Saturday 22 June 2013

1/8 Totori Helmold (Phat Company)

Occasionally, there is a figure that appeals to Poke as a whole rather than Poke as a half. Suich has extensive experience with Atelier Totori, but also the common sense not to get sucked into this messy "figure" business. On the other hand, Jenn's is Atelier-ignorant, but bought her figure anyway. That's just how she rolls. 

Given our respective expertise, this only makes sense. This is the only way. You can even call it fate. Time for a joint review.

Jenn: Let's come clean straight off the top. I bought Totori for her base and girly pastel colours. I have no idea who she is, or what her character is like. Guide me, Suich. Enlighten this lowly ignoramous.

Suich: Totori's a sweet and optimistic little lady who's trying to find her long-lost mother in the second title of the Atelier Arland trilogy.  In order to travel around the land she earns a license from Arland to become an "Adventurer".  It's mostly because the world's dangerous, so she needs to gather items and synthesis bombs and healing items.  Speaking of synthesizing, little Totori is also an alchemist!  But enough about the basic stuff.  Let it be known that Totori's just one of the best characters in the Atelier series simply because she's just so darn cute!  Even when she accidentally creates an explosion in her atelier she's adorable.

Jenn: Moe moe kyun~

(**Click to enlarge photos**)

Jenn: With a plain white backdrop and no real colour (other than some promo pics), Totori's box is one of the less inspired boxes I have. You think it would be fitting to give it a pastel wash.

Suich: Agreed.  Phat should have taken inspiration from Mel Kishida's artwork.  That box could have been covered in glorious pastel colours, and it could have stood out more, but instead they just stuck with plain white.  What a waste.

Jenn: At least the floral border is kind of pretty?

Jenn: Some people are unsatisfied with Totori's face. As someone who has never played the game, I think she's cute. Her dimpled smile, round eyes, and tilted head remind me of a little turtle.

Suich: Her expression is decent at best in my opinion.  Something about it really throws me off.  I'm thinking it might be the nose because it makes her look a tad strange on some angles.

Jenn: Looking closer, it looks like she has a bit of an overbite? Maybe it's just me.

Jenn: Totori is my first figure from Phat, and despite my sympathy for new companies attempting to make a dent in the figure business (how cute), I must say I expected more.

Suich:  Totori's hair is so clumped together it looks cheap, like Phat wasn't even going to try and shape it into something prettier.  I understand that her hair is meant to be a bit wavy, but the execution was poor.

Jenn: I think it looks wet, like she just stepped out of the shower (oh, good mental image). Pictures of Totori show her with longer, fluttery hair, but Phat fails to capture its levity. On a more technical level, she also has several small seams, all of which could have been smoothed out.

Jenn: Totori wears a dollish dress complete with semi-transparent tutu-esque skirt and wide-collared vest. She wears a delicious, opalescent, semi-transparent bow in the back. I use "delicious" as a descriptor because it reminds me of a gummy.

Suich: The bow is coloured in nicely but it falls down in a really strange manner,.  It's possibly due to the fact that Totori is a really flat figure, so she gets a flatter ribbon as well.

Jenn: Totori isn't exemplar in the detail department, but she does have a few clean lines going for her. The decoration on her sleeve and collar are relatively precise. Makes me question under what conditions sculptors whip out stencils versus wing-it by hand.

Suich: It's one of the very few good qualities about this figure...

Jenn: Unfortunately, the rest of Totori isn't nearly as attractive. First, let's talk seams. Totori is plagued with small, weedling seams that muddy her quality. You can find them on her coat, in her hair, and along her knees. Yes, Totori has knobby knees to the utmost degree. A visible line runs from her knees and through her boots.

Suich: I'm used to seeing seams in the hair when it comes to figures, but damn, Totori has seams everywhere. Looking at her up close isn't exactly pleasant.

Jenn: Despite Phat's attempt at detail, Totori's "details" are more damning than impressive. There are a dozen places where she could have blown my mind, but falls far short. For one, she's holding a darn ratty notebook. In fact, it doesn't even look like a notebook. It looks more like a pastel cigarette case. Is Totori tapping out cigs that look like litmus paper? Arland is a darker place than I first imagined.

Suich: I agree with Jenn on the details.  I'm severely disappointed in them since Phat had such a lovely design to work with. Perhaps Phat was going for a tethered look for that book of hers, like they were trying to show that Totori used her book every day to the point where it looks ragged. Ah, who am I kidding.  It really just looks like a cheap sculpt and paint job.

Jenn: Did you also notice? No fingernail distinction. Her fingers might as well be rolls of dough. It doesn't speak well of Phat, considering most manufacturers have made fingernail distinction a commonality.

Jenn: There's something else about Totori that bothers me. Look at her sleeves. I mean, into them. Do you espy with thine little eye what I doth espy with mine? Her sleeve is filled!

Suich: I'm severely disappointed in this detail. Phat could have put more effort into making it look better, and frankly more realistic, and really, it isn't as though they're making space for any particular detail.  It's just arm space!

Jenn: Phat could maybe get away with it if both her arms were lowered, but this just looks like they were too lazy to carve out a proper arm.

Suich: It definitely stands out since her arm's raised.  People would definitely want to check out the whole sleeve in this case, but Phat probably didn't take that into consideration.

Jenn: Overall, Totori's paint job is wracked with roughness. It's almost as though Phat using a lower quality paint than companies like GSC and Alter.

Suich: Their paint is...kind of shitty.

Jenn: Whoa there, you mean "shoddy". Think of the children! The only figure I can really compare her to, paint-wise, is Kotobukiya's Kureha.

Suich: Ouch.

Jenn: You know what the worst part of Totori is for me?

Suich: What?

Jenn: How flat she is.

Suich: Jenn, are you checking out a 14-year-old gurl?

Jenn: Yes, and no. Totori's lack of rack might be a subject of humour in the games, but I'm taking "flat" on a more technical level. Take a look at her sideways. She's like Paper Mario.

Suich: We had this conversation before. What did we compare her to?

Jenn: A Stunfisk.

Suich: Right. It could have been beautiful, but then someone stepped on it.

Jenn: Is there a reason her skirt and ribbon and barrel are so horizontally challenged? No? Then why, Phat, why?

Suich: There's no excuse for that really...

Jenn: I feel like we've grumbled enough. There's one great thing about Totori I want to get out there.

Suich: Shoot.

Jenn: Her staff-head. Sure, the actual staff is a tube of plastic (I would have really liked to see some metal in there, for stability's sake), but the cute, heart-shaped staff-head is pretty darn clean. Nevermind the red gem shines like a beacon in the right lighting. Actually, I'm big on Totori's semi-transparency in general. It softens her up.

Suich: Speaking of good things, let's look at her decorative little base!  Each item represents something in the game.  The barrel is a reference to all Atelier games, I tell you.  Every time you get a character to walk up to a barrel and interact with it, all they say is, "Barrel" and that's it.  It's an ongoing inside joke, but a very strange one, yet all the fans of the Atelier series will know what it is.

The sign in front of the barrel on the base actually hangs on the door outside Totori's Atelier in the game.

I don't recall a wheel being in her room, but Totori does end up owning a ship later, so that may represent the adventurer in her, which is cute because she's working so hard just to find her missing mother.  What a great daughter!

The flask and beakers are items she uses for alchemy.  It's too bad they didn't include her cauldron but it would probably overwhelm the figure...though Phat could have flattened it quite a bit if they wanted to.

Jenn: Wow, thanks, professor. That was quite a detailed summary. Considering Totori's base is the sole reason I bought her, it pleases me that it's at least as substantial as her promo pics promised.

Suich: I love the bunny plush the most out of all the props.  It's one of the only items on this figure that actually has some texture, and it actually looks really cute.  I'm a sucker for bunnies though, so I'm being quite biased towards that plush, but who can resist that face?  It's got cute little eyes and an "X" for a mouth!

Jenn: My favourite part of Totori's base are those sexy test tubes. They appeal to the latent scientist in me.

Jenn: I'm also fond of the frumpy curtain. It's gross ochre presentation is endearing in its ugliness.

Suich: So it's so ugly it's cute?

Jenn: Yes, like a pug.

Suich: You have strange tastes.

Jenn: You got it, bra. But before we continue, allow me one more grump. Totori doesn't fit properly on her base. Sure, she sticks to it, but her right foot is too loose around the peg and her left foot is too tight. If others hadn't reported experiencing the same phenomenon, I would have written it off as a defect unique to my Totori, but seeing as they have, we can conclude it's a result of a less-than-ideal design.

Jenn: Oh wait, did I say one more grump? I lied. I have more grumps. I would love to end here and say Totori's base is her salvation, but not all is right in paradise. Oh, the flatness! Such persistent flatness, not only in sculpt, but also in paint. Those bricks are so flat they might as well be chunks of cheese. Her steering wheel looks like milk chocolate rather than wood (it needs grain). Then there are additional paint defects. Look at that crumbling sign. Is it supposed to be so rugged?

Suich: Don't think so.

Jenn: Well, guess we should move on. Never have I wished for a tallship of my own so acutely till I got my hands on Totori. Then I could snap all sorts of seafaring photos with her.

Suich: Would you really spend 30 grand for a fancy prop?

Jenn: I think tallships cost more actually. Much, much more.

Jenn: Sunset channel is my home boi, yo.

Jenn: Analogy time. Any sadomasochistic, high-achieving student understands it takes more work to achieve the final 10% than the previous 90%. As such, I am happy to pay good money for that smidgeon of extra quality control that levvies an "A" figure into an "A+". Call it a perfectionist mentality. As such, the knowledge that a mistake exists hurts me more than any aesthetic impact it might have. Some people can forgive seams, rough paint, and strange sculpt. Not I. I roll and roll in agony.

Suich: Where are you going with this?

Jenn: Hmm, I wonder.... Oh, right. Paying extra for the icing on top. Unlike some companies, who will work their fingers bloody to achieve perfection, Phat gave up early and went to bed. Totori is passable, in terms of having shelf presence, but she isn't the smoothest, cleanest, or the most 3D figure out there. Nor can she compete with the high quality output of companies like Alter, Max Factory, or GSC. Instead of working a few extra hours to make sure she's spotless, Phat threw up their hands and settled for passable. Totori's an A. Not an A+. Actually, she might be more like a C+.

Suich: For people that have played the game, Totori's figure doesn't completely capture Totori's character. Phat hasn't managed to get all her cuteness. Her face is a bit...long, maybe? I don't know, but it doesn't look right. Her hair is too short. It's not exactly the right colour either. Totori in the game has greyish hair, but her figure's is more brown. She doesn't look exactly like Totori from the game. For people who go in blind, she's passable, even if her quality isn't all that high. Fans of Totori might not be too pleased with how she looks though.

Jenn: Good enough, right?

Suich: Er, not really.

Jenn: Right, I think we've made it clear how we feel about her. All we have to do is apply the finishing blow. So, my love, what's our final conclusion?

The Run-Down

Jenn Suich
 Box 5/10 (Box is box) 5/10 (Disappointing and boring, but at least she got a box)
 Base 7.5/10 (Lovely, but could use more depth in both sculpt and paint) 7.5/10 (Good references to the game itself, which is nice. It's also pretty cute, but I hate the flatness.)

 Pose 6.5/10 (Cute head tilt, but otherwise unremarkable) 7/10 (I think it's cute. I like how her hip's pushed out a little)
 Sculpt 6/10 (Why so flat? Many small seams) 6/10 (Totori and her base are flat!)
 Paint 6.5/10 (General roughness, lack of shading, lost opportunities on the base) 6.5/10 (Too many spills. She could definitely use shading as well)
 Overall  6.5/10 (Decent, but not resplendent) 6.5/10 (I'm disappointed in the treatment Totori got from Phat)

Manufacturer: Phat Company (Dat company so phat, yo)
Price: 9000 yen
Purchased from: AmiAmi

Poke it good,
Jenn and Suich


  1. Totori's flatness was one of the complaints I also made in my review. She looks fine from the front, but look at her sideways and it looks like she got squashed. Like many Atelier fans though, the one thing I couldn't forgive was what they did to her face. If I had no clue who Totori was I probably would've been fine with it, but Phat's rendition of her just looks wrong.

    1. Maybe someone accidentally stepped on her mold before they released her. =P

      There's a certain amount of discrepency I can tolerate when it comes to figures, but Totori's face looks like a whole other character! I was fine with it when I didn't know who she was, but after seeing her gorgeous in-game pictures, I could only be disappointed.

      Thanks for reading,

  2. Don't be mean to Totori chan! I always wanted to say this XD

    This was one of Phats earlier figures and it looks like they couldn't handle this elaborate design at all. It's quite a shame to see all the seams and overall it appears a little too rough. The face is ok, but doesn't convince without blush.

    I own two of their later figures so far and they are way better in my opinion.

    1. Totori's so cute I can't help but tease her! Uguu~

      It looks like Phat bit off a bit more than they could chew with Totori. As you said, she's one of their earlier, more ambitious projects, so I'm not TOO angry with her quality (not in the same way I would be if one of the more established companies messed up anyhow). My disappointment is tailored with some fondness. Oh Phat, there there. You'll do better next time. We understand.


  3. Totori!!!! I love that girl, she is so sweet she almost gave me diabetes when I played through the game. Jen should totally give it a go!

    As my favorite Atelier protagonist I was super excited when I saw GSC was making a figure of her. Except that it really wasn't GSC but Phat, I thought hey the one Phat figure I have turned out nicely. Alas from a first glance I wasn't pleased, doesn't seem like the few figures based on Kishida Mel's characters manages to capture his art style at all and this Totori wasn't the first.

    Oh well, if only GSC proper or Alter would make one, now that the Atelier games changed artists I don't think I will ever see one to my liking. So sad.

    Oh I did like the dual review, that was pretty cool!

    1. With so many recommendations, I don't think I can afford NOT to play!

      It's too bad Kishida Mel no longer illustrates the Atelier series. Hidari's a great artist, but her art just doesn't have the same fluffiness. Ah well, c'est la vie.

      We had a lot of fun doing a dual review. It's more interesting than just talking about Totori's technical points anyhow.