of her Obi as opposed to around her waist. The two swords are nicely painted with a steel silver body and red handles. One is also longer than the other. The rings at the top of the hilts are large enough to fit her fingers into for display purposes. Her extra hand is nice for neutral poses, but is hit and miss on the fingernail paint. I think another extra hand or two, ones with decent grips, would have easily bumped this category up into three-star territory. 

Durability - Nakoruru: * Ĺ; Shiki: ** 1/2
I felt the need to include a new category with these figures. After having quality issues with my McFarlane Predators and the leg articulation on my Vampire Hunter D figures, I decided to check out my other figures for sturdiness. 
Iíve mentioned it before, but Nakoruruís arms just really suck. Thereís no better expression for it. Theyíre extremely thin and the joints are fragile. This is not good when you have multiple arm parts to interchange. The wrist with the heavy, sculpted eagle snapped right off at the joint with a light touch. The glue job where her arms meet her shoulder joints is also poor. The quality control people must have been sick the day she went down the line.

Shiki also has thin limbs, but only one of them seems loose at all. Sheís just a tad delicate in build.

Keep in mind, these figures are not meant to be played with at all, so some of the durability has been sacrificed in the name of the sculpt. But if a figureís arms canít even be posed without the risk of something snapping, thatís just sloppy. 

Value - Nakoruru: **; Shiki: ***
Thatís three assuming you get them on sale for $20 for the complete set of four at Sideshow Toy. At $5 a figure, thatís a pretty good deal. It makes Nakoruruís flaws easier to swallow. If I had paid the normal price for her, I would have felt like Iíd been ripped off. For Shiki, Iíd probably place her highest reasonable price at $8 a pop.

Unfortunately, itís hard to get any of them under $14. Letís just say that I wouldnít have paid $10 a piece for these. They look great, but you canít do squat with them.

At this point, it really depends on how badly you want these figures. As Iíve said, it isnít easy to find these figures at decent prices. Iíve never seen them anywhere other than the Internet either.

Cosmic Clutter has Shiki and Nakoruru for $14.50 each.

Treasure Island Sports has the set of four for $52.95.

Anime Corner Store has them for $14.98 a pop.

Thereís always my favorite place in the world: Ebay. Of course, I have yet to see any of these figures on eBay, but Iím sure that a few will turn up.

Overall - Nakoruru: **; Shiki: ***
After going through all four of these figures, I had to ask why these particular four had been picked. The answer was easy for two of them. Haohmaru and Hanzo have been fan favorites, and have been in every game in the series. Nakoruru also falls into those categories, but her execution is pretty bad. Shiki has only appeared in the N64 version to my knowledge, but sheís a great looking character, and the only villain in the set. There were other figures that I would have liked to see, but I guess weíre stuck with this quartet. 

For the most part, they look great standing on my shelves, but thereís no interactivity among any of them. They were simply alone. The outer package says ďFor Mature Collecters Over 10Ē, and I agree with the Ďcollectorí part of that statement. These are not for playing Ėmainly because theyíre too fragile at one point or anotheróbut also because they make downright boring toys. You canít do a thing with these figures besides look at them.

If youíre an Anime nut or a fan of the videogame series, go ahead and pick these up, but try to hold out for a low price. The deal at Side Show will probably be over by the time this review gets posted, as they are in limited quantities. Look around; theyíre out there somewhere. 

For everyone else, go look for Epochís Vampire Hunter D figures. Not only are they superior to this set, but prices have also been dropping all over the web. 

Figures from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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