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DOA Xtreme 2
by Artemis

For a toy manufacturer, choosing a license to pursue is fraught with peril. You never know when the big blockbuster you're pouring all your merchandising efforts into is going to be a flop, or if that unpromising TV show you considered bidding for, but decided wouldn't be profitable, is actually the next big thing waiting to happen, and would've made you a fortune if only you'd had the sense to get in on the ground floor. It's a minefield, it really is. Luckily, you can always fall back on softcore pornography.

Okay, admittedly Kokoro here isn't actually pornographic in any real sense, since regardless of her configuration she's wearing just enough material over her intimate bits to be able to go out in public without being arrested. But c'mon, look at her - you don't buy a statue like this because you're a fan of her complex characterisation. For that matter, you wouldn't even know her character unless you'd played Dead or Alive, which is racy enough in itself, not to mention Dead or Alive Xtreme 2, the specific source of this statue (from the "Venus on the Beach" series, 'nuff said), which is basically all the pervy bits of beach volleyball without the need to pretend it's about sport.

(Me, I haven't even played the game - though I've seen the movie, which was fun, but Kokoro wasn't in it anyway. So I don't have any excuse, but then again I've got all those Plastic Fantasy figures, so what do I care?)

Kokoro's billed as a 1/6 scale figure, which she is, but you'd be forgiven for not thinking so at first, not because she's small, but because of her kneeling pose - in her packaging, with the cardboard edge of the front window hiding her lower legs, I at first took her for one of those thighs-up mini-busts. Once you unpack her and get a good look at her you see her scale more clearly, but even so she's rather unassuming - I'd guess she'd be a bit under 10½" tall if she were standing, putting her at around 5'5". Quite plausible, of course, but with 1/6 scale figures generally assuming that everyone they represent is six feet tall, Kokoro looks a bit petite by comparison.

As packaged, she's kitted out in a day-in-the-sun ensemble of tight white off-the-shoulder top and short skirt. Her clothes are all painted, rather than relying on cast-in-colour sections, which means they have the exact finishes that they should - the slight shine on the rugged beach skirt, the flat white of the top, and the plain black and shiny gold of the decorative strip running around her shoulders. With no primary colours in her wardrobe, her skin stands out, all soft and glowy without anything to overwhelm it - you'd expect high-quality paintwork from a statue at this price point, and Kokoro delivers.

She's styled in the classy-anime fashion, with the artistic conventions of the genre - mainly in her face - but not so pronounced as to look cartoony. Her figure is what you'd expect from an anime bikini babe, idealised along curvy lines, with a welcome bit of definition to her stomach (which offsets the waist, which pushes how narrow it can get), a toned bottom and the slightest hint of thigh muscles, and a pair of breasts that, were she to go into the water, would qualify as a shipping hazard. Robert Herrick would bite his pen in two looking at her.

Her face is a pretty standard anime lovely, though her pose, with the head tilted back, makes it look a bit strange from straight ahead - no flaw of the sculpt or paint, just a slightly unflattering angle. Her hair is really good work, entirely separate from the head itself, allowing it to fall over her forehead and eyes and the sides of her face realistically, and the sculpt is very sharp and fine, especially given the soft plastic it's made from. It's billowing slightly out behind her, as if in a gentle breeze, and they even remembered to have the coil of hair bound in a metal spiral hanging straight down, due to the metal's extra weight, before blowing around freely beneath it. Very good attention to detail, that.

To complete her lazy tropical ensemble, she's got a functioning parasol, packaged closed - the paper isn't exactly rugged so it's advisable to coax it open rather than just shoving the collar up the handle right away, but I've opened and closed it a fair few times while experimenting with the best look for Kokoro, and the parasol is still undamaged. When fully open it spans 6", and there's a little metal spring built into the handle to hold it open, just like you'd find on a real umbrella. She also gets a scenic base to kneel on, a circle of beach 6" wide (no coincidence that it matches the diameter of the parasol - the two circles complement each other well), with a decent sandy texture, a little starfish and shell, and the edge of a wave lapping around her knees. The wave makes a valiant attempt at looking good, with a fade from clear to aqua blue and good texturing, but I just don't think it quite captures the look - the leading edge is too rounded, to distinct from the sand it's washing over. Mind you, capturing a wave washing up a shore in solid form is a tough ask, so I don't criticise Kotobukiya harshly for falling a bit short in the attempt.

Normally that'd be it for a statue, but Kokoro has another trick up her sleeve: her clothes come off to reveal a skimpy bikini. Come on, you know you want to. Both top and bottom separate along the sides into two pieces, with the front of the top bearing the entire shoulder strap (and necklace, incidentally), which unplugs from the back, while the rear of the skirt includes the white panties, which detach from the front. Why she's not just wearing the skirt over her bikini bottoms I don't know - though the outfit is one she's been shown wearing in the game, I gather, so in all likelihood there were plenty of panty shots, so I guess the white could be a matter of accuracy.

The clothing is quite rigid - though not completely inflexible - and the plugs that join the halves together at either side are a different plastic, clear and stiff for maximum friction against the softer clothing to hold the pieces tightly closed. I've dressed and undressed Kokoro several times already, and the joins show no signs of loosening, so with careful use I don't foresee any problems with the costume change. Since they're separate to the body, though, the clothes have quite a bit of thickness to them compared to what you'd see on a one-piece statue - they do their best to hide it, with the skirt sculpted to look as if it's pulling tightly around her hips, and the top pulled smooth across her breasts and displaying a pair of nipples poking through, but overall I'd say the clothed look still suffers a bit.

The unclothed look is just fine, however - once the clothes come off you just attach the ties to either side of her bikini bottoms, and the neck strap to her top (the lower strap between the breasts is permanently attached), and she's ready for whatever it is she does. Not beach volleyball, or swimming, or any kind of physical activity, I'd guess, since it's difficult to see how her boobs are staying where they are, and any kind of sharp movement would doubtless send them bouncing out the bottom of the "cups." Maybe they're taped in? Whatever concealed engineering is responsible for her breasts behaving themselves, it produces a hell of a cleavage. The bikini is skin-tight, but that doesn't keep it from having tiny creases around the crotch, and where the neck strap pulls on it - in terms of how the fabric would react, at least, it's very realistic. The paintwork, dark brown with silver palm leaf patterns, is very complimentary to her bare skin, while the tiny beads on the neck strap are picked out cleanly - I've taken a close-up photo of them, in case beadwork is among your interests and you want a better look. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Overall, she is what she is - if you want something more elaborate (or highbrow) than a buxom babe in a bikini kneeling decoratively on your desk, look elsewhere, and if it's the fully clothed look you like (why?), have a close look at her before buying to make sure you're happy with the width of the clothing. But if you fancy having a 3D version of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and the price tag isn't a turn-off, Kokoro's your girl.

-- 03/05/09

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