EX Figure Review: Riuva’s First Cold Cast! Kuga Natsuki in Swimsuit

I don’t buy cold cast or polystone figurines, for the simple reason that they are just way too expensive to be cost effective. But now that I got to loan one for review, well, it’s a new experience.

But first, if anyone here hasn’t read the old figure science article on materials, I’ll talk a bit about the differences in materials that I learnt. If there are any factual inaccuracies, feel free to point them out and I will edit them accordingly.

Cold Cast Resin (as compared to PVC)

  • Greater density resulting in much greater mass
  • Better conductor of heat
  • Higher opacity
  • Smoother surface
  • Heatless casting
  • Greater strength
  • Brittle and less malleable

So now that we know what’s different, what are the effects on the figure?

The resin figure, for an equivalent sized PVC one, weighs about twice as much. This has pros and cons. There is added stability and it feels more like a sculpture than a toy. But the downsides are, increased shipping cost, bulkiness and of course, greater acceleration when falling. Note that I didn’t say leaning.
PVC is a very poor heat conductor compared to resin. While the term cold cast doesn’t have any co-relation to this, the figurine is indeed cold at room temperature due to its good heat conductability, that siphons heat off your hand when touching it.

The higher opacity is an issue. PVC is inherently colourless (though most are dyed), while most resin is a solid colour in its raw form. This effect does produce differences in the final paintwork. Combine this factor with the smooth finish of resin for an even greater difference.

The semi-gloss surfacing of PVC normally used contributes to a more realistic and non-toy appearance, with greater tones. Cold Cast Resin is normally produced and finished to be quite smooth and hence reflective, hence losing a lot of the subtle detail a PVC skintone has.

Resin and PVC are produced differently. PVC tend to have seamlines and inject scars, due to the process of injecting moulding. While I’m not exactly sure of the production process of cold cast, resin figures has significantly less or none of these seam lines and some parts are hollow, like the Rozen Maiden. Resin is also sandable, which allows for the removal of such seam lines and other defects while PVC cannot. Sand rubber? Furthermore, PVC is always solid. PVC parts are also attached through glueing while for CCR, glue is not used. But resin is harder to manipulate when it comes to micro details so resin figures have generally less detail than an equivalent sized PVC figure though the larger general scale of it covers this flaw.

Resin is a lot stronger than PVC. This makes it suitable for large figurines, 1/6 and above. That is why you never see PVC exceed 1/6 scale if they are standing. They don’t lean.

The greater strength but higher brittleness (like ceramics) also makes resin susceptible to breakage either due to accidents or shipping stresses. You can slam PVC figures on the ground and get no harm done but dropping a cold cast figure on the drop would be considered a major heartbreaking event in one’s life.

Check out this video I made, which shows the difference in properties. It’s an aural test so be sure to turn up your speakers. Sadly, no background music this time because of the nature of this vid.

Ok, having gone through all that, let us now look at the cold cast resin figure for today. Kuga Natsuki (Swimsuit version), from New Line Corporation is a 1/6 scale, 25.5 cm tall figure sculpted by Zenko. This figure was first released as an unbuilt kit at Winter Wonderfest a while back and due to great response (doesn’t make sense) was mass-produced, released in September 2006. At the recent summer Wonderfest, 100 of these were on sale but these are not considered LE items. The official retail price is 14,490 yen.

Urban Attic is selling this at S$350 but if you present this coupon here, you’ll get a free Wonderfest Mascot Rei and Asuka figurine that normally has a price of S$99 at the store. I shrunk the size for web, just save the bigger version and print.

Maihime is not really one of my favourite shows but I like Natsuki a lot. I have a GSC 1/10 Natsuki myself, and that is a pretty good likeness of the character. However, I can’t really say the same about the cold cast version. She just doesn’t look right. Maybe it’s just me but surely, this doesn’t look like her at all!

Look at the pictures below. I shot these pictures at the same time I did the Yurika photoshoot. Unlike the Yurika one, these didn’t turn out all good for a few reasons. Yurika was my own, so I could abuse it however I wanted. With Natsuki, I was far more careful. And she weighs a ton too so it was hard to hold her in one hand. And I exhausted my creativity with Yurika, so most of the angles are rather common here. I did do a bit more closeups so you can spot the differences in resin quality. It sucks to use the same backdrop twice in a role yeah, but I only have one private swimming pool.

Natsuki comes with a solid wooden base so I could not put that in the water for obvious reasons. Soggy wood anyone?

This time, I found it hard to pick three best pictures cos most are of a similar angle and there’s a bit of a deja vu feeling with Yurika. I basically did the exact same thing so no point talking about it. This time, instead of the hair being a complementart colour, we have Natsuki’s swimsuit fitting in well with the blue of the pool.

Truth be told, I wasn’t too impressed by this figure. There are quite a lot of areas which just plain aren’t good enough. Let’s start with the bad parts first.

As anyone can see, the face just isn’t Natsuki. The eye shape is wrong, the nose is too sharp and elongated, the hair has too much volume and the mouth has a weird smirk. Just compare with the real Natsuki. I’m not sure if such a sculpt was intentional, perhaps the sculptor Zenko wanted his own rendition of Natsuki. But I don’t like his design.

Natsuki is supposed to have a rounded, slightly cute nose. GSC’s version replicated this well. But this swimsuit Natsuki is Pinnochio in disguise.

The eye shape is also off. While resins tend to have painted eyes instead of the decal eyes most PVC figures have, I find this a liability when the application isn’t perfect. The pupils are a bit messy and flat. They are just way too matte, since eyes are supposed to be brighter.

The face shape is a bit too long as well. Natsuki would do better with a slimmer and shorter face.

Swimsuit Natsuki’s mouth is a bit weird, for it looks like a smirk, which isn’t too suitable considering the rest of her pose.

Finally, the hair isn’t well done. While  hairstyles do get messed up after swimming, I don’t like how the hair looks like a helmet, such is the thickness. There is no headseam though, so that’s a plus.

Beyond face, looking at the paintwork of the rest of the figure, it is hard to be impressed at all. She feels rather dead and lifeless compared to Yurika in the previous review. The skintones are so fair and flat, it just feels fake. While there is shading at the joints, like hips and knees and armpits, the more reflective finish is not to my liking. This reflective sheen may be a tell-tale sign of cold cast resin, but I don’t really like it.

For an item priced at this level, you would expect some sort of flawless paintwork, especially when the costume design is so plain. But no, as you can see from the pictures, the masking is not done properly and parts of her hip are coloured swimsuit blue. The lines aren’t crisp and the logo on her chest is sloppy.

The sculpt is only average at best. Natsuki is drying her hair with a towel, behind her head. The "towel" looks like a piece of coral. The raised arms show off her armpits and breasts more but the closed nature, and with her very narrow leg pose, makes for a conservative and unenergetic figure. Not the most fitting of a gungho motorbike riding girl. There are a couple of other figures of Natsuki in a black bikini, now those are sexier.

The swimsuit is also rather plain onepiece. In accordance with her slight torso twist, you can see some tension lines sculpted onto her right waist. But yeah, it’s an ugly swimsuit,  is it the school one or something?

Speaking of tits, she has huge melons here. She’s more Mai than Natsuki, that’s for sure. But the butt is still hot.

It’s pretty bad when the figure only looks decent from a narrow range of angles. From her left, she looks good. Just avoid the other angles, especially head-on.


 

 

For base support, there is an iron pin that goes up her right leg. This is very sturdy. The pin is inserted into an aperture on the wooden base for good stability. The poor reproduction of the sculpt upon mass production is evident here. The toes are..  undefined to say the least.

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