Ayanami Rei of Evangelion fame is no stranger to the figure scene. Ever since her debut 1995, Rei’s striking red eyes, pale skin and blue hair have inspired countless garage kit and pre-painted figure incarnations of the character, from BMX tricksters to Mermaids. Though Rei is certainly no stranger to strange representations, Yamashita Shunya’s take on the character definitely stands out amongst the pack.
(Image taken from Yamashita Shunya’s Wild Flower artbook)
Rather than staying true to Rei’s rather slight figure of a 14-year-old, Shunya in his illustration portrays the character as a voluptuous adult in his distinct, western-influenced style. This illustration, like many of his others, proved to be highly popular and was soon adapted into a garage kit and eventually a pre-painted PVC figure by Yamato as part of their Creator’s Labo series. Unlike most other PVC figures, Yamato’s Rei seems to have been in production ever since its release in January 2008. I make this assumption based on the observation of the continuous restock of this figure in online retailers, which suggests that this particular figure has been doing quite well. However, is this success well-deserved? While Yamato’s Ayanami Rei certainly has a great sculpt, one cannot overlook the roughness in the execution of the details. Ultimately, the appreciation of this figure depends on one’s tolerance of these sometimes distracting flaws.
Now, I’ve not studied the visual arts since the second year of high school, but even I can tell that the proportions on this figure are rather… unique. I would criticize the excessive length of the legs and torso, but I think that would be missing the point. This figure, like most other bishoujo figures, does not attempt to correctly represent the human anatomy, but rather it is an idealized image that exaggerates certain sexual characteristics. This is especially the case with Rei, as her endless legs make everything else seem puny in comparison, especially her head, which is not exaggerated in size like most other figures. The figure stands 24cm in height (putting her scale at around 1/7, though it’s not officially stated), and the legs make up for at least 14 cm by themselves. Honestly, why is she even tipping her toes? It’s not as if she needs the extra leverage by any stretch of the imagination.
Rei’s plug suit has seen number of changes from the original design, mostly in the way of subtractions. The result is a functionally questionable one-piece dress along with a pair of high boots and gloves. It’s an unapologetically skimpy yet pleasant re-design of the iconic costume the is sure to please newcomers and Eva veterans alike.
Unlike the original illustration, Rei’s face is not bandaged in Yamato’s PVC version. It does retain a rather deductive expression, however. With slightly parted lips, long eyelashes and an inviting look, the face itself is the highlight of this figure. I say this because almost every other aspect of the figure is marred with noticeable flaws that require either a really compromised eyesight or a considerable amount of tolerance to overlook.
Clear plastic display base.
Personally, I am fully aware of my tendency to nit-pick on even the smallest of flaws. These are usually small enough to avoid detection to those who are not actively searching for them. However, the flaws on Yamato’s Ayanami Rei are a whole other ballpark. Simply put, they are staring you in face and must be discussed before deciding whether or not you wish to add this figure to your collection.
First on the block are the mould marks that absolutely plague the figures. Two mould lines run along the sides of the figure, each stretching from the bottom of each leg up to the wrists at the top of the figure. A line is also visible on the inner portion of each her legs as well. Not much effort was spent in concealing them, as these marks break up the smoothness of the glossy paint on the plug suit and resemble scars on portions of skin. These lines culminate at the top of the figure with a large mould mark on each of her wrists. Unless you look at the figure directly from the front, these marks are not likely to escape your notice.
Second on the block is the paint work on the costume in general. The light blue lines of shading on the white parts of her costume are hastily applied, especially near her chest. The paint application does not feel smooth at all, and when held up to the light it will often appear as either chunky or coarse. Nothing on the figure feels sharp or slick, and the execution is mediocre on the less complex areas and downright lousy on the busier sections such as the collar. It certainly is a far cry from the level of quality control of superior manufacturers such as Alter and Max Factory.
Third on the block is Rei’s hair. Though not completely unshaded, the figure’s hair feels very flat at the back, where a lack of sculpting detail and different colour tones makes Rei’s bowl cut very… well, flat.
In the end, Yamato’s Ayanami Rei is too overburdened with flaws to warrant a recommendation. Its few virtues are vastly overshadowed by its numerous shortcomings. I would complement the pink skin tones if not for the hideous mould lines, and I would praise the metallic details on her costume if not for the lousy paintjob that surrounds them – but such is not the case. There are many other Rei figures and many other Shunya figures out there, but the Yamato Rei is not a strong contender in either of these categories. Instead, it is an unfortunate misuse of a license to a great illustration.
Good pose and sculpt
Excessive mould lines
Messy detailing and paint application
Update: Judging from the comments, it seems that the mould line issue on my particular copy is more prevalent than some others. Other reviewers have either commented directly on the production issues or captured them on photo, albeit not with the same critical tone as I. Let this review be a word of caution against the quality control of the figure — you may get lucky, or you may get an eyeful of scar tissue along Rei’s thighs (a definite focal point of the figure).