Street Fighter Series 3
Adon, Guile, Sakura, Balrog and Gen

There are lines that are destined to be part of your personal action figure hall of fame right from the start - others take awhile to get there.

For example, while I enjoyed the first few waves of World of Springfield figures, it was the sheer breadth and depth of the overall line that makes it a hall of famer for me. Had it choked and died by wave 4 or 5, it never would have made it on my list.

But other lines don't need that breadth and depth, because they make it in the hall of fame for their quality and style. The SOTA Street Fighter line is one that fits that description, having captured my attention with series 1, and maintaining it now through series 3.

Interestingly enough, it's a line I have no real personal interest in. While I played many a time with my oldest son, it's not a license that speaks to me, and almost all the figures I've gotten in the series I've given away to others. But that just further convinces me of their quality - if I can see it and feel it when I hold one in my hand, completely irrespective of how I feel about the license, then it's additional proof that they've done something special.

Wave 3 is now hitting stores, and includes Guile, Balrog, Adon, Gen and Sakura. There's the usual variants as well, most of which are available right now at SOTA's website. But if you're trying to be a completist on this line, don't wait too long - the SF variants don't tend to hang around.

Wave 4 has been announced as Remy, Ibuki, Fey Long, Birdie and Akuma. The tentative line up for series 5 is Zangief, Rolento, Juni/Juli pack, Dee Jay and Guy. Expect series 4 around February, and series 5 around July.

Packaging -  **
I think I've made it fairly clear in all my past reviews that these clamshells really leave me cold. Yes, I understand that they are supposed to look like the game and the game itself was pretty damn dull looking, but that doesn't excuse how dull the inserts and stickers are on these. Since they're clamshells, you'll want a knive and a steady hand when you attempt to open them.

Sculpt - Adon, Balrog, Gen ****; Guile, Sakura
If you've been a fan of this series so far, then the excellent work here won't surprise you.  However, this is the first series where not a single figure has been less than fantastic.

In the past lines, the female figures tended to get beat up by me.  This was usually due to the unattractive way the sculpt and articulation came together.  Sakura has a leg up on her female competition though - her design allows for clothing that covers up or diminishes the appearance of most of the articulation, and yet still looks as great as in the game.

She did get docked slightly because of the odd neck positioning.  Her neck base is thrust a little more forward than the others, giving her a bit of an odd hunched pose no matter what you do.

Guile also took a slight hit in the sculpt department, largely due to how much I dislike the screaming head.  His is the only extra head sculpt that really left me cold.  However, if you don't have a problem with that, you won't be disappointed otherwise.

Adon, Balrog and Gen are my top picks from this set.  All three sculpts are excellent, and scale is very good both within this series and across the entire line.  Small detail work is ever present, and yet the slightly cartoony look of the game still works well.

Of course, if you're not a fan of articulated figures, your sculpt score may take more of a hit, since some of the joints - particularly the knees and elbows - are pretty obvious.  I have no issue with them though, and these figures are an excellent example of bringing together the best in sculpt and articulation in a single package. 

Balrog does have one issue worth noting though - he doesn't really appear to have wrists in the boxing gloves.  It's not a huge deal, and I found it more annoying at first.  But the look grew on me after awhile, and I eventually preferred him in the gloves over the wrapped hands.

Scale on this line is around 6", with some characters closer to 5", and others over 7".  They'll fit in fine with other 6" scale lines, and even some 7" scale lines depending on the character involved.

Paint - Gen, Guile, Sakura ****; Balrog, Adon ***1/2
Again, there was very little variance across the entire set.  Balrog had a few stray paint marks, particularly on his gloves, and I'm not a fan of the wash used on Adon's upper body to further define his muscles.  But these things only slightly lowered their scores in this category.

The figures all show extremely consistent application of color, with no lighter or dark areas, and the masking is excellent.  The lines of definition between the colors show no bleed or over spray, and the small tampo work, like the flag on Guile's arm, looks great.

The faces on these are what really impressed me though.  Every set of eyes, lips, mouth and hair line look perfect, with almost no slop to be seen.  They've used a wash on Gen's beard, very similar to what we saw with Pai Mei, but the cartoon nature of the character makes it far less obvious and obtrusive.

Articulation - ****
Love it or hate it - these figures have all the articulation a joint junkie could want.

Every figure has a ball jointed neck, and a very good one at that, with an excellent range of movement.  The heads pop on and off the joints easily, and the pin coming up out of the neck is extremely sturdy.

They all also have ball jointed shoulders and hips, double jointed elbows (with the exception of Balrog and Guile, who have single pin elbows) and knees, pin wrists, toes and ankles, a unique pin joint at the chest, and cut joints at the waist, wrists, mid-foot and ankles.

All the ball jointed shoulders are two sided, meaning there's a joint at the torso and a joint at the bicep, on both sides of the ball.  All except Sakura that is, where the ball joint is only at the torso.  To make up for this, she has an additional cut joint on the bicep, right at the base of the sleeve.

All the joints are nice and tight, and you can get them to hold a ton of fighting poses.  They can hold plenty of goofy poses too, making them excellent fodder for your own personal twisted photos.

Accessories - Sakura ****; Guile, Gen ***1/2; Balrog, Adon ***
The number of accessories varies quite a bit in this series, but none of them come up short.

Balrog and Adon have the fewest.  That's not surprising in the case of Balrog, since big figures using up this much plastic rarely have many extra goodies.

He does have an extra set of hands, wrapped, and an extra head though.  The sculpts and paint on them are excellent, and they pop on and off easily, but the pegs are not soft enough to break or tear.

Adon does slightly better with his extra head and three extra hands, including one doing the old thumbs up.  The other two are in a slightly open, claw pose.

If you picked up the SDCC exclusive Guile, you won't be too surprised by the regular version.  He has the extra head, three extra hands (thumbs up, comb, and blade), and two blue energy bolts, sculpted to fit over the fisted hands.

Similarly, Gen has the extra head, along with four extra hands.  As with the other figures, these hands work well with some of his special move poses.

Sakura comes fully loaded, with a ton of extra stuff.  Of course she has the extra head, along with three extra hands (one pointing, two open).  She also has her extra shoe, two books, a camera, and a backpack.

Only Gen has a head sculpt on the alternate head that is almost identical to the regular head.  The others have big differences, and for the most part (ignoring Guile's goofy yell) they all look great, making it tough to pick one over the other.

But Gen has one head with a slight smile, and one without.  You'll have to be paying attention to really tell the difference. 

Fun Factor - ****
These are very sturdy action figures, unlikely to break under normal play conditions.  And if you know any 8 year old kids, you know 'normal play conditions' means they have to withstand flying out a second story window on to the driveway.

Kids should also be able to swap the hands and heads pretty easily, without too much frustration.  If they love the game - and what kid doesn't - they'll love these figures.

The beauty is that collectors will love them too, with a ton of posing possibilities, great sculpts, paint and scale, and a fairly diverse group of characters so far.

Value - ***
I'll assume you're picking up the regular figures in the $11 - $12 range, and considering the quality, articulation and accessories, that's a better than average deal on the current specialty market. Get these down closer to $10 or so, and you can add another half star.

Things to watch out for - 
Zero, zippo, nada.  The paint ops looked pretty consistent, the joints that came stuck were easy to unstick, and the quality was extremely high across the board.

Overall -  Gen, Balrog ****; Adon, Guile, Sakura ***1/2
Mezco has it's Hellboy lines, NECA has it's Nightmare Before Christmas, Palisades had their Muppets, and SOTA has their Street Fighter. Oh sure, they do plenty of other good work, but for the current and near term, the Street Fighter line will be their defining moment. They've managed to do what all those examples have done - provide the big fans of these licenses with the very best line of action figures they could ever hope for.

At times, I really wish I hadn't started out by giving away all those series 1 figures I had. But then I remember that I just would have had to pick up all the variants and go psycho-completist crazy, and I figure they're better off in the hands of fans of the license. I'll be giving away some of wave 3 on the site as part of my New Year's celebration, so keep an eye out for that.

It was easy for me to put Gen at the top, since he did extremely well in every category.  Balrog didn't do quite as good in the paint and accessories, but his massive size and excellent sculpt swayed me.  Sakura is my favorite of all the females released in this line so far, and both Adon and Guile are in the top 10.  This entire wave was another hit for SOTA, and their Street Fighter line will be on my short list of nominees for line of the year.

Packaging - **
Sculpt - Adon, Balrog, Gen ****; Guile, Sakura ***1/2
Paint - Gen, Guile, Sakura ****; Balrog, Adon ***1/2
Articulation - ****
Accessories - Sakura ****; Guile, Gen ***1/2; Balrog, Adon ***
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***
Overall -  Gen, Balrog ****; Adon, Guile, Sakura ***1/2

Where to Buy -
You have a fair number of online choices, but not too many brick and mortar retailers have had these out yet:

- SOTA sells their own exclusives, including many of the variants of past series, for $13 - $20 each. 

- OMGToys has the set for just $56, and they'll throw in a free blue Blanka with a full set purchase. They also have some of the individuals - but not all - available for sale at $10.50.

- CornerStoreComics has an excellent set price of just $55, or the individuals for $12. They also have some of the variants in stock!

- Amazing Toyz also has them for a set price of $55, or individual figures for $12. Some of the variants are still available at just $13.

- Circle Red has the full set for just $60, in stock. They also have the full set of series 2 for that price still available, if you're trying to catch up.

- Killer Toys has the individual figures for $12 each, plus they have a ton of the exclusives up for order.

- Yikes Comics has the single figures for $12.50 each.

- Alter Ego has the set for $63.70.

- YouBuyNow has them in stock for $14 each.

Related Links -
There's plenty to check out:

- first, if you're interested in seeing the various variants (or picking them up) you can find most at SOTA's own webstore.

- Then check out the guest review of the exclusive GITD Blanka, and my review of the exclusive blue Blanka.

- I also reviewed the SDCC exclusive Cammy, Guile and Ryu/Bison two pack.

- and then there's always the regular series 1 and series 2 reviews.


Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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