Tuesday 18 December 2012

1/7 Luka Megurine (Max Factory)

Luka Megurine has a lot going for her. Beautiful legs. Chic outfit. Presumably wonderful personality. And jazz.

Luka Megurine is my favourite V2 vocaloid. It's a shame she's been vastly ignored by figure manufacturers in favour of the all-encompassing Miku. So when Max Factory announced Luka's release, I attempted a backflip. It ended badly, but it did nothing to dampen my spirits. She was an insta-get, despite widespread concern for her face.

See, I have a thing for deeper voices, so it wasn't unexpected that Luka's voice rocketed her to the top of my Vocaloid list. It also didn't hurt that she had a drop-dead gorgeous design. Since then, V3 contenders like Yuzuki Yukari have topped her in terms of personal preference, but Luka will always have a special place in my heart. I sometimes go back and listen to The Little Mermaid and smile (and by smile, I mean cry). It's hard not to love her when she has songs like Queen Nereid (RPG-style goodness), Last Song (sad and slow), Akahitoka (more traditional), Don't Turn Around (pop-style), Heaven's Door (Alice in Wonderland meets Halloween), Crucify my Love (an X-Japan cover), Pathology of Obsessions (jazzy Luka is best Luka), and Miracle is Dead (not the best sounding Luka, but damn, that song is boss). Then there's that adorable song about her wanting to eat tuna. Platinum adorable! She has a great range for a Vocaloid who doesn't really have range. I could go on and on and on. Then we would never get to the review!

So let's cut it short and get to the figure!

Luka's box isn't exactly exceptional. I sort of wanted it to have a sleek, shiny design, but ah well, we can't have everything. It's not the sturdiest box (you can see some warping on top), but it is light and good for shipping. It comes with Tony Taka's Luka picture plastered on one side and an abundance of stage lights. It also comes with an orange backdrop that doesn't really accompany the figure in any way. Why orange, I wonder?

I would be lying if I said Luka's base didn't factor into my decision to buy her. I love the old-fashioned, vinyl 50's feel it gives. Luka gets pegged for a lot of cute, poppy songs, but I see her crooning sweet jazz runs in an old, dim-lit bar stage.

Unfortunately, it's not the sturdiest base in the world, and sags under Luka's weight. If I place her on the base, I can spin her like a, well, a vinyl disc...

The dust is there for authenticity. For that good old-timey feel. Yes. That's why it's there...
Unlike Max Factory's Miku figure, who looks like her bones are made of rubber, Luka manages to achieve a sense of movement without wringing her spine. She looks like she's in the middle of a sexy hip-bump.

Luka's design is my favourite of all the Vocaloids. Look at her gold boots. Dat girl be stylin'. I'm glad Luka doesn't follow the schoolgirl design of Miku, Rin, and Len. As cute as sailor uniforms are, they've been done to death.

Have a scenario: A smoking hot girl passes you on the street. You watch her lusty hips sashay in an erotic come-hither. You entertain inappropriate and undoubtedly hot thoughts. Then she turns around, and murders your libido with her horse teeth and asymmetric face. You fall to your knees and cry. Why so butterface?!

A figure's face can make or break the deal. And Luka's face has been a subject of contention right from the start. It's not completely faithful to the Tony Taka's design, but style aside, it's not horrible. Of the three angles below, only one makes her look Grinchy (the third, in case it wasn't clear). Maybe her mouth is a little too high, or her pupils are a little unfocused, but would I go as far as to call her a butterface? Nah, I've seen worse, but it's not exactly the sort of face I want to fall asleep to either.

I feel like Luka's face is like eating oysters. Either it grows on you, or you hate it forever. 

Alter is my favourite figure company, and unless they release a series of shit products in the future, I don't see that changing. A few months ago, I would have placed GSC in second, but since they bombed a few of my most-anticipated figures recently, they've tickled my wrath. Therefore, Max Factory gets to stomp GSC's face in a contest of PVC superiority. Favourite company: Alter. Second favourite: Max Factory. GSC can fight it out with Megahouse and Orchid Seed for third.

I mean, take a boo at Luka's outfit. Look all those carefully crafted pull lines. It's plastic, but it flows like real fabric. You can almost feel the fabric twisting around her legs. You can hear it snapping in the wind. Mmm, versimilutude. Satisfying.

Another thing I've noticed about Max Factory is their full, rich paint jobs. At first glance, Luka doesn't look as though she's heavily shaded, but under the camera, the particulars of her paint job come to light. Has Max Factory also managed to make parts of her outfit see through? Sort of? Awesome.

Luka's shirt is a curious thing. If I were to take a stab at its material content, I would say mostly rayon with a high percentage of spandex. It strangles her breasts but dangles around her stomach. How is that even possible? Maybe the shirt's disporportionate, but I like to think it's because Luka has a godly bust-to-waist ratio. Either way, it seems a little too tight. Especially around the sides. No fabric sticks like that, but hey, at least it gives us a great view.

Luka has a damn beautiful body sculpt. When your body is so fine, you're obligated flaunt it, you know, for the good of everyone. And bras be damned. Let your ladies fly free! Luka supports her girls with pure will and youth! If I could chop off her legs and graft them onto myself, I would. They're long, lean, and plump in all the right places. Ooooh, my.

Luka has no shortage of detail, most of which are crisp and clean. Good on Max Factory. Bro-fists all around. I love the gold of her mic, and the discreet pattern on her leggings. The little gem on her neck was a nice surprise too (I hadn't noticed it until she was in front of me).

You can take Luka's skirt off, so I guess she counts as a cast-off. Luka is one of those rare girls that look just as good with or without clothes. Even in her underwear, she manages to come off as classy rather than trashy. She looks like the sort of girl you would find giving a high-end burlesque show (complete with red velvet curtains) rather than pole-dancing at a sleazy downtown club.

Not that there's anything wrong with sleazy downtown clubs, of course.

Luka's underwear is plain and dark. Its design is rather boring, but it has the same slight transparency as the rest of Luka's clothes. How surprisingly erotic! Also, she has a super butt. It's super-duper. It's not huge or anything, but there's something about it that makes me happy.

What is that semi-transparent material around Luka's stomach? Some form of body legging? I didn't like it at first, but it grew on me over time. I think it gives Luka a special kind of kink.

My main misgiving about Luka is that she's a dust-magnet. Not only does dust gravitate towards her hair, it also sticks to her clothes. The matte paint Max Factory uses on her has the downside of being excellent at holding dust. You can see pieces of dust clinging in some of the pictures. Blowing on her doesn't work well. You need a microcloth to properly clean her. On the bright side, a good display unit makes this problem moot.

Other than being a dust-magnet, there are only a few small issues I have with Luka. One is the seam line running down the side of her hair, and some small black stains that I can't seem to remove. They're so small they're hardly worth mentioning, but they're there nevertheless. There's a slight paint slip and some roughness on the gold trim around her arm too. But all these are minor enough to ignore at a distance.

I had great fun shooting Luka (that sounds so wrong). Her dynamic pose makes it easy to forgive her small errors. Her not-quite-there face pales in comparison to her overall appeal. She's a prime example of a figure that comes together well as a whole.

With or without skirt? It's a difficult choice. She looks great either way.

And of course, this review isn't complete without lighting up her hair. I'm of the opinion semi-transparent hair usually looks like shit unpleasant, but it's fun to play with.

Here in Canada, most things have died. That's what happens in winter. Luckily, I managed to snap a few shots in the garden before frost killed everything (and it really killed everything. No more garden shots for me till spring...). To be honest, flowers aren't really my thing. They're histrionic little beasts. A nice long winter should give me plenty of time to master snow shots though.

Luka embodies energy without being airbourne. Take that, all you mid-air figures hogging all the space on my shelves! Sometimes, it just takes a little hair flip to bring a figure to life. No need to stick a metal bar into her and give her an attack pose.

Not to discredit the awesomeness of a duel-wielding, futuristic-plug-suit-wearing, hair-everywhere Luka figure though. I would want that so hard.

Double Lariat.
Pink-haired girls, oh my. I used to have an aversion to pink, but all these lovely pink-haired girls are twisting my arm. There's something sexy and cute about pink-haired girls in black langerie. Must be all the delicious naughty-innocent implications.

Reviews, oh reviews. I love you, but sometimes I want to strangle you with barbed wire. It's the rating system. I thought long and hard about obliterating it. When most reviews end with "it depends on your preferences" it's easy to feel the futility of it all. That's the problem with any sort of aesthetic judgement: lack of standardization. I was pretty darn close to using a pro/con system instead, but then I'd run into the exact same problems. Subjectiveness, my greatest foe. Why must you hound me so?

Then again, it's not like anyone will change their minds about a figure just because I give it a 7/10. Numbers are wonderfully pointless like that. How do you rate your figures? Pure aesthetics? Character love? A combination of both, probably. My two biggest weaknesses are superfantabulous detail, and incredible bases. Weapons always help. Bitchin' Nice hair too.

Luka seems to be hitting the resale market a bit under retail price (around 6000 - 7000 yen). Given her quality, it's not hard to see her price elevate in the future. Besides, she's the sole scaled Luka figure out there (discounting garage kits). Unless other companies decide to step up their game, she's unfortunately the only option for Luka lovers out there. Here's hoping Luka Append comes out soon and sparks a new wave of interest in our favourite pink-haired jazz girl.

Overall, Luka is a delicious figure. Her production value is high and her errors are minimal. The sense of movement she embodies is nothing short of delightful, and the sculpt of her clothes are so true to life you can almost feel their softness.  With Luka crossed off my list, my next wish is to have a full-scaled Yukari figure. Because oversized bunny hoodies are friggin' adorable.

The Run-Down
Box: 5/10 (It does it's thing)
Base: 7/10 (I love the old-timey feel, but it could be sturdier)
Pose: 10/10 (So much motion)
Sculpt: 8/10 (Her face is...less than ideal)
Paint: 8/10 (Close to perfect, but also attracts a lot of dust)
Overall: 8/10 (I like her a lot, she's Luka, after all)

Manufacturer: Max Factory
Price: 8381 yen
Purchased from: AmiAmi

Ciao for now,


  1. I love writing reviews, but I don't rate my figures. It's too complex and overall,
    I don't think that my personal taste can be applied to many other people XD
    It's easy to rate bad figures, but I rarely buy bad figures, so no ratings from me.
    I just write about the not so good and what could have been made better in the text.

    I knew no song of Luka before a few moments ago, her look is more appealing to me than vocaloid music.

    Her brown outfit looks really classy and elegant, brown with gold, just has a beautiful adult touch.
    As much as I like young anime characters, I also like the big sister characters ^^
    I also like pink haired anime girls, it's a cute and fluffy feel haircolor for me.

    "...in the middle of a sexy hip-bump" *badabum* yeah imagination XD

    The face it not really what I expected at first, maybe her eyes are too round, but it's not bad and very good from certain angles.
    Luka has a nicely sculpted body, nice boobs, long and sexy accetuated legs and an delicious backside *damn* dat ass is king.

    The folds of her dress add a lot of beauty to the figures,it seems to be a great level of detail overall.
    Flow of pose dress and hair turned her in a very dynamic figure, I feel a bit bad about passing on her actually ;D

    1. You're right of course, rating is a difficult thing to do. After all, a person's preferences are plagued by multiple factors. I'm usually pleased with my figures, and only give bad ratings when I expect a nice product and it turns out vastly worse than anticipated. It's easier to blam a bad product though. (And kind of fun too XD)

      It's strange. I've always loved dark-haired girls, but I seem to be buying a lot of pink-haired girls (Luka, Sonico, Inori, Narika, Sakura, even Godoka has pink hair!)

      I can't quite put a finger on what's awkward about Luka's face. Angles, maybe? I think it has something to do with her mouth, but then again, maybe not...

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Hah, thanks for pointing out that she has on a necklace (more like a choker, I guess) with a gemstone in it. I have her in my collection and shot various close-up pics, but hadn't even noticed that. (^_^)

    1. The gem was a nice surprise! Good on Max Factory for bothering with small details, even when they're not readily apparent. It's another example of why they're up there on my list of favourite companies.

      Thanks for reading!

  3. It might be that a part of my brain has been lobotomized when I wasn't paying attention, but to this day I still don't see the problem with Luka's face, even though you're not the first one to bring it up. Then again, being the Luka fanboy that I am, I'm completely okay with not being able to see a flaw or two through my fanboy goggles.

    By the way, I agree 100% on your remark on Luka's energy. I love action poses and metal bar insertions as much as the next guy, but to instill a sense of liveliness and energy without resorting to that stuff is one of the marks of a great figure. I'm also grateful for figures like Luka -- big fancy action-pose figures are expensive, and I'd be pretty devastated scaled figures all went down the 12000yen+ route ;__;

    Reviews are subjective by definition; one can dump out all the objective info he wants, but at the end of the day, the review interprets that information in a subjective manner. I use the Pro/Cons system not really as a rating, but more as a summary, as it's really up to the reader to make up his/her own mind based on the information given. I find that a numerical system can be awfully inflexible, and when I occasionally trouble conveying messages through words alone, the idea of limiting myself to numerical scale seems frustrating to me.

    Great review once again, Jenn -- the enthusiasm in your writing is nothing short of infectious. =)

    By the way, have you ever considered adopting a third-party commenting system? Blogger's default system is pretty lousy. I swear I hit the publish button on my previous comment, but it seems to have vanished into the aether. Before I made the switch from Blogger to Wordress, I installed Disqus on my blog, which was really nice -- check it out!

    1. Fanboy goggles can do amazing things. If fan goggles can make every figure look perfect, it would be a beautiful world. XD I still can't place what exactly about Luka's face I don't like. She looks great at most angles though, so it's probably less a flaw than a partial-flaw (or something like that).

      Oh my goodness, if all figures go the 12000+ yen route, I would need to reduce my meals to ONE per day. Or win the lotto. Then there's the shipping cost...just the thought of it breaks my heart. Awesome action figures look amazing, but they're so unwieldly sometimes (I'm thinking Fate Testarossa Phantom Minds here). They're damn impressive on the shelf, but my wallet hates them. It's a love-hate relationship.

      Pro/Con is an idea I've been playing with for a while. It's gentler than a hard, numerical system. The numerical system was set up so I could maintain some semblance of consistency when I first began reviewing. Then it stuck. =P

      Funny that you mention Wordpress, since it was our first choice before Blogger. There was something about Wordpress's formatting that drove us crazy (I don't remember exactly what it was, but there was a lot of table flipping). Suich and I screen comments to catch spambots now, so your comment may take a day or two to appear. I'm not sure if all of them are getting through though. If any of your comments don't ever show up, send me a note and I'll check it out.

      I did a quick search of Disqus and it looks neat. The fact that it's used by several big name websites is a great sign. It looks like a viable option to replace Blogger's chunky comment system.

      Thanks for the suggestion! And as always, thanks for visiting!

  4. This reminds me of a conversation I had with a friend years ago when Luka was first introduced. A vocaloid with a better vocal range, could sing in English and had a bigger bust? Out of the way Miku you are done for! Alas it was on the contrary Miku is still going on strong while Luka is still in the back seat.

    At first I did not like this figure, mostly on Tony Taka's account. I find his illustrations while very pretty to be very darn boring in the face department. However, the end result bears only a passing resemblance at best so I ended liking Luka more than I thought I would. All the details you pointed out, her nice bust/waist ratio, the semi transparent hair that not always works looking very nice. Max Factory is very good at this.

    Before I started collecting there were many figures I wanted mostly from Max Factory. It was a shame that Max Factory went and focused primarily on figmas for a while, while I love my figmas I am happy Max Factory has started pumping out more scaled releases lately.

    As for reviews I stay away from hard numbers or any grading scale. Quantifying subjective opinions aside I do not like how certain grades carry negative connotation. While giving a figure say 7/10 while meaning average or good from me could be taken as subpar by people as it is not a 9 out of 10. Kinda like how it is for gaming reviews nowadays. Besides like I mentioned before, pictures speak for themselves really, whether it is a good or bad figure can be easily seen from the pictures a figure photographer takes.

    1. Haha, I don't think anyone will be able to usurp Queen Miku when it comes to Vocaloids. Funny enough, I hear some people saying the same thing about IA, that she has a better voice, that she's the new Miku, etc, etc, but I don't see Miku takng a backseat any time soon.

      I have a love-hate relationship with Tony Taka's art. He has some gorgeous girls, but they start looking like clones after a while. They're all docile and happy, but that's about as exciting as they get. It's partially why I stopped collecting Kotobukiya's Shining series (so many girls, no personality...)

      You make a good point about numerical grading. I personally tend to grade the same way I would in school. Around 5/10 is passable, 7/10 is about average, while anything above that is great. I like to think there's some way of objectively comparing figures, in the same way I like to think there's some way of objectiely judging paintings. But then we get into theories of aesthetics and all that jazz. I think I'll leave that for the philosophers to debate. =P

      Thanks for visiting!