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For me, figure collecting is about paying homage. If I like a character from a certain anime/manga/game well enough, I’ll try to get myself a tangible piece of it, often in the form of models, figures and toys. I sometimes buy DVDs/BDs as well, but between gawking at a thin spine of a DVD case and an intricate figure, my preference naturally leans toward the latter. This is partly why I’m so picky with the figures I buy. The figure may be well-sculpted and painted, but without a reason to be fond of the character itself, chances are I won’t end up buying it.

Thus, given this personal policy, it’s rather strange of me to pick of Good Smile Company’s Dead Master (Original ver.) as one of the only PVC figures I purchased in 2010. After all, as an original illustration by Huke, there’s no real story behind the character whatsoever. Whereas the better-known Black Rock Shooter character inspired a popular song by the doujin group Supercell, Dead Master remained solely in the realm of illustrations. Going by her horns, clawed hands, painful-looking scythe, and floating skull companions, you can gather that she’s a probably up to no good, but what else is there to know about her?

It could be worse though, since having no story at all is at least better than having a shitty story. I mean, what if Good Smile Company decided it would be a good idea to fund an hour-long OVA and dump a truckload of sleep-inducing slice-of-life moments over an absolute trite plot with a couple of dry, emotionless fight scenes stuck into it? That sure would be awful, wouldn’t it? I’m glad that no such thing exists so I can enjoy this figure for what it is – a gorgeous rendition of a gorgeous character, pretty enough for me to cast my usual pickiness to the wind and leave not a single hint of regret.

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For a 1/8th scale figure, Dead Master boasts an impressive height of 27 cm. Although some of that is attributed to her brick of a display base, the figure itself is no slouch. The bulk of her head and the length of her legs put this figure on the higher end of the 1/8th scale. Considering the fact that GSC is asking 9,800 yen for her, this generosity in size only makes sense.

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As Huke’s art has never been known for rich character expressions, the GSC Dead Master’s close adherence to Huke’s art style is similarly lacking in emotion. If eyes are the windows to the soul, then Dead Master’s eyes must be a pair of very dusty windows, because I can’t derive much from looking at them. Normally I’d put this as a con, but in Dead Master’s case, the lack of expression gives the figure a profoundly eerie feel, especially under the right lighting conditions. The gradient effect on the eyes makes them seem as if they are glowing, which makes them very striking. Dead Master is kind of like a creepy doll – a pretty little thing, but there’s some inhuman quality that makes her unsettling. The pale face and that smile of hers are the icing on an eerie cake. I’m not sure if that sort of cake would be to your tastes, but I eat it up.

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The spine-like horns are coated with a glossy finish. They may look very fragile, but thankfully they are made of a flexible material, so they won’t snap like a twig should you accidently bump them.

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Dead Master’s hairstyle is somewhat of a mystery. Although she has neat straight bangs, a pair of curly twin tails seems spout out of nowhere from behind the horns. The sculpt for the curls is very intricate and the moulding is sharp. When compared with the original promo photos, the hair on the final version looks significantly less green than before. While I think her looks fine the way it is, I also think that the added contrast from a stronger green tint would improve the figure’s overall appearance. Not a big deal to me, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

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For a scythe-wielding crazy lady, Dead Master has a very classy fashion sense…or so it seems! The body portion of the dress is made of a softer, more flexible material than the pants and the arms, and it does a great job at showing off the impressive amount of sculpt detail put into it, as the innumerable folds on the dress are clearly visible. Unfortunately, there is a seam line running down the side of Dead Master’s dress. It’s more or less bearable from a normal viewing distance, as the dark colour context around it makes it less conspicuous, but it really stands out from up close (and especially under a macro lens). The dress still looks very nice overall. The upper half hugs her body tightly, highlighting her modest pair of assets, while the flared out lower half conceals her long midsection.

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Dead Master’s dress may appear quaint from the front, but the back view reveals a much more daring look. There is virtually no back on her dress, and the slit almost runs down to her bum. Two pointy wings stick out of her pale back. There are made of hard plastic, and inserting them into her back was a very tricky business. I was afraid of breaking the brittle-looking things, and only found success after loosening her holes by running some hot water over her back. You just thought of something dirty, didn’t you?

In my mind, I associate flared capris pants with bourgeois women. This association is not rooted in any knowledge of the dressing habits of rich chicks; instead, I just assume so because I can’t imagine poor people wearing that sort of thing. Combined with Dead Master’s crazy curls, the capris pants contribute to establishing the ojou-sama look of the character.

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But when you take a peek under the hood, you’ll notice that the capris pants are barely held up by strings, with no evidence of any other garments underneath whatsoever. Considering how tight these pants are hugging her ripe peaches, I can’t help but to imagine her being very uncomfortable…which is kind of hot in its own right. When viewed from the front and her left side, you can make out gaps between the ruffles of the dress and the low rim of the pants through which her pasty white flesh is visible. There is a scuff mark up the upper left hip of my Dead Master, but thankfully it is pretty out of the way.

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There are some minor seam lines on the sides of her feet, but they’re nothing to make a fuss over. I did however notice that the lower legs have a more prominent sheen than her face and back.

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Dead Master’s big mean scythe contrasts strongly against the character’s skinny little girl image, thus making it a big focal point of this figure. Fortunately, GSC pulled out all the stops for it. Upon first beholding it, I had to run my fingers over it a couple of times just to be sure it isn’t actually made of metal. Most of the scythe is covered by an oxidized texture, but the business parts of it (i.e. the edge) is shiny and smooth, thus emphasizing its deadly nature.

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The floating skull is attached to the hand through a swappable thumb, which has a little tab at the end that is inserted into the back of the skull. For such a small accessory, it is admirably detailed with a stone-like texture. It would’ve been cool if the green core is painted with luminescent paint, but that’s just me being greedy.

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The hands themselves are given a glossy finish. The fingertips are awfully pointy. I wonder if Dead Master can shlick with those talons. Maybe that’s why she’s so evil? Imagine if your fingers are made of razor blades. Yeah. I know I’d get cranky if I can’t scratch an itch.

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An alternate tab-less hand is included for use in conjunction with the chain. I have a feeling that the chain was added as an afterthought, but it isn’t an unwelcome addition. It is made of metal, so its heft ensures that gravity would do its job when the chain is hung been Dead Master’s two hands.

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The base depicts what’s left of a once handsome section of marble flooring. The foundations underneath kind of look like mud rather than concrete, which might suggest how it ended up in its current state. I like the base a lot. Although it’s pretty bulky, its size is not enough to steal attention away from the figure itself. Rather, the added elevation the base provides serves as a good platform to compliment Dead Master’s downward gaze. As the figure cannot stand without the base, its inoffensive appearance is something to be grateful for.

Final Say

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I bought Dead Master for looks and looks alone, and in that respect Good Smile Company certainly delivered. The flaws on it are minor, and there are plenty of splendid details from the horns above her head to the rubble beneath her feet. But that greatest strength of the 1/8 Dead Master (Original ver.) is its ability to instill an atmosphere. The way she is poised high over the rubble she made with her deadly tool while the seemingly glowing eyes on her deathly pale face gaze downward gives her the image that befits her name. There is power in her slender frame, and you can tell that she means business just by looking at her – the sort of business that would not be pleasant to whomever she may be staring at. To arouse such a collection of feelings and sensations speaks a lot in the figure’s favour, and I’d highly recommend the figure to anyone who would be interested in a chilling touch in their collection.

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Like other recent high-profile GSC PVC releases, Dead Master is finding herself in the bargain bins of some Japanese retailers. At the time of this writing, Amazon.co.jp has her at a whopping 41% off. If you are able to take advantage of such deals, I would tell you to pounce on it like a cheetah if it at all appeals to you. I wouldn’t count on the usual suspects (Hobby Search, Amiami and HLJ) to axe their prices, as they did not do so for the other GSC figures, so if she looks like your cup of tea, it’d probably be a good idea to act sooner rather than later.

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Pros

  • Pretty yet deliciously creepy face
  • Eyes seem like they’re glowing
  • Intricate sculpt for the dress, horns and hair
  • Superb textures on the scythe and skull
  • Healthy size for a 1/8 scale figure

Cons

  • Seam line running down the side of the dress
  • Hair is noticeably less green than the promo photos suggest