Figure Review: Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Figure Review: Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

When it comes to Evangelion figures, you can’t get more generic than having a pilot in a plug suit. Asuka and Rei are very well represented, but Mari figures are harder to find. I had plenty of the other two but only a single Mari Figma. Clearly, I had to add another figure of this neglected girl to my collection. Max Factory’s take seems to be the best of them, so I was pretty happy when she arrived at my house.

The excitement quickly turned to boredom, though. While Max Factory’s figure exhibits a lot of polish, and is the most accurate to Yoshiyuki Sadamoto’s design, you can’t help but feel that you’ve seen this before. Indeed, there’s no shortage of Eva pilots in plug suits out there. The critical flaw of this one is that it doesn’t capture Mari’s personality at all. She’s someone who not only enjoys piloting her Eva, she actually has fun with it. During her brief appearances, you can see that she’s slightly unhinged in the head. But what does Max Factory give us? Just a statue of her standing, smiling slightly.

It’s all very well made, and I especially like the finish on her suit. But come on. I would have liked to at least see the “beast mode” Mari, snarling and gnashing her teeth. So for a few weeks, I couldn’t decide on how to review this figure. I thought it was just too boring.

Then yesterday, my second Speedlite arrived. So there I was, with two off-camera flashes, some gel filters, and a bunch of homemade light modifiers. Why not try something? As I experimented with various ways to shoot the figure, I found that I was enjoying it more and more. Each figure has a sort of “preference” for how you shoot it. Mari’s disposition encourages you to get up close and intimate with a portrait lens, a role which my macro lens filled admirably.

Before I knew it, I had taken almost 100 photos. There’s the initial guess-and-check that comes when you’re still figuring out the ins and outs of your setup. But after that, I just kept wanting to shoot the figure, like it was my job. So Max Factory made something really strange with this Mari. The concept is unoriginal and frankly boring, but something about the execution is undeniably appealing. It excels in build quality, and I think it’s the best looking Mari figure out right now.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

I had read many reviews of this figure, each time thinking the figure was technically great but lacking personality. But seeing her up close from behind the lens, she really comes alive.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

There are a few blemishes here and there. I think the hair could have been better shaded in front.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

The paint work is clean for the most part, with a few rough spots only noticeable when you look really closely.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Profile view and... no squid beak!

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

The reason I like Mari so much: her twin tails. They're very well sculpted here.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Other reviewers pointed out a bit of weirdness with her butt, where the legs join the torso. I have to agree; it can look a bit disjointed from a head-on view.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

One issue I had was her legs, which weren't spread far enough apart for the feet to fit the base. I had to do some prying in order to get the pegs to go in. Yes I realize how that sounds.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

With two flashes, you can do a number of lighting setups (though you have to keep in mind that everything is harder because of the size of the figurine). For most of these shots I used one flash with a softbox as the primary light, and another flash at low power for a fill light.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

I also experimented with some gel filters to see what color effects I could achieve. This has one flash behind the figure casting blue light on a white background, while another flash (fitted with a snoot) put a focused beam onto the face. The snoot prevented the second flash from contaminating the blue light.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

This was a similar setup to the above, except the red flash was pointed more toward the figure.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

I had an idea to project some crosses onto a background, to recreate a scene at the beginning of Eva 2.0. Unfortunately I didn’t have the right equipment, so I decided to try Photoshop. It ended up looking hokey without a good sky backdrop, so I decided to just leave it all alone. If you want to use your imagination, just picture her looking at a defeated Angel.

Mari Illustrious Makinami by Max Factory

Fun with light painting. I put my camera on bulb mode and used a remote shutter to get the process started. It took a lot of guess work because I’m not very experienced at it. Even when I got the wings right, I still had to composite the photo with a piece from another one in order to get a good looking halo.

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