And now, Scary-Crayon reviews... 2005 SDCC Exclusive CvS2 Mai Shiranui & Chun-Li 2-pack by: Wes

Let's begin with an admission: this is going to be a rather unconventional review. That's in part because of the abundance of images (seriously, if this keeps up I'm going to have to look into getting a gallery program for Scary-Crayon!), but mostly because I'm about to tell you up front that I can't in good faith recommend the SDCC 2005 Exclusive Capcom vs SNK 2 Mai & Chun-Li 2-pack produced by the High Dream Corporation and distributed by Playground Maniacs. Well, there are certain circumstances under which I'd recommend them -- and I'll note those during the course of the review -- but the quality control on these girls so iffy that buying them ultimately amounts to a gamble... and if you're like me, the only thing sadder than a broken figure is a broken Chun-Li figure. In fact, I was so upset when poor Chun's leg broke that I was moved to write a complete article/rant about action figure quality control. I freaking love Chun-Li.

The front of the box!And the right side......and the back!Now, the left side.
The top and bottom of the box have the same image.
The interior cover! (Where's Mai?)Finally, the figures inside -- note Mai's detached leg.

But my issues on that front have to do with the contents of the box that contains the two fighting femmes. The box itself, on the other hand, is pretty goddamned sweet. I'd probably be even more enthusiastic about it if it sported the anime-style of Capcom's artists in addition to the more realistic SNK-style artwork featured here -- that would really drive the crossover theme home -- but even so it still looks great. So what if it reuses the same drawings of Mai Shiranui and Chun-Li everywhere except the back and the inside "cover"? They are nice drawings, what with Mai looking all pouty hot and Chun looking proud and confident. The exceptions are cool too (though the interior image really should have Mai somewhere in the picture -- and before you say, "She's right there!" that's Maki), as is the windowed box that shows off the figures reasonably well inside their packaging. Sure, Chun's disembodied hands detract from the visual appeal (I'd have placed them so that the bottom graphic covered them entirely), and more dynamic poses for the girls would have helped, but still.

So here's the first circumstance in which you might want to gamble with any quality control issues and order the pair of video game vixens: if you happen to be a MIB/MOC collector (or just want to display them in static, vanilla poses on the shelf). Granted, you may need to take them out in order to pop Mai's leg on (in both of the sets I received, Mai's left leg was detached in the package), but you shouldn't have any issues with stuck or broken joints if you don't plan to make use of their articulation. Of course, if that's the case, you might as well be buying a statue -- and whereas there have only been a handful of well-articulated Chun-Li figures and only one such Mai (that is, this one, though she's also available as a single figure wearing her traditional red outfit), there have been boatloads of static versions of the gals in various sizes and price ranges. These items, for example, are only a few of the non-articulated Chun-Li figures and statues out there. Yes, the CvS2 2-pack would be a fairly economical option for two 7" statues (if you get a deal like the one at Treasure Island Sports Inc., anyway!), but if that's your bag you'd probably be better off with something that isn't trying to be an action figure. And if you're into higher-end collectibles, this totally NOT SAFE FOR WORK Mai statue is, well... yeah.

Battle in Shanghai!Looking good, girls.

Should you decide to take the figures out of the box -- and once you've popped Mai's leg on, if necessary -- here's what you'll end up with. As exclusive figures, the SDCC versions of Mai and Chun-Li sport costumes that differ in color from their traditional ones: whereas Mai normally wears red and Chun-Li usually appears in blue, here Mai is dressed in a reddish violet and Chun-Li has donned an off-white dress. What's interesting is that, despite the fact that this is billed as a CvS2 figure set, neither character has these exact color schemes in the game itself. Chun-Li comes close, and one could make the case that her outfit is "actually" white but has been darkened on this figure for practical reasons. For example, had it been done in bright white, it would have been more difficult to make out details like the folds in her dress, the protrusion of her bust, and so forth. (Even the game takes liberties with the color depending upon the lighting.) The outfit's slight tint also makes it somewhat reminiscent of her old Champion and Turbo outfits, as you'll seein the comparison photos on the second page of the revew. I doubt that's intentional -- if they wanted to go that route, orange would probably have been a more fitting color choice -- but it does elicit a welcome feeling of nostalgia.

Like Chun-Li, Mai's reddish violet costume isn't directly represented in CvS2... or any game, as far as I know. Yes, she's been known to wear various pinks, purples, and reds, but never any combination of the colors that results in this particular shade. Still, it's sorta close to the shade her pink outfit takes certain backgrounds, and one could also argue (though less convincingly, I think) that it's been darkened for the sake of highlighting detail. But even though neither figure looks bad in her non-traditional duds, it's worth noting that whoever selected the colors for this set could probably have chosen better color schemes for both Mai and Chun-Li. Why not reverse their traditional colors, having Chun-Li wear red and Mai wear blue? Or have Chun-Li in black and Mai in white, since Chun-Li is perpetually in mourning for her father and Mai wants to marry Andy Bogard ASAP? Or at least have them in outfits that correspond to the same button press? As it is, I think Chun's outfit is chosen with all three punches and Mai's is selected via medium kick. Even matching emerald green costumes -- which have no particular relevance to the game, but sure would have been pretty -- would have been more inspired than the colors we got in this 2-pack... which could be part of the reason it's still relatively cheap and easy to find despite being a three-year-old exclusive.

Anyway, I'll talk more about the individual figures separately, in the remainder of the article, but -- before we move to that portion of the piece -- I'd like to call your attention to the included backdrop seen in the leftmost picture above (that is, this image). It's difficult to see it in the packaging due to the obscuring effect of the plastic tray behind the figures, but it actually depicts the Shanghai stage seen in CvS2. The picture isn't quite as clear or crisp as it could be, and it doesn't display as well as it would had the image been extended to the floor of the backdrop as well, but it's a nice touch that could help any shelf setups involving the figures.

Mai Shiranui's Articulation Diagram

So here's Mai Shiranui all by her lonesome... and aside from the visual blemishes that result from the articulation and a few barely noticeable missteps with the paint, she's bloody gorgeous. Seriously, from the details of the outfit to the attractive sculpt of the face to the appropriate emphasis on her most prominent assets, High Dream really nailed Mai in action figure form. (That said, one of my two Mai figures looks like someone at the factory accidentally smudged or scratched her face while it was still warm. The flaw didn't show up in photos, but in person it sort of makes Mai look like this. While the effect isn't quite as drastic as Komomo's appearance in Imprint, that Mai certainly loses a few points on her beauty scorecard!) And in addition to her bodacious sculpt, Mai comes with a couple of accessories: detachable tails for her waistband and a folded butterfly fan for her to hold. The tails look great (and actually help with her balance; more on that below), but the fan itself is sort of a mixed blessing. Yes, Mai does wield a fan in the games, so it's a welcome accessory -- but unlike the ambidextrous skill she boasts in the virtual world, this Mai figure can only grasp the fan in her right hand since it attaches via a peg that her left hand lacks. Also, since many of her in-game poses involve an open fan, it would be nice if they had either given her an open fan as well or somehow made it possible to unfold this one. Multiple fans would have been the preferable option -- after all, fans are to Mai Shiranui what batarangs are to the Batman -- but honestly, if Mai were only going to come with one fan, I'd rather have had an open one. At least then she'd be able to mimic the classic "me bouncy" win pose! Also, while you and I know what Mai's accessory is supposed to be, it kind of looks like a giant toothbrush.

Figure Area Joint Type POA Total
head ponytail swivel 1 2
neck ball 1
arms shoulder (2) swivel-hinge 4 14
bicep (2) swivel 2
elbow (2) double hinge 4
wrist (2) swivel-hinge 4
body waist ball 1 3
waistband tails ball, swivel 2
legs hip (2) ball 2 10
thigh (2) swivel 2
knee (2) double hinge 4
ankle (2) ball 2
Overall 29

As you can see from the diagram and above chart, Mai's got tons of articulation -- and as you'll see below, it allows her to assume a pretty decent number of poses. That said, it could definitely be a lot more efficient. The ball ankles are a good idea, but in practice they're way too restricted to allow the figure to assume very many flat-footed stances (for all of their usefulness, they might as well be swivels). Interestingly, this point is sort of countered by the waistband tails. Given that their hard plastic nature gives them considerable potential There's considerably less swaying with the toy, but still.Mai's fighting stance (CvS1)to unbalance poor Mai, I found it odd that High Dream opted to make them out of such hard material instead of soft plastic -- especially when Chun-Li's dress is almost entirely comprised of the stuff. However, where Mai's ankle joints fail, the tassels can serve as third and fourth legs to prop her up, increasing her stability and allowing her to get into more dynamic poses with wider stances. I'd still prefer better ankle articulation, but this is an interesting fix. And the tassels themselves are articulated enough to make it easy to move them out of the way when they're unnecessary (for example, in sitting poses), so the only time you'll really need to remove them is if you want to get a better look at Mai's well-sculpted posterior.

FLAME ON!Kagerou no Mai (CvS2)''Hora! Gambate!''Mai's opening taunt (CvS1)

With the exception of the ankles, though, the articulation is pretty good, if not optimal. For example, whereas a true ab crunch would have been ideal, the ball waist does let Mai bend forward a little. The cut biceps and thighs have no issues and enhance the articulation, though the paleness of Mai's skin and the exposed nature of the limbs means that the lines sort of detract from the figure's appearance (particularly with the arms). The swivel-hinge shoulders and double-hinged elbows and knees are perfect. And the ball hips deserve special mention, since they're kind of weird and unconventionally done here. Whereas "traditional" ball hips tend to detract slightly from the sculpt because of their odd shape, these ball hips are more like v-cut hips on balls. This allows them to preserve the leg sculpt -- so you get sexy hips and buttocks instead of distracting orbs where those parts should be -- while at the same time offering a decent amount of lateral movement, though they do lack the range of true ball hips. (Mai won't be doing any straddle splits, but she can pull off front splits quite well.) And just as the slight gaps produced by this unusual hip articulation are covered by Mai's loincloth and tassels in the front and back, further limitations of the design are masked by the thigh splits.

Kachosen (CvS2)You're supposed to let go of it, Mai!

In fact, the only overwhelming flaw with Mai in the articulation department -- a flaw that also affects Chun-Li and almost all action figures based on video game characters -- is that as good as it is, and even if it were better, she likely still wouldn't be capable of pulling off a significant number of the poses that she assumes in the games. Yes, as seen in the above pics, you can get Mai to adequately mimic some of the less involved moves and stances she exhibits in the CvS titles... but remember that Mai Shiranui is a freaking ninja whose moves also include bounding off of walls and diving headfirst into opponents and attacking with sash twirls and bursts of flame. As much as Mai needs fan accessories, what she really needs is a stand that allows collectors to display her performing high kicks and leaping elbows and other video game-esque moves at length instead of the more static poses to which this figure lends itself.

''Trapped in the spell of beauty, another peasant bites the dust.''''I'm hot this year. It just might be my millenium.''''You'll need more than that to beat a Shiranui ninja!''
''You really can't complain about my shape, can you?''Everyone's in love with Mai's chest.''You're too weak to be 'easy'!''The battle of the busty babes...

Still, she looks great -- and, as noted earlier, the CvS2 line is pretty much the only game in town if you want a well-articulated Mai Shiranui figure. You do have a choice even there, though: you could opt for either the single-boxed red-clad Mai or this two-pack version. And honestly? Assuming that the quality of both figures is the same (and that the lone version carries the same risk of stuck joints, though both of my Mais eventually turned out okay), I recommend this one. Even if you prefer the red outfit and don't want Chun-Li, consider that whereas the lone Mai will likely cost you $10-15 before shipping -- if not more -- you can find the 2-pack for that price or a few dollars more with minimal searching online. (Again, if you want the set, I highly recommend ordering from TISInc.) As much as I like this Mai, I'd hesitate to pay that much for her on her own.

Superdeformed Chun-Li!Umm... yeah.I really need to play Namco x Capcom.Remember to brush and floss regularly!

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