Friday 14 June 2013

1/8 Tenshi exclusive ver. (GSC)

Behold! Tenshi descends from heaven to grace the earth with cuteness and charm—

Wait, wait, wait, didn't I already do a Tenshi review? Well, yes I did, and kudos to you for being so clever. But it's common knowledge that everyone could use an extra angel, so the when GSC announced they were releasing an exclusive Tenshi, complete with glorious, sweeping wings, I freaked like balls.

See, my flighty nature prevents me from committing to any one character for long, and my urge to buy repeats of any given character is actually quite low. Unlike more dedicated collectors out there, I have never mastered, or even understood, the art of shrining. Tenshi, however, has a quiet badassery I wouldn't mind indulging.

Tenshi hails from Angel Beats!, a series developed by Jun Maeda, creator such dramas as Clannad, Kanon, and Air. Unlike it's predecessors, however, Angel Beats! hits hard with the comedy, and falls flat on everything else. Such aimless meanderings I've yet to see in South American tributaries. The plot was a mess, the pacing, hackneyed, and the gaping plot holes made me wonder whether the writers were shot. Tenshi's was the sole reason I saw it through. She was, to put it lamely, the wind beneath my wings.

Lately, GSC seems to be going down the road of fully covered boxes (see Racing Miku 2011), and I'm not sure I like the idea. I enjoy peeking through windows. Makes me feel all through the looking glass. Fortunately, Tenshi's box is relatively pleasant, with a lavender gradient wash and copies of Tenshi's promo pics on all four sides. For an exclusive figure, I would have preferred a plain white box with silvery words, and elegant, shining wings (as opposed to Lacia's sleek black box), but hey, as long as it does it's job.

(**Click to enlarge photos**)

Like the previous Tenshi, this version can be displayed with or without wings, though once you've seen her with wings, it's difficult to see her "streamlined" version as somewhat lacking.


Without wings, Tenshi looks like any old anime girl, casually flipping her hair in that enticing way girls do but don't realize. In fact, she looks so relaxed I almost want to plop a bag of groceries in her left hand. You can almost see her taking an afternoon walk on a street of solid cheese.

Wait? What cheese? No, I'm not making schizotypal associations. I'm talking about her joke of a base. I could write an entire essay on why her base drops the ball. I have high expectations of exclusive figures, if not for anything other than their higher price tags. If I'm going to pay extra, I want it all. I want ball-busting detail, glorious paint jobs, dynamic poses, and decent bases.

But what disappoints me about Tenshi's base isn't that it's simply round, plain, and otherwise unadorned. Plenty of exclusive figures have plain, round, unadorned bases, so that alone isn't enough to rile my ire. It's when a base detracts from a figure that I begin to bristle. Tenshi's base looks unfinished, like GSC went for imitation sand and failed to pull off the texture. Is it hard to imitate sand? Not really. So what happened, GSC? Caught a bout of halfassery, did we? If you didn't want to bother with a nice base, just use a clear, circular piece of plastic (like they did in promo pics). It would have looked better than a half-baked, half-decent, non-aesthetic chunk of semi-ripe cheddar.

Breathe deep. Calming down. Moving on.

Tenshi isn't one for strong emotions. Till the last few episodes of the show, she operated with the unreadable professionalism of a practiced poker player. It surprised me that GSC decided to go with a smile on both her figures, considering she smiled only about once in the entire series. Nevertheless, her shy smile and slight blush are too sweet too criticize.

I've been bothered by the appearance of Tenshi's bangs, but couldn't put my finger on it till recently. Then, as I was taking photos, it suddenly clicked. Tenshi's bangs are a little wide and squashed, which makes her head look a bit flat.

Naturally, Tenshi also has a seam line between her bangs and her hair, but it's a feature so common it might as well be tradition. Still, I look forward to the day manufacturers get around this minor nuisance. Alter made a good attempt at hiding Stocking's seam line, after all.

Neither her slightly misshaped bangs or bang seam are a big deal given the generous sweep of her remaining locks. There's some nice whoosh in there, and the tug lines around her hairband are a plus.

There was a hubub about Tenshi's dress a little while back when GSC teased a shot of her (nsfw) cast-off. There was an even bigger hubub when consumers realized that GSC trolled everyone, and that Tenshi is not a cast-off. You could, of course, cut her dress off. It's not attached to her body in any fashion, and there's a convenient seam line you can use as a guide, but the entire procedure has a do-it-yourself, IKEA vibe that doesn't sit well with me (much in the same way GSC's nendoroid-sticker-faces don't sit well with me).

Either way, a cast-off option would have been wasted on me. There are girls I would like to undress, and girls I wouldn't, and Tenshi falls into the latter. Rather, I enjoy the summery flair her dress provides. Its semi-transparency is significant enough to provide an ephemeral feeling to her overall character, but opaque enough to censure her lady bits.

Tenshi is not very heavily shaded, a prudent decision on GSC's part given her angelic atmosphere. Her buttons and ribbons provide all the spice she needs. The sculpt on Tenshi's dress is pleasant and detailed, though I find it strange that her ribbons so not have holes through their loops, though clever placement of her ribbon ends actually negates the need for holes.

Tenshi has thin, girly legs. Look at how tiny her calves are! Careful on those sticks, girl. Angels with broken wings are acceptable. Angels with broken fibulas are just silly.

On first inspection, Tenshi seems like a chaste girl. But a closer inspection reveals she wears an enticingly short dress. One naughty gust of wind and she'd be flashing her panties at the world.

And since we're going there anyway—

Tenshi wears safe, white panties. Did you really expect anything else? 

Getting down to the nitty gritty. I've said before I like my exclusives to have ball-busting detail, but not all characters are as ornate as I want them to be. Tenshi is a keep-it-simple girl, but that doesn't mean GSC can slack on her detail. Rather, whatever scant detail she does possess needs to be crisp to the umpteenth degree. After all, it's easier to forgive folly when you're bogged down by a million nano-lines than when you just have one ribbon to paint.

Tenshi's details are all right. She has fingernail definition, but they're not too neat, and her toes seem a bit stiff.

I have too many fetishes to count when it comes to character design. They include large weapons, glasses, striped leggings, red-black colour schemes, snazzy uniforms, futuristic latex suits, anything steampunk, and wings, namely, avian wings. Birds are my home boys, guys. I love them with all the might of my wee, villainous heart. So I'm glad to report Tenshi's wings are exaclty as beautiful as I expected. GSC went all out in creating a set of believable, relatively anatomically correct flight apparatuses. Look at all those glorious, individual feathers.

Now, to the real nitty gritty. Tenshi has a couple of paint problems. Her hair comes with several small scrapes straight from the box, and the paint on her wings transfers very easily. You risk rubbing paint off her wings just by popping her head on, since the action beings her hair and marginal coverts into contact. Her wings are also dreadfully fragile. During assembly, one of her wing pegs snapped off. Superglue (binder of the universe) fixed the problem, but it was disconcerting nevertheless. Take extra caution!

Tenshi also has a couple of seams in her hair that could have been smoothed over, but they're generally well hidden. Without her wings, Tenshi also sports two gaping back gouges, which I will neither count for or against her given their necessity.

Pictured: Sadness
Finally, it's hard to have two versions of Tenshi without comparing them. Looking back, it shocks me that I only gave GSC's previous Tenshi a 6.5/10. I must have had a bad day when I reviewed her. It must have been raining. I was probably splashed by a bus on the way home. I probably had my mouth open. Something or the other. Looking back, I was unfairly harsh. She's not a bad figure at all. I feel like I should re-evaluate her one day.

Comparing the two Tenshis might be like comparing apples to oranges. Her alternate outfit makes it difficult to compare them directly, but there are certain qualities that I can still work with.

Side by side, you can see Tenshi's previous incarnation has a slightly pinker skin tone. Her eyes are darker, and her face a little rounder. Her bangs are also more detailed. In terms of face, there's something sweet and alert about previous Tenshi's wide eyes that exclusive Tenshi lacks.

Exclusive Tenshi has grown out her hair! Previous Tenshi has more lavender in her hair, while exclusive Tenshi has more blue. Exclusive Tenshi also has fewer gradients in her hair, giving it a more matte appearance overall.

Both Tenshi are light and breezy in their own way. Previous Tenshi has an airborne pose, while exlusive Tenshi has a lighter colour scheme and breezier dress.

When I first laid eyes on exclusive Tenshi's prototype I thought she would blow the previous Tenshi out of the water. But when they're side by side, it's actually rather difficult to chose one over the other. On one hand, GSC's previous Tenshi has excellent quality (again, I'm not sure why I rated her so low). Her sharpness and spot-on face are difficult to beat. On the other, GSC's exclusive Tenshi has beautiful, pursuasive wings, and a lovely, angelic atmosphere.

Which would you choose?

One interesting side effect of being a figure collector is that you get very good at stacking boxes. Seriously, I can Tetris that shit snazz in half a minute flat. Unlike more steel-souled individuals out there, I can't bear the thought of throwing out, or even flattening my boxes to save space. On the bright side, having lots of boxes also means having lots of backdrops, many of which I employ in moments of photographic-desperation.

I wish I were a photographic genius, but my process can only be described as trial and error. As I once explained to a piano salesperson, "I like to take a bite out of every sample, then when I find a sample I like, I eat a whole bunch." I don't think she quite knew what I was talking about. In retrospect, I'm not even sure what I was talking about, or why I was conversing with a piano salesperson about food samples. What I think I was trying to convey was my need to experiment. In photography, as in life, I get uncomfortable relying on old patterns. What works works, and that's totally cool, but there's nothing quite like the rush of trying new things.

For the longest time I avoided taking low-lighting pictures. One, because my camera can't handle high ISO settings without spitting out grain, two, because I don't have a strong tripod, and three, because I'm plumb lazy. But a few weeks ago I kicked myself and did what I do best: winged it. Here's what I learned.
  1. Soft lighting is a real bitch bother to get right.
  2. Having a heartbeat is really inconvenient. I could be my own tripod if I didn't have such pulsating muscular spasms.
  3. You can kind of imitate an off-camera flash by flicking a lamp on and off (I call this frugal-flashing)
  4. Piles of textbooks make excellent, albeit heavy, tripods. Ha! If that's not frugal living I don't know what is....Though if I sold all those textbooks, I could probably afford a very nice tripod. Damn it, Jenn. Start thinking things through!

While I see Tenshi as more cute than sexy, the silhouette of her body through her dress is oddly erotic. Mmm, oh yeah, look at that kinky shadow play.

As much as I like Tenshi, and as much as I like this figure in general, I have to say I'm a little underwhelmed overall. Maybe my expectations were too high. I saw her prototype and clapped like a broken toy monkey. I was so excited. When her actual figure came into being, she wasn't quite as spectacular in person as my mind imagined her to be. At the risk of sounding douchy, let me reference Wordsworth, who once wrote, in his embellished, roundabout way, that the physical world could never live up to the spectacles wrought by the mind's eye (to which I jumped up in class and shouted "OBJECTION", but that's a whole other story). While I bite my thumb at most Romanticism, I admit Wordy might be partially correct this time. Nothing makes a disappointment of reality quite as effectively as high expectations.

Besides her wings, which are glorious, though not the best I've ever seen (best goes to Alter's Gwendolyn), Tenshi is really standard-run quality. My real beef is aimed at her lazy-ass lazy-butt base, but her small slipups also detract from my enjoyment of her overall. Sure, I sometimes put her on a windowsill, recline on the floor, watch the glorious sun rise over her head, and smile, but other times, I mingle her with my other figures and think, "She's nice, but she's not that nice."

As a GSC exclusive, it may be more difficult to get your hands on Tenshi in the future, but she'll show up on Mandarake eventually. As I always say, believe in the Rulers of Time and you shall reap. Would I recommend her to others? It depends. For Tenshi fans, yes, and moreso if you're a suck for angel wings, but otherwise, you might want to think twice. Her price tag of 8000 yen isn't hefty for an exclusive figure, but neither is it cheap. She easily goes for 10k+ on proxy sites. Despite her beautiful wings, I would argue that there are better, more interesting, exclusive figures you can get for about the same price.

Though as usual, it's all about preference.

The Run-Down
 Box  5/10 Pleasant colours, but no windows...?
 Base  4/10 Unimpressive, lazy, would have preferred a clear base instead
 Pose  7.5/10  Breezy, feminine, with a good sense of movement
 Sculpt  8.5/10 Seam in dress, bangs are a wee bit funky, otherwise splendid
 Paint  7/10 A bit flat overall, paint rubs off wings very easily
 Overall   7.5/10 Not perfect, but nice nevertheless

Manufacturer: Good Smile Company
Price: 8000 yen
Purchased from: Anime Island

It's over 9000!


  1. She's lovely, I really liked the series and the concept of how they got stuck in Purgatory until they fulfil their wish.

    The figure though, it looked a bit plain imo, thought they will have done a better job with the hair and the expression; The wings are amazing though, comparable to the ones for Ah My Godness.

    1. I loved the concept (reminds me a bit of Haibane Renmei, if only with the whole afterlife idea), but the execution was messy. I'm not entirely convinced the writers knew where they were going with the show, though I did enjoy the laughs. And Yui's story was a tearjerker.

      I feel a bit let down by her face as well. It doesn't fully capture her essence. Ah well, I went for the wings, and they didn't disappoint. Count me happy. =P


  2. Dang it woman, stop being so eloquent, it's scary when your words capture my thoughts exactly!!!

    That aside I do agree with you, this Tenshi is a nice figure, has some great things going on for her like her wings and semi translucent dress. SHe really lives up to her namesake. Then she also has some really bad things, stupid cheesecake base!

    She is nice but not exclusive nice, if she had been a regular release I bet she would have made a lot of people happy. As an exclusives though? Yup, only for the Tenshi fans.

    Over I like her quite a bit and thanks to this figure I got some of my best pictures yet.

    Speaking of which, you want softer light? Difuse it, and difuse it some more. A good tripod is always a good investment, I recommend the Dolica 62" tripod with the metal head.

    1. You know what they say, "Great minds think alike." ;D

      That base! I'm badly tempted to sculpt over it. If only I had faith in my sculpting skills! Maybe I'll glue some decorative glass rocks to it and call it a day. Anything is an improvement at this point.

      A tripod's definitely in my future. I don't think I want to haul 12 textbooks around just to get steady pictures in low-light. I'll keep the Dolica 62" in mind. The ball head is a plus.