I try hard to stay away from too much selfish and shameless self-promotion (but not from alliteration).
Well, today you can download a copy of my first novel for free on Amazon.
But you don't have a tablet or e-reader you say? No problemo. You can always get the free Kindle App on your smartphone is you don't have an e-reader or tablet. It's a great app with some decent functionality. It fits in your pocket. It's free. Problem solved. ;)
My novel is also free for a limited time. That's free as in it cost you exactly zero dollars or any of the other currency accepted in the forty or so countries the book is available.
The book is called Master of the House. It is the first book in my Legacy of Shadow series.
The book is a story about a pair of friends and their unlikely ascendancy into positions of power in the criminal underworld. It is set in an alternate history with a mix of fantasy, steampunk, and urban-fantasy.
The reviews over the past eight months have been overwhelmingly positive and the number of downloads has increased steadily, both things I am happy to watch play out. At times the book has surged into the top twenty in its categories and I've seen evidence that it has fallen into Amazon's recommendation emails.
All of this is very exciting for me and I really do enjoy these weekends where I can get people hooked with free copies of the first book.
I'll be upfront, it's not entirely selfless. Every download helps. Every review helps. "Likes" help. Even looking at the page helps. This is a ground-up project. It's off the ground for sure, but it is the help of the various communities I'm in that will truly get things moving.
So, download and enjoy. You can always get the free Kindle App on your smartphone if you don't have an e-reader or tablet. It's a great app with some decent functionality.
The book catch goes something like this:
[i]Julian Hitchings is offered the opportunity to take control of one of Seaside's notorious criminal gangs with all the wealth, prestige, and danger the position offers. Aided by his oldest friend, two dangerous and desperate refugees from the north, and a cunning but unbalanced councilor, they are successful beyond all imagination.
Their success brings about the revelation that all is not well in Seaside. A sinister evil is growing in the heart of their city, and their actions may have been enabling it all along. Ancient debts are coming due, and Julian alongside his comrades must break through the veil of deceit before they are manipulated down a path from which there is no escape. Failure will leave them as unwitting pawns in a game where the stakes are their very souls. With enemies on all sides, Julian resolves to take whatever measures are necessary to protect his friends and to prove to the rest of the criminal underworld that he is indeed the Master of the House.[/i]
Once again, thank you to everyone who has supported and assisted this along the way.
If you have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them.
The bases for the Persona 4 cast all have these yellow trapezoid shapes. They interlock nicely and allow for some interesting cluster shots. They are textured like steel flooring is in warehouses. They are kind of cheaply made compared to the figures. Often they are slightly warped or the foot pegs don't sit flush on the base. A minor complaint to be sure.
Truth be told, it was Yosuke that sold me on these. I have enough Yukikos and Chies to last me a long while. Yosuke however? Well Bandai fucked up a good thing by not getting a Zero Art of him to market. I couldn't pass this up.
A couple of things to note, this is the first figure in a long while to actually make me worry about figure-lean. We'll see if she keeps upright over time. The pose she takes is at a significant angle for the small connection she makes with her base.
On the side view you can see that her skirt is two-toned. The figure was fun to shoot because it really is a different shot from different angles. That sounds painfully obvious but it's a depth thing. The front shots of her hide the depth of the sculpting and angles in the arms and hair.
Ah, my mechanical maiden...this is one of the more lovely renditions of Aigis that I own. You can notice the small changes to her that make up her P4A version here. (headband guns, hip thrusters, tie in place of bow)
Unlike the other figures in the set, Aigis hovers on her stand. It's work pointing out that her stand is completely different from the other figures. Disappointing in a way as it makes her stand out, but somewhat appropriate too if you're familiar with her game mechanics.
Kanji threatens with his weapon from the game, a folding chair, and looks rad doing it. The details on this guy are great. From the quality stitch work to his nose ring, they really pulled out all the stops.
Here you can see a close up of her cost...and the small problems she suffers from. Mostly it is a paint issue. White paint applies poorly to dark colors. More expensive figures can have multiple coats applied or a slower hand at the application. I suspect that the small degree of sloppiness here is the result of her production as a prize figure. Still, it's only noticeable from certain angles and I only bring it up because this is the kind of thing that really tweeks some people off. You can also notice a small smudge on her coat. The other figures might have marks like that, but I don't remember seeing any.
Lastly a close up of our fair skinned beauty. I wish I had been able to get a better shot of her face, but the eyes and subtle tilt of her head are still compelling.
Conclusion: If you're a Persona fan, for the price, these are well worth your money. Nicely sized, scaled, and detailed; I would easily recommend them.
One thing to consider as you purchase...Taito for all their good work, nearly ruins each figure with sub-standard packing. Each figure has had varying degrees of bubble wrap but ultimately just jostles around in the box. By the time I got Naoto and Kanji, I was emailing sellers and assuring them that I did not mind them opening and securing the figures prior to shipping. I advise you do the same lest they get scuffed or damaged in transit. Many of their finer points could be damaged if mishandled.
In Persona 3 FES many of the costumes that get worn for one reason or another in the story part of the game become available as armor for the party when you complete various side quests. Yukari is set to be part of a maid cafe during culture week and this opens up the maid set of costumes for the female characters. So unlike some figures and series, this outfit is rooted in something that happens in-game.
Let's start the turn around here. Aigis comes on a mirrored base (which was somewhat permanently marked by the packaging). Her posture and pose are very accurate to the somewhat stiff character she has until very late game.
Notice here that a line runs down her leg. She is actually not wearing stockings. Due to her physical construction of her robotic body, her white outer shell plays a neat visual trick, mimicking tights or stockings that often accompany this kind of uniform. Of course if you noticed she was wearing knee socks already, it might be a moot point.
This shot shows something really quite interesting. I almost passed on this figure because of the shoes. See, Aigis has these...hoof sort of things for feet. When I saw the shoes, I was like..."Is that right?" So I went and looked and yes, this is entirely game accurate. For this costume, she dons shoes. What's really cool here is that you can actually see the line in her socks where the hoofs actually are. I'm not sure what she put in the shoe to keep them on or if they are perhaps an attachment like her various gun arms. It works either way! The shoes are nicely polished too. (Also, this is the most I've ever talked about shoes. Ever.)
Last picture in the set. Aigis' face here is somewhat serene and somewhat knowing. There is a bit of artistic license here in her expression and in the softness of her features. At first, I didn't like it all that much but, this is one instance where pictures can not do the figure justice. They rob it of the depth that gives Aigis her sharp look.
I'd definitely recommend this figure to any Persona fan or maid connoisseur. Due to the price, I would have a hard time recommending her to anyone else. It's not that she's not worth it, but for the price you can buy a lot of other more dynamic figures. Overall, she's a lovely piece and worthy of shelf space for any Persona collector.
I haven't played Shining Hearts and I was not familiar with Lorna prior to seeing this figure up for pre-order. Lorna's dynamic pose and mix of class/tease really caught my attention. Now, I really try to limit my fixed-pose figure purchases to franchises I love. So, to purchase a figure of something I am not invested in, it had better be really well done to get my money. How does Lorna hold up in-hand? Let's take a look...
A full look at Lorna here shows what we're working with: fox girl, in a maid costume, brandishing knives. Excellent. Lorna is 1/8th scale and is set atop a simple (but sturdy) white base. She's screwed into the base, which is something I am coming to favor. One thing you see here is that Lorna is presented in someone simple colors in large patches. Don't worry, I'll show the surprising extent of detail that this figure contains as we go forward...
...but not just yet. Her hair is done simply and does not have significant flaws to comment on nor is there anything outstanding to look for. The back of Lorna's costume shows her full length skirt. It's simple and flowing. One thing I'd comment on is that this part of the figure is sturdy. When I pick her up, it's by this portion of the figure (or the base). The material is firm and is anything but fragile. Kotobukiya should get a nod for this. Lastly, what you see here is a nice large uniform color part of the figure, but you don't see any flaws, right? No smudges, swirls or anything of the sort are present. Stuff like that goes a long way towards a good review from me.
Rotate around 90 degrees and wow...things get busy. Lorna has a fist full of knives and is pulling her skirt aside to access more. You can see that the hem of her skirt carries detail all the way around and her boots have small ribbon details on them. Am I ignoring those amazing fishnet stockings? Not at all.
This took me by surprise. I thought these stockings were molded detail but this figure is actually done in mixed media and the stockings are lace. A perfect seam runs up the back of the stockings and the fishnet material was implemented properly. Now, the knives on her thigh and in her hand are simple and perhaps a little boring. There is sculpted detail but the paint choice for these seems a little heavy and I think they suffer for that.
Still talking about the defining characteristic of this figure, we can see here how the movement Lorna makes to wield her weapons affects her skirt. Her right hand pulls the skirt aside for her left hand to grab a fist full of knives.
I'm not posting this picture to get a laugh or to throw out a shot of her cleavage. Lorna is actually pretty well covered up. I show this picture here because the same lace material used on her stockings is used here across her chest. I think that's amazing. Kotobukiya could have easily used molded material here but they went the distance to match material and accurately reflect her costume. I suppose I'm surprised because the area is so small and difficult to access.
Lastly, let's take a look at her face. As you can see, she's lovely. In contrast to her very stark costume, Lorna's hair and face use soft muted tones, especially where her hair is concerned. In fact, it almost bothered me that the color was not more saturated. I did not know the character well and having her hair the same color as her tail fur bothered me a little. Seeing the game art changed my opinion and after a little time with the figure, I came to appreciate the way it looks in person.
For her price at Amiami of 7940Y, is she worth it? I...don't know. I like this figure immensely. She hits all the right points for me but at this scale, that price before shipping seems too high. Happily, I purchased her from BBTS for $77 and at that price, I would recommend her without a second thought. Funny how that works, isn't it? On merits alone, this is a great figure, well done from head to toe. Lorna is amazing in that she can look so different depending on what angle you observer her from.
Packed with fetish, well sculpted, and very well presented, I think anyone with a slight urge to pick this piece up will not be disappointed.
Sometime towards the end of last year, Wave announced a re-release of Persona 4's Rise Kujikawa figure. Long out of production, this figure was commanding a hefty premium on the secondary market (if you could find her to begin with). After a one month delay (to keep her many fans in suspense no doubt), Rise arrived to Amiami for a very reasonable 5,500Y.
Rise is a 1/8th scale figure and is wearing her Yasogami High school uniform from the game. Her uniform is very faithful to her in-game appearance. The pose chosen for this particular figure is not really iconic for Rise but it definitely conveys her playful and lighthearted personality.
Her outfit is accurate down to the purposefully obvious white stitching that Yasogami High uniforms have. This figure picks up a lot of nice details in the clothing. Note the stocking lines behind her knees.
From this side I'd like to point out that her bust is given actual human proportions. The fabric sculpt does not cheat to accentuate her nor is there any unrealistic clothing shape. That may be a pet peeve of mine, but I hate when a figure's bust is treated as though the clothing has been vacuum sealed under the bust line.
Looking at Rise's upper half we can see the wonderful care that was taken with the clothing and the lack of obvious seams. If you get super picky about it, the paint on her neck scarf isn't perfect, but that's about the only real problem I can find. Now this figure is a few years old and in some ways current hair sculpting has surpassed our idol. There's nothing wrong with it and I certainly prefer Rise's styling over the current rash of translucent hair, but it should still be pointed out.
Rise has one accessory: her glasses. If this figure has one failing, it's those glasses. They just don't fit well on her head. They are slightly too small and you really have to kind of wedge them on to her. They are not large enough to reach back to her ears either. It's a minor gripe but again, it should be pointed out. Also, it should be pointed out that Rise looks super-foxy in glasses. ^_-
Her lower half is well tended to. The skirt replicates the small checker design of her school's skirt and mine was free from flaws. I think that speaks to quality especially with the pattern being so small.
Lastly, a picture of her boxed. I don't think boxed pictures ever make a figure look great so I dump these shots at the end. The box is nice though. It replicates her uniform details and even has some English wording on the back.
Is Rise worth the price? For a Persona fan, absolutely. The quality is outstanding and the price is very fair for what you are getting. I'm more of an articulated figure collector but I would hit up Wave for an entire cast if they were willing to go through with it.
Thanks for reading. If you're still interested in Rise, I hate to have to tell you that she seems to be sold out at most retailers. Such is the life of an Idol...here today, gone tomorrow.