I picked up a pair of Alter releases a few weeks ago. One is Momohime from Muramasa: The Demon Blade. The other is Sanya from Strike Witches. There’s a lot of Momohime out there (rightly so) but not as much of Sanya, so I thought I’d give her some attention.
I’m not the biggest fan of Strike Witches but I do have a soft spot for the characters. Sanya hails from Orussia, and has been separated from her parents since the Neuroi invasion. Naturally this makes her homesick. Furthering her sense of isolation is her duty as the night patrol, which she often does alone. To complete the package, she has a gigantic multiple missile launcher.
Alter is one of the most respected manufacturers in the industry. I can’t authoritatively say whether its reputation is deserved since I only just started collecting (and have much less experience with PVC). However, this rendition of Sanya is very well done no matter how you look at it.
Generally I look for a sculpt that is faithful to the character, and a paint job that exhibits some depth. I’m not as bothered about seams or the minutia of the detailing. Alter’s version wins on all fronts, though, as there is very little you can nitpick about it. The forlorn eyes do an excellent job of capturing Sanya’s personality. The pose isn’t super dynamic but works well from most angles. Plus you can catch a little booty, if that’s your thing.
I spent a lot of time experimenting with how to photograph the figure. Danny Choo does this thing where he photographs them in front of his monitor, using his desktop wallpaper as a backdrop. But the stock OS X wallpaper though? Really? I thought I’d use a backdrop more appropriate to Sanya’s character.
The basic setup is to put the figure a good distance in front of the monitor. If they’re too close, the monitor will be in the depth of field of the shot. Then the camera picks up the individual pixels on your monitor, leading to a distracting moire pattern on the photo. So I spaced them far enough apart that the monitor falls slightly out of focus, blurring the pixels together.
After dimming the monitor way down and setting the white balance, I used a slow shutter to get the final shot (about 5 seconds). The color balance on my monitor was skewed red, which didn’t match any of the lights I had. So to light the figure itself, I used a flashlight app on my phone that has an adjustable color setting. With other lights, the figure would appear too green for the background. It looks more natural when lit with slightly red light. For the sunset shots, I obviously used a redder light.