Alpha Max: Mai Shiranui (Omega Style – Hipline ver.)

So yeah, after months of waiting I finally received Alpha Max’s Mai Shiranui figure, yet in all this time I still haven’t found a way to write her review. Well, at least how to start the review, I mean this is one girl who needs no introduction and her status is so high she’s untouchable. What can I say to honour her epicness? Probably not much – but you know the saying, “pictures are worth a thousand words”, and I suppose that’s the case here. Lucky for me Alpha Max delivered on the goods yet again and it just made my day a lot easier.

Note: The following review borderlines on an 18+ review, but since there’s no nudity involved I didn’t bother rating it an 18+. But the following review contains mature content and NSFW, reader’s discretion is advised. =P

If anyone asks me who’s the greatest fighting game gal, I would have to say that’s a hard pick between Chun Li and Mai Shiranui. In terms of fighting game fame, I don’t think any girl can topple Chun Li but in terms of sex appeal Mai wins hands down. Interestingly enough, Mai’s creators initially wanted to create her as a male character, but eventually changed the character to a female as to attract more audience. Well, it worked out for the best as Mai became one of the mainstay of the series and featured in spin-offs, doujinshi and anime series alike.

As the sexy idol, Mai has always been portrayed as the ninja girl with huge boobs. Although her earlier versions on North American shores sought somewhat of a censorship, that melted away with time. I can still remember a long time ago when I used to collect a gaming magazine called EGM (Electronic Gaming Monthly) – there was an issue (which I still have somewhere) that featured Mai and the comment “me bouncy” still rings in my head. Chun Li had the legs, Mai had the breasts – now mash them together and, oh my…

While I’ve always liked Mai’s character (personality and design wise), I was never all that keen on the focus of her giant breasts. Heck, I think I even feel sorry for her some times – must be hard to be associated with a certain stereotype or “character” all the time. Like Mark Hamill, I’m sorry, but no matter what he does or what character he plays, he’ll always be Luke Skywalker. Guess you can say it’s a blessing and a curse – same goes for Mai and her bouncy betties.

Since I’ve started collecting these figures, I’ve been constantly searching for a good Mai figure. But the ones out on the market (or resale market I should say) are all pretty bad. Not that they’re all bad, but I feel they just don’t capture Mai’s character at all. Most of the figures focus on insanely huge breasts or very slutty poses, and many of them have horrible faces that don’t look like Mai at all. IMO, they all look like some second-rate porn stars that just didn’t quite make the cut.

So needless to say, I got excited when I saw that Alpha Max was releasing this Mai – finally an artist got it right. The focus wasn’t just on her breasts this time, but the rest of her body as well, particularly her “hips” – hence the “hipline version”. But more importantly, she actually looks like Mai. Her face – although still not completely accurate – is much more pleasant to look at, she captures the cute nature of Mai’s character yet she has a beautiful feminine allure look about her. Only two other versions caught my attention before, one by Volks and another by Alpha Max prior to this one. The Volks is very beautiful, Mai looks very girl like – and those tube socks adds an unspeakable cuteness to her. Unfortunately she came in only a garage kit and there’s no way I could ever put one together, so that’s out of reach. And the other one from Alpha Max actually has Mai in somewhat of a fighting pose rather than a I’m a dirty slut, sex me up! pose. But that Mai is out of production and I didn’t feel like paying a high premium for her in the resale market when this version is available at a standard price.

This hipline Mai was supposed to be released back in December, but was delayed till January. But the wait was worth it as Mai turned out great. At 1/5 scale, this girl is big – at roughly 33cm from the head to the bottom of the base. Her box is also rather large, but still no Nanoha large. I think her shipping charge via EMS was around $50, I can’t remember. I try not to look at the shipping costs whenever I get the payment information, it’ll only make me sad.

One of the things I like about this Mai is her size, I don’t mean just her breasts and ass, but everything about her. Her overall body appears to have some weight to her, not just a skin and bones type of girl with insanely large breasts. Characters like that never made much sense to me and unfortunately many of the other Mai figures I’ve seen appear to be somewhat like that. I guess you can say this Mai is a little more proportioned.

Mai was sculpted by EGG, which I’m not very familiar – but it seems like EGG have sculpted pretty exclusively for Alpha Max and done quite a number of Ikki Tousen figures. Don’t know if EGG is a group or a he or she, but I can definitely appreciate the work done on Mai. Her breasts are round, more in tune with Mai’s character – some of the other figures have sharper breast lines or even sagging breasts which I think loses her femininity and the me bouncy feel. While Mai’s character was omitted from King of Fighters XII (why, oh why?) she makes a return in XIII. Below is an artwork of Mai from the game, which this figure resembles pretty closely. The face is slightly different, with Alpha Max’s Mai being a little more cute and anime-like.

Before I get to the hipline portion of the review, let’s explore the other parts of the figure a little more. Overall, the sculpt is very curvaceous with many small body details that helps accentuate her body lines, particularly with angled lighting. Since I got Spica, I’ve been a fan of Alpha Max’s quality, and for the price, you’d expect a quality product. Alpha Max has been around for awhile, but it seems like their figures doesn’t have a huge following, at least not on this side of the planet – I assume it may be due to the cost associated with their larger scaled figures. And truth be told, I’d definitely pick up some more of their figures if they didn’t cost an arm and a leg, plus shipping!

Overall when viewed at a normal distance, this is a beautiful figure to behold, the skin is smooth and imperfections are not very visible. At least not until you get up close with a macro lens, then it picks up on all sorts of little errors. For one, the painting is a bit rough around the edges, my Mai’s painter seemed to have a bit of a hard time painting within the lines. lol And one of my pet peeves exist on this figure, the blob of a mess on her fingernails – the painter obviously used too much paint on the nails, thus it overlaps onto her finger. I didn’t notice this until I viewed it through the macro lens though.

I think the body sculpt is fairly realistic, take note of the area around and back of her knees. Since she’s in 1/5 scale, I assume these details are easier to sculpt in, but that would also mean harder to get it precise and looking natural. It’s a double edged sword, but the risk definitely paid off here, Mai’s pose look very natural and care-free. I like the way her finger points downwards, I guess you can say that artistically it helps terminate the line flow from her shoulder down. It’s also one of those small details that adds to the feminine feel of this figure.

Over the years, Mai’s character have seen subtle changes and I guess that’s a good thing as you can take one look at her and know who she is. With the recent version, Mai now has an exposed back – top and bottom – and the twin balls have reduced to one giant ball. Her tube socks from the previous version have been reduced in height for a shorter version, which is still cute but I think I prefer the tube socks (as depicted in Volk’s garage kit). Her bust size also appears to have gained a little volume, although I can’t say I’m a fan of what they did to her fighting stance. The me bouncy style looks more like me dangling now; the animation seems like her breasts have become so large that it’s sagging and turning her into a hunch back. But I have to admit it’s still fairly hypnotic, which was the goal of her character design.

The base is unique and Alpha Max did a good job with the amount of details put into the base. There are grooves, uneven surfaces and scratches on the base design which I find matches this figure quite well. It definitely beats a boring plain black or white base that’s typical of figures. I was surprised that Mai came with a base like this as in the prototype and promotional photos didn’t depict the base but only the figure. And speaking of Alpha Max’s promotional photos, they don’t do the figure justice – the photos appear washed out and cold – so in most of my photos I went for a more saturated and warmer look. But if you’re wondering what her skin tone really looks like, I would say it’s most accurate to this picture (also pending your monitor calibration) and some of the photos above.

While Mai is known for her breasts, she uses her hips a lot in her combos and fighting attack. So it’s about time someone came along and focused a bit more on her rump. Being dubbed the hipline version, obviously her hips are the main focus of this figure. At 1/5 scale, they are simply beautiful to behold and definitely one of the best sculpted rears I’ve seen in figures thus far. Adding a little bit of light play really brings out the contours of her back side, and I don’t just mean her ass, but her actual back as well.

Normally this pulling up of the thong pose is slutty in nature, usually reserved for Ikki Tousen or Tamaki figures, but the overall feel of this figure is quite the opposite. I think Mai actually looks cute and playful here, even somewhat innocent.

I do have one complaint about this figure and unfortunately it has to do with this region. With her hips being the main focus you would think the sculptor(s) would pay more attention to the design of her thong. The “flaw” is that if you view Mai directly from behind and from a lower angle, you can clearly see how her thong is disconnected between the front and back. I guess you can say they wanted to go for a look where the thong appears to be deep inside the crack, but I don’t think it was executed properly. At 1/5 scale, this disconnect looks pretty bad and rather fake compared to the rest of the realistic looking body sculpt. I don’t see why they couldn’t have made it one piece, it’s not like there’s not enough room on this figure. This is the double edged sword I mentioned earlier, you can fit in more detail with a larger scaled figure, but with that you can also make a larger scale mistake. The blob of red paint which suppose to resemble the front part of the thong (which covers the vaginal area) is also pretty roughly painted. Luckily this portion of the figure is not something you’ll notice when viewing the figure from a “normal” angle and distance. It’s just not something you’ll notice unless you’re perverted enough to look up her ass purposely. I only did it for the sake of this review, really, I swear! XD

So back to the good stuff, and when I say back, I do mean that literally. With Mai’s new outfit fit design, her back is very exposed – which is fine as it has a very sensual feel to it. Personally I think I prefer her a little more covered up like in her previous designs. Taking pictures of her was a blast though, she’s extremely lighting friendly, no matter how you light her up you get some sort of shadow and highlight that accentuates her curves. The only difficulty I had when taking her photos were her eyes as they are decals and very glossy ones at that. So any sort of light source near her face normally makes her eyes overblown with reflection, particularly her right eye. But if you move the light source further, her side bangs would cast shadows on her face – so most of my photos in this set were taken @ 30sec. Tv in the dark with brief exposures to light from multiple sources.

Mai comes packaged in three separate pieces, the main figure, the pony tail and ribbon with the giant ball. The pony tail sticks in to the back of her hair and requires some glue to hold it securely in place. I didn’t do that as I had to put Mai back into the box, but she looks pretty cute with short hair too. As for the ribbon, it’s held onto her waist using “magnetic technology” – I wasn’t expecting Alpha Max to implement the use of magnets on this figure, but it works well and I don’t have to worry about gluing that piece in place. There is some weight to that piece and the point of contact is rather small so there’ll definitely be problems with the piece breaking off even if you use glue. So using magnets is a good way to prevent any breakage – I guess the best way to describe it is to look at the concept of a Macbook’s power connector.

Like Spica, I’m very satisfied with the overall quality of this figure from Alpha Max. One slight difference is that Spica’s paint work seems more well shaded and smoother, and although both figures are cold cast, Spica felt more brittle and porcelain like. She felt like she would break if you drop her but at least Mai can take a beating. Of course, I’m not going to put them to the test, unless Alpha Max (or anyone) would like to donate some figures for my review / tests. =)

Some other upcoming Alpha Max figures looks to be pretty good as well, although there’s no way I can afford them all. I do have a Tamaki on pre-order and I might pick up Cryska as well – hard to say no to that Dragunov – don’t care much for her lingerie. ^_^’ I was also interested in Eris, but it was either her or Mai – I opted for Mai as her character has more meaning to me. There’s also another Kan’u Unchou, but I’m not so sure I’m into the battle damaged Ikki Tousen girls either. Those tube socks are tempting though. LOL

One thing I noticed while taking photos of Mai is that her hair seemed to glow, they almost look CG like and beautifully shaded. I wanted to make her backdrop have a Japanese feel to it, perhaps in front of some cherry blossoms or a wooden house / structure – but obviously that didn’t happen for me. Wrong season and no creativity to build the backdrop, I made do with what I had on hand.

Another aspect of this figure is Mai’s face, her expression seems to change depending on the angle you look at her. One example is the above and below photo, you can’t see her mouth open in the top photo but you can in the bottom one. I think the bottom picture is my favourite out of the set as she has this glow about her and I just love the expression on her face. I can’t quite describe what her expression is conveying, but it seems as if she’s a little deep in thought. The included cleavage shot is just a bonus, really! ^_^

As of this writing, only one other English review of this Mai exists, and it’s over at Tentacle Armada. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re the only English reviews of this Mai, as I have previously mentioned Alpha Max figures don’t seem all that common amongst collectors around here. It would be interesting to see what others have to say about her – not sure if reviews of her exist yet in other language sites though. But if you haven’t checked out Tier’s review, head over there and take a look – it was interesting that we both shot her using a similar lighting style – guess great minds think alike. LOL But seriously, this type of lighting is perfect for Mai’s sculpt – now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sudden urge to go squeeze one of those stress-relief balls.