Figure Review: Aya by Alter

Figure Review: Aya by Alter

Aya (no last name I guess) hails from The OneeChanbara VorteX, which got the unfortunate translation to Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad for its US release. I haven’t played it, but I’m guessing it’s the kind of game that reinforces the belief that gamers are immature. It certainly reinforces the idea that otaku or media from Japan are obsessed with sex, violence, and objectifying women. In some way I’d like to believe that the creators want us to admire them in their audacity. Bikini girls fighting zombies is pretty close to the line. Give her a pair of swords and a cowboy hat, and you push it far enough past the line that it becomes immune to criticism. That was probably the hope, anyway. But what can I say? From an eye-candy perspective, I like what I like.

A few companies have made Aya figures, but I think the best are from Alter and Orchid Seed. Eventually I settled on Alter’s figure as I was able to find a better price. It was made in October 2008, the same month as the Rei Ayanami figure I posted about. It’s not super elaborate in terms of the underlying concept. But Alter being who they are managed to impress me with their obsessive attention to detail.

From head to toe this figure is lovingly crafted and cleanly painted. I caught a few subtle mould lines, but it’s nothing that diverts the eyes. I’m seriously awestruck by how much detailing there is in the figure. Without having to worry about an elaborate base or an arsenal of accessories, Alter really focused on cramming every little intricate detail they could onto Aya’s costume. The only parts of the finish where they faltered are the scarf, which isn’t really shaded (looks ok in real life though), and her eyes. You’ll understand about the eyes once you see the close-ups.

In terms of build quality, the figure is mostly good. However I don’t trust the base, which is flimsy and doesn’t hold the feet very well. Aya will wobble, and may come off the base if you move her around. Another point of concern is the fitment of her scabbards onto her hip. The pegs didn’t quite fit right on mine, so the upper scabbard can come loose when bumped.

This figure really is something you’d get only if you had cash to spare. I very much like the design and execution (read: sexiness), but I can’t imagine anyone would be a big enough fan of the games to actually save up to buy this.

Aya by Alter

I'm not usually a fan of the themed stripper look but I can give Aya a pass because of the swords.

Aya by Alter

From a photographic perspective, she looks particularly beautiful in warm, sunset-y tones. What cowboy or cowgirl wouldn't?

Aya by Alter

Working with flashes is very enjoyable, as you can get all sorts of looks with just some gels and a plain background. I overexposed while taking the shots to blow out the texture of the paper background, and then decreased the exposure in post to intensify the colors a bit.

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Her tiger-stripe eyes really bother me. In person, they look fine. But stare at this close-up long enough, and... aaaarrrggh

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

I have to say, the flimsy plastic base was a bit of a letdown. UART... now they make solid bases.

Aya by Alter

Knowing this area would be under the most scrutiny, Alter put a lot of care into the patterns of Aya's bikini top.

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

Tramp stamp!

Aya by Alter

Sadly, Aya's butt is on the flat side (and apparently had some chunks bitten out?). Orchid Seed's version has a much better butt, but Alter's has a nicer face.

Aya by Alter

Aya by Alter

It's not a bad butt. Alter (bless them) does try to get it right. But you need size as well as form, guys.

Aya by Alter

This is a composite of 11 exposures, combined to give a larger depth of field than each individual exposure. Focus stacking is a great way to get everything in your close-up shots in focus without having to step down your aperture (sometimes it's just not possible to step down your aperture enough, especially on macro shots). Most of the heavy lifting can be done by Photoshop or dedicated software.