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:
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,
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.
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.
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?!|
|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
Purchased from: AmiAmi
Box Dimensions: 29 x 27 x 27 cm
Weight: approx 1500g
Shipping Method: EMS
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