In the toy world, McFarlane Toys is synonymous with incredibly detailed, well-sculpted figures. Or, more specifically, incredibly detailed, well-sculpted figures that don't move. "Statuesque," even. However, with Spawn Series 19, The Samurai Wars, McFarlane announced they were going to up the bar; they were going to create the most detailed and articulated Spawn figures ever!
Well, maybe that slogan should
have been "the most detailed and articulated Spawn figures ever, plus Lotus!"
Lotus is an angelic Samurai warrior sent to feudal Japan from the Worlds Above to put an end to the epic battle between Samurai Spawn and the beast Jyaaku the Nightmare. Lotus dispatches the three-headed Jyaaku back to its own dark realm before turning her attention to Samurai Spawn. The Samurai, formerly known as Takeda, bows his head to receive the death blow he longs for. Instead, Lotus pardons the wild creature, leaving him to roam the ancient Japanese landscape in search of salvation.
When I opened Lotus, the first thing that struck me was that her swords aren't actually accessories - they're a molded part of her forearms. Huh? What was the purpose of that? Would it really have been so very much more difficult to create separate swords?
Like all of the Series 19 releases, Lotus is wearing highly ornate armor that's almost entirely brown. Because when you have an amazing sculpt, why would you want anyone to see it? She has large shoulder
pads - one shaped like a mustachioed demon man, the other a hooked vulture beak - a small scarf around her neck, an armored bra, plates on her arms, a belt that's more about modesty than protection, drastically complex kneepads/shin armor that fits around her legs in two pieces and is thus removable, and the ultimate in period-accurate warrior footwear: big wedge-heeled sandals. Sorry, did I say "period-accurate warrior footwear"? I meant "'discount shots night' at Senor Frog's."
One of the major, major complaints McToys received at the time of the release of Spawn Series 17 was that Tiffany was a statue - she could barely move, and even those movements were ridiculously planned. Well, Lotus does indeed go halfway toward remedying that problem. Her articulation certainly doesn't leave her limbs akimbo, primarily because she doesn't have any articulation below the waist (well, actually, the chest, but let's not get picky). This figure, part of the line touted as being "the one for articulation fans," has less articulation than a figure that was previously deemed too statuesque for the designation "Ultra Action Figure."
There was a bit of controversy about Lotus' legs when
the final packaged samples were first revealed on the Spawn.com message boards: all the prototype images showed her with bare legs, while the final product has her legs painted black. Obviously these leggings were added to stave off complaints from parents when these figures were put out at Toys "Я" Us and KB Toys, but boy oh boy, did it ever rile up the nerds! While they were crying censorship, they never took into account the fact that a woman wearing even a little bit of clothing is sexier than one who's completely bare.
[For those who absolutely had to have a bare-legged Lotus, the McFarlane Collector's Club offered a repaint in 2002. Her legs were skintone, her armor was more golden, and she came with more accessories. --ed.]
Since Lotus' swords are permanently
attached to her hands, they don't count as accessories. Her only weapon is a ridiculous spear thing that can fit into a loop on her back. It doesn't make much sense on its own, but as Shocka mentioned, McToys also offered an Accessory Pack that gave fans a whole bunch of extra pieces that wouldn't cost out for the normal releases. From the Pack, Lotus gets a big crazy demon head with large spikes coming up off the sides. So the "spear" isn't a spear at all, it's the staff to hold up her battle standard!
Lotus has no shoulder articulation. Her right arm is articulated at the bicep, and her left moves just above and below the elbow. But sadly, with no shoulders, these points are just wasted. While other figures are leaping about the plastic battlefield, Lotus is relegated to standing on the sidelines, looking disinterested. Provided, of course, that she doesn't tumble over as her soft, rubbery legs give way. I'm not sure what happened
here, but she does tend to get a bit less stable the closer to the ground she gets; maybe this is another case of the production factory choosing a softer plastic that would be easier to pull from the molds.
These angels are supposed to be interdimensional ass-kickers. Please, let them move! She doesn't have to have 30 points of articulation or anything, but would hips and shoulders really hurt? We know McFarlane's team can sculpt a stunning female figure - they've proved this time and time again. We know it. We appreciate it. We buy the figures because of it. Yes, it's true, peg joints are easy to spot; but in small doses, that's okay - in Lotus' case, knees would be almost entirely obscured by the leg armor. And elbows would be a miniscule, if noticeable flaw, and one that would be more than made up for by the poseability. So yes, more joints would break up the delicate line of the figure, but that's not an unforgivable sin; especially not in a company that we've come to trust over these many years.
We know McToys can do beautiful - and we'll pay good money for "beautiful" in Spawn 20 and further "Classics" lines. But for now, can't the sculptors show us that they can also do functional? Spawn IV had balljointed shoulders, and they worked well - but it's easy to do that in big bulky arms. Could they possibly rise to the challenge of making balljoints work equally as well in a slender, delicate arm? I believe that the sculptors and designers could, but will we ever see it?
Of course, I'm not part of the design team. I'm not part of the company. I'm just a fan, and I already spent my money to buy the figure. I guess these are just my dreams for a potential R3 of the line. So maybe I'm just ranting.
And now, so no one thinks that there's nothing I like about the figure, I proudly present Lotus's good points:
The sculpt. Great job, guys! They created another incredibly feminine figure, and even raised the bar for themselves - with her hair up, her neck had to be completely sculpted. No hiding behind hair here,
no matter how nicely sculpted it is. And as far as I can tell, her face is just as well done. Of course, it's hard to tell; that flat white can hide a lot of mistakes (just ask KISS). I'd almost like to see a version of her with a skin-tone face, but then we'd lose the cool Noh look. Maybe something like the removable mask that MAC's Kabuki came with (R3! R3! R3!)? Just rambling again. Her giant headdress has kanji on both sides. The right says 惡魔 (akuma, "devil"), while the left says 女神 (megami, "goddess").
The armor. Not only is it highly detailed, but it's removable as well! I couldn't believe it when her leg armor fell apart (well, okay, I could believe it - gotta love those McJoints), but I was completely floored when I realized that it was supposed to do that, and that it went back on without any trouble. That friggin' rocks!
The articulation, sort of. No McJoints! All the joints move free and easy - nothing's glued in place here!
The paint. Usually, early runs of a series are a bit sloppier than their later cousins. However, my Lotus seems to be very sharply decoed - there's a bit of a flub on her left foot, but that's a very minor point of contention (because it's hardly noticeable).
So, in conclusion, Lotus is a decent sculpt, but falls a little short in comparison to the other, more active figures in her line. But hey, I bought her, so make your own decisions; I'm just daydreaming, here. Despite all promises to the contrary, Lotus is barely articulated, so she's really just more of the same from McToys.