Toy collectors have a ton of choices when it comes to small, chibi-fied collectibles. From gachapon capsules to Nendoroids, they'll always be popular due to their accessibility and affordability.
It's no surprise, then, that Kotobukiya decided to get in the game way back in 2012 by unveiling their Cu-poche brand. While they have not matched the breakneck release pace of Good Smile Company, there are actually a pretty good number of figures (plus accessories) out now. One of the things that sets this line apart is the spin-off Cu-poche Friends brand, which doesn't use licensed characters. Recently I was sent one of these - Alice - by Kotobukiya so let's get cracking on the review!
Figure Name: Cu-poche Friends Alice
Figure Maker: Kotobukiya
Retail Price: $49.99
Available at: Kotobukiya Online Store
Alice is the fourth Cu-poche Friends figure, joining Anne, Cherie, and Belle. While the others have more modern looking outfits, Alice has a dress that would be more at home in Victorian England.
Here you can see all the accessories she comes with. Not pictured is a plastic baggie meant to hold extra parts. I've always appreciated this inclusion with figmas, and am glad that Kotobukiya decided to include one as well. You also get some nice general-purpose hand parts, but unfortunately no extra face parts. I don't have another Cu-poche so I won't be able to go over the face swapping, but it should work pretty much the same as with any other figure.
One unique thing about the Cu-poche line is the use of real fabric for clothing. Each of the Cu-poche Friends figures have this (regular Cu-poches are plastic), and you can buy additional fabric outfits separately. This is standard in the world of ball-jointed dolls and 1/6-scale figures, but pretty rare for smaller poseable figures. For Alice, you need to put on her leggings, petticoat, apron, and shoes. None of it was super fussy; just remember to unbutton the apron in the back to get the arms in.
There are two headbands included: one with a ribbon, and one with rabbit ears. I like the whimsical touch and the nods to Alice in Wonderland. Her watch pendant is of course a literary reference, but I also like to think of it as a Flavor Flav reference.
You can also see in the above shot that Alice's feet have magnets on them (her bare feet and shoes are all magnetized). This feature is meant to provide extra stability if you're using her base. Due to the weight of her hair, I found that she does need to be propped up in some poses.
Although you get a good amount of articulation with Cu-poches, the trade-off is that the joints are highly visible. In Alice's case her outfit covers most of them (without really impeding the movement, which is nice).
As for the articulation itself, I found it very well executed. For Alice, the range of movement is reduced by her hair. The shoulder joints can rotate quite a bit, and her leg joints bend enough to where she can get into a sitting pose. The wrist and head articulation are the same as what you'd get on a Nendoroid.
Speaking of Nendoroids, here's a size comparison with Nendoroid Kuroneko. Alice is significantly taller due to her body proportions. I think in most cases they'll look fine together. If not you can go the extra mile of swapping their heads.
Another comparable figure line is Phat Company's Parfom brand, of which there are only a few figures released. Parfoms are much taller with more slender limbs, so they don't mesh as well with Cu-poche figures.
Since this was my first Cu-poche figure, I wasn't sure what to expect. Alice did win me over in many categories. The fabric clothing is great as long as you tuck away some of the seams (and don't spill anything on them). I like the articulation and feel of the joints. Most of all, I like that they don't feel as loose and fiddly as Nendoroids do. As much as I like Nendoroids, they can be annoying in that the parts don't always fit well and can drop off easily.
Still, I imagine the biggest point of contention for many will be the way they look. Cu-poches don't quite match the chibi proportions of Nendoroids, and the joints on some of them can be rather intrusive. They're not bad in Alice's case but other Cu-poches may not fare as well.
I think Alice will appeal mostly to collectors like me, who enjoy using these figures to tell stories in images - or maybe to folks who just like cute stuff. Given the great build quality and competitive price, it's definitely worth looking at other figures in the line too.
Be sure to click through the gallery below for the full photo set. And if you want to stay up to date on Kotobukiya's releases, give their Facebook page a like!
[ Thanks to Kotobukiya for the review sample! ]Photo Gallery: (13 images)
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