What surprises is she hiding in that chest of hers?
While I've not played the Shining series games, I do like a lot of Tony Taka's character designs for the games, and that's doubly so when it comes to Shining Hearts' Xiaomei. I'm not too sure why exactly; could be the catgirl bit, could be the personality I've seen in her illustrations, but I like her as a character.
So, when Yamato announced they'd be doing a PVC figure of Xiaomei, I was naturally pretty excited. Yamato usually does good work, and I hoped their Xiaomei would be a nice companion to go with my excellent Max Factory Xiaomei.
That was the case. Well, kind of.
Figure name: SIF EX Xiaomei
Figure maker: Yamato
Retail price: ¥9,800
Available at: HobbyLink Japan
Xiaomei's box was an absolute pain to photograph for one reason in particular: it's shiny. Really, really shiny. To the point that some of the detailing work in seafoam green gets washed out under the bright light. That's mostly the case on the white-heavy front and back; on the side with the Xiaomei illustration and the smaller window, the detail pops out fine. As for the box, it's alright and does it's job, complete with a large front window showing off the figure.
You can also see the Cerberus Project name on here; this figure is a PVC version of a garage kit they previously did. Yamato has worked with them before, so the pairing is not too unfamiliar. You can also see that G.O. from Cerberus Project is our original sculptor.
Let's get her out, shall we?
Xiaomei is, in fact, not a single figure but two parts: the actual figure and a chest, which she rests upon. One of her hands is reaching back toward the chest, as if it protect it. She's in the same outfit we always see her in, though in quite a different pose from most other figures.
This photo is a bit dark ... but I had to because the "base" is super-reflective. Enough that I couldn't get the seafoam green patterning to show up otherwise. It's a nice pattern ... but this isn't so much a base as it feels like a thin oversized plastic coaster.
What really serves as a sort of base here is the chest. Very clean paint and nice details sculpted in, especially the bolts on the metal parts and the woodgrain look for the chest surfaces. The lock is actually a separate piece, so it jangles about a bit ... though why that would be something important for a static figure, I'm not so sure. However, the part with the lock on it does serve to hold the two pieces making up the chest together.
So why don't we start with her legs? Some nice sculptwork here from G.O., giving her some nice, lengthy thighs and ankles without creating odd proportions. The one silky legging she wears has a nice finish to it, and the black finish of the shoes looks just as nice. Even the little bow on her ankle is drooping a bit, like gravity is tugging on it.
You also might have noticed something here; I'll mention it in a sec.
But first, butt shot. Yes, for some reason, Xiaomei's lower dress comes off. So you can see her thong. Feels a bit unnecessary ... but at least it looks OK on the back end.
Now, the thing I mentioned: her tail is scratched up pretty bad here on the backside. I'm guessing it's the bottom of the skirt that rubbed off on the black tail during assembly, but this really shouldn't happen. It's quite disappointing even if it's not visible from the front, and it distracts from the nice shading job on her sash bow.
Xiaomei's outfit is just gorgeous and there's plenty to look at. The colors are proper and the gloves have this lovely silk sheen from the paint job. The paint itself doesn't bleed into the space between the fingers, and there's a lot of nice folds and wrinkles as her outfit wraps around her body shape. It's also nice to see that her bust size isn't too small or large.
... Oh. We have a little bit of a problem here, and it's her mouth. This is the way Cerberus Project originally sculpted it, which Yamato left alone, and it's not the smile in the illustration what so ever. Or even close, really. She looks shocked or surprised, not acting sly and guarding her locked chest. I do not like it.
To counter that, her hair and ears are pretty well sculpted. Lots of little detail and the painted fade on the tips of her ears look nice. A seam is visible at the back of her bangs, so heads up on that, but she's otherwise fine here.
Yamato's Xiaomei started off with a wonderful sketch, and turned out to be something slightly less than wonderful. The scratches on the tail are annoying, but her face just doesn't look quite right. She's got this coy smile in the photo and that did not make the transition to my Xiaomei at all. Instead, she's got an open mouth like she's gasping. I'm not really a fan of that, unfortunately.
Beyond those issues, she's plenty nice, but she's not as good as Max Factory's previous take on her. You might want to pick her up if you're a huge Xiaomei fan just to have in your collection, but if you're only getting one Xiaomei ... this one's probably not it.
[Thanks to HobbyLink Japan for providing Xiaomei for this review!]
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