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Tomopop Review: Kotobukiya's ARTFX J Cardcaptor Sakura

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Nice to see you, good to meet you

When I reviewed FuRyu's trading figure version of Sakura Kinomoto last summer, I was positive, but also still a little disappointed that we weren't getting a full-fat, big money version of the character to stand alongside the best of the modern age. It wasn't too long after that though that Kotobukiya announced Sakura would be added to their ARTFX J line. I was hugely impressed by the line's take on Eren Jaeger, so naturally I was eager to see what the company could do with one of my favourite characters ever. And now she's here!

Figure Name: ARTFX J Sakura Kinomoto
Figure Maker: Kotobukiya
Retail Price: ¥11,000
Available at: HobbyLink Japan | Hobby Search | AmiAmi | CD Japan | Plamoya | Big in Japan 

As I say in pretty much every one of my reviews, I'm a big fan of 'less is more' when it comes to box design. Sakura's box isn't exactly spartan but it's pleasingly straightforward. I particularly like the big 'wraparound' window which carries all the way round to the side of the box.  It makes the entire thing look modern and airy and gives you a great all round view of the figure.

The left hand side of the box includes the original CLAMP illustration which this figure is based on. There's been some controversy over this decision to use the manga design over the far more recognized anime design, which I'll address momentarily when we get to the figure itself. I will say the box feels a little big - though Sakura isn't a small figure, I'm pretty sure smarter packaging could have at least cut the ends off of what's a pretty large package.

Once out of the box, Sakura is a very nicely sized and weighted figure. She's a 1/7-scale sculpt but feels a little more like a 1/8 occasionally, probably because of the character's small stature. Regardless, it's a size which feels hefty and solid. Sakura is attached to her cloud base and can't be separated, not that you'd want to anyway considering the pose prohibits any other form of display. One thing I will point out is that the base is a hollow shell, rather than solid plastic. There's no real issue with stability but it's disappointingly cheap-feeling for what's meant to be a high end product.

Sculpt quality is excellent all around, with Kotobukiya's decision to go with a massively ruffled look vindicated by the amount of life and movement they can bring to that gigantic skirt. It may be a touch over-the-top for some readers, but it definitely embraces the extravagant shoujo styling of the source material. Plastic and paint feel textured and high quality to the touch, and overall the entire product (bar the aforementioned base) feels well worth your money.

Sakura's main accessory is a pair of plus-sized wings which give a huge boost in presence and impact to her overall presentation. I'd go as far to say Kotobukiya should have made these wings a permanent part of the sculpt, since I can't imagine anyone owning this figure without wanting to use them. Still, if you're tight on space, I suppose it's nice to have the option.

As you can see from this picture, the bigger wings aren't actually replacement parts but instead add-ons. They plug into the top of the existing wings on the sculpt, which split at the top to allow room for pegs. This arguably doesn't look quite as good as an all-in-one sculpted piece would, but it's also less fiddly and more durable.

The other, absolutely essential accessory included is a miniature version of Sakura's ever-present companion Kero-chan. He's very well detailed for his size, with a smart red bow-tie (unfortunately damaged on my example as you can see in the picture) and miniature translucent wings. He has a tiny peg on his right leg which slots neatly into a hole between the frills of Sakura's dress, thus matching the pose of the original art and making him appear to seamlessly 'fly' alongside Sakura.

Let's talk a bit about that face. I've seen a lot of complaints about the hair colour and also the fact that she seems a little too 'chubby' in the cheeks, or round faced in general. I think these people are totally mad. I love this entire head sculpt to bits and I think the decision to go with the manga art style is totally justified considering the much more interesting look. Kotobukiya have done a great job with the hair, fading from a lovely brown-orange to nearly translucent at the tips. It's an important splash of colour in a figure that might otherwise be overwhelmed by pink and white, as are Sakura's trademark vivid green eyes.

Though it's difficult to tell without a strong backlight, both the crystal at the base of Sakura's staff and the 'eyes' in its head are made of translucent red plastic. Note the subtle creases in the sock fabric at the knee joint, a lovely little touch.

Detail sculpting is beyond reproach, with fantastic small scale work like the bow on these shoes. You can just about see where the peg attaches the shoe and base here.

If there's a weakness here, then it's the same one I mentioned in the Eren review - ultra fine paint detail. You can see in the upper right hand corner of this shot that the piping on the dress band is slightly sloppy. Even if we leave aside the damaged bow tie on Kero there are a few minor examples of paint splash or slop on the figure. Though Kotobukiya are getting closer every time, I still wouldn't put them quite on the pedestal with Alter and GSC as far as razor sharpness goes.

Overall though I'm scrabbling for things to criticise. It's another superb figure from Kotobukiya and without a doubt the definitive Sakura figure at this point in time. After so many years of dreaming, fans of Cardcaptor Sakura finally have a full size, top quality figure to call their own, and I'd say any collector who loves the show owes themselves this one. Now we just have to wait for Syaoran...

 


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Kotobukiya: ARTFX J Sakura Kinomoto reviewed by Martin Siggers

 

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Martin Siggers
Martin Siggers   gamer profile

Martin is a cynical Brit who enjoys deep, thoughtful, surrealist anime and children's TV shows where men in rubber and spandex pose in front of explosions. Rarely at the same time though. He live... more + disclosures


 



On Destructoid: Kotobukiya: ARTFX J Sakura Kinomoto   (1)   From our database:

  • Pre-orders begin for Kotobukiya's gorgeous Cardcaptor Sakura - Martin Siggers
  • Wonder Festival 2014 Summer: Kotobukiya announces ARTFX J Cardcaptor Sakura - Martin Siggers
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    Filed under... #anime #announcements #ArtFX #Cardcaptors #Kotobukiya #Wonder Festival

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