FIGMA MADOKA KANAME REVIEW
Put yourself in the shoes of someone else eight years ago.
A friend introduces you to a whole new world of cartoons and animation, the likes of which you've only ever seen in small glimpses and English-dubbed years before you even learnt how to pronounce the word "anime" correctly, and you're well on your way to becoming a full-blown weeb. The kind who speaks broken Japanese with a not-so-brand-spanking-pair of expanders upon her teeth. A lot of us went through that phase - that was me, watching high school approach upon the horizon with a pit of dread in her stomach, having recently discovered the existence of figmas through an old Moonshine Animations stopmotion on Youtube featuring the very figurine you're about to read about today.
Admittedly, my weeb phase didn't last that long, only until a year after all this - it was gunned down in private the moment I found out what the term "weeaboo" meant and realized I didn't want to be obsessed with Japan anymore. This was still the early-mid-2010's, so cringe culture was alive and kicking! And the word "weeb" was still considered a proper insult, haha. Nowadays I look back at those years with fondness (alongside my old MMD videos, the likes of which are lost on my since-dead external drive... rip madoka and miku dancing to a cover of GLIDE, you were the stuff of my dreams), and wince just a little at how silly it all seems to be now. Anime and manga bought me a lot of happiness back then, and back then wasn't the easiest time for me to say the least. However, it was miles easier at that age to distract yourself from your responsibilites with stuff I shouldn't have been watching at that age - blame our local kids-orientated TV station for introducing my friend to the infamous and gorgeously-animated Puella Magi Madoka Magica, airing past 9PM and past my curfue! Had to watch the full series online with our then-crappy internet, constantly resetting the video and getting Connect by ClariS imbedded into my brain forever.
A lot more things happened afterwards - but most importantly, back to the year my weeb phase began to settle, after falling in love with one of the most iconic Japanese-origin franchises of the 2010's I snatched up that figma I saw in that gorgeous stopmotion long ago with an ebay account that wasn't mine. One day, when that same friend who pointed me to the show in the first place came over to hang out, Madoka Kaname arrived on my doorstep fresh as a daisy - and certainly more pristine than these photos I'm about to show you. Madoka wasn't my first figma (that honour goes to her co-star, Nagisa Momoe of the PMMM film Rebellion), but out of the two I have (that also includes her) she's my most treasured. Happy first review, everybody!
Explain figmas/goodsmile/max factory here!
In-canon Madoka Kaname is a 14-year old highschooler attending Mitakihara Middle School in the fictional Japanese prefecture of, well, Mitakihara. She's also secretly a magical girl - someone contracted by a member of a far-off alien race (the member we get to know is a cute, cat-like creature known as Kyubey) to fight evil elderitch creatures known as witches. In return, that someone can have one single wish granted. Throughout the series the topic of Madoka's wish is heavily debated. All those who have watched the series and are reading this spoiler-free explaination are shrivelling up just like me in the writer's chair - let's just say it goes way, way, way deeper than any of what I've just said.
Madoka comes in the box that was standard for figmas pre-#200 (Miku 2.0), with a nice plastic window imbedded into the front showing off her blister packet, the figure herself, and some of her accessories. I'm of the opinion that figma boxes post-#200 are inferior to the original design - just so much less personality! And a lot more English, which is sort of nice, actually. I'd have included a photo of my Nagisa figma (#219) box for reference, but I can't go back and take one at the time of writing this, unfortunately!
Apologies for the lighting in these photos - I'm lacking in a proper studio set-up at the moment! Spinning Madoka's box around anti-clockwise, on the side we are greeted to a lovely promotional photo of Madoka holding her bow in its staff form. I haven't watched the show or its films in a long, long time, but according to a quick skim of the wiki she can actually use it as a javelin in this mode, which is sick as hell.
On the back of her box, we're greeted to more promo pics of the figma in action, with faceplates, hands, and contract-making aliens galore. How exciting! There's also lots of safety warnings and copyright info accompanying the space below the photographs, but I'm unfortunately as illerate as it gets when it comes to the Japanese language. No translations today, folks.
Here's one last photo of the box - this is the other side, with the box flat on the ground, figma logo proudly on display alongside a very beautiful pink, pastel-like background. I've been in love with the presentation for years, and we haven't even got to the figurine yet!
And here we are! Opening up Madoka's box and sliding the blister packaging out, you'll find yourself greeted with everything in the display window and more. Madoka - all 4.7 inches of her itty-bitty self - proudly stands to our right, with accessories such as her faceplates, arrows, bow forms, legally-acquired grief seeds etc. all neatly laid out to her right in a mixed horizontal/vertical fashion. I adore how Goodsmile presents the figurines they distribute - from Nendoroids to figmas and more, save for arguably their Pop-Up Parade still figures (what a waste of plastic is all I'm saying!) they've never skipped on their box layouts. They didn't set the precendent, certainly not, but they've never fixed what isn't broken and I appreciate that a lot. Storage can be a bitch for figurine collecting, but good box layouts make it all the more easier.
Right near the bottom of the blister is a space containing Madoka's extra hands and her foldable stand. Figmas usually come with a tiny plastic bag where to shove these extra accessories into them and forget about until it's display/readjustment time, but I was stupid back then and ended up throwing the bag out. The little things are the priciest to pay for!
Don't worry, I haven't lost any of Madoka's parts - the peg holder shown here that you can shove her extra hands into into has a hard time clinging onto them. In this pic specifically some of Madoka's extra hands are buried underneath the holder.
This review's been taking too long for a certain figure, however. One second I've turned away to readjust the makeshift camera stand, and the next I return to see Madoka breaking out of her blister packeting without shame:
Hey! Isn't this out of character for you? (then I remember when she threw Sayaka's soul gem off a bridge and my body shrivels up and dies from the dread and terror I feel. lack of lesbian impulse control.)
With excitement an inanimate object really shouldn't be possessing, Madoka hopped up onto her stand and stared into the camera lense with all the intensity of someone who's seen a lot of shit.
Madoka is only 12cm/4.7 inches high, and while I couldn't find my ruler in time to take a reference photo I can say she's just taller than a glasshouse candle. Just a little smaller than two apples stacked atop each other - but don't underestimate Max Factory's sculpting power! Madoka is very very very good at posing - but more on that later. Madoka comes dressed in her iconic magical girl outfit, with layers of carefully-sculpted plastic frills and gorgeous red ribbons granting us with a beautiful interpretation of a Madoka who's jumped right out of the screen and has, for some reason, become an action figure instead of the comic relief in a CGI/live-action kid's film. Her soul gem - the very symbol that represents a magical girl, to um. say the least - proudly shines upon her collar, with shiny pink paint to boot for the actual gem part! Her ballerina-inspired outfit is lovely to look at in pictures, and really really lovely to look at in person! It means I'd probably die if I ever got to see those Madoka figures with the fabric clothes in real life. A collector can dream...
My poor Madoka has been out and about of her box for a good time now, and her usage does show. Especially near the lower part of her waist - the bottom of one of the yellow strips of paint on her bodice is wearing away due to the joint there rubbing up against her skirt when moving her around, and the other strip is starting to follow:
It's not too noticeable from a distance, but it does make me a little sad. Just looking at these photos compared to the promotional images makes me want to head back to where I've got Madoka at the moment and give her a well-deserved clean!
Here's Madoka in profile.
Do you notice anything about this photo? Madoka's standing up on her own! It might be difficult to believe, but Madoka is quite sturdy in terms of how her weight is balanced. The heels on her adorable little ballerina kicks definitely help things. I've heard pretty good things in general about figmas being able to balance well without their stands.
Due to Madoka's proportioning, in profile she can look sort of funny. Her neck sticks out at that angle permanently - not many articulated necks in the world of action figures! -, and depending on how you adjust her upper and lower waist joints, Madoka can end up looking a little hunched. I don't take too many photos of my figures directly on the side, so I don't have to deal with this issue all that much, but it could possibly be troublesome for certain angles.
While adjusting said waist joints can be tricky - sometimes the skirt and bodice become misaligned and you cry a little to yourself -, you can make Madoka do this (and hold her arms up like a zombie, or a cat being wrangled away from the leftovers on the bench) if you manage to get it right:
Waaaah! I didn't realize until post that I'd screwed up the focus - and I only took one photo of this pose. Sorry, Madoka.
She is not happy about this. While she's distracted, however, let's break down her stand!
Most figma stands are identical in make (though I think Madoka's is smaller to compensate for her height), consisting of a sort-of hexagonal-shaped base, alongside a long three-hinged arm-piece that can be disconnected and reconnected to the baseplate at will. The top and bottom hinges are the most important to readjust, being the main pegs that angle both the base and the figurine connected to the stand. It may take a few tries to get your figurine into a natural standing pose (Madoka's waist and legs love to fight my attempts at making her stand naturally), but once you do the figma stand is one effective piece of tech.
And with that explanation over...
...Here's Madoka from the back!
Take note of the frills on her socks and the peg hole in her back. For those who aren't in the know, figma stands work by way of a round peg that you stick into the back of your respective figma, whether it's a hole in the figurine's back, hair, etc. Because Madoka has short hair tied up in pigtails, it's the former - and I find it really cute how they managed to work the peg hole into her design.
Goodsmile Madoka Kaname figma v. Madoka Kaname's official concept art (art by Ume Aoki). How adorable...! If they went a step further and made the peg on the end of the stand heart-shaped/the peg in Madoka's back match the heart-shaped hole in her dress it would've been immensely pointless but soooo cute. It also would've limited our options for spare stands and extra compatibility greatly - sometimes it's good to throw things at the wall to see what sticks, but sometimes it's just as good to stick to what you know. Life lessons with a figurine made over a decade ago.
So now that we've gone through some full-body shots... what the heck does Madoka actually have to offer for us?
From what I could count, Madoka has around 15 points of articulation - from all her limbs, to her elbows and knees, to her waist and even to her pigtails and more, Madoka is a lovely first showcase for someone who may be interested in getting into the figma line. Here's a picture of her left arm, for reference:
In general, Madoka has a nice set of ball joints - joints that can swivel around freely, in this case Madoka's shoulders -, and while her sculpt does prioritize the conceptually-inferior hinge joints (for example - her elbows, shown above, and her knees) that barely stack up to my private tamagotchi collection those said joints are also freely rotational. Which means Madoka can bend her elbow inwards, and also rotate it so, for example, her bone can turn out completely inversed. Her hands are peg joints that connect to her wrists - peg joints that are additionally hinged, meaning she can bend her hand back and worth and rotate it in whatever direction she'd like. It's disgustingly terrific.
Similar to her arms, Madoka's legs have the same general joint pattern. Her upper thighs are ball joints connected to her lower waist joint, her knees are rotational hinge joints, and her ankles, while not pegs, are also hinged and rotational. The ribbons above her ankle joints, additionally, can be rotated. It's my least favourite part about this figure because they end up turning around and facing backwards all the time when I'm not looking, and then I have to readjust them, and then the cycle of abuse continues. Tie up your shoes properly, Madoka!
On a lighter note, because Madoka is so versitile when it comes to posing, she can do this:
And this! Wait, no, that's just a close-up:
Put on your dancing shoes, you adorable weirdo.
Something to note is that Madoka's skirt is not flexible in the slightest. This does and will inhibit her leg articulation a bit - and that does mean Madoka can't really sit down in a chair or even on the ground properly. She can kneel thanks to the fabulous hinge joints in her knees, but even then she can't bend too far down due to her general sculpt. Something to keep in mind if you want to pose her with your other figures at a picnic or something (which would be really freakin' cute and I'd love to see that!). Her other figma (School Uniform ver, which was a special figurine that came with the PSP tie-in game) does have a better time with this thanks to the shorter school skirt, in comparison to this Madoka's great big gay fluff (skirt).
You may have noticed (or not, it's okay if you didn't!) that in these demos I haven't swapped out Madoka's hands or her faceplates at all. I reckon it's time for the fun stuff!
Madoka comes with not just two, not just three, but four extra sets of hands! Plus a secret extra hand that actually can't fit on the peg holder, lying near her right foot in the photo below:
In order, these hands are:
- x1 pair of splayed hands, which are Madoka's default pair and have been the hands I've been using in this review so far.
- x1 pair of open, flat palms. Perfect for making Madoka point in a direction, or lying them on her chest respectfully. Her splayed pair will also do the job for the latter!
- x1 pair of slightly-closed fists. More of a stylistic choice, these hands can't hold much, but they can look very cute if you pose Madoka holding her skirt, brushing out her pigtails, or balancing something in the crook of her elbow with them. Basically, get creative with these ones.
- x1 pair of fists. You can beat up all the naysayers of hope in the world with these babies.
- And finally, x1 pair of slightly-curled hands, which are this figurine's holding hands as I like to call them. Holding hands are the dedicated pair of accessory holders for any figurine! And these ones are fantastic.
Below is a close-up of Madoka's extra special hand (don't get used to it). She'll use this right hand specifically for holding a certain accessory that even her holding hands cannot do:
Now it's time to show them off! Even though Madoka's holding hands are best used with her accessories, you can just as easily use them to add a bit of extra flare to a pose. Like this:
Madoka was willing to show off a simpler use for her fists, however:
En guarde, witches! If you wanna terrorize the good people of this world you're gonna get these hands!!
Uh oh... it's all too much...
Madoka comes with two alternative faceplates for some extra expressive action. Besides her default smiling face, she also comes with an angry frown and a terrified, wide-eyed gaze:
There's something very unnerving about that image.
Like most figmas with swappable faceplates, Madoka's hair is split into two pieces: the fringe and the rest. The fringe can be taken off in order to attain access to Madoka's face:
...and the face can be taken off as well and exchanged with another. Who needs a face, anyway?
After that brief terror, all you need to do is line the faceplate up with the plastic, put her fringe back on...
And viola! Attack mode activated. I wasn't sure what to do with her hands in this shot (should've saved the fists for this one...).
You can have a lot of fun with Madoka's faceplates. It's one of the reasons I was so interested in her and figmas in the first place - as an artist and ameteur stopmotion enthusiast I prioritize expressiveness in characters over anything else. Back then a figurine being able to change expressions like this was heaven to me! Nowadays it's more commonplace to see the older, more archaic practice of fully-swappable heads even for western-made figurines at your local store. A big part of me wishes the faceplate idea caught on beyond Goodsmile Company's stuff - it's so much less fiddly!!!
Anyway, Madoka's got something special to show us all. This is her instinctual weapon of choice as a magical girl:
Her bow! Isn't that something? As noted upon before,