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Sakura Yae -- Mandarin Dress - 1/8 - APEX -- REVIEW 32Sakura Yae -- Mandarin Dress - 1/8 - APEX -- REVIEW 32Review

HappyakrzHappyakrz5 kuukautta sitten
Kon’nichiwa! Bonjour! Ola! Hallo! Howdy!
It’s a beautiful Friday … my kids are home on a mid-winter break day … and I’m not planning on getting out of my comfies – even to take the dog out for his potty breaks!

I hope that you all have a great day and are looking forward to a fantastic weekend!

I’ve been waiting to share this review with you all for a couple of months, and when she arrived yesterday, I couldn’t find any patience, so I pulled out the camera and got to shooting. I’m so glad I did, because I had no idea just how pleased I’d be with the box I opened.

Fair warning – if you didn’t pre-order this beauty, you’re going to be furious with yourself by the time you’re done reading this review! Tee hee!

Back Story
Today, I’d like to avoid being controversial as much as possible, so I’m going to start right out by stating that this review is my personal opinion. I’m not being paid by anyone to endorse anything – I’m just a collector who really loves the artistic creativity that goes into the creation, development, and production of amazing feminine beauty in the way of anime/manga figures.

I also want to avoid getting into any debates about non-Japanese artists or products or companies – this has already been done ad nauseum and I have nothing new to offer to the conversation.

With that said, I received my latest figure purchase yesterday, and I have to say that it was the most thrilling unboxing I’ve had since I started collecting figures.

If the review that follows seems a little filled with too much “sugar and spice”, that’s because the presentation of this figure was managed with “everything nice!” From the design, layout, and production of the box, to the amazing blister packaging, to the figure itself – EVERYTHING was done at the highest level of quality. I knew from the first moment I saw this figure on the amiami.com website, I would love it – what I didn’t realize at the time was that, in my opinion, this figure is Hands-Down the finest figure I’ve ever seen – from start to finish!

So, without getting into the fray of what companies and figures should be included on the MFC site – without taking sides on the whole Japanese vs. non-Japanese developer kick – I would like to offer at least one little opinion to which some brands might want to take heed:

To the Good Smiles and Max Factory and Alphamax brands … to the Alter and Native and Flare marketing teams … to the Kotobukiya and Phat Company and Ques Q executive officers … and all the rest of the wonderful producers of finely-crafted figures on the market today …

… you’d be wise to take a peek at what some of your non-Japanese competitors are up to these days. You might be surprised by the lengths to which the newer guys on the block are going to create customer satisfaction and brand dedication. You might be amazed by the quality of a product that comes from a company that not so long ago wasn’t even a contender. Because, holy cow, my top shelf is now dedicated to a beauty that isn’t even included in the MFC database, and that’s a real shame.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_display_01_72.jpg

Apex
Sakura Yae – Chinese Dress – 1/8 – not currently available on MFC
Sculptor: unknown at this time
Vendor: AmiAmi.com purchase ($220 including shipping in February of 2020)


The Box
I could write an entire review on just the box, but at the threat of losing half of my readers during the description of how wonderful a box is, I’ll do my best to keep things as clean and clinical as possible.

Screw that!

This box is the epitome in elegant design and opulent presentation! It’s actually half of a box, wrapped in a satin-finished pressed-board with absolutely stunning color and foil-stamping. It’s huge (by far the biggest box I’ve opened so far), it’s heavy (the stand and branch mount easily weigh a couple of pounds on their own), and VERY securely protects the delicate figure within.

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There is a thin, yet strong, additional clear plastic cover that wraps over the box, printed with a pink gradient and delightful cherry blossom petals. This feature alone was a touch that I admired greatly, and while I understand that it also acts as an additional protective barrier, as well as a form of stability to the wrapped box within, it really speaks to the level of pride that the developers have in this figure.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_box_07_72.jpg

Here the box is seen without the plastic cover. You can see from the top shot the wrap-around cover, and once opened, notice the Velcro circles that are used to hold the box closed.

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The whole ensemble is large enough that I couldn’t display it on my normal stand, so I had to head out to the living room and set it up on the red leather couch – I really couldn’t have asked for a better color combination to accentuate the pink and gold of the box!

The original illustration of Sakura adorns the far left panel and cherry blossoms float across the entirety of the interior. The torii (Japanese gate) is an absolutely fantastic addition to the design as it immediately brings to mind the culture of the character, while still being a simple enough design element to not upstage any other feature. And finally, the gold-foil-stamped characters on the far right are the perfect balance to round out the display – I tried to determine if this was her name, but haven’t been able to find a close enough translation of the glyphs/characters.

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I’ve seen some clever blister packaging in my recent purchases, but this one takes the cake. Each element has its own separate compartment of blister plastic, and within each, the use of plastic sheeting to protect and separate is phenomenal.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_blister_1_72.jpg
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The Figure
Upon opening the blister packaging, I noticed that there was something “wedged” beneath the base at the bottom of the box, and upon pulling it out of its plastic wrappings, I discovered a small acrylic promo stand-up of the figure’s original illustration. How cool!

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_promo_1_72.jpg
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There was also a sheet of instructions on the correct assembly of the figure and its “base” architecture.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_instructions_1_72.jpg

I had originally thought that the weight of the box would be evident in the base (acting as a really solid foundation to the full assembly), but the base is much like any other figure in my collection. The printing is beautiful with additional cherry blossoms, and the slots for the upright section were quite clean and precise.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_parts_01_72.jpg
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The back panel is a thick piece of acrylic that is highly polished and includes more cherry petals, as well as the post for the branch upon which Sakura will sit, and the circular “window” at the top. THIS is where the weight of the package resides – this piece alone weighs more than everything else combined.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_parts_09_72.jpg
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The assembly of the back panel to the base took a bit of nerve-wracking force on my part – the parts appeared to be so well designed as to not give a hair’s width between the slot and the acrylic insert – but with the proper care and strength, they finally fit together perfectly. The result is a base and display that is REALLY strong!

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Next comes the cherry branch, and it is a beautiful sculpt. Between the blossoms and the draped white-to-pink-to-lavender fabric, I’m not sure which colors I love most, but they work together so beautifully. Notice the small metallic peg that rises from the main stem of the branch – this is the primary connection point for the seated figure of Sakura, and though it’s small and delicate, it does its job admirably!

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_parts_04_72.jpg
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Due to the shape and metallic-rod core of the post to which the branch mounts, once assembled, you’d think that the branch had been glued/melded into place by the manufacturer. This design is a great effect, giving the impression that the branch is floating in mid-air, and it’s performed so simply and elegantly.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_parts_14_72.jpg
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The final pieces included in the packaging (apart from the actual figure of Sakura) are two small pieces: a small folded fan with feather adornment, and a small feather embellishment to her short Mandarin dress. While the fan simply is meant to fit into Sakura’s hand, you can see the small peg on the dress attachment which fits into a paired hole in her left hip.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_parts_21_72.jpg
http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_parts_20_72.jpg

Because of the delicate nature of the actual figure of Sakura, and the fact that she comes as a single piece, there was no way to position her on the stand to get photos of just her body, and there was NO WAY I was going to tempt fate with fear of cracks, breaks, or splinterings. So suffice it to say, the only thing holding Sakura onto the branch once she’s seated is her cute little bum, and the single metal peg that mounts into the underside of her left shoe.

Reviewer's Notes
Overall Sculpt
Once Sakura was seated on her branch, I had to just sit back and let the whole piece soak in for a moment. There are so many aspects to this sculpt that are just mind-blowing, not the least of which is the fact that Sakura balances on this tiny little branch by only two points of contact. With hair that is splayed out in an invisible breeze, legs that are hanging over the edge unknown meters above the ground, and draped silks hanging below, you get a real feel of height and floating beauty.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_display_43_72.jpg
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Starting at the feet, per usual, the sculpt of Sakura’s heels is just breathtaking! The detail going into the design elements, and the fact that her stilettos are actually stilettos is fantastic (so many times I’m disappointed by a really fat heel – though I understand it must be nearly impossible to get something so skinny to work well). In this case, because the heels don’t have to actually hold any weight, the designers got away with something truly stunning in footwear.

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While it might be difficult to remain prim and proper in a tree, Sakura manages to do an adequate job with legs that are tantalizing and discreet at the same time. Though the shape isn’t always realistic in the bends of the limbs (from certain angles it looks quite off), the overall effect is really strong.

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There is a lot going on in what appears to be such a simple dress, but nearly every design element of Sakura’s mandarin wardrobe is embellished with some delightful example of the artistry behind her creation. From the pattern of the trim across her thighs, to the “jeweled” adornments at her hip, bust, and collar, the piece is gorgeous. The wardrobe also accentuates a gorgeous body beneath the dress, and even though we can’t see much of it, the close fit of the dress gives us ample fuel for our imagination.

(Also, please pardon the change in color-tone-lighting for some of the shots … the sun outside my office kept hiding and then peeking in again .. so I’ve done my best to keep the tones of the pink and skin in particular as true to life as possible.)

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Sakura’s arms and hands are really beautiful sculpts and show just how delicately this type of work can be done. They are also intensely feminine in position and pose. The cuffs on her upper arms are a great addition that matches the design elements on the dress, and the small red bracelet on her left wrist is so small and well-placed – a great addition that might get overlooked but adds beautifully to the overall aesthetic.

While her fingers aren’t highly detailed in the way of nails, their pose is strong. The positioning of the fan in particular is well planned and adds a bit of mystique to the model’s presence.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_display_09_72.jpg
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The sculpt of Sakura’s face exudes beauty, innocence, curiosity, and a little bit of confidence. Though I know little about her character from the game from which she originates, I do know that she is a witch of some kind and is a rather lethal character. This isn’t evident in this figure, nor in the features of her face – though she IS bewitching!

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And finally, the feature that is impossible to elude throughout any of the previous photos – Sakura’s magnificent pink hair! The sculpt is absolutely crazy with strands floating in all directions, yet there is a seeming order to it all, and nothing that stands out as unnatural or unrealistic. The pattern of her floating locks give a really strong impression of the swirling wind that must be washing around her in the heights of the tree (though cherry trees don’t get very tall). This hair is masterful!

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Topping off the beautiful hair is a pair of bunny ears that are a trademark of the character, and I have to say, this is the first time that I’ve seen this particular prop used with absolutely NO connection to the Playboy costume worn by so many figures these days. I get the impression that the ears are a form of crown or royal embellishment as they are “jeweled” in the same fashion as the dress – really beautiful!

The bunny ears also take notice away from the seam at the top of the head, which is clean and tight.

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Painting
The painting of this figure is pretty much flawless. I haven’t been able to find a single smudge or line that isn’t straight and true to the design.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_display_06_72.jpg

Sakura’s skin is quite pale, though not ghostly. It was difficult getting a solid impression of the actual color in the photos because so much reflected light from the hair bounces onto the skin – it has a very slight peach-yellowish hue to it, but when white light hits it, it turns almost antique white.

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The pink of the hair and cherry blossoms is so powerful, and the airbrush work within the strands is amazing. The gradient of strong, deep pink to delicate pastel pink is really powerful, but so subtle that you don’t notice it right away.

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And the painting of Sakura’s face, the small rose added to the lips and the beautiful blue eyes rounds out an absolutely riveting feminine beauty.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_display_39_72.jpg

Overall Presentation
As you can tell, I’m overwhelmed by this figure. From the first moment after opening the shipping box, to the final press of the shutter button of the last photo, I am captivated not only by the beauty of the design and character, by the attention to every detail that Apex has taken in the presentation of this amazing piece. Sakura will hold the most prominent position in my collection for many years to come, I’m sure. I simply can’t imagine any figure rising above the standards set by this fantastic example of perfection!

Comparisons
Again, not to be overly controversial, but I’ve decided to compare Sakura to the three other figures that have held the previous positions of “ultimate grail figure” in my collection. These are the three figures that I have felt exemplify the highest quality standards, the most intense design, and the most feminine intrigue, and they are now joined by what I believe to be their queen majesty.

The first comparison is with 2B, from NieR: Automata – NieR: Automata - YoRHa No. 2 Type B - Regular Edition (Flare, Square Enix) -- ITEM #549472

The juxtaposition of these two figures side-by-side is really striking. They are opposites in almost every regard, except for their feminine beauty. Until Sakura’s box, 2B’s sealed presentation from the shelf had been the strongest in my collection. I still find 2B amazing to behold – her confidence alone is enough to make the heart soar.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_comp_1_72.jpg

The second comparison is with another non-Japanese figure, Judith, from Myethos – Kidou Sentai Iron Saga Judith 1/8 – not currently included on MFC

Prior to the addition of Sakura to my collection, I felt that this stand and presentation of a figure was the most clever in my collection. I LOVE the winding railing that encircles Judith’s amazing legs, and the flare of her skirt is so powerful (and yes, a little teasing). Side-by-side, these two figures work well together, and I love the color combination that the two bring to each other.

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_comp_2_72.jpg

The third comparison is with Mutsu, from Kantai Collection – Kantai Collection ~Kan Colle~ - Mutsu - 1/7 (Amakuni, Hobby Japan) -- ITEM #194851

From the moment that I first saw Mutsu and her playfully provocative pose, I thought that she was epitome of feminine curves and wiles. There isn’t a single aspect of her body that isn’t perfect in its presentation. When I put these two next to each other, I quickly realized that they don’t really “fit” together – there is almost nothing they have in common. The reality is, Mutsu was the most expensive figure I have purchased, and her packaging and presentation was top-notch – though not quite as impressive as Sakura. I include this comparison because Mutsu is still a favorite of mine, and even though she’s a little more “battle-hardened” than Sakura, I still find her delicate and beautiful to behold!

http://www.happyakrz.com/anime/sakura_branch/sakura_branch_comp_3_72.jpg

Lessons Learned
I have the feeling that once this figure gets out on the market, the price is going to skyrocket, and so the only thing that I can say in regards to a potential lesson learned is to (carefully) pre-order from amiami.com when you feel you’ve found something that really sparks your inner admirer. I wouldn’t want to over-extend myself by pre-ordering everything on my wish list, but in this particular case, I knew from the moment I laid eyes upon her that Sakura was going to be well worth the investment.

As always, please feel free to reach out with questions or comments! I love hearing from you all!

Until next time!
2,329 osumaa • 22 suosikkia25 kommenttia

Pisteet10/10

Sculpting
Painting
Posing
Base
Packaging
Enjoyment

kommenttia25

I am having a problem detaching the branch from the acrylic stand. They are very firmly connected and I dont want to apply too much force to risk potential damage. Anybody knows a safe way to do it?
5 kuukautta sitten
GoldenRain5 kuukautta sitten#75864892Does anyone know how heavy the figure and the shipping costs are?not sure of the weight offhand, but she cost 6880¥ to ship EMS from AmiAmi to the US.
5 kuukautta sitten
Does anyone know how heavy the figure and the shipping costs are?
5 kuukautta sitten
Waiting for mine!!
5 kuukautta sitten
Echizen-Momoko Echizen Ryoma's Wifey
Oh my she is gorgeous! I really need to get my hands on her someday >w<
5 kuukautta sitten
I've been waiting for your review (and glamour shots) for Sakura and she is absolutely a stunning and a head-turner figure.

Sakura sitting on the sakura tree branch with her dress and high-heels is a very elegant; it makes the whole effect striking and you can't help it but to admire Sakura and the Apex team for making a masterpiece. I have no doubt this figure will win best figure of 2020.

But besides the figure, her box though, holy heck that's a beautiful box!

Thanks for the review!
5 kuukautta sitten
Here's my unboxing of her. Wish I had better lighting, as some of the color is off. She's still a stunner and worth every penny and more.
5 kuukautta sitten
I don't know what I was thinking, but in all of the excitement about getting the review written and uploaded, I totally forgot to include the video of the Chinese team building a life-sized version of this figure!!

If you haven't seen it, please take a moment to check it out -- it's really a stunning testament to how much these artists love their jobs and their characters!

www.youtube.com...
5 kuukautta sitten
murialita5 kuukautta sitten#75844824While I agree with the OP that this discussion has been done to death and don't want to make these comments devolve into another one, I've been thinking about this recently, and in a way, they are allowed on this site. You can post blogs about them. You can post pictures of them. Hell, the pictures can even be picture of the day. You can talk about them in clubs and forums. You can do everything except make an official figure page that organizes figure specific information and discussion into one easy to find location. At this point, the only thing really keeping this rule around is the mod's insistence on enforcing it. It's not like the admin is really around doing it himself. Though maybe he would remove mod's moderator status if he catches them ignoring the rule? Don't know how much he actually pays attention to the general site anymore.
Back on topic though. I've also bought Yae, and my god. She has the potential to duke it out with Casual Tamamo ITEM #287974 as my favorite figure in my collection. If you know me, you know how powerful this statement is. She is gorgeous, and I love how pretty much everything on her is done. The only tiny gripe I would have is I wish the magnet holding her to the base was a little stronger. I've posted an unboxing video of her in the MiHoYo club, and would like to share it here too if that's ok with the OP.


I agree with you completely, and please feel free to share the unboxing video! :)
5 kuukautta sitten
victorviper5 kuukautta sitten#75844254Also, MFC really should allow these figures in the database. While I understand the Pandora's Box that is allowing non-Japanese items, surely there would be a way to approve the addition of such items on a case-by-case basis. Plus, while we're seeing more of these anime-style Chinese figures, there's not exactly so many of them that keeping up with requests to add them to the database would be a full time job.

While I agree with the OP that this discussion has been done to death and don't want to make these comments devolve into another one, I've been thinking about this recently, and in a way, they are allowed on this site. You can post blogs about them. You can post pictures of them. Hell, the pictures can even be picture of the day. You can talk about them in clubs and forums. You can do everything except make an official figure page that organizes figure specific information and discussion into one easy to find location. At this point, the only thing really keeping this rule around is the mod's insistence on enforcing it. It's not like the admin is really around doing it himself. Though maybe he would remove mod's moderator status if he catches them ignoring the rule? Don't know how much he actually pays attention to the general site anymore.

Back on topic though. I've also bought Yae, and my god. She has the potential to duke it out with Casual Tamamo ITEM #287974 as my favorite figure in my collection. If you know me, you know how powerful this statement is. She is gorgeous, and I love how pretty much everything on her is done. The only tiny gripe I would have is I wish the magnet holding her to the base was a little stronger. I've posted an unboxing video of her in the MiHoYo club, and would like to share it here too if that's ok with the OP.
5 kuukautta sitten