GSC: Strength

What does one envision when they think of strength?  I would assume people would normally associate strength with muscles, power, Superman, etc.  But in Black Rock Shooter’s case, Strength comes in the form of a petite girl with massive mechanized arms.  How’s that for cool?!

I’ve been happy thus far with the BRS figures coming from Good Smile Company; in general, the figures are well made and lacks any significant flaws.  That is with the exception of BRS animated version, where the initial production batch was missing the star on the jacket.  GSC remedied that by issuing a sticker, but that was only for the domestic market as far as I know, those of us in the international community were SOL.

Strength is one of the supporting characters from the Black Rock Shooter OVA, which I still have yet to watch.  I even have the demo from the BRS Figma as well as the Blu-Ray movie which are just sitting on my shelf untouched.  I guess you can say the same for my BRS figure collection, they’re all just sitting in their boxes awaiting their reviews.  Strength is the first BRS figure that I have opened up and she just so happens to be the newest addition to my BRS collection.  I figure all the other BRS characters have been out for some time and have received many reviews already, so I might as well do something new and review Strength.

I can’t say I’m all that familiar with the BRS franchise, while I know what it is, I’m not intimate with the details nor the characters.  I’ve been thinking about this fact quite a bit lately, I realize I don’t really have any affinity towards most of the figures in my collection.  That, I think, allows me to review the figures as is and without bias.  But then again, sometimes this lack of connection to the characters will result in my failing to recognize unique elements that defines the figure from its original source.

All I know is that Strength is the alternate persona of the girl named Yuu and that she might end up being an opposition for BRS (or already is?).  Can’t say I’d be surprised if they fight and end up being allies in the end though, Strength doesn’t seem like an antagonist to me.  Either way, when I first saw the figure up for pre-order, I thought she had an interesting design that separated her from BRS, Dead Master and Black Gold Saw.  Alright, fine, I saw those massive mecha arms and thought they were pretty damn cool – and being the mecha fan that I am, I didn’t have any problems with justifying her in my collection.  Hey, I already have BRS, DM and BGS, so might as well get Strength  and complete the set.

Truly, when I think of strength, I would’ve never envisioned a little girl with such massive arms which are called Ogre Arms by the way.  For some reason I think this actually works and it has a little bit of that steampunk-ish feel to it.  Since Strength is an alternate persona, I assume the arms are a metaphor for her strength of character since her body is so petite.  But as I’ve said earlier, my lack of knowledge to the original source may be miscontruding my perception of the character.

When I showed Strength to a friend of mine, he asked me a bunch of questions I didn’t really have the answer to.  Note to self not to discuss figure collecting with my friends as I can’t even explain my obsession with these plastic things.

Why aren’t the Ogre Arms attached directly to her arms?”  I guess it’s so she can rotate her arms more freely?

Why a bracket then?  Why not some ball joints or servo?”  I guess it’s for the coolness / artistic design factor.

Wait, is that a tail coming … ”  Yes, okay, she’s an anime character – she doesn’t need to make any sense!  Moving on!

Strength is shrouded in a black hood which I think plays to her name’s advantage.  Her eyes are  somewhat emotionless here, which I usually find annoying in figures, but not in this case.  It works well with the rest of her appearance since you’re unable to gauge the expression on her face.  Her massive arms are probably what you notice first when you see her, thus you are left with the conceived notion that she is strong even with such a petite body.  Mix in that cold stare of hers, she is definitely intimidating!

The downside to this emotionless gaze is that you lose some context to her pose.  She is suspended in the air, almost like she’s jumping yet like she’s not.  You’re left wondering what exactly her body motion is telling you.  Normally, the “animated version” of BRS figures have a more dynamic pose – whereas Black Rock Shooter and Dead Master seem like they’re facing off each other, perhaps Strength will look like she’s jumping backwards when paired up with Black Gold Saw?  I actually haven’t tried that yet, so I can’t say for certain – I’ll update on this at a later date.

 

Speaking of petite, Strength definitely has the signature BRS look, a really slim body build and really flat chested.  I think Strength may be even flatter than BRS in this case.  ^_^’  Not that I have any qualms about it, but do you think she’s compensating in any way with those massive arms?

Her upper thighs have somewhat better definitions, particularly when viewed from her left side.  It’s nothing to write home about but I can appreciate the detailing here for what it’s worth.  But the dominant feature of Strength is her arms, of course, and I find them extremely well done.  The metallic paint work and “dry brush” effect on the edges make her large gauntlets look durable and used.  By used, I mean it doesn’t look all shiny and polished like it came straight from the factory.  The shading creates a nice weathered effect, though I think the surface could’ve received more “scratches” to make the pair look more battle-weary.  I have to give GSC credit here with the paint work, they could’ve used a flat colour and painted the entire arm one colour but they didn’t.

For the most part, the gauntlets (as I dub them) are fairly solid yet light weight.  You do have to pay careful attention to the thumbs though, as they are a separate piece and glued on to the rest of the hand via a little stub.  I can definitely see someone mishandling them and break off the thumb.  The attachment to the arms also need some attention, while the guantlets lock in place to the arms fairly securely (also via a little stub), her arms are quite thin.  If you’re going to take the gauntlet off for whatever reason, make sure to hold on to her arm with the other hand and lightly wiggle the gauntlet off.  For what it’s worth, both Ogre Arms clip in to the display base very securely and you won’t have any wobbling issues.

 

Strength rests on the display base via three points, her left foot and her two arms.  The base is your typical BRS style damaged “blocks”.  It’s certainly much more pleasing to the eyes than a standard disc or rectangle.  GSC didn’t cheap out on the details of this display base either, there are cracks and damages as well as careful shading of the paint work.  The base is sturdy and Strength is very well balanced on it, there’s no fear of her toppling over.

Now for that tail of hers, I’m not sure why it’s there nor why her designer even came up with the concept, but it’s there.  I actually didn’t even notice she had a tail until I got the figure; when I saw it, it reminded me of the tail from an alien from Aliens.  The tail is also reminiscent of the Borg Queen’s spine from Stre Trek – and ultimately I think that’s what it is.  It’s not really a tail but moreso a mechanized skeletal spine that helps Strength balance and move better.  I think I read that somewhere, but correct me if I’m wrong.  The “tail” is actually a separate piece which pegs into a little slot just behind (and above) her butt.  So you can optionally leave the tail off without fear of an unsightly hole dancing in front of your eyes.

Strength’s outfit is a one-piece suit with a very short “skirt” portion (writer’s block, can’t think of the correct term), as such her undergarment is rather exposed when you view her from just about any frontal angle.  Fans usually react negatively to the white underwear and I usually don’t give a damn, but in this case with the white so exposed in a midst of black, I found it a little distracting.  While it matches the black and white theme Strength has going on, I think a slightly darker shade (or even black) would have worked out better.  That is unless this was the intent - to arouse the little hentai in all of us?

Strength also has little white bow ties on the top of her stokings and her tail, I thought about taking detailed photos of them (as I normally do when I talk about the finer details) but ultimately decided to skip it in this set of photos.  I mean, they’re just white bow ties and nothing fancy!  ^_^’

If you’re a regular to my site, you may have noticed some difference in style with this review.  First and foremost, there are only 15 pictures as opposed to the usual 30+ that I take.  I didn’t take as many detailed macro shots as I didn’t feel it was necessary for this figure.  If you’re looking at Strength from section to section, she’s actually rather plain.  There’s not much pattern on her outfit and she doesn’t exactly scream colour.  But when you look at her as an entire package, she’s a very well polished figure.  Normally, I can find minute paint errors or production mistakes with the macro lens, but I’m rather surprised at how clean my Strength is.  She lacks mentionable flaws and I didn’t notice any unsightly seam lines.  The shading is very well done, even her outfit has a slight black-charcoal gradient thing going on.

For this photo set, I incorporated a bit more lighting work rather than post processing – I barely touched these photos at all.  Since I’ve been working on some other photo projects with my friends, they left their Speedlites and wireless tx/rx at my place - I took advantage of this and put our 580ex’s to good use.  =)  I normally just run a 580ex and modelling lamps – I’ve been meaning to get more strobes so perhaps this recent shoot can serve as a motivation for me.

Strength is rated at 1/8 scale, but given the size of the Ogre Arms, she looks larger than she actually is.  Head to toe, she is roughly 15cm, but if stretched out she’s actually 22cm.  So I guess 1/8 scale is somewhat accurate, for a little Asian girl anyway!  But hey, by now we all know size doesn’t matter right?  Strength can be defined in many different ways – mentally, physically, mechanically… but as long as you have a kick ass set of mecha arms, nothing else really matters.  Strength is definitely a figure worthy to be put on display, upskirt and all.  ^_^’