Vispo might refer to her as Asukadoll, Asuka Doll or simply Asuka, but I'd call her The Most Gorgeous BJD Ever.
I bought her second-hand from the Jungle shop. They were selling her in A condition, however, after I had already paid they warned me she had loose strings. Yes, they are a bit loose, and she also had a broken finger. Other owners say that her hands are very fragile and I have to agree. When I was trying to fix it, I had a glue accident, glueing my own fingers to three layers of bedding :)
The box has a festival exclusive feel about it, if you know what I mean. A plain box with stickers, the best one being this:
Inside there is a card with the doll's image and a manual.
The doll is safe between two blankets and wearing a "helmet". Her body is quite realistic and it's a real shame that her loose strings make her legs and feet twist.
An amazing head, very true to Sadamoto Yoshiyuki's design, all edges and angles.
Vispo also added some spares, the back of the head and two plain eyeballs. (There's no way I'm ever gonna change her eyes...)
The clothes made by Vispo aren't based on any illustrations. The outfit consists of red and grey top and skirt, cuffs, a choker, black kneesocks, two rose-shaped haipins and pants that have the same hilarious image we've seen on the box sticker! The top and the skirt look as if they were made of leather, but the red fabric is actually soft inside and the top has lining, so there's no risk of getting your doll stained after wearing these. My dysfunctional camera shows the ribbon trim colour wrong, it's grey not purple!
Asuka's shoes were made by Leeke World, a Korean doll company.
The wig was made in Korea, too. It is already done in two twintails with black ribbons. The colour is closer to light brown than orange or red, but it has a nice natural look.
All dressed up.
What a doll!
It goes without saying she's much smaller than a Dollfie, but it also turns out she's shorter than a Hybrid Active Doll.
The clothes that fit her are those intended for Mini Dollfies (MDD and MSD).
In my opinion, Asuka is the best doll by Vispo and one of the highlights of my collection. I'm really happy and proud to own her.
- Written by Yoruno
I can't stop wondering what Yujin and Tomy thought when they called this line Super Real Type. What can be super real about 20cm tall Yu Yu Hakusho dolls with stuffed bodies? However, I got interested in their only female character, Botan, and here she is.
These dolls were sold inside clear plastic bags tied with an intricate golden knot.
The doll line includes Yu Yu Hakusho characters only. Back of the package.
Botan's waist is attached to the box while her feet are secured inside. That was a bad decision, as we'll see later. Her oar is here, too.
She looks a bit... stupid, with these round expressionless eyes of hers, but the sculpting itself isn't bad, especially if you pay attention to her hair. The paint has become slightly sticky with time.
Body shot. This doll can't be undressed, and her obi is actually an appliqué. Still, her kimono is rather neatly made - if you don't mind this Tomy-Yujin label on her sleeve, of course!
Her feet were stuck when I was pulling her out of the box, and one sole came unstuck. I had to glue it back later. Her feet, legs and body are made of a polyester fabric similar to fleece, and there's wire inside her legs which makes the doll poseable.
The arms have a different, rope-like texture, but are wired inside as well.
Frankly speaking, when I was buying this Botan I didn't expect her to sit, bend her arms or turn her head! She can kneel effortlessly!
But what is more important, she can ride her oar exactly like she did in the series! As you can see, she holds it herself without my help.
I'm not going to buy any other Super Real Type dolls, but it's nice to have this little Botan. Why not catch a glimpse of the 90's shounen style?
- Written by Yoruno
Many people know about Lain Collector's Action Dolls by Toynami (USA), but not many are aware of their predecessor, a rare doll by Noix de Rome (Japan).
The first variant by Noix de Rome that I found in the Internet was either a fake or a customisation, but it might have well been a prototype. Anyway, I've never seen it again.
The version that does exist is the bear pajamas version, even though it's relatively hard to find. It's a Wonder Festival edition, and some sources claim it's limited to 100 dolls.
As I already own a Toynami Bear Pajamas Lain, I was eager to compare them. I had a theory which will be exposed later.
So, this is Lain wearing her kigurumi as shown in the series.
... and this is what I've got. The Noix de Rome Lain is on the right, and she looks considerably bigger than the Toynami doll. Both boxes have the recognisable Lain logo, but the American box is an eye candy, both inside and outside, while there's nothing special about the Japanese box, it's generic for all Noix de Rome dolls.
The series synopsis and some credits on the back of the Toynami box. Noix de Rome has nothing special to offer.
Accessories inside the boxes: slippers by Toynami (no bear decorations on them unfortunately) and a DIY hairclip by noix de Rome.
The dolls look very different!
The American doll has molded hair and painted eyes. Generally, she resembles the character a lot.
The Japanese doll has rooted hair. Her head is made of soft vinyl. As for the resemblance... I don't know. The eyes are good (there are even dark circles under her eyes), but this rosebud mouth just doesn't fit.
You have to make Lain's hairclip yourself with a piece of the wire included in the set. OK, at least I tried. Isn't her lock too... bushy?
Both dolls together. The Noix de Rome Lain still looks bigger, but what if I undress them?
Ta-da! It's the same Ninie body! Only the heads are different!
See, the bodies are labelled as Ninie (the pink inscription on the waist).
So, my THEORY is that the Noix de Rome Lain served as a prototype for the Toynami Lain. Not just a source of inspiration, but probably a licence, because, as we know, the Japanese Lain was a festival release and had no further mass production; and then the next year Toynami makes a Lain doll using the same body! I tend to view these two dolls as an ancestor and a descendant.
Even though the bodies are the same, the bear pajamas are different in size. The pajamas by Noix de Rome look more like a real kigurumi, massive and short-legged, while the Toynami variant is closer to the anime original with its white buttons and the lining inside the hood.
They both have tails, kawaii!
Not sure if the cuffs should stand out.
The bear hoods are surprisingly similar... and share the same mistake. The "bear head" doesn't have a mouth in the original design.
You can see that Toynami's version fits the body better, but the head is too small for the hood. With Noix de Rome's version, it's the other way round: the hood fits fine, but the body sinks in the kigurumi.
All in all, I believe Toynami did a better job, yet it's still exciting to have both dolls!
- Written by Yoruno
From the moment I saw Isobelle Pascha X Otome no Teikoku collaboration prototypes, I was fascinated with Mahiru & Mahiro set. At the same time I knew I couldn't afford both of them, so it was a relief when Solaris Japan started selling them individually. I chose Mahiro, and although I understand I won't be now able to recreate the MahiMahi scenes, I'm still happy. Anyway, they are technically one and the same doll, only with different hair colour!.. (In the manga, MahiMahi are not real twins, but they pretend to be ones).
Mahiro is an interesting addition to my collection, because it's a designer doll and not a commercial representation of a character. I frankly don't know why 3A picked this manga - for its controversy maybe? However, their Isobelle Pascha dolls are not exactly what you call manga style.
Otome no Teikoku dolls by 3A also share these somewhat grotesque and cartoonish proportions and facial features, so that you can only recognise the manga characters by fashions they wear.
OK, time to start unpacking. The box I received is huge, much bigger than needed, with lots of what I call "Japanese air" inside:
The doll package itself is much smaller. The outer box has manga images on it, showing Mahiru and Mahiro. All sides:
The inner box has an A3 art on it. I guess the girl is Isobelle Pascha:
There are some extras from A3 inside, such as an A3 sticker, a poster and a booklet promoting military-style dolls:
Now to Mahiro, here she is:
Her outfit is not an exact copy of the clothes she wears in the manga, but it's a very creative interpretation. Her parka, although not fully purple, has the same stars and bears pattern and still has several details in purple (or, rather, lavender). It is amazingly detailed. The pockets are real and the hood string is functioning, too.
The school uniform is silky and detailed.
The kneesocks have a different pattern, but the shoes are accurate to the very soles. By the way, you can easily tell the right one from the left one.
Underneath the uniform Mahiro wears patterned underwear:
Now her head and body. Instead of a manga face, Mahiro has a standard Isobelle Pascha triangular nose and rope-shaped lips. Still, this caricature face can be very expressive, and it changes each time you turn her head.
Mahiro's pigtails are made of several details, and I have to admit the seams are rather crude, but I like the shading.
The hands are funny and look as if they were made of wood. Even though they look big, you can undress the doll without removing them.
Anyway, I dismembered her a bit for the body shot. Initially I thought it was an Obitsu body, but no, A3 make original doll bodies. They are posable, whith knee and elbow joints, but not so bendy in neck or waist unfortunately. My doll has also got a very tight hip joint. The manufacturer included some spare joints, so I'll probaby try to replace this one. Mahiro has flat feet, very dummy-like, but surprisingly realistic soft breasts and crotch.
Mahiro can stand on her own, but she looks a bit unsafe. She kneels confidently, but when it comes to sitting, she is just unable to do it in a realistic way.
Notwithstanding some minor faults, she is a very unusual and therefore valuable addition to my collection. It's always interesting to see anime standards from a different angle.
- Written by Yoruno
After creating a rather ugly Stylish Collection Spike Spiegel, Medicom made another attempt in 2002, and this time the character looked much better. This Spike is supposed to be Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door version, which means no difference from the series style and design, as you can see on the box art.
The side of the box offers some specifications, not free from mistakes.
Inside, more info is attached in Japanese.
The inside of the box is not as blue as in my picture, it's just my camera, but I thought it would be fun to retain the blue colour which is so significant in the series.
The set includes the figure, a stand, a cigarette, Spike's gun and an extra hand to hold this gun.
The figure itself represents the character well, my only complaint being that his otherwise nice and well-sewn suit doesn't let Spike move te way he's supposed to. Here I show his limits. Well, maybe Medicom also shouldn't have copied the body proportions so precisely. What looks good on the screen doesn't look the same on the doll; in other words, Spike's head is a bit too small while his hands are a bit too big.
Underneath the clothes, the Spider Body looks like this. Without the jacket, it has a pretty good range of movement.
At first I couldn't guess how in the promo pictures Spike manages to keep such big hands in his pockets. In fact, if you want to recreate this pose, the hands should be taken off.
The Spike on the right is Play Arts Kai action figure. It looks more elegant, but the doll is closer to the character design. And, of course, I always prefer dolls to action figures!
What I especially like about my new Spike is his face. For some reason, Spike Spiegel is a difficult character to sculpt, many of his PVC figures are off, but this one looks good, very true to the original and generally pleasant to look at.
See You Space Cowboy...
- Written by Yoruno