I own a number of Yamato figures, and overall they’re pretty great. They don’t always have the most ambitious concepts behind them, but the execution is usually excellent. However, I don’t quite feel the same way about their Fantasy Figure Gallery line. I have an endless respect for Yamato and their decision to make these kinds of figures, but I’m just not bowled over by their interpretations of the artwork.
Then they went and announced Luis Royo’s “Black Tinkerbell”, which admittedly is not his best work but I’ll be damned if it doesn’t make a great PVC figure. So many of my static figurines just feature the character, taken out of context, doing some kind of pose. This Black Tinkerbell comes seething with atmosphere, thanks in part to Royo’s original design and also to the 3D interpretation.
Rarely do you get a figure that does such a good job of conveying the essence of an artist’s work. Royo’s dark fantasy work carries with it post-apocalyptic connotations as well as a distinct sexuality, and Yamato’s figure preserves all of it.
While I am very happy with the subject, I’m less happy with the execution. Black Tinkerbell was released as a pre-painted resin model first, then later as a PVC model. I have the latter because it cost $100 less. But this version still cost me $110, so I expected a certain level of quality.
The pose is very accurate to the source. It’s every bit as seductive and menacing as anything Luis Royo has created. The skin is painted in the same kind of pallor as Royo’s painting, although under certain lighting conditions she looks relatively normal.
One observation I will make about the pose, especially given that spear she’s holding, is that she looks more like a stripper than a dark fairy.
Yamato’s sculptors spared no attention to detail. Her wings are translucent, and you can even see tiny veins in them as part of the detailing.
Unboxing the figure was an event in itself. It was packed in styrofoam, much like a resin figure would have been. The figure has enormous heft thanks to its base, which feels like actual ceramic. Black Tinkerbell herself is pretty solid, and her wings are very light. No worries about bending or distorting there.
Overall the sculpt and paint job are good. They can get a little rough in some spots, which wouldn’t be an issue normally… but given the price I’d expect a high degree of refinement.
In some areas, like the underwear, the paint doesn’t quite have enough coverage.
The sculpt is praiseworthy but the hair near the top of the head looks a bit too… noodly.
You can see my first complaint in the shot above. Her head doesn’t quite sit on her shoulders. Yamato made the head removable so that you’d have an easier time putting on the wings, but for whatever reason, the neck just doesn’t peg in all the way. Another minor issue is the spear. It takes a lot of effort to get it in her hand, and I was worried about breaking off the fingers. Suffice it to say, I won’t be taking it out anytime soon.
From an aesthetic standpoint, her pinpoint eyes bothered me. I didn’t mind these on Yamato’s Asuka or Cammy figures, but here they look a bit too psychotic. Royo’s original painting has them more seductive and alluring. I’d argue that the face on the figure is better overall, but the eyes are a bit too crazy. And I like my crazy girls to be wide-eyed.
Next, you can see a couple of problems with the left foot. Not only is there a paint blemish on the toes, but her foot doesn’t peg securely into the base. Fortunately, her right foot fits fine and holds her rather well.
Finally, you can see that her wing doesn’t fit entirely into her back. The other wing is better but not flush. I tried for a while to force it, but became uncomfortable with how much strength I was putting into it and gave up. Because of this poor joint, the head doesn’t sit exactly right on her shoulders. It’s not in a conspicuous spot, which is good, but is still kind of annoying.
For some reason, Yamato made her top (which is barely there) cast-off-able. Except it doesn’t come all the way off, as the design of her arms prevents it from sliding off. So you can see some nip, but the feature is kind of pointless.
See? Without the wings, she totally looks like a stripper.
I was really hyped up for Yamato’s Black Tinkerbell. Because of its source material, it’s likely to be a unique figure for me in 2011. There are indeed many things to like about it. However, for the price, she’s just not perfect enough. There are glaring quality control issues that really shouldn’t be there. I can understand a few stray flecks of paint here and there, but I have ill-fitting parts leaving large gaps in conspicuous areas. That’s not the experience you should have with a $110 figure.
Still, this hasn’t soured my opinion on Yamato. They put out some wonderful stuff in 2010, and I will begrudge them the imperfections on this figure for the uniqueness of concept. I like the Royo painting, and even with a flawed 3D version, it’s still a piece worth owning.