Street Fighter Series 1
Ryu, Chun Li, Bison, Sagat and Sodom

Back in August, right after the San Diego Comic Con, I did a review of the convention exclusive Street Fighter two pack of Evil Ryu and Psycho Bison. If you're looking for the long store of the history of Street Fighter in plastic, then check it out. I won't go back through that whole sordid story again, but suffice to say, Street Fighter has seen its share of action figures.

SOTA picked up the license this year, but it's been an uphill battle. Fans were excited, but retailers less interested. In general, Halo excepted, action figure lines based on video games haven't been doing the kind of business they once were. Add to that the lack of peg space for anything new, and you can see why retailers were a tad hesitant.

But the fans of Street Fighter and SOTA spoke up, letting their voices be heard, and the enough retailers were convinced of the viability of the line that it has finally seen the light of day. This first series is now shipping to the retailers, and includes Ryu, Bison, Sagat, Chun Li, and Sodom. These should be hitting stores like Gamestop and the Musicland family (Suncoast, Musicland, Media Play) any day, along with a myriad of on-line stores. I have some suggestions for you at the end of the review.

Along with this line of five regular figures, there's a fair share of variants. Many of the first series variants are based on the alternate two player game colors - the grey Ryu and turquoise Chun Li are shortpacked at one per case with the regular figures; an orange Sagat, pink Chun Li, grey Sodom and white Bison are all only available through Southern Island (and eventually SOTA Toys own site, although they aren't there yet); and the 'evil' version of Ryu will be available only through the on-line retailers.

Series 2 is already announced, and includes Ken, Cammy, Blanka, Vega and T-Hawk. Southern Island has already announced that they will have five variant exclusives for this wave - yellow Ken, pink Cammy, black Vega, white T-Hawk and translucent Blanka (very cool!). The run on those exclusives is only going to be 1500 each, and most are already available for pre-order.

Packaging - **
They've gone with my favorite general type of packaging, the clamshell, and the bubble and art is designed to look like an arcade machine, with even the buttons and joystick laid out on the insert. Unfortunately, it's also about the dullest looking packaging I've seen in awhile, and won't really jump off the wall if you're a MOCer. They are also quite deep, and seem to be thicker than really necessary, adding to the space you'll need to give them. If you're an opener, you're not going to be too concerned, however.

Sculpting - Sagat, Bison ****; the rest ***1/2
The sculpts are excellent across the board, including the extra sets of hands and heads. Most of the facial expressions match the game perfectly, or at least make sense in the context of the character. The detail work on the body is great, and even with the uber amounts of articulation, the joints and sculpt work together extremely well.

Another plus to the sculpted expression is the lack of constipation. All too often, fighting figures are given expressions that look more like they are in need of extra fiber in their diet, than about ready to tear you a new one. This is a line that could have easily fallen prey to that particular syndrome, but avoided it quite nicely.

The hand sculpts work well, either with the included accessories, or in terms of the particular character and their often used hand moves. SOTA has done a terrific job here, and can certainly be proud of the work.

These are scaled nicely with each other, and also fit in well with most other 6" - 7" lines, including Marvel Legends.

Of the four, Sagat is easily my favorite.  The detailed scar on his chest, along with the great texturing on the hand and foot wraps, is really impressive.

Paint - ***1/2
In general, the paint ops are clean and neat. There's a lot of cool color here, something missing from a lot of lines, and the vibrant appearance really make these stand out.

There's little to no bleed or poor definition between colors, and those that cover large areas are consistent and even. Skin tones are good, and small detail work is neat. There are the minor issues here and there, enough to hold them back from a perfect four stars, but not enough to spend much time worrying or complaining about.

I did have one issue, which while minor, annoyed me since it was on Sagat.  The stripes on his shorts run from the belt, down across the ball joints, and on to the thighs.  However, to get them to line up straight, the legs have to be turn inward, making him look a tad duckfooted.  Any reasonable foot and thigh position means the stripes don't line up.

Articulation - ***1/2
There's absolutely no shortage of articulation on this series, and these will meet even the needs of the most demanding articulation junkie.

Ryu, Sodom, Sagat and Bison are all similar - they have a ball jointed neck, ball jointed shoulders, cut biceps, elbows, a cut AND pin wrist (the wrist can turn and move forward and back), chest, waist, ball jointed thighs, double jointed knees, ankles, a cut joint across the bridge of the foot, and a pin joint at the ball of the foot.

The added foot joint is probably intended to allow you to get more stable positions for single foot poses, but can look kind of funky. The chest joint works great for certain figures, particularly Sagat and Bison, while it is more limited with other characters.

Chun Li has a slightly different joint scheme - instead of just standard pin elbows, she has double jointed elbows. Of the set, she was the only one that had somewhat loose joints, making it a little tougher to get her to hold unique poses. She had no trouble with basic stances, but I couldn't get quite as creative with her as the others.

Accessories - ***
If the accessories had a theme, it would be swappable heads and hands. They don't all follow the theme, but close enough.

Chun Li has two heads, and two sets of hands. One head is serious, without looking constipated, while the other is that damn annoying anime looking expression she always got right after she'd kicked your ass. I always hated that expression, since my ten year old son was cackling with glee at the same time over the impressive pounding he just gave me. Damn special moves, I'll show you a special move, you little...

Her hands are either fists, or 'blades', ready to deliver chops or punches. She's slightly lighter in the accessories department than some of the figures, and being the smallest, will seem like less of a value.

Bison has a couple additional accessories. Sure, he has his two heads (one staunchly serious, and one with sardonic evil grin) and two sets of hands (again, in either fists or open hands), but he also has his ball of psycho energy. This ball fits nicely over the fist hand sculpt, if you get it on just right. His cape, made from a thin but sturdy black material, is removable. But be careful taking out the pins, as the fit is pretty tight, and you could easily rip the cape.

Sagat, who bears no resemblance to Bob Sagat except he's tall and has a big gap between his toes, is on par with Chun Li, with only the two heads and two sets of hands. Again, one head is grinding his teeth, and the other flashing a victory yell, but neither are over the top or silly.

Ryu has the two sets of hands, open and fisted, along with the two heads, serious and seriously pissed, but he also comes with a 'bag'. This white bag, matching his uniform's color, has an actual string tie by which it can be held or carried. He could stuff his old clothes in it and use it as a mini-heavy bag, or better yet, perhaps it contains the heads of his unwitting opponents...oh, wrong game.

Finally, there's the unfortunately named Sodom. Really, would you want to hit the locker room with a bunch of guys named Sagat, Ryu and Bison, and tell them you were named 'sodom'? He has to be the butt of all their jokes.

Fortunately, he does okay in the accessories department. He doesn't have two heads, but does have his nifty straw hat that completely covers his face, and has a cloth drape to help hide him. It fits tightly on his head, and he looks far better this way than with that glaring monkey face of his. There's also a crescent moon attachment for his forehead, one extra hand that is sculpted holding a fan, and a pair of jitte, weapons that Japanese in origin. The jitte were intended to be a defensive weapon against swords, although this particular design doesn't look like it would work all that well for that purpose, but would work great if you wanted to stab someone twice with a single thrust. The weapons fit in his fisted hands, and look terrific.

Fun Factor - ****
While the sculpting and paint ops on these are great, the real key is that they are TOYS. Any kid into this game would have tons of fun with these, and even kids that have never seen the game will be drawn to the colorful designs and bad ass appearance. It's a pity that only collectors are likely to be buying this line, because the play possibilities are endless.

Value - **1/2
Unfortunately, with the current retail situation, no small company is going to be capable of providing a great value. They simply can't afford to make the run sizes necessary to drive down the costs. Still, you won't feel ripped off if you pay $10 - $12 each for these, especially for characters like Sagat and Bison. Buying the set for $55 or less is really your best bet if you can find it, and I haven't seen these yet in bricks and mortar stores to be sure what they might end up charging.

Overall - Sagat ****; Bison, Ryu ***1/2; Sodom, Chun Li ***
I love this line overall. The sculpting is top notch, the paint apps are well above average, the accessories and articulation are great, and while the price isn't a steal, it's half what you'll pay for the Japanese import versions from High Dream.

Sagat was one of my favorite characters in the game, and he's such a visually cool character that his final score got boosted. Bison was another of my favorites, and I think that with the removable cloak and psycho accessory, SOTA really went the extra mile. I'm not a huge fan of the others, but they are certainly above average, and the big fan is going to love them.

If your an afficianado of the game, do yourself a favor and pick these up now. You'll get some great action figures, you'll help ensure that more will get produced, and you'll avoid paying even higher prices a few months down the road when they are all sold out and your only choice is the secondary market.

BTW - if you should happen to open one of these up, and find a SOTA coin inside, don't toss it!  You can get a free toy of your choice direct from the company - check out their website for details!

Packaging - **
Sculpt - Sagat, Bison ****; the rest ***1/2
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - **1/2
Overall - Sagat ****; Bison, Ryu ***1/2; Sodom, Chun Li ***

Where to Buy - 
As I mentioned, you should be able to find these at Gamestop, Suncoast, and Media Play in the coming weeks. There are also a fair share of on-line options, and the on-line stores is the only way to pick up the Evil Ryu:

- Southern Island has the variant first series figures for $13 each.

- Killer Toys has the regular set of series 1 for $55 for the full set, or $12 each for individual figures.

- CornerStoreComics has the full set for $55, the individual figures for $12, and the variants of Ryu and Chun Li for $15.

- Qwiksand Collectibles also has the single figures for $12, expect for Sodom, who's only $8. Poor guy ain't getting the love.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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