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Street Fighter Preview

After a lengthy hiatus, SOTA Toys relaunches its Street Fighter line of action figures with Street Fighter Preview.  Announced in the 4th quarter of 2006, SOTA promised the articulation and sculpture that made its first four series of figures successful, but with a new look, designed to be closer to both its roots in anime and the direction UDON has taken the property.

In this review I’ll be taking a closer look at the three standard figures in the Preview lineup – Ken, Akuma, and Ryu, and seeing how they stack up against their predecessors in the original SF line. 

 

PACKAGING

The packaging is by far the biggest departure from the original series of figures.  The original series went through two iterations of packaging, both of which were clamshell based. Series 1 looked very much like a video game cabinet, with graphical elements designed to look like buttons and joysticks.  From Series 2 on, the packaging design was much improved, sporting a cleaner look. 

For Previews, SOTA has taken the packaging to the next level, with the figures packaged in attractive window box es that showcase the figures in dynamic poses.  With three window panels (front, top, and back), you’ll be able to get a complete look at the figure, front and back, head to toe, without having to remove it from the packaging.  The top panel allows the figure to get a decent amount of light.

The cardboard is sturdy, and withstood the punishment of shipping and handling.  The sides feature pictures of the figures in various poses as well as the Kanji symbols associated with each character.  Basically, these are a MOC collector’s dream.

If you do end up opening them, you’ll find that the figures and accessories are sandwiched between two plastic inserts the snap together.  So no rubber bands, no twist ties – you just separate the plastic inserts and everything comes out nice and easily.  If you want to retain the packaging, this system allows you to replace the figure just as if it were new. 

SCULPTING

Previews gives a partial indication of the direction SOTA is taking the Street Fighter line.  These figures feature new head sculpts on top of bodies that leverage the mold of last year’s San Diego Exclusive Gouken.  As far as the heads are concerned, I’m a fan.  I wasn’t that avid of a SF gamer (I liked Mortal Kombat because Scorpion kicks butt) but I’m told these are truer to the game than the previous head sculpts.  But the real distinguishing factor for the new heads is that they feature just a little bit more character than their predecessors.  Something else that I noticed with the new heads is that they seem a bit more in proportion with their bodies than the figures in the first 4 series, which in certain cases seem pin-headed. 

 

The bodies, as mentioned above, are based on Gouken, and as such are a perfect fit stylistically with the previous figures.  Some folks may question the use of Gouken for Ken and Ryu, since he’s relatively large compared to the original Ken and Ryu figures.  However, all the molds for the previous series of Street Fighter figures were lost in a dispute with one of SOTA’s previous factory partners.  The body for Gouken was actually molded from Series 4 Akuma, and will be the only SF mold until SOTA proceeds with Street Fighter Revolutions.  Going forward for SOTA, this means no leveraging existing sculpts except for those compatible with the Gouken body.  For us, it means all new sculpts, with the chance to revisit the articulation for each figure to enable characters to hit their trademark poses.

PAINT

The paint was consistently well done across all three figures.

The colors are simple and consistent, with no noticeable variation in shading between disparate parts.  The masking work, although not needed with so many solid parts, is well done.  The definition of lines, like with Akuma’s tattoo, are very crisp, with practically no slop at all.

Fans of the original series of figures were spoiled by the preciseness of the paint apps on the faces, and in this regard SF Preview also delivers.  The eyes on each figure looked great, and there’s virtually no bleed around the hairline and eyebrows.

ARTICULATION

Articulation-wise, all three figures are identical with 33 joints for your posing pleasure:

 

  • Ball-jointed neck
  • Ball-jointed shoulders
  • Bicep swivels
  • Single-jointed elbows
  • Single-jointed wrists with swivels
  • Abdominal crunch
  • Waist swivel
  • Ball-jointed hips
  • Double-jointed knees
  • Calf swivels
  • Single-jointed ankles
  • Mid-foot swivels
  • Single-jointed toes

Quality-wise, the joints are in between that of the rigid hold-any-pose stiffness of SF Series 1 and the looser joints of SF Series 4.  Each of the figures I got had no stuck joints at all.  So while I wouldn’t expect to see any trouble with twisting pegs right off, as I saw with Series 1, what I saw with these figures was a little less ability to hold the more dramatic poses, like balanced on one leg in a kick, much like I saw with the Series 4 set of figures.

On the positive side, the material used for each figure’s gi is made of a more malleable plastic, like with Gouken before them, so you’ll be able to make better use of the abdominal crunch than with the original series of figures.  With Akuma, however, his gi is wrapped almost completely around his hips – while it’s a very cool look, it hinders movement there a bit.

ACCESSORIES

Here too, Previews diverges from the original series, with fewer accessories than before, but not by much.  Each figure comes with a second set of hands and an energy item – all that’s really missing is an alternate head.

Ryu’s energy item is a hurricane kick stand – useful for getting him into a balanced one-leg kick pose.  The stand features an impression where you can snap in his toes.  However, the support for Ryu’s calf is angled somewhat oddly – if you use it as intended, the figure’s center of gravity would be too far back.  Without a wider base, the figure would fall over.  However, it works fine without the calf being snapped into that support.

Ken’s energy item is a dragon punch accessory which snaps onto one of his fists.  Akuma’s is a fireball which you can plug into either of his open hands.

PLAYABILITY

For you MOC collectors out there, be thankful that SOTA made the packaging friendly, because you’re going to want to take these out and play with them.  When the original series came out, they were referred to as "hand candy" – and Previews carries on that tradition. 

With the volume of toys that I end up buying, most stuff quickly finds its way to my customizing fodder bin or plastic storage bins (affectionately known as my "never-moves" staging area for trades) – with these figures, I’ve had them on my home office desk since I got them several weeks ago.  In fact, every time I sit down to write this review, I end up playing with them instead.  Most of my scenarios involve either Ryu or Akuma wiping that smug grin off of Ken’s face.

IF FWOOSH RULED THE WORLD

Alternative heads would have been icing on the cake.  Like I said before, I prefer these to the original heads that came with their predecessors, and I would have liked to do a head swap and keep these figures intact.  With just the one head per figure, I’m torn over whether to do the swap.  The size difference for Ken and Ryu is only slightly notable to me, and the flexibility of their gis might just counterbalance that.

Other than that, if we really ruled the world I’d probably head to China to see what could be done about securing those missing SF molds – either that or speed up time, because Previews has just whet my appetite for the upcoming Revolutions!

 


More pictures: http://www.thefwoosh.com/picsold/thumbnails.php?album=832
Discuss: http://www.thefwoosh.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=39866

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After a lengthy hiatus, SOTA Toys relaunches its Street Fighter line of action figures with Street Fighter Preview.  Announced in the 4th quarter of 2006, SOTA promised the articulation and sculpture that made its first four series of figures successful, but with a new look, designed to be closer to both its roots in anime and the direction UDON has taken the property.

In this review I’ll be taking a closer look at the three standard figures in the Preview lineup – Ken, Akuma, and Ryu, and seeing how they stack up against their predecessors in the original SF line. 

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