I've been a fan of Vocaloid since Miku stood alone, and sounded like a bad word processor synthesizer at the best of times. The software's come a long way, and a lot of fellow singers have been added at times, but none have struck me like the gorgeous Vocaloid3, IA. Her voice and design really resonated with me, and it's no surprise as to why in regards to the former. IA's voicebank happened to be provided by the angelic voiced Lia, who anime fans may be familiar with from such songs as the themes from Air, Clannad, Angel Beats, and more.
Amongst all of the Vocaloids, IA quickly took the spot as my favorite despite her fairly small US following when compared to even some lesser members like Gumi or Luka. So when I saw that Aquamarine would be giving us fans a proper PVC of the ethereal singer, I had to have her in my collection. While I jumped at the chance to review her, I'd heard some rumblings about Aquamarine and potentially questionable quality. From photos she still looked gorgeous, but you'll have to hit the jump to find out if she topped the charts, or didn't even pass auditions!
Figure Name: 1/8 IA ~Aria on the Planetes~
Figure Maker: Aquamarine
Available at: HobbyLink Japan
The box, somewhat similar to IA herself, is pretty no-frills. There's nothing overly fancy about it, but it's appealing in its simplicity, using the same color scheme as IA herself and including some of her artwork near the bottom. I do give props to Aquamarine for the snippet of art, since I do enjoy boxes having some form of design beyond shots of a product I can see just fine through the viewing window.
Removing her from the box, she's surprisingly large for a 1/8 figure. Most of it, as you can see, comes from her hair, and when I say this is some truly massive hair, well. Believe it. To the left of her foot you can see a plastic rod, and despite what some may think, it is not holding up her other foot so she can float. The base manages that all on its own. No, this rod is holding up her hair. Her hair does indeed have its own peg, and as silly as this may sound it's clear that Aquamarine did it to combat potential leaning in the future. More props to them!
I was also a bit surprised to see that she's not seen head-on in her default placement, which provides some dynamics, but also doesn't show her off fully. Once you look her over, Aquamarine did a good job with her trademark costume. Unlike some of the other Vocaloids, IA's typical clothing is much more normal and the sort of thing you'd see any trendy girl wearing. At least, I know I'd wear it! The design on her top is replicated to the last little mark, and even the red dots topping the neckline marks are in place properly. No detail was spared!
Also upon closer examination, you can really get a feel for the effort put into her facial expression. The more I look IA over, the more I wonder just why people seemed to have concerns, because she's lovely from head to toe. Comparing her again to other Vocaloids, she has a much more enigmatic personality and behavior in her canon background, and it comes through in her look. She seems wistful and distant, gazing off at something far off with bright blue eyes that stand out amidst the black, white, and pink making up the rest of her design.
Aquamarine's focus on replicating the source artwork doesn't end with just her front, either. Carefully peeking beneath her hair, the lovely crossed straps over her bare back certainly aren't lacking any appeal! Again true to the original, you'll get a slight swish of her skirt here as well, adding to the sense of movement conveyed in the rest of the figure.
Throughout all of this, it's hard to keep ignoring that glorious hair. It's hard to appreciate just how much hair she has, how large it is in person, and how heavy it is just on its own. Like I said, the hair comes with its own peg, and for good reason. It's longer than IA is tall if it were stretched out, and I'd certainly be willing to bet it's made up of enough material for another figure alone. Just with this angle alone you can see she's barely visible behind it all!
Fortunately with it being such a key aspect of her design, there's as much detail here as there is in the rest of the figure. There aren't any shortcuts taken here, and I absolutely adore IA's hair. It's made up of dozens of individual pieces instead of just being one large hunk, and the effort was seriously worth it. The strands tangle around each other, curl in various directions, and in general just look really, really great. I have a weakness for the subtle messiness of otherwise straight hair curling at the tips, and IA's lovely locks are like they were made to push all the right buttons.
The only thing that really confuses me about the design is the secondary hole in her base. It doesn't really take away anything--after all, it is just the base--but it is noticeable and very odd. It even came with a second peg about twice as long as the one that holds her hair up, but there's nothing for it to be placed into, nor did the package contain any extra parts. I have a feeling my box may have been missing something, but I don't believe she was supposed to contain any accessories, so I'm at a loss!
In any case, extremely minor quibbles aside, my fears were definitely set to rest almost the minute I took this gorgeous lady out of her box. Aquamarine certainly did IA justice, capturing every detail of her outfit and personality without missing a beat. Going the extra mile in regards to things like her hair's design and making sure it won't lean in the future are major pluses in my book. I haven't been very familiar with Aquamarine's earlier few releases, but if future work all holds up to this standard, I'll definitely be paying attention to this relatively new maker!
[A big thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing this sample!]
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