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M. Bison

Street Fighter
by yo go re

After the original Street Fighter 2, it took quite a while for a true sequel to come out. Capcom instead gave us endless permutations of the same game: in fact, if all the "main" Street Fighter games (that is, excluding the 3D EX series because it doesn't tie into the story and the Alpha series because they're a strange sort of prequel) were given their own unique number, Street Fighter III would be Street Fighter IX.

M. Bison Though Akuma would eventually supplant him, the longest-standing final boss through most of those titles was the villainous, mysterious M. Bison.

M. Bison doesn't appear on the Street Fighter scene until the second tournament because he's been busy researching the various contestants to find recruits for his armies. As the sole dictator of the Shadowlaw regime, M. Bison is merciless and evil. He plans to take over the world by trapping or assassinating the world's leaders, and he wants to use World Warriors, enslaved through his Psycho Power, to do it.

We got an unpainted preview of Bison in the exclusive Evil Ryu/Psycho Bison two-pack, and not a lot has changed since that. Now that Bison's got a paint job, you can really appreciate Will Harbottle's sculpt much more. His mighty muscles strain against the red cloth of his pseudo-military uniform, creating lots of little wrinkles. His boots look like real leather, complete with cracks, seams and stitches. Despite all this, he maintains his nice cartoony look, keeping him in line with the other Street Fighters.

Actually, SOTA's line isn't based on the videogames, but rather the comicbooks from Udon and Dreamwave. The differences are subtle, so longtiome fans shouldn't be disappointed. M. Bison comes with interchangeable heads - one stern, one with a taunting grin - and two pairs of hands. You get to decide if Bison should be making a fist or reaching out to grab his opponent.

Then, on top of all that, he's got a translucent purple blast effect that fits on his right fist,to simulate the force of one of his psycho-powered punches. It's a very simple, yet very cool, little accessory, though it does beg the question: if Bison could come with one of these cool little mofos, why couldn't the other characters? Yeah, it makes him cool, but it also decreases all the other figures' coolness by just a little bit. I guess he is evil!

Unlike the preview Bison, this version has his cape. It's just a piece of cloth, but it really adds to the figure. The black contrasts with the red costume nicely, and it plugs onto his big shoulder pads securely - you won't be losing the cape any time soon, which is a good thing for M. Bison since, according to the game, it somehow provides him with his power. Go figure.

Bison isn't Bison everywhere: when Street Fighter was brought to America, there had to be a few changes made. One of the characters was a boxer named Mike - in SF2, his name was M. Bison. To keep a certain criminally violent professional boxer from suing, the name shuffle began. The boxer became Balrog, the name formerly belonging to the vain Spanish bullfighter that North American audiences would come to know as Vega. Vega got his name from Commander Vega, the main villain, who then inherited the now-meaningless "M. Bison" to call his own. And all because parody/copyright laws are different in Japan than here in America.

Bison's super-articulated, just like the rest of the line, but even with 28 points of movement, there's one pose he can't get into: the arms-crossed stance in which we first see him in the game, hovering across the screen from our combatants. But that's a minor complaint, and it doesn't detract from the figure at all. Whether you want to call him Vega, M. Bison or Commander Happypants, he's a big, impressive villain.

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

-- 11/17/04

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