Dead or Alive Trading Figures

Sean Teeter, our very own College Bum, brings us a spiffy review of some spiffy figures - the new trading figures based on the game Dead or Alive.  Take it away, Sean!

Excluding my Star Wars purchases, all recent additions to my collection have been figures based on video games. I’ve picked up the MK Deception quartet, the Microman Street Fighter duo, and the Final Fantasy VII Advent Children trio. But tonight I have something special –a sextet of figures based on the popular Dead or Alive fighting games. These are micro trading figures produced by Kaiyodo and Takara. They are roughly the same size as Takara’s Microman line, but have better detailing and less points of articulation.
Knowing exactly who plays the DOA games K&T have chosen an all female cast of figures. The series consists of Lei Fang, Hitomi, and two different variations of Kasumi and Ayane. I was a bit disappointed in the Microman Chun Li and Sakura figures from the Street Fighter line –can Takara make it up with these ladies? 

Packaging - ***
You can’t get simpler than a solid cardboard box. The graphics on the outside are really well done and quite eye-catching. The front has a shot of Kasumi from the game, while the back has all six figures posed with information printed underneath them. Since these are trading figures, the packaging is blind. There’s no way to know which figure is inside until it’s opened up, so if you order a specific figure from a retailer you’ll receive a resealed box. 

Each figure comes with a nice leaflet showing the parts, the character’s name, and some optional poses. The figures and their accessories are all packaged in several annoying plastic bags. Keep the scissors handy. 

Sculpting - ***1/2
I have to say that these figures really put Takara’s Microman line to shame. The level of detailing present in figures this size really blew me away, especially with the amount of articulation present. But then again, the Microman line deals with lots of pins and ball joints, where here K&T have gone mainly with aesthetically pleasing cut joints.

There are a few misses here and there, but all of these ladies are excellent realizations of their video form.

Lei Fang comes decked out in her little leather shorts and matching sleeveless V-neck top. The pleats and wrinkles are all good, as are the buckles around her wrists. 

Hitomi comes in her tank-top and jeans. The jeans are really cool, and easily give her the most stable legs of the bunch. The tank-top is appropriately form-fitting. She even has her motorcycle boots, complete with ringed straps if you look under those bell-bottoms.

Both Ayane’s share the same sculpt: flared, strapless dress, sleeves, and thigh high boots –all of which mimic her video counterpart to a tee. 

Both Kasumi’s are almost the same. They share the same thigh-high boots and shin guards, the same wrist guards, as well as the same skirt, but the torso sculpt is a bit different. The blue Kasumi has her standard deep-cut, V-neck outfit with puffy shoulders, while the pink Kasumi’s outfit is sleeveless and cuts all the way down to the waist allowing for much more fan-boy fun. She also has long sleeves starting below the shoulder joints.

General notes: All the girls have very similar face sculpts. Some have longer or thicker jaw-lines, but all share a bit of the generic anime look. Of course, since the basis for these figures kind of inhabit that world to begin with, it isn’t a bad thing, and the paint ops really help. The hair is really nicely done on all of these girls. Each ‘do is shot in translucent plastic so that the light source and thickness of the sculpt help affect highlights. 

And now for the fan-boy section: since sex appeal is definitely a factor in these figures, as it is in the DOA video games, most of you guys should be pleased. All these ladies come with ample curves, and those that do have skirts are eternally flashing their Victoria’s Secrets.

Paint - Purple Ayane: ****; Hitomi: *** ¾; Both Kasumi’s, White Ayane, Lei Fang: *** ½
The paint detail is certainly a highlight on these ladies, especially the use of metallic colors to give a nice sheen to the finished product.

Lei Fang is probably the least exciting of the bunch since she’s painted all in black. The pink laces on her boots are a bit muddled, but everything else is clean. Pink Kasumi has some bleeding issues around the straps on her shin guards. The cherry blossom print on her skirt also seems a bit off in some areas. Her costume just isn’t as colorful as the blue Kasumi. Of course, she isn’t perfect either. Blue Kasumi’s main outfit is painted in a nice metallic blue, but has some light bleeding issues around the white trim on the shoulders and the plunging neckline. The crane print on her front and back skirt pleats is nicely rendered, but the white trim suffers from some blue bleeding every now and then. The shin guard straps are much cleaner than the variant figures. Both Kasumi’s sport the same cleanly painted crests on their backs as well.

White Ayane has some very light bleeding issues with the purple trim on her outfit, but for the most part is clean. The butterfly on her skirt is very clear and the off-pink of her stockings is nice break from the mainly plain costume color.

Hitomi misses a four-star rating because of one little thing: her ears. Her ears are painted such a different color than the rest of her face that they stand out way more than they should. Besides that she’s close to perfect. Not only does she have the perfect shade of blue for her jeans, but she’s got a really cool shirt color going for her as well. The metallic green looks really nice and even has a bit of a darker wash over the bottom. She has her trademark bird of prey crest in the dead center of her shirt as well –which could be hard to see in her photos, but will give you an excuse to stare at her bust sculpt. 

The purple Ayane paint job is easily my favorite of the set. The vibrant violet with its red trim just makes her stand out among all the other figures here. The light metallic purple on her thigh-highs looks really cool with the light reflecting off of it. 

Articulation - ***1/2
Each figure sports nineteen points of articulation: cuts at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, torso, hips, and thighs, along with a pinned neck, knees, and ankles. On the figures with pony tails (Lei Fang and both Kasumi’s) the ponytail is also moveable. 

All the cuts are at various angles to make for some interesting posing. Even the torso cut isn’t done straight across. The ankles are pinned for sideways action to help support various stances. Most of these joints are easy to pull apart, which can lead to some looseness after a while. Some joints are very tough to separate when it comes to swapping parts, such as the thigh sections on Lei Fang and the Kasumi variants. Use a very thin piece of metal to pop them apart without scraping the edges up, like an exacto blade. Just don’t cut the peg in the middle. 

Poseability isn’t a problem for any of these ladies despite the lack of a single ball-joint. Not only can they hold a wide range of fighting poses, but they can also affect a few pin-up style ones as well. The little pamphlet inside the box gives a few examples for you to play around with.

Accessories - Both Kasumi’s: ****; Lei Fang, Both Ayane’s: *** ½; Hitomi: ***
These figures don’t really include accessories per se; instead they all have interchangeable body parts that offer some versatility in facial expression, hands, or even stances in some cases. Hitomi has the smallest amount of goodies. She comes with a second head, two extra pairs of hands, and a splash effect. The splash seems out of place compared to the other ladies and just really adds to standing stability. The head shares the same hair sculpt as the regular version and just has an open-mouth expression with different paint-ops on the eyes. The paint on the ears is a different color from the plastic molding of her face. The hand sculpts are okay, but out of the three total sets of hands Hitomi comes with, two are of fists. One set is straight, the other is bent. Another set of open hands would have afforded some more versatility.
Lei Fang comes with an extra head, two extra pairs of hands, and a pair of extra thighs. The hands are a bit better here with two different sets of open hands to go with the standard angled fists. The extra head has an open-mouth expression as well as wilder hair sculpt, complete with ponytail sticking straight back. The tail is removable just like the one on the regular head. The extra thighs are cut on an extreme inward angle and are excellent for sitting positions –or for mixing and matching for different stances. 

Both Ayane’s come with the same accessories: an extra head, three extra hands, and the huge bow on the back of her obi. The extra hands are cut at different angles to for some nice poses. The alternate heads both have wilder bangs and an open-mouth expression. One sports a white headband; the other has the blue one. The bow is the same for both figures and is jointed at the base as well as at both loops. The paint wash from yellow to orange on the ends is very nice.

Kasumi is the winner here –or I should say, both Kasumi’s are. Each one comes with an extra head, two extra pairs of hands, an alternate skirt, a pair of extra thighs, and her sheathed knife. The alternate heads are just like the other girls’: open mouth and different eye paint. The hair is messier in front and the tail is closer together as opposed to being spread out like on the regular head. The hands offer various open positions for different actions. The thighs are just like Lei-Fangs but without the black shorts. The extra skirt is flared out more than the regular one for your spinning kicks and whatnot. The knife is a nice little touch and has some clean ops. The weapon’s sculpted sheathed, so it can’t be wielded. The sash and strings have different ops for both figures: the regular Kasumi has a white sash with red strings, while the variant has a dark pink sash with yellow string hanging from the handle.

In addition to these listed accessories, each girl comes with a three part stand. The base has two pegs for basic figure standing. For your aerial poses there’s a post that mounts onto either base peg. The slot at the end of the post is threaded with a plastic coated wire that you wrap around the figure’s waist, leg, or whatever. It’s a bit cheaper than using an actual clamp, but the wire seems pretty versatile for figures in this scale.

Durability/Quality - Hitomi: *** ½; Both Ayane’s: ***; Pink Kasumi, Lei Fang: ** ½; Blue Kasumi: **
Okay, there’s a reason these girls are really separated out in this category as opposed to their tighter grouping in the other sections of this review. First off, with some figures you have more removable parts involved. The Kasumi’s and Lei Fang have those pesky thigh joints to deal with, and they do seem to become a bit too loose at the hip pegs after a few rounds of swapping. The paint is already wearing a bit at the edges of Lei-Fang’s shorts because of this as well.

Both Ayane figures are pretty solid. Their ankles seem to be a little weak, but not so lose that they can’t hold one-legged poses. Their big obi bows can take some easy damage to their peg joints though, so be gentle when posing these parts.

Hitomi is pretty solid, then again she doesn’t have the exposed legs like the others. The thicker sculpting on her jeans allows for much more stability. Her joints also seem tighter than the other five.
So why did I stick the blue Kasumi at the bottom? Well, not only does she share the same problems as the pink version, but those puffy shoulders of hers are another set of issues. First, they don’t always line up right at the seam, which causes them to pop off rather easily. Secondly, the cuts running through the bottom of those shoulder puffs had been painted together. I had to gently use an exacto knife to separate them and make them mobile.

Value - ***1/2
These things go for about four and a half bucks a pop! That’s pretty cheap considering that A.) They’re imports, and B.) Microman figures (like the Street Fighter ones) go for at least twice as much. At this price my wallet barely registers the hit after buying all six –especially since most places selling these figures have them in complete sets for a slightly lower total price. 

CornerStoreComics has them for $4.49 each, or $25.99 as a set. You can also order an unopened “blind” DOA figure for $4.25.

Anime Castle is an excellent store when it comes to video game, manga, and anime related merchandise. They have these gals in at $4.57 a pop, or $26.99 for the set. They also have some of the unarticulated DOA Beach Volleyball trading figures (Kotobukiya) in for $4.57 each.

Overall - ***1/2
Despite some issues with the joints on a few of the figures, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with these in the end. There are numerous other DOA trading figures out there (mainly swimsuit versions) but they’re all in static poses and don’t look nearly this good. I’d love to see some more of these figures from Kaiyodo and Takara. I’ve seen a really cool exclusive version of Lei Fang in her red dress floating around out there as well. I’d welcome K&T doing versions of characters like Tina, Christie, and Helena in the future. Or if we’re looking ahead to DOA 4, we also have newcomers Lisa (seen in the ever popular Beach Volleyball game) and Kokoro. There are also a ton of other costumes to choose from for any of these figures. Of course, they could also produce a few of the male fighters as well, but c’mon –we all know why the DOA franchise is so popular, and it ain’t the likes of Zach and Hayate that sell this merchandise . . .

This is one of the first lines to come out of the Kaiyodo Takara merger and I’m really digging it. I’d certainly love to see more, especially at this scale since shelf space is always a dwindling commodity at my house. I’d also like to see some different franchises go this route as well. How about some Tekken or MK figures? I know Kotobukiya has done a static set of DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball figures, but perhaps K&T can give us some articulated ones down the line. 

I bought these at the same time I picked my Microman Street Fighter Chun Li and Sakura figures. I have to say that the DOA girls win hands down. The sculpts, the paint jobs, and the accessories all leave the Microman figures in the dust. Sure Li and her schoolgirl chum may have the articulation department in their favor, but there’s more than enough for us to work with here. 

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***
Sculpt - ***1/2
Paint - Purple Ayane: ****; Hitomi: *** ¾; Both Kasumi’s, White Ayane, Lei Fang: *** ½
Articulation - ***1/2
Accessories - Both Kasumi’s: ****; Lei Fang, Both Ayane’s: *** ½; Hitomi: ***
Durability/Quality - Hitomi: *** ½; Both Ayane’s: ***; Pink Kasumi, Lei Fang: ** ½; Blue Kasumi: **
Value - ***1/2
Overall - ***1/2

Figure from the collection of Sean Teeter.

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