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by Artemis

Hey kids! Wanna have sex with a succubus? Give this a go:

Inscribe in white the circle, with black candles at the five points of the pentagram, and beyond it a second circle of warding herbs crushed and mixed. For each candle place about yourself one talisman as guardian. Believing and knowing the security of the circle, now lay in the manner of the pentagram, and summon the succubus to you.

Well, I figured if delusional hardline Christians could get J.K. Rowling so much free publicity when she just uses witchcraft as a plot device (without even mentioning Lucifer at that), OAFEnet ought to get a hundred thousand new readers per day for telling y'all how to actually summon demons. At least, that's what the above "spell" is supposedly for - I just Googled it up this afternoon, and I haven't got any chalk handy to try it out. Post on the forum to let us know how it goes if you do. OAFEnet takes no responsibility if the demoness chooses to dismember you. Anyway, if it really was that easy to summon succubi, there'd be thousands of teenage boys found dead with erections every day, so you're probably safe.

Anyway, succubi used to be yet another ingenious way to make everyone feel guilty for no reason, but nowadays they're really just demon porn - any fantasy story, series, or game with demons will probably sprout a few sooner or later, especially if the target audience is predominantly male. Castlevania, one of the second-tier classics of gaming (not quite as well-known as the biggies like Mario and Tomb Raider and Zelda, but it'd still manage to get invited to the same parties as them), is all about vampires, but the line is hazy - succubi are often depicted as "sex vampires" - so naturally a few turn up here and there, most notably the poor lass who got saddled with impersonating the hero's mother in Symphony of the Night (not a great job, since Dracula didn't bother properly briefing her, with the result that she gets herself killed), which is the specimen this figure represents.

She's a mixed bag to look at - the sculpt is pretty good, but let down by the paintwork. She stands about 6¾" tall (an even 8" to the top of her wings), and is built along the classic lines of succubi everywhere, being basically a classy stripper with bat wings. Her physique is attractive and well-sculpted, but slender verging on thin, healthy but not active - appropriate for a demoness in the form (albeit sexed-up) of a woman who was a healer, not a fighter, and who's also generally out to seduce rather than rough up. Her costume is intricate, with baroque lacework on her bustier and spiderweb patterned gloves, and gentle creases on the flat materials like her boots and g-string, which is about the smallest example I can recall seeing on an action figure, and that includes the porn stars. Her wings are thick and leathery, and cast from dully translucent plastic with paint then faded onto the ridges - stand her up against a pale surface behind her, and the faint glow of reflected light will make the wings look nice and creepy.

Elsewhere though, things aren't as promising. Her skin is a monotone ashen pale, almost white, which is appropriate for her nature - "creature of the night" and all that - but means unless you angle her carefully against whatever light source you've got, some of the subtle curves of her physique can be lost. The black picking out the strands of her spiderweb gloves falls too often into the gaps as well, making it look like some kind of reptile skin, and the fine edges of her bustier and g-string suffer from poor coverage - since it's almost all fine edges, the g-string fares worst, with the connecting ring at the back and the strand emerging from between her buttocks left with clearly visible skin-colour edges. There's an odd paint error too - her arms have light red ink washes over the skin colour, possibly to make her look like she's been clawing through her lover's entrails, but on the left arm - on my figure, anyway - the red-stained skin extends all the way up to the shoulder, mismatching the colour on the other side of the swivel joint.

It's the same story with her face. The sculpt is really beautiful, a thin, elfin face set in an expression of chilly determination, but the paint does it no favours, with plain dark burgundy lips, unsophisticated eye shadow, and no hint of blush on her cheeks. I know she's supposed to be a demon, but c'mon, surely a succubus can rustle up a bit of a healthy skin tone, just to help snare potential mates? There's a difference between "pale" and "corpse," y'know. That'd be disappointing but not damning (so to speak) on its own - but to top it off, her left eye is wandering off on some errand of its own, leaving its owner looking mythically deranged, moreso even than Sideshow's Serial Killer Padme Amidala.

Her hair is nice work, sculpted very finely, with multiple overlaps thanks to it being three separate pieces: main, front, and top. It's a lot darker than the lustrous copper I'm seeing in the relevant character art, though - it looks like the highlight is that colour, but it's applied over such a dark basecoat that she winds up more of a dark auburn, and much of the detail is lost. The string of flowers on her crest is also poor paint over a good sculpt, with indifferent drybrushing making it look like it's made from dirty dishcloth rather than white roses.

Sucky was designed to be able to bare her chest, with the top segment of her bustier coming off, leaving it a quarter-cup bra, but evidently the sight of a natural part of the human body was deemed too much for our fragile minds, so the bra top got glued down. Possibly by fortunate chance, possibly by the worker with the glue gun feeling a bit subversive, this can be undone if you're willing to put in a little work: the glue is only applied at the outer edges of the piece, leaving the majority of the breasts, and crucially the nipples, free from glue damage. They're smaller than you'd expect, based on how they look when covered, but that's because the lower segment of the bra is push-up support, not just covering - they're about the right size for her slender body, and sculpted realistically given the bustier's effect on how they rest. Her nipples are still painted, in a slightly murky tan colour - given that some repainting (and gentle fine sanding to get rid of the last of the glue) will be necessary to touch up the outer edges of the breasts, I think I may repaint the nipples to something paler too. And I'll fix up that damned eye while I'm at it.

Articulation is another disappointing area, with none of the joints really any use for anything. She's got a neck balljoint, but her hair limits it severely, as well as imposing a permanent downward gaze. Her arms swivel at the shoulder, but without any other arm articulation there's no way to make them look natural anywhere but at her sides. Her wings are mounted on balljoints, but they're set so deeply into her back that all you can really do is tweak the angle of the wings a very small amount - and since her hair rests over the "shoulders" of the wings, moving them back forces her head further forward. Finally she's got swivels hidden in the tops of her boots, but there's really only one orientation her legs look natural in. Effectively, she's a statue.

Unless you count the top of her bra cups, she's got three accessories. For her accessory-grip right hand there's a double-headed axe, a simple piece with a basic sculpt in silver, and dull brown on the handle. She has an oval base, which is barely big enough to accommodate both her feet - its two pegs, one for each foot, hold her steady though, and while she can be made to stand on her own it's a chancy business, so the base is advisable.

Finally, she has a companion in the form of a deformed little man, which I at first imagined to be one of her victims (if you wanted to make a succubus seem scary, that's the kind of thing you'd claim she did to her lovers as she drained them), but on further investigation turns out to be another enemy from the game, called a Fleaman. They're the ubiquitous annoying-little-bugger foes that infest many a videogame, existing to annoy the player until he or she unwisely charges blindly after one in an effort to kill it, whereupon they wind up amid 20 of its mates and get swarmed to death. He's a single solid piece, and there's not much I can tell you about him that you can't see from the photo - good sculpt, fair paint job, though, aside from around the eyes, the monotone skin doesn't fully complement the sculpt.

These things have been damn near impossible to find - not that Sydney's ever a great hunting ground for action figures, but this girl's absence has been a particular irritation. It's not a case of shattered expectations, since I'd heard she suffered from poor paint - I'm just sorry to discover that those reports were accurate. Given a full makeover (which I won't attempt, since it's a while since I last painted and I'm doubtless out of practice) her sculpt would shine; given the few tweaks I'll be giving her, to clean up the eyes and breasts, she's adequate. But seriously, a finished product shouldn't go on sale still needing to be fixed, so I have to say I can't recommend Sucky, unless like me you bear in mind what you're going to be getting, and are willing to put up with the shortcomings.

-- 10/07/09

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