Wait until Jimmy-san hears about this
Growing up, I always wanted to be as tough and as skilled a martial artist as Ryu from Street Fighter, though of course, this was never going to happen. That’s why I immediately idolized Sakura Kasugano when I first saw her – she was that audience surrogate child character they put in the franchise, a kid who wanted to be like Ryu, but wasn’t quite there yet. But that didn’t stop her. She kept on fighting and practicing to hopefully one day catch up to her idol. This really spoke to me on an emotional level as a child and I still like the message now as much as I did back then. Whenever my family would go to SM Mega Mall, we’d pass by this comic book store that sold a Sakura action figure. It always caught my eye and decided to one day buy it. Long story short, I never bought that figure, because I was too young, and the store is closed by now. The end. Well, almost.
About the figure
A little less than a year ago, I stumbled upon this Play Arts Kai Sakura action figure that brought all that back. Play Arts Kai is Square Enix’s very own black label collector’s line for which eight different Street Fighter action figures came out. These are split into four volumes, each containing two characters. The first set came out in November 2011 and had Ryu and Chun-Li, the second was released in March 2012 and contained Gōki (aka Akuma in the West) and Cammy, the third came out in April 2013 with Ibuki and Guile, and the fourth and final volume was released in August 2013. It featured the two characters I play the most often, Ken and Sakura. Aside from the regular color schemes, some characters, like Gōki, Cammy, Ryu, and Chun-Li, also came in variants. (Once I learned about this series, I originally intended to get at least one of each character, but life got in the way. Oh, well.)
Sakura is made out of PVC, seems a little over 21 cm tall (≈ 8.3 inches), comes with two facial expressions, two sets of hands, a hadōken with a stand, and a Play Arts Kai stand. The action figure has full body articulation: The neck has two ball pegs hidden inside and can be swiveled almost like a human head. The shoulders use butterfly joints which let people move the arms back and forth a bit, and the torso is also jointed for more poseability. The limb joints all use ratchets to stay in place. They allow Sakura to stand by herself, but if you loosen the joints up too much, she’ll just fall over, so be careful not to do that. At the back of the packaging, you can see the figure doing her kick, but I would not recommend you do that as that may accidentally disjoint the leg at the hip. Also worth noting is that while the elbows have very strong joints, secured from two sides, the wrists consist out of two pieces only and seem less durable. Be careful not to accidentally break them off when swapping hands.
Sakura’s paint job is shockingly good. The white bluish fade of her blouse and the dim paint job on her arms and legs really emphasize the details. Sadly, the blue undertone of the sailor outfit just barely shines through the yellow scarf, which could have used another coating. I also really like the hadōken that comes with the figure. It is surprisingly heavier than I thought and made out of transparent plastic that fades from silver over light- to dark blue. It makes a powerful impression, especially in the right lighting conditions.
What I like most is the little details as even the soles of her shoes have treads. Nevertheless, if I had to nitpick, then the one and only thing I am less on board with is the skirt’s length. Though not really an issue, it seems shorter than in the game where it covers more of her thigh. I guess that it’s that short to allow for more movement as it is also made out of two soft pieces, one for the front and one for the back. Finally, the two faces that come with the figure both have a stern expression, with one of them having the mouth open to scream. The shouting look seems a bit odd when the figure just stands there, but when put into a hadōken stance automatically make sense. The faces can be swapped by removing the front portion of the hair and then exchanging them. Neither the hairpiece nor faces snap into place, so they might fall off, if you swap them out too often.
I really like this high quality action figure. It’s a great interpretation of Sakura with an awesome paint job. I can honestly recommend it. The wide range of motion is stupendous and it can even stand by itself. On a side note, I haven’t unpacked the Play Arts Kai stand that came with the figure and will probably never do so. It is glued to the inside of the box and taking it out would probably ruin the nice, pink design. It’s a shame because I would like to have put Sakura in her shōōken stance, but as the figure can stand for itself, a battle ready- or hadōken stance is also pretty awesome.
This action figure is a 10 Dan Hibiki training sessions out of 10
All photos of the figure and box were taken by me with my digital camera.