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Rainbow Mika

Street Fighter
by Artemis

Revivals are a tricky business, especially when the property being revived already has a strong fanbase - for every Ron Moore Battlestar Galactica that takes an old idea and does it proud, there are a dozen failed reboots that make you wish it had just stayed dead. SOTA's Street Fighter line did the classic arcade game proud in almost every way, and now, after a long hiatus, it's back as Street Fighter Revolution. So, is it the second coming, or Battlestar 1980?

Don't be fooled by her somewhat comical appearance. Rainbow Mika is one female wrestler you don't want to mess with. Rumors fly as to why she has decided to enter the Street Fighter tournament, but it is known that she is seeking out the burly Russian Zangief. Whether she's out to prove herself, the validity of women wrestlers across the globe, or has targeted the pride of the former Soviet Union for her potential husband, other fighters should be sure to watch out for her powerful grappling moves like the Wingless Airplane and the Heavenly Dynamite Super.

That old Street Fighter line set the bar high for sculpt and paint, and here Mika stumbles right out of the blocks. The first thing you notice - besides the huge moose antler pigtails, which aren't SOTA's fault - is her skin tone, which is grey and washed out. I'm no expert in action figure paint processes, but I do know that flesh-tone paint, with its yellow content, is a right pain to cover bases with, and what I see here makes me think someone in the factory forgot that, and gave Mika one coat too few. Without a bright primary colour on her costume - the white's no good, and the blue is too near a pastel to work - only her corn-gold hair has the vibrancy and cartoony attractiveness of the older figures, and her hair can't carry the figure on its own.

Her sculpt hits the right marks on the macro scale, but when you look at the fine detail, it's got its undermining flaw too. All the costume details are accurate, and rendered well enough to pass muster, but the precision of the parts, the exactness with which one piece of the figure lines up with the next, is pretty lax - joints, especially the shoulder and hip balls, have unusually visible crevices between the components, and the ends of the pins through these joints, as well as those in the elbows, stand out a mile. Again, it falls far short of the old figures - they didn't exactly hide their articulation, but they managed to live with it better than this.

She's also got a bit of a giraffe neck, thanks to the frill on her collar being placed high up rather than against her shoulders, which in turn necessitated her head being moved higher still. The rest of her physical proportions are passable - though even given the hip joints, her thighs seem spaced a bit far apart.

She's got two heads, which pop on and off their balljoints without any real effort. The one she's packaged with is a stern, intent glare - or rather, that's what it is on the prototype shown on the back of the packaging. On the figure itself the sculpt of her cheeks is soft, missing out the slight defining lines at the corners of her mouth, which rob her of a lot of her character, her eyelash/eyebrow paint apps are generic, leaving her eyes expressionless - and the eyes themselves are gazing off in different directions, like she's got the opposite of a giant squint. There's also some anomalous grey muck on her face, in the fringe recesses and around the edges of her mask - poor quality control at the factory, like as not.

Head #2 is better from a quality point of view, being nice and clean, but it's also got crazy-looking eyes and the expressionless paint. She's meant to be shouting, but the final effect is to make her look like a very badly-drawn manga character who's just had the crap scared out of her. Or, with the expressionless gaze, like a zombie slurring "braaaains" through a slackly hanging jaw.

The antlers detach from the heads - only one set is provided, to be swapped to whichever head is used. They may be roughly accurate to her artwork, or whatever - as best I can tell from Google - but they look crap regardless, having not a skerrick of sculpted detail on them, not even the light contours and ink wash on the hair on her head. It just looks like she's got these huge plastic things stuck to the sides of her head, and while you can't blame SOTA (or "State Of The Art" Toys, as they're billing themselves now) for inventing them, they sure could've rendered them better.

Articulation, and finally we get to a positive - for the first paragraph, at least. Mika has twin balljoints in her neck - the head rests on top of the rounded neck, but is connected by an inner rod which has a ball at both the top and bottom, so as well as the three axes she can crane her head forward, or slide it sideways a bit. Swivel/pin/swivel ball joint shoulders, double pin elbows, swivel/pin wrists for the arms, a sternum pin atop a waist balljoint, and swivel/pin hips, swivel/double pin knees, and pin/swivel ankles for the legs - she poses like a Street Fighter figure should, I'll say that for her. And, for what it's worth, the antlers swivel.

Unfortunately, even here there are issues, and I'm not just talking about how the joints are rather ugly. Again, it's precision - they're loose, and while she's not flopping about like a rag doll, she doesn't have the pitch-perfect joint friction that the old figures had, which made them such fun to muck around with and try new poses. The waist joint is especially loose, and in one case I accidentally pulled her in half just by trying to pop her head off to change it - she went back together easily, the joint obviously designed to separate rather than break, but I doubt "easy to bisect" is meant to be a feature.

Mika's annoying to pose - you're continually accidentally bumping joints out of position, and some of the joint choices leave her wanting in some areas. The feet are a major sore point, with only the forwards-backwards pin joint, and a swivel beneath that - they're not very good for getting her heels flat to the ground, and the lack of mid-foot swivels and toe pin joints, which the old figures sported proudly, means that if the heels aren't flat, the foot is useless for stability. I've got three of the old figures - Chun Li, Cammy (regular and Cannon Spike), and Sakura - and they're fun to pose. Mika isn't fun.

Besides the alternate head she's got a spare pair of hands - she comes packaged with the clenched fists, and the other pair are open, with the fingers spaced and the fingertips slightly curled. Oh, and - as the packaging boasts - she comes with a "gift" from Fantasy Flight Games, which is a card from some CCG they've come up with. Gee, a piece of cardboard that must've cost all of half a cent to make, thanks. It doesn't even have Mika on it.

If I seem ungrateful, it's because Mika's one pricey figure - I pay Australian local prices, adjusted weekly for exchange rates, so it wouldn't be much good me telling you a dollar value, but she's slap bang in the middle of the price range for which I'm accustomed to walking out of the store with one of those fancy Asian import Final Fantasy figures, and only a few dollar shy of the goddamn amazing Motoko Kusanagi I picked up not long ago. When you look at the whole series of figures, it's more understandable - two of Mika's shelf-mates are E. Honda and Zangief, who contain enough plastic each to start a Middle East war, and Dhalsim's no slouch in the size department either (that's what Yoga mastery will get you, I'm told). Mika's tiny, just 5½" tall - the difference is so great that to hell with line-wide consistency, she should be cheaper.

So, not a stunning success. I don't want to give a biased view, she has her good points - the costume is accurate, the blue and white paint are good, the range of the joints is extensive, and though other Street Fighter figures have had more accessories, her extra head and pair of hands are sufficient. But I got higher than usual quality from Chun Li, Cammy, and Sakura, and I expected it from Mika. I didn't get it.

Dhalsim | E. Honda | R. Mika | Zangief


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