Welcome to the Solaris Blog! ヾ( ʚ̴̶̷ .̫ ʚ̴̶̷ )ﾉ”
Let’s zoom back in time, back when Yu-Gi-Oh was all the rage: remember school recesses filled with adrenaline as you pulled out your most powerful monster card with that classic, rehearsed move, sure you were going to win you that battle…
Only to be given a slap in the face when you activated a trap card.
It’s okay, though. They went easy on you and this wasn’t a battle for keeps. You persevered, spiked your hair à la Yugi, upgraded your dingy playmat into an official one and spent countless hours (and an infinite amount of money) to improve your skills and your deck. When you knew that it was over, you were suddenly aware that the summer leaves were turning to the color of her hair...
In this month’s review we’ll be looking at the re-release of a classic sweetheart, Dark Magician Girl! Kotobukiya summons this old but gold character to enchant our hearts and trap us with memories of junior high school days! (⁄ ⁄>⁄ ▽ ⁄<⁄ ⁄)
We chose this figure because we wanted to show how superb craftsmanship shines through a simple design. Dark Magician Girl has a retro/90s aesthetic, which can make the transition from 2D to 3D a little tricky; if done wrong it could end up looking like a cheap toy. We will show you how she’s the exact opposite!
As always, a disclaimer:
We took all photos shown here and made minimal edits to them (rotating and cropping). However, we did not remove any blemishes or imperfections.
A picture-perfect pupil
If girls are made of sugar, spice and everything nice, this one is definitely the spice! Her design follows the anime/Japanese cards version with the pentagram and generous bosom, two features that were censored in the international versions.
She comes with two face plates: a neutral-sweet expression and a sassy wink! Her eyes are glossy, which help them stand out against the matte of the figure and enhance their playful glimmer.
She was already easy on the eyes in the anime, but this figure is a feast for the camera! She’s highly photogenic, with a sculpt that looks good from (almost) all angles and with soft, warm colors that work well with our lenses.
All the pieces are easy to put together and fit snugly into each other. Her flaxen hair has a silky shine to it, which looks great in pictures because it’s not super reflective.
The hat sits firmly on her head with the help of a connector. It is sizable, so no hatless, overhead shots!
Since the hat also (partly) covers the hair seam, it may be one of those optional-but-nearly-mandatory accessories.
With how well it’s made, posing her without it would be foolish. The design is simply perfect! As usual, the camera is better than our own eyes, so some super minor flaws are visible here. To the naked eye, however, it is *flawless*. (´ з `) ノ*
Even under the lens you can barely see flaws on the paint job. The pink lines are clean and neat, and the paint is matte to simulate a fabric texture. The shading is very subtle, which helps the brighter colors pop without piercing your eyes.
Back to the shading topic, let’s take a look at what she’s playing with. (˵╹◡╹)━☆
The wand’s shaft follows the same color scheme as Dark Magician Girl’s outfit, while the pommel and finial have a golden color just a few shades darker than her hair. It has a metallic finish to it, and where the tip curls the shading is very subtle, to give it an illusion of soft depth. Sort of like a fluffy, golden cinnamon bun!
The top part detaches for ease of assembly. We foresee some paint rubbing off depending on how often you fiddle with this part; try not to disassemble it more often than strictly necessary and more importantly, resist the urge to eat it.
Since the design and the color scheme are simple, you want to preserve as much of it as possible. Against such an immaculate background, *every* little flaw will show!
To give her the wand, pop off the curlicue tip and push the shaft from behind until it sits snugly in her hands.
Push it in gently, because she grips it firmly with both hands and… her thighs…
(writer-san: “wh-why does it sound so wrong?” (⁄ ⁄-⁄ ▽ ⁄-⁄ ⁄))
Anyway… these are the potential scuff points. Not that you would be playing with her as in a Figma or Nendoroid, but for the sake of keeping her pristine, be mindful of your handling. A scale is still a scale, even at this price point!
The summoning and the possession
Let’s take a look at the base next: it is a fusion of her magic circle and the pentagram jewel she has on her shirt. The outline of the incantation and the symbol are a pinkish purple. It’s a deviation from the original card design, in which the runes are gold or, at the most, holographic, but we believe it may have been a style choice. Since she sits so close to the base, the gold may have made the overall look a bit too heavy.
The spell on the rim is carved in high relief, while the pentagram design is 2D. We may have desecrated something in the base, maybe by touching, maybe by looking at it with the wrong heart… but something happened. (⌒_⌒;)
Right after taking the picture above, as if struck by a bolt of dark magic, our lighting equipment fell on the figure. Dark Magician Girl transformed her wand into a broom and flew across the desk, but not without leaving some skid marks on the base.
These are pictures of the ritual site before and after the possession of the figure. Those two paint transfers were caused by her knees… poor girl. (っ◞‸◟c)
Without a peg or any other connector to hold her in place, Dark Magician Girl can slide on her base. We were wondering if this could cause some wear to happen on her knees and feet, and voilá, we had our answer!
In fact, we had more than an answer. This served as a warning and a very good point to review.
The force of the impact was no more than that of a figure taking a tumble off a shelf. Our experience with some sturdier toy-style figures, such as Nendos, had us expecting to see maybe one or two scratches. We were quite surprised when we found a lot more scuffs!
Now her knee has a scar; she sacrificed her skin to the summoning ritual. And a bit of fabric, as you can see from the scuff patch on the rim of her bootie just below her knee.
The impact also took a bit of color from her clothes, especially the hem of her cape.
The paint job is excellent, but the paint itself isn’t very strong. I guess it can’t be perfect!
╮(╯ ∀ ╰)╭
This is an issue that only became noticeable after the accident. Before that, it was absolutely perfect! So let this be a lesson for us: always bring holy water when dealing with summoning circles and pentagrams. ح(-̀ж-́)ง †
And for fellow figure collectors, let this be a good piece of advice: keep her away from the edge of shelves, away from lighting equipment and have anti-megaquake measures around her display, to avoid accidents. Aaaaand have some holy water too – can’t be too safe, right?
The magic of simplicity
Every cloud has a silver lining, however; where her paint job disappointed, the sculpt made up for it! With so many angles and parts sticking out, we were shocked to see how nothing was broken: the material is sharp, defined AND resistant!
While we were assessing the damage, we also noticed the extreme care that went into her outfit. Look at how the collar of her top floats *around* her shoulder. In a lesser quality sculpt, this bit would definitely be attached to her, for the sake of simplicity. Yet this detail exists, barely noticeable, only to hint at the overall airiness of the pose.
In addition to her hat, the flare and definition of the ruffles are a highlight of the sculpt. The cape and the skirt are in full motion...
… as is her chunky hair. Dark Magician Girl is a child of the 90s, laying heavy on that styling wax! Kotobukiya nailed the rendition of her golden strands, keeping the crazy, cartoony look of the anime even in its 3D format.
Back to her outfit, here’s a closeup of her top (◉Д◉ ). You can see how her clothes just barely hold on to her curves, looking as if they could be removed. Almost like a cast-off!
Sometimes clothes can look like they are not trying to hide the fact that they’re just painted on. In some sculpts the plastic reality under the paint pokes through, which break the realistic effect of a figure, albeit briefly.
Take, for example, this closeup of Aqua’s top, from an earlier blog post comparing different tiers of Konosuba figures.
Aqua has an equally simple design, and she’s much more recent. However, note how flat her shirt looks in comparison. There isn’t much separating her armpits from the sleeve other than the relief of the sculpt and the color.
You can clearly see where her hands slot into the sleeves of her shirt. It’s inconsistent with the fabric; with how it’s sculpted in the exterior, you’d expect it to be a lot thinner. The fact that it’s so thick on the inside is what reminds us that this is a plastic model after all.
Compare that with Dark Magician Girl’s bracers, where the seam between them and her arm are carefully hidden. In the picture above, it looks like she’s actually wearing the bracers, as if they were slid on over her wrists instead of sculpted and painted on.
Granted, it’s not really Aqua's fault that the thickness of her sleeves broke the realistic effect. Her outfit suggests being made from a delicate material, daintier than the one used in Dark Magician Girl’s outfit. That is an issue you can’t solve without compromising on the strength of the sculpt, or resorting to actual fabrics… but then we’d be stepping into the realm of dolls.
Dark Magician Girl’s outfit has structure, which allows for effects such as these. It’s a unique strength of her design!
This illusion of real clothes doesn’t stop at the parts that you can easily see. Under her flaring cape, the collar of her shirt comes to a point, which sits on her back. The cape can’t be removed, so you would never see this if you weren’t inspecting her as close as we were!
Even hidden from our view, it’s sculpted realistically, exactly how this type of fabric wrinkles and folds when someone is perking up their bum! Because of this, it serves as a great reference for cosplayers, since the sculptors put so much effort into these details.
Last but not least, accessories. She has four jewels, pink and amber, on her gloves, two amber ones on her ankles and one pentagram holding the fort on her chest. They are simple pops of color strategically placed to break the monotonous pink and blue, as well as add some interest with a little bit of gloss. Another example of how a little goes a long way, just like the gold finish on her staff!
This is a superb scale at a very affordable price point. Dark Magician Girl’s simplicity is elevated by the care and skill of the sculptor! It catches your eye not because it is elaborate, but because it is elegant. The 3D rendition of the design manages to look even better than the original without losing the characteristic 90s anime flavor. She has a sweet, unpretentious first-love look that evokes nostalgia in us.
Though the sculpt is sturdy, the lack of something to stabilize her on the base requires some thought on how to display her safely. The easily-scuffed paint also requires careful and minimal handling. Even if you don’t have heavy lighting equipment looming over her, the pose still causes her to have lots of points of contact. Those are all potential areas for wear, whether by lamp attacks or simply the slow decay of time.
We hope you enjoyed this one!
Until next time! ヾ(＾∇＾)