Tuesday 30 July 2013

1/8 Princess of the Crystal (GSC)

"Let's initiate the survival strategy!"—Princess of the Crystal

Once in a while, I pick up a figure that doesn't have guns a-blazin', booty a-bouncin', or bases a-stounding. Once in a while, I pick up figures because I like the character (shocking, I know). Princess of the Crystal had a slew of  memorable moments in Mawaru Penguin Drum. She's flamboyant, blunt, dominating, and able to deliver a deadpan seiron senryaku. She made me laugh, and laughter is a surefire way to my heart.

Mawaru Penguindrum was an—interesting show. It has the special distinction of making me legit cry without fully understanding why. The only other entity to do that was the last paragraph of Cormac McCarthy's The Road (trout, guys, trout). With heavy symbolism, numerous cross-references, a nonlinear narrative, and a preoccupation on theme, Mawaru Penguindrum exactly the sort of show I usually dismiss as pretentious, except that I actually enjoyed it, damn it. It's artistic direction, beautiful soundtrack, well-rounded characters, and incredible atmospheric development made up for whatever downfalls it might have had. Sure, it got ambiguous and poetic at times, but it also refused to hold my hand, and dared me to engage.

I could happily write essays about this show, but that's not what we're here for. We're here for plastic goodness.

Princess of the Crystal's box is heavy, corrugated, and made to catch your eye. Nevermind grace or coordination. This box is all about blam. It has symbols abound, bold text, and glaring red circles. I love it. GSC nailed her backdrop. It's a beautiful, brazen pink. Promo pics of the Princess are made to stand out. It's in no way an elegant box. It just wants to be noticed.

(**Click to enlarge photos**)

Princess of the Crystal has an enormous base. It's the size and weight of a frisbee. This is no wafer-thin piece of plastic we're talking about. We're talking about dinner-plate-style mass. I could eat off this appletini slab, it's so sizeable. Thankfully, its semi-trasparency is rather attractive, and as you'll see below, her highness doesn't actually need a stand at all.

Princess of the Crystal has an unique sense of fashion. If I were to describe it in one word, it would be: Ringmaster. Her theatrical clash of colours, leotard, and nonsensical penguin hat give her a strong, circus flair. This ain't your mother's school uniform, sir. The Princess sets her own trends. Her thigh-highs and high cut panties add a sense of fetishism to her figure.

Posed with one hand outstretched and heels firmly planted, Princess of the Crystal gives off an aura of dominance and assurance. What do you think she's saying? Probably, "Listen, you lowlifes who will never amount to anything. Obtain the Penguin Drum." While I'm a little disappointed she doesn't have this pose:

I'm still relatively satisfied with the pose we got. Now that I think about it, her dynamic pose would require a more dynamic face (otherwise it would seem forced and silly), and figure companies are, for whatever reason, reluctant to sculpt shouting expressions.

Princess of the Crystal wins my award for Most Delayed Figure (though some of Alter's 2013 figures will surely surpass her). Slated for release November of 2012, she was finally released June 2013. See, I'm a patient person, but half a year, GSC, half a year. Sit down, and reflect upon your actions!

Thank goodness she's near perfect. With the last few GSC figures being either a bit of a flop (Racing Miku 2011, and Inori) or less impressive than I imagined (Tenshi), GSC was overdue for a good one. Princess of the Crystal looks just like her promo pictures, maybe even a little better. I love her eyes. She has very distinct, laser magenta eyes, and GSC doesn't disappoint.

Princess of the Crystal's hat isn't removeable, and covers many of the nasty hair seams we're so used to seeing on figures. The back of her hair could have been a bit less, clumpy, and more layered, but it's not enough for me to list it as a fault.

Princess of the Crystal's hat is an interesting entity. On one hand, it's a hat. On the other, it's one half of a small girl's soul. Never you mind who. I speaketh no spoilers. The sculpt of her hat is clean, and the paint is sharp. The penguin hat even has little nostrils, which I find eternally endearing.

In the past few months, GSC has tumbled from my second favourite manufacturer to my fourth. Much of their descent is thanks to the questionable quality of their more recent figures, but Princess of the Crystal infuses them with a much needed dose of esteem.

Princess of the Crystal is one part girl, two parts dress, and GSC pulls through mightily with her outfit. Look at the cleaniness of her lines, the excellent gloss, the discreet wrinkles of her coat, the glorious indents in her skirt! The variation between gloss and matte gives her costume a mixed-materials appearance. Her top, sleeves, and heels looks like vinyl, while her skirt and hat appear softer. Oh my, material verisimilitude!  I do enjoy material verisimilitude.

Princess of the Crystal gets naked frequently, and it's little wonder why. Her dress is enormous! If I had to drag around half a hot air balloon, I'd want to get rid of it too.

Princess of the Crystal was auto-EMS thanks to her enormous skirt. It easily increases her size twice (maybe even thrice), which, if I have learned anything from zoology, establishes her as a dominent member of her species. There are no real sculpt or paint issues to grump about. I assume the white bits were wriggled on after the black and red sections are painted to prevent paint bleed from occuring. Clever.

There are a couple of what appear to be oil stains on the black regions of her dress, but they're not noticeable at most angles.

Princess of the Crystal has some fabulous boots. Having tried 7-inchers maybe twice in my life, I can attest to the skill it takes to stand, let alone strut, in heels. The added height gives a satisfying sense of dominance, but the extra ankle-twisting wasn't worth it. Thus was born my immense respect for women (and men) who can work these babies on an everyday basis.

The wrinkles along the back of her ankle are gorgeous, and the sheen, oh my, the sheen. Look at the light reflect off her calves. Not a single fingerprint or blemish in sight. It's positively orgasmic!

GSC is a Big Name when it comes to figures, but they aren't renouned for producing the most detailed work. As I always assert, Alter is the true champion of Byzantine frou-frou, set on a pedestal so lofty that other companies can only keen for scraps from below. (Ok, maybe that was a slight exaggeration. Please don't break my limbss, other companies. I need those to pick up Alter figures.) This time though, GSC almost nailed it.

Princess of the Crystal has wonderful distinction on her buttons and hat. The tassels on her penguin hat end in attractive pearl adornments that are both finished and clean. Her fingernails are glossed. Her folds are crisp, especially around her sleeves. The only imperfection I can spot is the slight smidge where her forearm meets her sleeve. I suppose her ribbon could be a little less laffy-taffy too.


Yes, the Princess is a cast off. With a bottom so substantial, was there really any doubt it would come off? Nevermind that Princess of the Crystal has a certain proclivity for disappearing her garments anyhow, making her cast-off 100% cannon. She comes apart easily at the waist to release her jumbo dress.

Despite the skirt not covering much in the first place, Princess of the Crystal seems much more exposed without it.

I'm not sure I dig the Princess's high-riding leotard. Sure, it lengthens her legs, but it also looks like it would chafe. When her promo pics first emerged, I worried for her crotch region. From a distance, her panties seemed to cut into her crotch zone, giving her two seams in a very delicate place. In addition, it seemed plain and unrealistically smooth. Thankfully, no seams are to be found on her figure, though the plainess remains.

Fortunately, GSC makes up for it with a frilly rump. The ruffles add a bit of spice to her rear, and, as an additional perk, distracts from her pancake butt. Yup, the Princess is a flat as a Stunfisk. You can bet she's not one for squats and lunges. She's the opposite of asstastic. She's got no junk in the trunk. There ain't no cushin for the pushin'. On a scale of one to badonkadonk, she's a badonkadon't. Someone stop me. Please.

Sure, she's technically 14 (who knows how old the Princess is in her soul), but let's not forget most girls begin puberty at age 10, which means by age 14, what you see is mostly what you get.

Thankfully, everyone knows a girl's true appeal doesn't lie in her measurements, but how she wears them, and the Princess certainly does not give a single fuck damn what anyone thinks.

Besides, she has a nice back. MOVING ON.

There's only one place where GSC messed up with Princess of the Crystal, and it has nothing with what's already present. Let's consider.
1.  Princess of the Crystal can stand without her base while cast-on.
2.  Princess of the Crystal can't stand without her base while cast-off.

Is it more important to provide a proper base for her cast-on, or cast-off? Right, it makes more sense to give a proper base to her cast-off option, considering she can't stand without one. However, GSC decided to give her a base best suited for her cast-on option, leaving those who want to display her cast-off with an awkwardly enormous frisbee.

Now, I have nothing against her huge base, but GSC should have foreseen the possibility that some people would want to display her without her skirt, and included a second, smaller base. After all, lack of space is a collector's Dire Enemy, and maximizing space is a necessary skillset in this hobby. As is, the cast-off Princess looks silly hogging a base that could plausibly hold four of her.

Princess of the Crystal is sculpted by Iwanaga Sakurako, who happens to be one of my favourite sculptors in the figure business. His slender female forms are a breath of fresh air amid the juicy bazongas that are so prevalent in this hobby. Having knockout figures like Love is War Miku under his belt only helps. Unfortunately, Sakurako's sculpts all seem to lean towards the small side, and Princess of the Crystal is no exception. She looks closer to 1/8.5 or 1/9 than 1/8. Here she is next to two other Sakurako figure, looking proportionate.

Here she is next to Senjougahara (my go-to figure for 1/8 comparisons, for no particular reason), where her smaller size becomes obvious. At 19 cm tall, Princess of the Crystal would only be 152 cm in life, which actually seems plausible given the petite size of her character. Still, I would have liked to see her a mite taller. She gets dwarfed by most 1/8 figures.

Her small size is especially apparent when she's cast-off, but her dress partially compensates for her puniness. She's like a bird. Mostly puff.

If there's anything that can make or break a figure, it's the face, and Princess of the Crystal has an amazing face. She smiles with her eyes. If that's not an example of sculpting finesse, I don't know what is.

I had some difficulty thinking up backgrounds for Princess of the Crystal. After all, what could be more perfect than the backdrop GSC already provides? Unlike many girls, who I can plunk amidst some flowers and snap away, Princess of the Crystal demands special attention. She resides in an entirely different dimension, filled with rocket ships, teddy bears, and all sorts of flashy pizzazz. It's not like I could just snap shots of her in any old flora. And I was not willing to take her onto a crowded subway. I feel like I could have some fun with glo-sticks and precious gems, but alas, I have neither at this moment.

Another challenge in my photo journey with the Princess, was her colossal dress. Carrying that thing around was like carrying another DSLR. No dainty poses for the Princess, no sir, her skirt demanded the presence of solid ground at all times. No placing her on tree limbs, or whimsically hanging her off my old skool clock. I could brain someone with that fluttering clam. No joke.

I hoped that after a 6 month delay, that GSC would give her a trio of penguins. After all, what is Princess of the Crystal without her avian minions? How awesome would it have been to have her standing on them (perhaps too awesome for the universe to handle)? That she lacked penguins was a missed opportunity in my books. They could have been the extra little detail that elevated the Princess to a whole new level of perfection. Sure, she's still gorgeous in every possible way, but she's missing that little extra oomph. Now, I'm tempted to buy her nendoriod just for the penguins.

Recently, I found myself grappling with an unsettling phenomenon. Figures haven't been able to take my breath away like they used to, or, at least, they haven't been able to take my breath away with the same intensity or frequency as when I first began collecting. When I recieved Alter's Gwendolyn, I spent hours turning her around in my hands in reverence. Now, even with dynamic, high-quality, objectively stunning figures, I rarely get the same level of, for lack of a better word, YEEOWZA. Blame it on burn-out, or the recent delays in production, or increased financial pressures, but my figure intake in the last half year has declined dramatically. I was beginning to wonder whether my passion for the hobby had waned.
Thankfully, Princess of the Crystal managed to inject me with a good ol' dose of excitement. You would think a six month delay would put a damper on my mood, but the Princess's allure proved too powerful to diminish. While she doesn't crack my top 10 list (which only speaks of the quality of those top 10 figures), she's definitely up there in terms of quality. Her gorgeous face, excellent paint job, and overall cleaniness gives GSC a good reputation boost in my books. You could even say she redeems GSC's for their recent faceplants. Plus, I find Princess of the Crystal's design ridiculously magical.
So, would I recommend GSC's Princess of the Crystal? Yes, with the passion of a thousand pasadobles! Several other companies offer their own Princess of the Crystal, though none have quite captured her with the same adeptness as GSC (except perhaps Alter's). Mawaru Penguin Drum fan or not, she's an asset to any collection.

It's too bad that Princess of the Crystal seems to be the only character from the series that major companies seem willing to immortalize. After seeing GSC's fantastic rendition, I would love to see more of the cast. The recent influx of male figures gives me slim hope that I'll one day see a Kanba or Shouma, or even better, an electrifying Dr. Sanetoshi (a certain pigeon dating game has endeared to me gorgeous, morally questionable doctors with energetic twin sidekicks). I doubt any of them will get anything substantial, but just for the record, I would die if Dr. Sanetoshi got a figure. I would die, and buy him from beyond the grave.

Until then, Penguin Drum fans will have to be satisfied with Princess of the Crystal. GSC's version is still available at most major figure outlets, and given by her sale trends, will probably show up on resale circles at about market price. Pick her up if you're interested! You won't be disappointed.

Princess of the Warhol?!
The Run-Down
 Box  8/10 Corrugated cardboard with bold symbols
 Base   6/10 Relatively attractive, but too large for her cast-off option
 Pose  9/10 Fitting, but could be slightly more energetic
 Sculpt  9.5/10 Beautiful face, great details, but a mite small
 Paint  9.5/10  Tiny, tiny oil stains in her skirt, otherwise perfect
 Overall   8.5/10 Gorgeous, but her lack of penguins, small size, and too-large base takes away from her overall presentation

Manufacturer: Good Smile Company 
Price: ¥9333 
Purchased from: AmiAmi

Box Dimensions: 29 x 27 x 27 cm
Weight: approx 1500g 
Shipping Method: EMS

Share ALL the fruit of fate,


  1. Good to hear that you are satisfied with her.

    For sure thats a fetish outfit of someones crazy mind, the hat alone is so unique.
    In the end everything fits together perfectly. The corsage looks delicious with the buttons
    which hold it together. It's also impressive how her skirt unfolds behind her, the red lining inside is a great details.
    That is quite a pair of killer boots, the height is scary but the look is attractive

    I love the commanding pose, it's really cool and gives sense to her eccentric fashion.

    Another delay to give her a cool base would have been no bad idea, at least in my eyes.
    The thickness is ok, but it's plain on top and why green of all colors, did she ever stand on something green?.

    I like the image "Princess-of-the-Crystal-dawn-4" where she seems in front a row of pillars.

    Well, since already have figures from the lower end of 1\8 you can group them together ^^

    1. I was beginning to lose hope in GSC in the last year, but then Princess of the Crystal came along and made it all better. Her outfit definitely sets her apart from the crowd. As much as I love school uniforms and bikinis, it's nice to see something so particular.

      I wouldn't have minded another delay if it meant getting a more relevant base either. I don't recall her ever standing on anything green. It's the only colour missing from her outfit, so maybe GSC just decided to throw it in just for kicks. I would have loved to see her standing on some penguins. That would have made my entire year. Her boots almost make up for it though. They're super chic.

      Usually I feel a bit jipped when 1/8 characters end up too tiny, since it's a small scale to begin with, but I didn't really mind with Princess of the Crystal because of her width (it's the same deal with Lacia). It's pretty neat having a few figures from the same sculptor. It's easier to spot their influences then.


  2. Thanks for the photos they looked very nice!

    "Figures haven't been able to take my breath away like they used to, or, at least, they haven't been able to take my breath away with the same intensity or frequency as when I first began collecting. "

    Same question pop up in my head years back. Back then I was collecting figures from Volks, Griffon Enterprise and Orchid Seed, GSC was not as much of a giant in this industry as now. I still remember I had my breath taking away when I see those 1/4 scale figures from Volks, and every time they release one, I had to get my friend in Japan to line up for it at the event. Not only its expensive, (figures will only cost around 6000 yen back then, while the Volks 1/4 prepaint will cost over 60000, lol) it is also very fragile, so every time I had it shipped over, I will be super worried until it arrives.

    Back then, there are 2 reasons I collect them, 1st they are like a piece of art and just looking at it will amazed me, and 2nd figures actually holds a collector's value, and years later it will become hard to find or extremely expensive. Which makes me feel a sense of pride of being an owner of one.

    But nowadays things seems to have changed. GSC is becoming more westernized and care more about profit than what the customer actually wants. Especially this year, not only they increase all their figma and nendoroid's prices slightly, over saturating the market with a certain series, but they started to re-release older figures that are rare to find.

    I am very glad that GSC created Nendoroid and picked up the Vocaloid series years back. This had opened the door to their success now(beating kotobukiya on becoming the biggest in the industry, and started their umbrella empire). But now they are just over-saturating the market with a single seris ad became less creative as it used to be. I think they grasp the mind of collectors where if they started to collect a certain series they will need to buy every single one. Sadly, since there are too many this will make collector feel more frustrated now. Another reason collectors are losing hope is because their collection doesn't maintain value as it used to be, due to frequent re-releases now.

    Having a re-release is not a bad thing to some people, but having it too often and release in such a large number will actually destroy the collector's market.

    For example Garan no dou Shiki, when it was first release 3-4 years back, everyone is after this figure, people are willing to pay 15k yen just for it(it was priced at 5000 back then I believe), but after they release it this year, the figure's value has drop to about 4000 after market. And they seems to doing it again to some Bakemonogatari figures, and Mami from Madoka now.

    There still nice companies out there such as Native, Alter, Volks, Megahouse, etc... that releases quality figures and figures that are not from main stream, and I really appreciate them from doing it.

    Did you know, Megahouse have Aladdin from Magi up for preorder this month!

    Check out the preview here: http://smg.photobucket.com/user/kk1030/library/Megahouse

    Hopefully, figure companies in Japan will realize what the collectors actually want and stop being so money hungry.

    If you lose all hope, maybe you can resort to collecting dolls like I am doing now, lol.

    1. I think much of my figure burn-out comes from a combination of increased prices and decreased display space. It was easier to drop $50 on a quality figure than $110. It could also be that, after many years, I have hunted down most of my grails, and am now waiting for new ones to emerge.

      GSC and I have an interesting relationship. If their latest Wonfes showing says anything, scaled figures will be taking a backseat to their nendoroid/figma lines for the next little while. That's great news for nendoroid/figma collectors, and less great news for figure enthusiasts. I also feel that they are sacrificing some creativity to rely on old faithfuls. I wish they would experiment a little more, maybe diversify a bit, or surprise us once in a while. After all, there are only so many versions of one character I can justify buying, but hey, if they found a formula that keeps them on top, all the more power to them. At the end of the day, companies are companies, and companies will capitalize.

      I have the same, complicated relationship with re-releases that you do. If not for re-releases, I wouldn't have many of my favourite figures (Alter's Odin Sphere line, for example), BUT it's painful to see a good figure fall from grace. Shiki was a real eye-opener. I don't think I've ever seen a figure depreciate so quickly. It kills the thrill of owning a hard-to-find figure, but also takes the thrill out of chasing a rare figure. Why bother hunting when there's a possible re-release on the horizon? And hunting's half the fun of collecting! (Or maybe that's just me?)

      On the bright side, there will always be exclusives. =]

      Yes, I did see MegaHouse's Aladdin! Exciting stuff. They have a prototype of Mor out too. Poor Alibaba, left till last, but then again...Alibaba.

      Comments on our site will take some time to go through moderation. Don't worry if it looks like the interwebs ate your words for a few hours. It'll eventually surface again. =]


    2. Oh, Sorry for multi-posting, I wasn't sure which Google account I was on when I made the first post. So I sign into my personal one, but I am not sure if the first message was submitted after the sign in or if I have to post again, so out of confusion I rewrote everything, haha.

    3. Hey, no probs. Google accounts will do that to ya. ;D


  3. Believe it or not the number of figures GSC release this year is actually more than the previous years, its just the ratio of Nendoroids released versus figures is so huge(around 3x-4x) that gave you this delusion.... :(

    1. I believe it. Recent years have seen GSC flourish, and as an growing company, I would be very surprised if they actually released fewer figures than before.

      Just to clarify, I do not say GSC is releasing fewer figures than previous years, only that they are focusing more on releasing nendoroids/figmas in comparison, which seems to be the general consensus. Growing more in one direction than the other, if you will. =]

      Thanks for reading!