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Street Fighter
by yo go re

Oh, Japan. You really do love your racist caricatures, don't you?

Yoga is not generally thought of as a fighting art, but Dhalsim is out prove this understanding wrong. As a young boy he was trained by the best yoga masters until he became the greatest of them all. He can sense the emotions and spirituality around him, as he is in tune with all things living. He could never permanently damage a living creature, but knows how to protect himself with his mighty techniques. In order to expand his consciousness into the next plane of awareness, Dhalsim has entered the Street Fighter tournament against his own judgment. He hopes to be able to tap the fighting spirits of those competing and learn what it is that keeps them fighting even against the worst odds.

Huh. Obviously I need to pay better attention - I always thought of Dhalsim as one of the villains, like Vega or Balrog. But apparently he was one of the good guys all along. Maybe it was the fire-breathing that threw me off. That's always the sign of sinister intent. Even if it was because he ate spicy curry before the match.

Dhalsim is, of course, a yogi, and teaches us that all Indians are made of rubber. He was also based on inspired by the character Yoga Tro La Seng in the seminal martial arts film Master of the Flying Guillotine, the originator of the "super-stretchy rubber man attack" trope. In the Street Fighter cartoons, he serves as an oddball mentor to the young Ken and Ryu, making him more "Yoda" than "yoga."

Technically, Dhalsim isn't part of the Street Fighter line: he comes to us from SOTA's "Street Fighter Revolutions" series, which is allegedly a separate thing, yet "happened" to only give us chatacters who weren't already in the normal series. Funny the way that works, isn't it? For some reason the scale on the line got bumped up for "Revolutions," so Dhalsim ends up standing 6½" tall, which isn't too large, in the scheme of things.

Befitting his elastic, double-jointed nature, Dhalsim has tons of articulation. Befitting his being sold in a "Street Fighter Revolutions" package, that articulation is all quite liable to break. He has balljointed ankles, double-hinge knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, some unholy conglomeration of swivel, hinge and ball-and-socket joints to handle the abdomen, balljointed wrists, double-hinged elbows (sometimes), swivel biceps, balljointed shoulders, and a ball-and-socket head. The shoulder joints - the swivel/hinge balljoint ones, that is - are also mounted on real ball/socket balljoints in the torso, but moving those things seems impossible: try it, and you're just likely to snap the arm off. The plastic knot on the belt impedes the hip joints, but only slightly.

Speaking of things that break off, Dhalsim doesn't get a second replacement head, but that doesn't mean he isn't without extras: he has hands, both open and closed, as well as a second pair of arms to duplicate his stretching powers. The normal arms are the ones with elbow joints, while the stretched ones are solid from shoulder to wrist. The first Dhalsim I got broke his wrist when I tried to swap hands, and getting the arms on and off is an infuriating process to say the least. If we didn't have to worry so much about the joints snapping off, it wouldn't be as nerve-wracking, but the fit is very tight.

Dhalsim's sculpt is quite nice, avoiding the sort of problems that plagued E. Honda. He has the proper emaciated look for his torso, but is still surprisingly muscular in the limbs. His big feet will give him a stable base in even the most extreme poses, and his face is appropriately dour. His giant hoop earrings are separate pieces glued into the ears - with varying degrees of success, making them at least semi-removable.

The figure's only accessory, if you don't count the free-floating silver loops on his wrists, is his skull necklace. The three skulls have a good sculpt, looking appropriately creepy. Supposedly they're the skulls of children in his village that died from a plague, though that doesn't explain why he's parading around with their remains on a rope. Depending on where the knot is tied in the string, the skulls may hang too low, but you can correct that yourself.

The paint is necessarily simple, since we're talking about a mostly-naked guy, here, but what apps there are have been done well enough. His shorts and the wrpas on his ankles and wrists are saffron, standing out from his dark(ish) skin. The rope belt could use some more brown, but that's just minor. The red stripes on his head are crisp, his eyes are blank white, and the skulls get a wash to make them look dirty. The dot on his forehead gets a simple silver app, too.

It's clear that the "Street Fighter Revolutions" line is pretty much the last hurrah for SOTA, a company that came out swinging in 2003 and immediately staked their claim right up there with the likes of NECA and Palisades. The Street Fighter line was excellent, in its time, and the "Revolutions" figures just don't live up to that. Dhalsim breaks way too easily, and costs about five bucks too much. He's good for rounding out your SFII collection, but overall, this was a disappointing way to see SOTA go out.

Dhalsim | E. Honda | R. Mika | Zangief

-- 06/24/09

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