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Street Fighter
by yo go re

Although SOTA has said that it eventually wants its Street Fighter line to encompass every character who ever appeared in one of the games, it hasn't stopped the company from sticking to the popular characters for Series 1 - after all, if series one isn't successful, there'll never be a series two. And without a series two, there'll never be a series sixteen, so I think we can forgive them a little bit for tossing out a character who is easily one of the most popular in the game's 15-plus-year history, Chun-Li.

She lost her father at a young age but knows it was M. Bison who committed the murder. Now seeking revenge, she has gained the title of "Strongest Woman in the World," and wants to prove this by destroying M. Bison and Shadowlaw. She is considered very beautiful, and many fighters are duped into thinking she is fragile because of it.

Chun-Li's gone through a lot of changes over the years, both in terms of costume and abilities, but this is the classic version that we all know and love: blue dress, brown leggings, and those big poofy things in her hair. The figure is based on the comicbook art, rather than that of the games, but the two are not dissimilar.

Will Harbottle did a great job on the sculpt, giving Chun-Li all the detail fans could want: spikes on her bracelets, wrinkles on her sleeves and even the laces on her bright white boots. The band around her waist is particularly well-done, with a roaring dragon sculpted on its faux-cloth surface.

The last company to produce Street Fighter figures was the much-missed ReSaurus, and while it gave us a Chun-Li, she was fairly static, as was its entire line. SOTA, however, has opted to create superposeable versions of the characters that would be capable of holding their own in a Marvel Legends vs. Street Fighter brawl. Chun-Li moves at the neck, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, ankles and toes.

While we applaud SOTA for not going overboard in the articulation department - no redundant mid-arm or -leg joints, no boots - I hope future female SF figures incorporate the new balljoints ToyBiz came up with for its Invisible Woman figure, which allow a full range of motion without disrupting the sculpt as much as true "ball" joints do.

Like the rest of the line, Chun-Li comes with interchangeable heads and hands. She's got a pair of fists and a pair of flat hands perfect for delivering a fine karate chop. The second head... well, I think it's supposed to be from her victory pose, but really, it looks like something a lot more, uh, "personal." Yes, victory. Multiple victories. Multiple world-rocking, eye-rolling, toe-curling victories. "I'll have what she's having."

Just as Street Fighter II created a revolution in the gaming industry by offering eight selectable characters, so too did the inclusion of young miss Chun-Li. Before SF2, most females in videogames were little more than objectives (sorry, Mario, but your princess is in another castle), generic background characters or, in very rare cases, an enemy to fight (the notable exception to this rule is Metroid's Samus Aran, but she was sealed inside androgynous armor, and a lot of folks never even knew she was a she).

After SF2 debuted, however, there was a change. This spring beauty proved immensely popular, and soon more and more women were following in her digitized footsteps. Today a selectable-character game that doesn't have at least one female hero seems incomplete, and more single-player games feature a heroine instead of a hero. Tomb Raider would just be another Pitfall rip-off if not for Lara Croft and her massive guns, and Lara would still be sipping chardonnay at her estate if not for Chun-Li. Let's hear it for Capcom, Street Fighter and SOTA for a ground-breaking bit of girl power.

Ryu | Chun-Li | Sodom | Sagat | M. Bison

-- 11/17/04

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