Quite possibly the most extravagant figure Alter has ever produced and certainly the most complicated figure I’ve ever had to assemble, though not the most frustrating. That honor goes to Good Smile Company’s original Black Rock Shooter figure and that god damned chain. Houmei raises the bar for Alter, sure in the past they’ve had some extravagant figures but always of a fairly modest posture, sitting, standing, leaning etc. Houmei however is riding a stream of water with her clothing flowing in every direction, far more exciting to look at.
It was almost a year ago when Houmei’s unpainted prototype was revealed at Wonder Festival 2010 (Summer) and I and everyone else were sold immediately. Even unpainted you could see the majesty this figure possessed, or would possess. It would be nearly 4 months later that we were able to finally receive a glimpse of what she would look like via a poor magazine scan and shortly there after some pictures from Mega Hobby Expo 2010. On February 10th, 2011 Hobby Search posted her for pre-order with others following suit shortly there after. She arrived with a hefty price tag placing her too high for many, ¥11,800 / $142 CAD1 and even with sale prices she remained high at ¥9,420 / $115 CAD2. However due to the Canada Post strike in June my order was not shipped until 10 days after she was released adding greatly to my growing frustration with them over the course of that month. But at last, eleven months after initial sightings she had arrived.
Normally when unboxing a figure you expect some assembly, not always but many figures require you to place certain parts or remove protective plastics but Houmei differed a little. Normally you’re given a small sheet of paper with some pictographs and small sentences in Japanese that I can never read instructing you how to accomplish a relatively simple task. Houmei differed, comparatively she arrived with an instruction book for her assembly. Admittedly still a single sheet of paper, it was considerably larger, large enough it had to be folded in half in her already enormous shipping container. This was not it however, Alter felt it necessary to post seven instructional videos to their blog to aid those confused by the provided instruction manual. The bonus to all of this effort means she can be displayed in multiple configurations, two main looks and I suppose any number of in between. Given the effort required I will most likely never undress her ever again, even in my photoshoot I shot in reverse order of how I normal work. Shooting her first in just her dress and then dressing her all up and shooting the completed statue. I sure hope I got every angle required.
For a 1/8th scale figure Houmei appears both small and big. Her body looks as though it’s of a smaller scale, but the grandness and entirety of the statue takes up considerable space. Of course these things are nearly impossible to judge, always comparing relative to other figures in your collection or making guestimates and generalized mathematical formulas to ‘prove’ the scales correctness. While scale issues are always a touch bothersome for me, I don’t think Houmei seems out of place in her assigned register partly because I get the impression she’s a smaller statured character in the first place. Her dimensions in full attire fall somewhere around 20 cm in height and 28 cm in length so she’s definitely no Aisaka Taiga.
Seeing that Shitoo Futatsu was able to sculpt a figure as admirable as Houmei one wonders what the hell he was doing before with two swimsuit figures, one redone into three different colour configurations. It seems this was a huge waste of his talents, he could have sculpted such wonderful figures but instead some boring swimsuit KOS-MOS x3, though I’ll admit for a bikini figure there’s more sculpt work that expected. I might argue that some of the finer detail work I’ve seen on figures isn’t present in Houmei and that in the transition from prototype to production there have been some changes but I think that’d be grasping at straws. There’s really nothing wrong with the sculpting, she has beautiful legs and feet, all the ribbons and clothing flows well, the base is unique and sturdy despite it’s appearance otherwise… maybe her head could be tilted upwards a bit more? I think the biggest concern however isn’t with how the sculpt work is today, but how it’ll be a year from now, or 5 years, will she still fit together as nicely, will the soft pieces change over time? For one, the ribbon on the front of her already falls off my copy quite easily, and the pink ribbon around the back of her head touches her hair unlike the prototype.
The biggest flaw however that Houmei has is in something Alter tends to excel at, one of their strongest attributes generally. In Houmei’s right (your left) twintail there is some green paint caught in one of the crevices. Biggest failure on the figure, that right there, that little bit of paint in the wrong spot. Way to go quality control, how’d you miss this one? I mean I totally noticed it through my 105mm macro lens, how did you not see it with your eyes? Don’t you wear magnifying glasses on your face? No? What kind of QC are you anyway? I’m shocked, shocked that a $142 figure would have such a blemish to it’s quality. Sarcasm aside, now that I’ve noticed it it is quite a long error on their part and I notice it more readily now for sure. It in no way ruins the figure for me, but it’s definitely not perfect like one might expect from Alters paint department.
Still having not bothered to learn anything about Houmei since Wonder Festival last summer I don’t know how accurately this reflects her personality, or her character in the game(s), or really much of her design either. I recall having read some complaints that she looked older than her character and her breasts were larger, but these are hardly complaints for me and something I welcomed. Beyond that she’s just an attractive woman allowing a water dragon to caress her nether regions while she returns the favour (somewhat) by rubbing the water dragons chin with her foot as if to say “Good boy.” Alternatively, she could just be trying to raise the water dragon’s head so that it can lick her right foot. Whichever works best for you.
Houmei is renewing my mild foot fetish…
- A very unique appearance
- Quite colourful
- Sexiest legs and feet in a long time
- Lots of detail in both configurations
- The appearance she’s not wearing underwear
- Green paint in her hair
- Difficult to assemble
- Some cast-off components made of rather soft plastic, deformation in the future?
- Quite expensive
- She is unfortunately wearing underwear, despite appearances