Friday 14 October 2011

1/8 Mercedes (Alter)

It's unfair to call this a review. It's less a review than photographic adulation.

Mercedes is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. She's probably the greatest thing to happen to my collection since Gwendolyn, who is also beautiful. I don't know why it took me so long to get Mercedes, considering I'm a fan of Odin Sphere and a fan of Alter. I think it was her potential to lean that set me off, but now that I've seen her in person, leaning's the furthest thing in my mind.

 Odin Sphere needs more love. The game was beautiful and heartbreaking, with bright character designs and intertwined plots. The aesthetics alone were enough to bump it into my "must play" category. In a field saturated with fancy 3D it's a breathtaking reminder that 2D can still kick ass.

Mercedes is a special character to me. She's not my favourite personality-wise, but there's something magnificent about her character growth, and something so darn tragic about her story that it's the only one I really remember. Aside from her background and development, she's a small girl with a magical crossbow-machine-gun. She's an adorable little slaughtering machine, and that, my friends, is pure win.

I know I'm always grousing about boxes, "Oh, it's so boring, oh, it's so square, oh, it's so box-y" but Mercedes' box is absolutely beautiful. We need more boxes like hers. Sleek, black, awesome pseudo-celtic knot borders, unadulterated by garish product photographs. Simplicity at its best.

Mercedes floats over the swamps of Elrit, accompanied by froggy Ingway. Alter loves their action poses, but they really outdid themselves with Mercedes. No disgusting semi-transparent pegs anywhere except under froggy Ingway, and that's easily overlooked (I've developed some discrimination towards plastic pegs after Miku's gave me attitude...pegs, how unsightly).

Mercedes is attached to her crossbow, which slots into her base via a sturdy peg. Her crossbow is made of stiffer ABS plastic (although parts of it sure look metal). Mecedes herself is light, which should mediate any leaning issues. If she starts to lean, I'll update right away.

Hmm, she doesn't look her best with such a cold, laboratory background. Let's harvest it up a little.

Ah, here we go.

Ooh, she's so beautiful! Those wings, that face, those gorgeous red eyes! According to official art, her eyes are brown, but I'm not going to protest the colour change.

Just for fun, here's how Mercedes would have looked with her canonical brown. What do you think? The brown certainly doesn't pop as much, but it has its merits. Personally, I'm still for the red, but my bias is almost palpable when it comes to red.

She has such a sweet, round face, and her huge ears are oddly adorable (I want to pull them). Her twin braids are a breath of fresh air after the generic twin tails I've been entertaining lately. They're a little "farm girl", but she wears them well. Like with most beautiful figures, she's lovely from most angles (I guess a direct butt-shot probably isn't the best way to display her though). Her generous flower crown gives her the illusion of being tiny, even though she's human sized in the game.

Mercedes' sculpt is masterful. Usually, I'm able to find one or two discreet seam lines, but I swear, this girl has none. I must have rotated her a dozen times looking for flaws. Either Alter hid them really well, or they just popped her out of a single piece of plastic. It's like magic.

The only sculpting "error" I can comment on is the wide gap between her legs.

It's a little wide, I guess...
Mercedes may look all waif-like and dainty, but she's got a good stomach definition. It amused me to find such muscle definition on a puny fairy, but it speaks volumes of Alter to give her such detail. I guess it makes sense. That crossbow looks heavy.

The little leaves along her waist are darling. Mercedes wears a risque leotard-suit that gives onlookers a juicy eyefull of her legs. For a puny fairy, she's got nice legs. Just sayin'.

I feel like a broken record, repeating good things and using old cliches, but Mercedes' paintjob is beautiful. It's as crisp and professional as her sculpt. There's a plethora of places where paint could have gotten sloppy (her puffy sleeves, for instance), but there are no accidents anywhere. Her skin tone is warm and full. Her greens are varigated. She has just enough gloss to give her a little princess shine.

My camera can't catch it, but there's also a discreet green tinge on her braids. At first I was put off, but then I realized what they did. Alter made her hair reflect the swamp. How cool is that? (Answer: ultra-cool)


And her wings?

Glossy, transparent, gorgeous. Like mini stained glass windows. The texture is extra glorious.

I honestly don't have anything bad to say about this figure. I can almost feel a "speechless moment" coming on. Her crossbow is beautifully rendered. I was sure it was reinforced with metal at first, but it's all plastic. That's how deceptive the paint job is.

The wood grain pattern is appreciated, although not as realistic as it could have been. I know Alter can do much better wood-jobs (oh god, that sounds dirty to me), but at least they put grain on.


Mercedes has just enough gloss on her eyes to make them liquid. I don't understand why so many people detest shiny eyes. Only dead eyes are matte, and I like my figures looking lively, thank you very much.

Her expression is either inquisitive or hesitant depending on how you look at her. I'd lean towards inquisitive. No one's hesitant with a weapon that large.

Or hesitantly inquisitive.

It's a bird, it's a's...yeah, it's a bird.
Now, onto her base. I say a lot of mean things about bases. I poopoo them like there's no tomorrow, but Alter has almost always made me eat my words (especially recently).

Now's the time to say "suck it, tupperware bases" because this is how a real base goes down.

About the same amount of attention's been paid to Mercedes' base as it has been to Mercedes herself. The transparency matches her wings, the flower petals are meticulously sculpted (take that, bases that paint on flowers), Ingway is appropriately suspended in mid-jump, and the vegetation is shaded with vengeance.

That stump even has roots. Roots.

Shiny Ingway...quick, chuck a pokeball!
As though the aesthetic presentation of her base wasn't enough, it also yields a secret surprise.

Her base opens up to reveal a fat tadpole loitering underfoot, not a care in the world. Remember when I said the stump on her base has roots? Yup, they're just as detailed under the water as they are above. The panel covering the secret compartment (where I guess you can keep spare buttons or something) is a little finicky to get off, but don't worry, much of the foliage is made of flexible, softer plastic so nothing breaks easily.

Now I want to fill the base with water just for kicks, though I guess I shouldn't. I'll just make a mess.

Mercedes says, "Peek-a-boo!"

What can I say? She is a thing of beauty.

It astonishes me that she didn't sell out like Gwendolyn, but then again, Mercedes doesn't appear as popular with fans (at least according to fanart). It's really too bad, since she's just as beautiful. I'm really hoping Alter puts out a Velvet figure considering the apex job they did on both Gwen and Mercedes. She would be nothing short of spectacular.

If you can find Mercedes anywhere, I highly recommend you buy her. You won't be disappointed, and she seems sturdy enough. She might just be my favourite purchase of the year so far (although some tough competition's going to be coming in around December).

The Run-Down

Box: 9/10 (Beautiful, but unfortunately does not shoot lasers)
Base: 10/10 (One of the few bases that serves an aesthetic purpose)
Pose: 10/10 (Like she's floating)
Sculpt: 9.5/10 (The wide gap between her legs costs her .5)
Paint: 10/10 (Wonderful job, no errors to speak of)
Overall: 10/10 (Absolutely wonderful, one of my top 3 figures)

Company: Alter
Price: 7800 yen
Purchased from: KirinHobby


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