Ah, from such humble beginnings. Kotobukiya’s now-well-regarded Marvel/DC Bishoujo (“pretty girl”) line, which is based on the concept art of Shunya Yamashita, originated with a few Marvel offerings: Black Widow, Rogue, Phoenix, and Scarlett Witch (I never bought that last one). I can’t remember now why I was interested in these girls, because I don’t read Marvel comics and I’m not particularly fond of any of these characters. I did have the local comic shop call me when Black Widow and Rogue came in, but I basically bought Phoenix on an absolute whim—never a good idea—though she turned out pretty nicely. Over the years, these three 1/8th-scale girls have receded to the back of my figure shelf (the dresser) because every other figure I have outclasses them, especially the newer 1/7th-scale Bishoujo girls. So I’m not going to say I dislike these three, I just don’t like them as much as I used to. Ultimately, it’s a problem of comparison: they keep excellent company, so they end up looking a little worse for it.
I can’t really speak to their characters. Black Widow is a member of the Avengers, of course (the movie is great), Rogue is a member of the X-Men , and Phoenix is…a part of the Marvel universe. She’s the evil Jean Grey, how about that? Wolverine killed her at the end of the horror film that was X-Men 3. I think Rogue was evil at some point in the comics, but I could care less. It should be noted that all three of these figures have at least one variant: Rogue has a long-coat variant; Black Widow has a blonde, belly-shirt variant; and Phoenix has two alternate colors: red and white.
Of the trio, I’d say Rogue is the most appealing overall, Black Widow is one of the only figures my wife actually likes (don’t know why), and Phoenix is the most visually interesting. I bought all of these girls near the start of my “serious” figure-collecting career. Before this, it had been the odd figure now and again, often separated by months (or years). I saw Black Widow on some website and decided she was too good to pass up, so I asked one of the local comic shops (there are two) if they’d order her and call me when she came in. So that happened. The same thing happened with Rogue. I bought Phoenix under bad circumstances–I had a ton of store credit and it was burning a hole in my pocket. I thought she looked cool enough to spend a majority of my credit on, so here we are.
Black Widow is in a great pose—gun ready, one leg on a step, turning her head back at that snapped twig. Her hair is great, following the arc of her head-turn. She’s very detailed, with intricate lines going every which way on her catsuit, her gun lovingly crafted, and that belt (which is a separate element), snuggly hugging her hips; also, dat ass. Unfortunately, I’m actually not a fan of her chest.
Why? Because they look like two boulders that were shoved into the front of her catsuit. Actual breasts would squeeze together and pillow upward in that costume (Screen Team’s Angie Griffin demonstrates this very well), especially with the zipper down as much as it is. Not a fan of the boulder boobs. I also don’t like the incredibly obvious seams in Black Widow’s hair. This wasn’t an issue I was as concerned with early in the collecting days. Her face is a little silly-looking, and those high-heels are ridiculous. Overall, her design is conflicted: action shot or glamour pose? There’s also the question of how close the sculpt is to the Shunya art: aside from the general pose, it’s really not at all. The art is far superior.
How about Rogue? Her pose suggests she’s at the end of a modeling runway, which I take to mean that, early in the development of this Bishoujo line, Kotobukiya wasn’t real sure what direction they were going to take with it. You might argue that the central concept still isn’t clear. I love her 90’s short-cut jacket because I love those kinds of jackets. I like her long torso, long legs, and crease-ridden boots. I love the details on her extremities, her finger-less gloves, and the way her hair flows across her back. I love the color scheme. I’m happy that they actually toned Rogue’s chest down. Any bigger would look bulbous in that bodysuit. That double-belt is cool, too. Rogue perfectly encapsulates 90’s comics, so that’s awesome.
On the other hand, her expression conveys “magazine photoshoot,” and her base (like Black Widow’s) is maybe the most boring base ever (except Mercy’s). It doesn’t help that there’s a little triangle of white plastic attached to her right foot. These complaints are, however, about all there is to say in the negative about Rogue, and she’s easily the most well-designed of the three.
Phoenix is either my favorite or least favorite of the three: least favorite because her pose is just kind of boring; most favorite because of her hair and the fire base. You’d think the base is heavy, but it’s not—in fact, I suspect it’s hollow (yet stable). Her hair, people—my god, her hair. The little frizzes flying this way and that are wonderful and virtually spark with frenetic energy. Girlfriend needs a cool-looking fireball over her upwardly-stretched palm, though. Unfortunately, the pose is fairly static, and draws your attention to those oversized basketballs on her ribcage. Of all my girls (ALL my girls), Phoenix is the only one I’d accuse of having implants. They just look tacky, but in a different way than Black Widows’. I appreciate her simplistic costume design, but I miss the little details that criss-cross Black Widow’s catsuit and Rogue’s 90’s accessorizing. I do, however, like her expression more than Black Widow’s or Rogue’s. It’s more direct, in a sort of wily, troublemaking way.
The real crime here is that Kotobukiya quickly ditched this 1/8th-scale format for 1/7th-scale figures with more individual details and intricate bases. A lot more Marvel girls have come out since these three, including Mystique, Storm, X-23, Electra, and Psylocke. I haven’t even been tempted by a single one, largely because Kotobukiya started a far-superior DC line, but also because I don’t give two craps about any of those characters. I’m actually not a Marvel fan in the first place, so it escapes me now why I started my Bishoujo collecting with these girls. You know what? I didn’t know what the heck my tastes were in the early days. “She’s pretty–I’ll buy her.” Hell, my original figure mantra was “I’ll only buy girls from video games or comic books.” That philosophy QUICKLY went south.
The other problem with these chicks is, despite being 1/8th-scale and distributed through DC Direct, these girls all retailed for $60, and I think Phoenix might have been $70. Given how much I pay for far better-looking, larger-scale girls today, I look back at that price point as a pretty ballsy rip-off. Most of the Bishoujo girls released today cost $60, and they’re bigger and better in every conceivable way than the original Marvel girls. I mean, scroll down a few bars to see Catwoman and Wonder Woman. There is no comparison. So I look at the three of them with a twinge of regret, but I didn’t know crap about figure collecting back then, so they provide a good reminder of my naïve collecting days. Never forget!
As the years have gone by and my collecting tastes have become more refined, these three gals have also inspired me to swear off 1/8th-scale figures. I think I’ve discussed this before, but there’s a certain cost-benefit analysis one can run on 1/8th-scale vs. larger scales: mainly that, for the amount of money you’d pay for a 1/8th-scale figure, you can probably pay that exact amount, or maybe a tiny bit more, for a likely superior 1/7th-scale figure, and you’re not really losing anything. Hell, Kotobukiya just released a “Covert Ops” Black Widow who is 1/7th-scale, has a more interesting pose, and she’s holding a big ol’ sniper rifle! Oh, but they royally screwed up her face. So I won’t be replacing her. I mean, I’d never get rid of any of these girls. They’re gorgeous in their own ways, and like most of my figures, there is some history attached to them.
I may have just broken my own rule, however. While I’m not positive how big Asmodeus is, but I did just pre-order her. From an import site, no less! I miscalculated the shipping, so she ended up being pretty close to $200 all told, but I’m…okay with that (couldn’t be helped–very few shipping options). Some day in February I’ll come home and find a fair-sized box under the snow, and it’ll be a nice surprise. If it all works out, I might start getting most of my figures this way. Lord knows they announce new figures that I “must have” every other goddamn day. This is not helpful!
Also: Goddammit. Way too expensive, but…my god. So perfect. Now then. Here are some more pictures of the Marvelous girls. For reference, Rogue and Black Widow are 7.5″ tall while Phoenix cheats by lengthening her body and stretching her hand up to a full 9″. I know, that’s pretty small. Especially compared to that link I just typed.
I might take new pictures of Velvet and re-do her blog post. Wouldn’t hurt. The next actual figure review will probably be one of my gaming girls–a certain brunette bombshell from Dead or Alive, methinks. Stay tuned!