The Ultimate Unicorn: Chii – Part 1: history and arrival (Doll Profile #9)

Going into 2014, I knew I had two dolls planned. Belldandy and Miku were due sometime during the year and my orders for both were secured in 2013. What I did not anticipate, however, was finding my ultimate unicorn: Chii. Of all of the girls I have, I would consider Chii to be one of the most special and holds a very special place in my heart. When I started planning this series, Chii was probably the one I looked the most forward to writing about, given what she represents and how I came to get her. I’m going to break her story up into a couple parts, just to keep things digestable. ^_^

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Oh! My Goddess! Belldandy (Doll Profile #8)

When I first started in the doll hobby, I had a small list of characters that I always wanted to have made into dolls. At the tail end of 2013 one of the top characters from one of my favorite series was announced. Belldandy from Aa! Megami-sama (Oh! My Goddess) was getting her very own release. The thing I didn’t expect? She was to be made of resin instead of vinyl, meaning I was about to be thrust into a whole new world. Up until this point, I didn’t have any proper resin girls, let alone any experience with Volks resin. I had no idea what to expect as I went down this path.

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Taking stock of my collection

After seeing Radiant’s write up on his collection, I felt inspired to do something I’d been putting off for a little while. It’d been awhile since I actually took stock of what was in my collection and collected it all in one place (read: never). For the most part, my figures are organized by series, character, and type. There are a couple shelves that I can only label as “miscellaneous” since they have figures that don’t really fit in with any others.

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My first Nendoroid

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I got my first Nendoroid recently, and I’m happy to announce that it’s also my first Yoko figure! First impressions are very positive. The parts have a very chunky and solid feel without being too heavy. The facial expressions swap out easily and there is very little play once the hair pieces are snapped on. Downsides that I discovered are that the appendages require a bit of working to get in place and stay on. I often ran into issues where her hair interfered with the arm placement, resulting in the arm falling off. Also, since they aren’t jointed, there is little range of movement.

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Figure review – Kotobukiya Belldandy

After setting up my new lighting table, I decided to give it a workout by taking some nicer shots of the Belldandy figure I picked up at Katsucon. Compared to the initial photos I took of her, the new ones came out much nicer. The new lighting has smoothed out some of the shadows and gave an overall warmer color to the figure.

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Old vs. New

With that out of the way, on to the review. This figure started life as a resin cast kit released by Kotobukiya back in 2001. From the look and style, she appears to be roughly styled after the movie rendition of Belldandy. Six years later, a preassembled and painted figure was released. Quality and detail is very high (as expected of any Kotobukiya figure), however there are a couple of visible flaws.

IMG_1512Close up showing off the facial features and jewelry

IMG_1496Another angle with the earrings and necklace

IMG_1498Low angle shot showing details below the dress, particularly like the rings and bracelets

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Visible seams in the gloves and flaws in the hair

Despite the little flaws, overall quality on the figure is excellent. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for a good and well priced Belldandy figure for my collection so I’m really happy to have picked this one up. Now it’s just a shame a real one won’t come out of my mirror to grant me a wish… ^.^

Additional photos (pre and post lighting changes) can be found here.

New lighting setup

I picked up a couple of interesting photography tips today from comments over at DannyChoo.com about various ways to do lighting for figure photography. I’d recommend checking out this tutorial for some hints on constructing a cheap lighting setup.

Good photography is good lighting. A lot of people think that good lighting is expensive. Wrong. The best light source for photography is free. The sun! If you’ve got a backyard use it. Shoot in the morning or an hour or two before the sun sets for the prettiest light. Those looking for the quickest and easiest way to take pics of your figs, well there you go. But if you’re in the city or in an apartment and feel a little too funny about taking a half naked anime babe outside for a photo shoot while people walk by wondering what kind of freak totes a half naked anime babe out in public, this means you’re shooting inside.

It takes a little setup, but really all you need for an indoor lighting setup are two desklamps, a couple of big sheets of construction paper in different colors, a cardboard box, some tracing paper, and some tape. Many of you have tried the desklamp thing and gotten results you weren’t that happy with, but if you use them right, you can get some good results. The best type of easy indoor lighting is a daylight balanced (aka, full spectrum) light source, because it’s close to daylight in color and it burns relatively cool, which is a plus when shooting PVC. You can use normal lights, but just watch for overheating your figures and calibrate your camera’s white balance settings accordingly.

With that in mind, I hit the local Target for supplies. I picked up some tissue paper from the gift wrap section, some tape, a $10 desk lamp, a large white piece of craft board, and two 6500k fluorescent bulbs (one 60w equiv, the other 100w equiv). I’d also picked up some thumb tacks so I could finally hang up the flat sheet I was using as the table cover to make a uniform background. Once I all the stuff home, I found a medium sized box and set to work. The setup itself was fairly easy. Taking a couple sheets of tissue paper, I taped it to the ends of the box to create a diffuser.

IMG_1517 The end setup (opened up a bit to see properly)

I’m pretty happy with the results. The only tweak I’ll have to make is with the bulb size, as the 100w bulb I used for the main lamp is a bit too bright for such close proximity. I’ll need to step it down to a 60w and also take the overhead lamp down to 40w. I should also cut the craft board in half for a smaller reflecting surface to make it easier to manage and shoot around. In total, everything cost me under $30, with the bulk of the cost being for the desk lamp and the bulbs.