When this kit first came up for preorder I wasn’t intending to pick it up. Really. Cold casts are expensive, and the paint job often doesn’t measure up to PVCs, and I’m not a huge fan of Shiranui Mai as a character… but the desire to support sculptor Shiragami Takayuki and see his other works mass produced in the future changed my mind. I’m still not convinced it was worth the price, but along with some glaring flaws this kit has strong points that make it worth a closer look.
Original Design: Shiroi Eiji
Sculptor: Shiragami Takayuki (WFS page)
Source: Garou Densetsu 2 (Fatal Fury 2)
Scale: 1/7 (19.5 cm tall)
Materials: cold cast
Release Date: July 26, 2007
Production: Aizu Project
Price: 16,800 JPY (tax included)
Current Availability: [HLJ] [HS] [TL]
Having never played any of the KOF / Fatal Fury games I feel a bit unqualified to speak to the design integrity of this model, and I’m not interested enough in them to investigate beyond the superficial aspects of Mai’s character, not that I’m entirely convinced she has one (beyond the exorbitant chest physics). Part of the difficulty here is that her design has been reinterpreted officially by quite a few artists over the history of the franchise, and Shiroi Eiji’s original work seems to have fallen by the wayside. Thus I’ll be looking at this (and any subsequent Mai kits) for their aesthetic qualities independent of design fidelity.
What won me over to this kit initially was the power and dynamism of the Shiragami Takayuki sculpt. His use of twisting curves is among the most extreme of his peers, to the extent that it occasionally gets out of control; I enjoy this stylized distortion, though, and it proved to be the strongest point of the kit. The usage of cold cast instead of PVC was also justified from this perspective, as PVC lacks the rigidity to sustain the shape and position of that wild spiral of hair for long.
Unfortunately the kit suffers from the typical weaknesses of cold cast as well. Lacking the transparency of PVC paint must be applied thickly over the kit’s surface, and the precise application of facial features (eyes) is apparently less feasible. The paint job when viewed at close range is decidedly lackluster, and the kit’s single biggest weakness is certainly the right hand, where both the sculpt and the paint job fail resoundingly.
Over all this isn’t a kit I can recommend to a casual fan. If you’re thinking of picking up a Mai kit this year the Max Factory option is certainly your best bet; the elevated price of cold cast along with the flaws in the paint job and that hideous hand will probably more than offset the good points of Aizu’s offering for all but the most maniac collectors. While I hope we see more work from Shiragami Takayuki in the future, I’d rather see it in PVC from a different company.
Overall Score: 6/10