Gift's Akemi Homura - She is just so cool!

Hello folks, once again it has a been a while hasn't it? I been wanting to sit down and do this photoshoot for a couple of weeks now. I did try shortly after I received the figure but alas my original idea ended up in failure so instead there is the always the ever present “Plan B”.

Without much further ado I present to you the super cool Akemi Homura by Gift from the ever so popular franchise of Magical Girl Madoka Magica.

Given it’s popularity I was expecting everyone, and when I say everyone I mean EVERYONE, to jump at the chance to make some “easy sell” figures based on the characters. Except that no one really did except mainly for Good Smile Company and the ever present Wave Beach Queens line.

Where was Ater, Kotobukiya. Max Factory? This kinda felt like it would lead to something akin to everyone making a Saber, you can never have enough Saber figures in the world apparently, yet only Good Smile Company came forward with proper scaled figures of all five girls. Did they manage to secure an exclusivity deal or something?

Usually this would have been fine, Good Smile Company is Good Smile Company after all and they make some very nice figures overall. Except that they chose to base them on the most boring piece of artworks available. All five girls are pretty much just standing there unlike say the Bakemonogatari figures which were also based on different artworks where it nicely reflected certain aspects of each of the characters.

In the end I ended up finding a few garage kits way more interesting than the figured available for purchase.

This is where this figure comes in, this was actually one of those garage kits. Every once in awhile, I see some fairly nice garage kits and I think about how nice it would be to have a nice proper PVC version of it. Luckily for me Gift came to the rescue!

This is actually the second time this has happened, a few years back there was this garage kit I really liked of Reimu and Gift went and released it as a PVC figure shortly afterwards.

This nice looking Homura is sculpted by Toda Satoshi from Gift, probably most known for his line of Saber figures featuring his distinct style. Which for some it has been a cause of discord due to his renditions in a stylized manner for his Saber faces. As for me, it has been pretty hit or miss, I liked his Lily Saber for example but didn't care much for say his original Saber.

Quite obviously his rendition of Homura was a hit for me. At first when I was looking at the original garage kit I wasn't so sure, I liked the pose of the figure overall but when looking on her face something felt off. After seeing the actual PVC release though those feelings went away I was all in and hit the pre-order button. I wonder if there was some small minute tweak that made everything just look right for me.

So, let's address the elephant in the room.

This figure is of course different from Aoki Ume's lovely wide fade designs as seen in the show and promotional art and as mentioned above carries Toda Satoshi's own style.

Short answer, I like it. To my eyes what this ends up doing is giving Homura a more adult appeal, almost if I was looking at an older Homura. I like the style of the eyes, the shading they have and the eyelashes. Plus I think the colored lips with a bit gloss are nice touch not normally seen in figures.

I found the pose to be really neat, you have Homura as if she was dropping down from a greater height and because of that you get a lot of cool movement going on with figure.

All the different elements of Homura's magical girl outfit, the skirt, the ribbon in the back of her skirt, her collar and neck ribbon all add a lot of nice details to convey movement.

Add to that her flowing hair and you really do get a nice dynamic figure. I love dynamic figures, I always find it add a nice little extra touch of figure goodness.

Gift did a fairly nice job with the hair, the different strands of Homura's long hair each moving in a manner befitting of the apparent action really turned out great. Quite importantly seam lines on the hair also seems pretty much non apparent an area where I seen even the likes of Alter or Good Smile Company falter sometimes.

To close it all off you get the surprisingly appealing base to me. After my last disappointment with Tenshi's cheesecake base I'm glad Gift took a way better route and link the base with the character. The pattern on the base is reminiscent of the "time traveling" scene during episode 10 of the show where we see Homura go back in time. Pretty neat stuff if you ask me.

Given her pose and base this figure really does make it seem Homura is the girl who leapt through time!

Detail on some of the important bits like the bracer and handgun are not too bad. Unlike the figma version this Homura does have a nicely detailed bracer with all the right colors. I'm not too hot on the actual part with the mechanism though, while bits of stuff is sculpted the painting makes it all a big messy blob. A shame considering the painting was perfect on the rest of the figure.

The handgun looks the part, just the way the Beretta handgun Homura uses to make some Swiss cheese out of Kyubey did in the show. Interestingly enough I liked how her finger is not actually on the trigger, Homura practices proper gun safety!

Overall I think Gift did a very good job with this figure. This is the second time I get to sit down and shoot one of their figures, the first was the previously mentioned Reimu, and both times it has a been a pleasant experience. I still got their giant loli Nanoha boxed and look forward to taking pictures of her. As things stand I will definitely buy more Gift figures if any that tickle my fancy show up.

Before I finish I want to talk about the pictures. As I mentioned in the beginning this is actually "Plan B", the first plan didn't turn out as a I wanted.  I was originally planning to do something similar to the "time travelling" scene to match the base. However, I couldn't quite get the effected I wanted with the background so I ended up scrapping that idea.

That's when I thought, Homura is like all dark and edgy so perhaps dark background will do.

Except that Homura also happens to have a darker color scheme with her long black hair. What ended up happening was that the hair would simply ended up blending with the equally black colored background.

So, I researched on how to shoot black objects in front of black backgrounds. I found a couple of ways to do it, both involving the use of colored gels to simply add some color. One was to use a rim light with a colored gel to make the edges of the object stand out. The other was to point it at the background to add some color to separate the object of interest from the background.

I did exactly just that.

I had my key light aimed at Homura as usual, then a second light this time pointed at the background behind her to both illuminated the background and to provide a rim light for her hair. I used a combination of two "gels" on that second light to provide the signature purple color associated with Homura.

You can see a picture of this set up right here, very simple to do, very simple to recreate. I think this is something that I will probably revisit in the future, I already have an idea in mind for a future photo shoot where I might reuse it.

What do you guys think? I'm quite happy with how these pictures turned out for my first attempt. I look forward to giving it another go and refining the lighting.

Alrighty then, until next time!

Gift's Hakurei Reimu - Another look at the Shrine Maiden of Paradise

Why go and take pictures of a new figure when I can go take pictures of an older one again I really, really like!

Actually this is a result of an itch that has been bothering me since the last post I did about my upcoming pre-orders. In that post I linked to the original post I did for this figure and it bothered the hell out of me when I looked at those pictures. I felt the pictures were so darn... meh, this is one of my most liked figures, I felt I had to do better.

So, I went and did another photo shoot of it. The super lovely Hakurei Reimu from Gift.

The original post is back from May of 2010, at the time this blog was only about six months old. Back then there were a few things that bother me today when I look back. One of them was I didn't know what I wanted to do with my blog, I have reached the conclusion to do what I want. I quite simply blog for myself as an enjoyable outlet for my figure collecting and photography hobbies.

The other thing, the more related matter is of course the pictures. 2010 was the year I actively started using a DSLR for photography. As such I didn't know what the hell I was doing with it, after all a DSLR just offers way more control and as a result way more complexity. I was definitely doing it wrong! Just look at that horrible white balance! Now though, I have used my lovely D3000 for some 3 and half years, now I know how to get the desired effect in my photos more easily than before.

That leads to this set of pictures, as I blog for myself I feel no pressure to do something new or something popular. With a better working knowledge of my DSLR I can take better looking pictures than before, add to that my personal vow to stop relying on simple variously colored backdrops so much I thought I could take a little more interesting photos.

I also feel for Reimu being the blog mascot more or less this blog sure has a lack of her. The world needs more Reimu figures, too bad pretty much the only ones I don't own from the usual manufacturers are the Griffon ones and I just don't like Griffon. Kind of a shame GSC, Max Factory or Alter didn't jump into the Touhou band wagon would love a Reimu from either of those.

Yup, bloomers on Reimu is still the best!

Aside from wanting to retake the pictures there were a couple of other reasons I want to reuse this figure. I had this idea for set for a while but I didn't really have any Reimu figures to take pictures of with that idea. Alas as with any overly ambitious set ideas I tend to think of, I keep underestimating them. Thus that ended not necessarily in failure per say but somewhat far from what I had envisioned. I should really start splitting the work and do at least a mock up before the actual day I set aside for picture taking.

Instead I went and did what I end up doing like 90% of the time, improvise!

I went and dug a couple of vaguely looking oriental place mats I bought while I was in Canada of all places. I used those as a backdrop and for the floor. Then I simply threw in the flowers you might or might not be able to recognize in the background that I bought  for my original idea.

It's a somewhat familiar idea that I seen been done before, or at least something similar to it. I liked, seemed to look decent enough. Plus I got an idea that I would like to revisit using a similar set up as this one.

I also wanted to play around more with Lightroom, I think I'm starting to figure out what does what and how I can use the tools provided to get the desired effect. I'm starting to get more comfortable with it but still not super accustomed with it that I can easily tweak every picture one at a time. I think for now I will keep to just doing batch processing for most of the pictures.

Looking at this figure now, it still holds up pretty nicely, good job Gift! Although it does still have some mishaps here and there like some residue on Reimu's right sleeve. I still love the face too, the reason I bought it still holds true. I wish people would stop getting their panties in a bunch when figures take some artistic liberties, figures at the end of the day will always reflect the individual sculptor after all.

Thinking about it, complaining about this with Touhou stuff is really pointless, nothing really looks like ZUN's charming art. Except for the bestests more accurate Touhou figure ever, which I actually own... that figure looks exactly like the title screen of Undefined Fantastic Object.

Hmm... thinking about it, I don't own much Reimu stuff for her being one of my all time favorite girls.

There is this figure and the one I mentioned, the Kotobukiya one I showed before and of course the figma. My favorite out of all of them is the figma, it's just so nice and cute.

Although I haven't taken that many pictures of it, I notice that for the figures I really, really love I tend to take less pictures of them. I wonder why that is.

Looking at these pictures while I write this post sure has made me want more Reimu stuff right now. I never been much for merchandise as I don't need even more stuff to take up space in my room but some Reimu stuff would be nice. Aside from the figures I only own one of Gift's Touhou plush of her and some decals I never applied to anything.

I think I want at least a shirt, gotta show my love for my favorite Touhou after all!

Before I continue rambling I want to ask you guys something.

What do you think of revisiting figures just as I have done here? For bloggers is a figure a one shot kind of deal?

Has there been any figure that made you think, I want to shoot it again for whatever reason?

Do you try to forget about your earlier days of blogging and photography or do you look back on them fondly?

Well, I think I'm quite satisfied now when it comes to this figure now. I'm not sure if I will end up retaking photos for other figures I done before, I will just cross than bridge when I get there I suppose.

So long peeps, until next time!

The Shrine Maiden of Paradise - Gift's Hakurei Reimu

The Eternal Shrine Maiden welcomes you to paradise!

I'm so pleased to say I acquired this figure, after all Reimu is my favorite Touhou girl. Since I have no idea how familiar people really are with Touhou let me take a few lines to talk about it.

Touhou was originally a series of danmaku, bullet curtain, type shooter games with a few exceptions here and there. The main series is a one man effort by the creator ZUN, who does all art, music, programming and design for each release.

If you ever frequent places that have to do with anime, manga, or Japanese games, the you might have encountered Touhou in the form of fan created materials, that span from more games, mangas, doujinshi, music videos, and even anime.

What got me interested in Touhou was a single game play video followed by all the fan material that I came across.

I mentioned that Reimu is my favorite girl, there are several reasons for this.

There are things such as her mostly indifferent personality who treats everybody the same regardless of whether they are humans, demons, or whatever they might me.

Even so, she still takes her duty seriously and will go beat you up if you misbehave, Touhou 8  happily demonstrates that when you might encounter her as that one boss.

Another reason I love Reimu is a similar trait she shares with loli Gundam magical girl Nanoha, that would be the embodiment of "defeats means friendship".

Even if the world is almost destroyed or what not due to the actions of the antagonists of the games, it pretty much ends with everyone having a tea party together.

Another reason is definitely her music theme in the main series of games.

Touhou as whole has excellent music, just taking a look at the tvtropes.org music page will demonstrate that.

Even so, I think Reimu's theme starting all the way back with the PC-98 incarnation, the amazing remixed Touhou 8 version by ZUN, the odd fan take on it, or the interpretations that are just plain godly to me is one of the best.

About the figure itself this was released back in April as an AmiAmi exclusive or something along those lines by Gift for a retail price of 7140 yen.

This figure it was based on a garage kit, over all there are some slight differences such as the inclusion of the more accurate bloomers than the regular panties the garage kit had.

As my first Gift figure, I'm quite pleased with all aspects of the figure, the sculpting, the detailing, the shading, the painting and the accuracy of the character design.

Which in this case appears to be Reimu's appearance from Touhou 12: Undefined Fantastic Object.

One thing to mention though, on the white parts such as the sleeves, there is a shade of red, I'm not sure if this was intentional or a painting defect though, either way it doesn't bother me that much.

What attracted me to this figure besides being Reimu was her face, for some reason I really like how the face looks. As my first scaled PVC Touhou and Reimu figure I'm truly pleased, I do wonder if Gift will release any others in the future.

I'm glad that I finally got this little informative rant out, and that I did a photo shoot for Reimu. Specially since I haven't really since anyone else do one for her.

Hopefully you enjoyed reading and looking at these pictures and might wet your toes in the Touhou universe.

One last picture of the figma, just because I love that face.

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