Lady Sham - Ashley Wood's Popbot
following is a guest review. The review
and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford
or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the
|Jeff checks out another cool 3A
figure - tell us all about it, Jeff!
OK, I like the figures that inhabit the various Ashley Wood universes,
but I still know absolutely NOTHING about their back-story! Hence in
the spirit of complete disclosure I admit that I have shamelessly
lifted this bio of the character from the ThreeAwiki site here.
‘Lady Sham, also known as Anahita, is a leading protagonist in the
Popbot comic books. With the help of her nine sisters, Lady Sham had
successfully defended early Martian traders from slavers and the
Mortis. Eight of her sisters died during this event, leaving only Sham
and Misty Slush, who both went into hiding. As the Mortis threat
renewed, however, Lady Sham found herself forced to return and fight.
Her leading goals are to hunt Mr. Bridger, awaken the Benzinphtine, and
have her revenge with Kitty. Lady Sham is the wife of Punk King.’(sic)
And yep, I am still totally none the wiser!
All I know for certain is that the 3A line of toys and figures seems to
divide folks like no other at the moment; it really is the Marmite of
collectibles! I also have to admit that my primary objective in
collecting has always been to assemble as diverse a selection of
well-articulated 1/6th figures as I possibly could, but then I have to
confess on top of that, that I have always loved the aesthetic of much
designer vinyl. However, with a home and storage unit already bursting
at the seams, if I was to enter the arena of seriously collecting vinyl
as well… well it might end in the divorce courts!
But with 3A I happily get the best of both worlds. The illustrious
illustrations that Ashley Wood pumps out are taken by the creative team
at 3A and given a treatment that sits somewhere between Jamie Hewlett’s
Tank Girl and his Gorillaz style of characterisation, coupled with the
classic figures that Brothers worker used to create back in the day.
And it’s that very style with its extreme facial characterisations that
divides collectors oh so very much!
No one seems to have a problem with the robots that frequent Wood’s
worlds, as with their amazing designs, fantastic engineering,
spectacular articulation and groundbreaking paint apps there really is
very little to dislike! The humans… or ‘clones’ on the other hand are
quite a different matter. With these characters the faces and hair are
stripped down to a series of very sculptural geometric shapes, an
aesthetic that I personally think looks great, but as I said it can
leave some less imaginative souls bewildered.
In similar way to the fact some folks will always prefer the
representational work of Dante Gabriele Rossetti over Picasso or even
Michelangelo over Henry Moore, polarising the fact that tastes differ
and that the more abstract fare ain’t always for everyone. Personally I
love all of the above. For me eclecticism is the order of the day, and
if it is for you too, you might want to read on. If however your only
interest is in the latest hyper realistic portrayal of some roided up
Hollywood jock with a big’ol gun you might want to move along, no
seriously… on your way! By the way, I’m not being sarcastic there… well
maybe just a little, but it should be immediately apparent to anyone
who reads my reviews that I also like ‘roided up Hollywood jocks with a
big’ol guns’ as much as the next man… that sounded so wrong!
From my very limited exposure to 3A products it would seem that most
follow a very simple design ethos in terms of the construction of their
boxes. All the ones I have received consist of a straightforward lift
off lid ‘shoe box’ design made of stiff card. Inside the figures are
held securely between layers of clear vac formed plastic, and that is
However, the thing that consistently gives this line the boost it
deserves and elevates it above much of its competition is the use of
the beautiful illustrations on the front. I have to say that the first
time I was truly made aware of Ashley Wood was when Sideshow produced
the polystone statue of Lady Sham (viewable here
http://www.threeawiki.com/images/f/fc/LadySham.jpg). I had of course
seen his work before on the likes of Metal Gear Solid packaging and
2000 AD comics, but I just didn’t know him as a ‘named’ artist. I
really liked the look of that statue, but I rarely ‘do’ statues so it
was consigned to the list of things I desired but would never buy… it’s
a very long list!
It did however make me go off and research his work online, and what I
found was fantastic fantasy illustration, often shot through with a
healthy dose of eroticism… indeed much of his work is very much adult
fare! This particular box uses a great painting of the heroine sitting
in a rather alluring pose, and is also backed up with some mighty fine
typography. The kind of typography (that if I were to put my snobs hat
on… I actually rarely take it off) is of the quality that most
discerning designers will appreciate very much.
So this isn’t one of those elaborate ‘event’ boxes that looks like it
cost almost as much as the figure to produce. But what it does do is
utilise a strong dose of creative graphic design in a very ‘designer’
way. And as a boxes very raison d’etre is to get the product to you in
one piece and undamaged whilst also managing to look pretty, means this
box wins on those fronts. And the unit price (which I shall cover
further in value) reflects that making savings in the fabrication of
the packaging can be passed on to the collector, and in this case has!
Sculpting - ***8/10
I have been in this territory before when I reviewed the Heavy TK
figure, in as much as this also has a very stylised facial sculpt. If
this method of sculptural design is not your cup of tea, you might as
well leave now, because it’s an understanding and appreciation of this
as an objet d’art that any intention of owning this figure hinges on.
I personally think its pretty darned cool. The whole figure has the
look of a fashion illustration made real. Not only is the head
impossibly cute, but her legs are impossibly long, her breasts are
impossibly pert and her silhouette is impossibly perfect. The hair is
formed to look almost more like a sweeping hat than hair, with bold
dramatic shapes cascading around her face. A face, which has a sultry
pout and slight look of disdain, this is one very aloof looking lady.
Her eyes are sultry, one might even say a touch sleepy and the way the
head is moulded is crisp and precise, as are the selection of three
hands we get with her. The hands have long elegant fingers and come as
two in a relaxed pose and one right hand in a gun grip position. There
was also an exclusive black suited version of this character released
at a toy fair earlier this year (which created a lot of angry
collectors) which seems to have been the reason that this white and
another red suited version were released in greater numbers. The red
version comes with two holsters and two guns meaning you also get an
extra left gun grip hand. Though I freely admit that the white one
would always have been my preference regardless of scarcity.
Lastly we get to her feet, as these are also sculpted to look like they
are clad in high-heeled open toed shoes that almost seamlessly graduate
into those long elegant legs. I’m not averse to any physical
characteristics in the female form, but a long leg, trim ankle an a
finely turned clavicle have always been favourites. And even though
there are no collar bones on show with this figure, you just know she’d
be equipped with all three! I did find that getting her to stand in
those heels could prove tricky at times, and it strikes me that the
stiletto heel should have another couple of millimetres added to its
length to stand better. At the moment, when the back point of the heel
is on the ground the front part of the heel rocks up, rather than being
flush with the ground… not
So, this category would normally be an easy full score from me, in
terms of sculpting everything reeks of a quite sophisticated elegance,
coupled with a healthy dose of humour, however that heel design really
bugs me, just robbing it of a full score by the merest slice of a sub
One area that 3A have dominated in the past is in their amazing ability
to deliver fantastically well painted figures in their own inimitable
style. The way they can make a robot look weathered, dirty and rusty
has to be experienced in hand to ever be truly appreciated. Likewise
their battle weary clones covered in the dirt of battle and dust of a
thousand skirmishes are second to none in the way the company manage to
make them look weathered and indeed weary. But that is the problem we
have here, Lady Sham is pristine! And when something is designed to
look this immaculate it has to be painted absolutely perfectly to pull
off the look convincingly. The world of designer vinyl (which is the
closest world this orbits) demands the most incredibly crisp and
perfect paint app, and this I’m afraid is not up there with the best of
OK, it is all very competent, and there is very little to actually
complain about if you are a collector of designer high-end merchandise
in the general state of affairs. But 3A have managed to create their
very own yardstick by which to measure their merchandise by, and this
is not quite at that apex of their past achievements. Don’t get me
wrong it still looks great, but some of the transition lines between
small details on the lips, eyes and hair slide lack the crisp
definition one has come to expect. Of course you have to remember that
the 3A ethos when painting their humanoid figures is not that of going
for ultra realistic flesh tones and life-like eyes. Instead we get a
stylised approach that is designed to compliment the sculpting style,
and on the whole it manages that well. However, even though it manages
to compliment it, it certainly doesn’t outshine it, and struggles to do
So to sum up, this is on the whole a solid application, as it doesn’t
even try to look ‘real world’ it instead frequents a fantasy comic book
universe that buys it some critical breathing space when an even more
critical eye is passed over it. But it’s my duty, out of some twisted
form of public service to pass that critical eye. And on this occasion,
for the first time, I find a 3A figure that is a little wanting in the
I can’t tell you how well a
basic 3A female body operates because-
A- The zip is sewn shut on this (so I can’t take her suit off)
B- The outfit is so darned tight I daren’t push her for any dynamic
poses to test the range.
I’m sure if she were in a less restrictive suit she would fare better,
but on this occasion she can barely move her legs and her arms have a
fairly reasonable range. If I do ever get a 3A female that can be
undressed be sure I will give you far more detail, but for now I’m more
than a little disappointed!
An extra gun grip hand and the revolver (with a rotating chamber) is
all we get, which is far from a great haul. However in the paintings
I’ve seen of Sham that does seem to be all she needs. Maybe she is not
known to handle a katana or unleash the dogs of war with a bazooka, but
a little something extra might have cool. However, for the price she
was available for I still consider it to be an OK deal.
Lady Sham cuts quite a dramatic silhouette, and her ultra skin-tight
jumpsuit fits like a second skin. But whilst it looks good it does mean
that her articulation is seriously hampered, especially at the hips and
knees. I guess I could push her further if I tried, but the fear of the
seams popping or tearing and the danger of long term stretch marks at
her major joints have kept me from doing so. The style of the suit is a
simple and minimalist affair, and apart from the zip up the back (which
is stitched shut at the top to stop you trying to disrobe her) it has
very little detail. The seams are all clean and tidy, but it has no
pockets, buckles or buttons at all. There are thumbholes at the end of
the sleeves that make swapping over the hands a delicate manoeuvre, but
it does mean that the sleeves are kept nice and taut, which is great
for the aesthetic. One thing I am really liking is how the leg of the
suit joins the foot seamlessly to the sole of the shoe, it’s a very
sleek detail, but obviously means you can’t remove her feet either.
The only other detail on her outfit is the pleather holster for her
oversized revolver. This is actually quite disappointing, as the way it
is fabricated from the same material as the suit ends up looking rather
crude. It would appear that it has been pattern cut with a pair of
scissors and the edges though relatively sharp, let down the look of
the finished figure. It has a flap over the top with a Velcro tab to
hold it shut, and a simple sliding buckle to fasten it. Wearing one
holster doesn’t disrupt her look too much, but the red suited version
comes with two separate holsters rather than one double one, and from
the pics I’ve seen it does end up giving her a little too much bulk
around her waist.
This ends up being a fair and competent outfit rather than an
outstanding one, and the minimal simplicity of the detailing does
require that it be made to look 100% perfect, and sadly it just can’t
quite manage it.
It seems that the best way to get any of the 3A products is direct from
the Gallery ThreeA or Bambaland store. I recently joined the newly
refurbished online community and have to admit found the whole affair
quite confusing and couldn’t actually find any products to buy at all.
It was however very early days and I’m sure the early glitches will
have been ironed out by now.
EDIT- I’m informed that Gallery Three A went into meltdown and retail
has been moved back to Bambaland
I didn’t buy this through the store though; instead I got hold of it
from a fellow collector who had one spare (thanks John Christopher, you
da man). He let me have it for what it cost him plus shipping, which I
rounded up to an incredibly reasonable £65! Yep, you did read that
right- sixty-five English pounds sterling. This is made by 3A which is
part owned by Ashley Wood meaning it will not have a hefty license to
pay, but I still consider that price to be a bona fide bargain.
Yes I had a couple of minor issues with the paint, holster and general
articulation, but when you take those into consideration against the
price, they suddenly seem a whole lot more acceptable. I did think I
could live with just having a couple of bots and one male and one
female human from the Ashtroverse, but the limited articulation
(because of the suit) has made me want to get hold of another female
figure in a more articulation friendly outfit… watch this space!
Factor - **1/2
Due to her hampered mobility this figure comes up sorely lacking in the
fun department. I was hoping to be able to get some funky poses
interacting with Popbot, but I shall have to be content with some
relatively straightforward standing poses. Not a huge problem as it is
probably what I would have decided on anyway… but I do at least like to
have the option!
But the fact of the matter is, that with this series from the Popbot
universe, the only two figures I really wanted were Popbot and Lady
Sham. As to me (and maybe only me alone) they are the signature
characters from all of Wood’s creations.
And although I derive quite a bit of fun from having these stand
together on the cabinet in my dinning room I wouldn’t ever consider
giving her to a child to play with, as you would end up with a very
knackered dolly in a very short time!
This ends up neither being a sham (yeah, I couldn’t resist) or a
triumph, but instead inhabits a middle ground. If I received a figure
in the $150 plus bracket that was this limited in articulation I’d be
pretty miffed, but the fact I scored this for £65 (inc P+P) brings it
in at a very healthy $104, so to my considered opinion that is a pretty
damned good price. If she had come with a few more accessories she
might have even come in with a full score (taking into account that
very healthy price). Thanks again JC for sorting me out.
Where to Buy -
As far as I am aware, the only place you will be able to get hold of
one know is on the secondary markets either through a fellow collector
on a forum or by hitting up eBay.
I did have a quick perusal and discovered she was still readily
available, but you will have to find something in the region of
$90 up to $150.
If like myself you are UK based you’ll find onesixthbruce
carry a lot of the retail figures that aren’t Bambaland exclusives.
This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer.
Photos and text by Jeff Parker.