Review > E. Honda and Dhalsim (SOTA)

While some people were initially skeptical that a license like Street Fighter could carry an action figure line fifteen years after the height of its popularity, many collectors jumped on board SOTA’s SF line in 2004 when they saw the incredibly high quality of design and execution of the figures. SOTA made it through four waves before SOTA went through a significant restructuring, ending the line before a few characters from the most recognizable game, Street Fighter II: The World Warriors, had been produced.

SOTA decided to reboot the franchise as Street Fighter Revolution and released a “preview” wave featuring two brand-new sculpts of Ryu and Ken. The Revolution figures were very similar to the original SOTA figures, but with slightly different sculpting styles–the character looked a bit more stylized, as they did in the comics and game art. And finally, at long last, Revolution Wave 1 is out, which features World Warriors heavy-hitters Zangief, E. Honda and Dhalsim, as well as R. Mika from Street Fighter Alpha 3.

SFII is pretty much the only fighting game I was ever been able to get into (aside from Super Smash Bros), and E. Honda was my favorite fighter–or at least, he was the one I was the best with, which translated into him being my favorite, of course. From the moment I started collecting SOTA’s Street Fighter figures, I’ve been waiting for Honda, as well as Dhalsim, another favorite of mine (and also my father’s, when he deigned to let me thwump him in SFII as a kid).

It looks like this may be SOTA’s last hurrah with the SF franchise–NECA has secured the action figure rights to next year’s Street Fighter IV, and I would think SOTA has either lost the license or, more likely, wouldn’t want to try and press on with a competing line out there. To my knowledge, there’s been no official word on whether or not SOTA’s SF days are done, but the very lack of news probably isn’t a good sign.

Nonetheless, SOTA has gone out on a pretty high note.

I bought E. Honda and Dhalsim, having pre-ordered them at CornerStoreComics way back in July 2007. Zangief is tempting too, and I may get him if I see him in a store.

[raven 3]

The Revolution figures come in large window boxes. I like the coloring and the graphics, which look better than the first wave of two of SOTA’s original SF line, but I do feel like all the packaging may be unnecessary and a bit wasteful. Still, given the QC problems (see below), a large, secure package might have been better than a card or blister. The entire presentation seems very Japanese in look.

[raven 5]
SOTA’s first four Street Fighter waves were very well sculpted, but these Revolution figures are something else altogether. The sculpts have the detail we’ve come to expect from NECA or even McFarlane sculpts, especially in the muscle tones and facial likenesses. Check out the wrinkles around Dhalsim’s mouth or the lines on Honda’s hand.

Both sculpts are reminiscent more of the characters as they’re depicted in the modern comics, with a certain–for lack of a better term–anime style to them that’s not present in the slightly more realistic sculpts from the earlier SOTA waves.

Honda’s sculpt is relatively simple, since he’s mostly just a naked guy with a towel (mawashi) and a thong (yes, there’s a red thong under there). But as I mentioned, there’s some very nice work on the face. But even his feet and toes look good–these are possibly the most realistic-looking feet I’ve seen on an action figure.

Dhalsim has more detail, such as his bandages and shorts tied with a rope. The production figure has retained the rough texture of the sculpt, and while perhaps that’s not entirely realistic to an actual human’s muscles, it looks and feels great on an action figure.

[raven 5]
I don’t think any part of these figures isn’t painted, so we can skip the “plastic” part and jump right to the paint applications.

Simply put, they’re excellent. I wasn’t happy with the paint applications on the last major SOTA product I bought, Cthulhu. Those paint apps were a little sloppy and glossy. But Honda and Dhalsim don’t have that problem at all. There’s virtually no slop, and while Honda’s mawashi is a bit glossy, it’s because it’s made from a rubbery material in order to allow for ease of posing, so I’m willing to forgive that. The paint work on the face, especially around the eyes, is outstanding. Both of these characters have red paint on their faces, and SOTA managed to nail it on the production figures. (Wikipedia informs me the red paint on Honda’s face is in the kumadori style used in kabuki theater–you know, in case you were wondering, kabuki fans.)

[raven 5]
Like the earlier SF waves, you’ve got plenty of articulation here. I’m not going to list it all; suffice to say we’re talking Marvel Legends-style articulation, including double-hinge joints at the knees and elbows, ball jointed neck, hips and shoulders, and a few unique joints.

Earlier SOTA SF figures featured foot articulation that was a combination of hinged ankles and toes and an odd cut joint across the top of the foot, which allowed for wide stances. Unfortunately, when you tilted the foot on the cut joint, the heel would sometimes project below the flat of the foot, meaning the figure couldn’t rest on it. Honda and Dhalsim have a different set-up. The hinged ankles are still there, but the articulated toes are gone (just as well, if you ask me–hinged toes, while cool, never really work without a display stand) and the cut joint has been replaced with an interesting swivel joint attached to the ankle hinge. By inserting the swivel joint at a forward angle into the foot, it allows it to spin for wide stances in a way that works much better than the side-to-side joint you find on, say, DC Universe Classics figures.

Honda has a double-ball-jointed torso. Be warned, chances are he’ll pop right off the top ball (he’ll go right back on, though), and the bottom ball will likely be stuck solid in its socket. I loosened mine by heating the torso with a hair dryer and then inserting a thin wedge from my leatherman around the edges of the ball.

Dhalsim has some interesting articulation around the shoulders: along with the usual ball-and-hinge, the ball-and-hinge joint is in turn inserted into a ball-and-socket joint that’s attached to the chest, allowing him a full range of shoulder motion (this figure can both slump and shrug). The socket joints on my figure were stuck solid, but I loosened them using the heating/wedge trick again. However, since they’re just balls in sockets, you could just heat the chest with a hair dryer and then pop the ball out of the socket–it’ll go right back in.

[raven 5]
SOTA never skimped on the accessories with Street Fighter, and that’s holds true here. Both figures come with four interchangeable hands (two fists and two open hands, the latter of which being very important for Honda’s signature Hundred Hand Slap), and Honda has an extra “yelling” head. (I’m not sure why Dhalsim doesn’t get one; I suppose an ascetic may not have a lot of use for yelling, but I wouldn’t have minded a goofy “victory dance” head.)

Dhalsim also gets two alternate “stretched” arms, two bracelets, and a twine necklace with three skulls. I’m not sure I can express just how awesome the stretched arms are, so I won’t even try. Just check out the pics. Again, though, I had to heat Dhalsim’s shoulders with a hair dryer before I felt safe enough to pop out the arms.

[raven 2]
This is where these take a hit. None of my figures broke right out of the package, but I’ve already outlined all the work I had to do to loosen the joints up, and if you’re not careful, chances are you could break something. The connector between Honda’s two torso ball joints has been particularly problematic for some collectors. While my Honda’s torso joint didn’t break, the upper torso sits loosely on the top ball joint and can pop off easily. Honda’s “yelling” head is also fairly loose.

I accidentally dropped Honda a mere three feet and his foot snapped off at the peg. Fortunately I was able to repair it using the ol’ screw trick. In general, the plastic used for these figures appears to be more brittle than earlier waves, although they also seem to hold detail better. Still, you’re going to have to be very careful when handling these figures.

[raven 4]
The figures’ design is credited to a whole team, so I’m not sure whether I can single out any particulary person for the sculpting; instead, let me congratulate Alex Bustamonte, Kat Saprene, Scott Akers, Rene Aldrete and Arlyne Ramierz collectively for their excellent work here.

Aside from the QC issues, I’m very pleased with these figures–more pleased than I expected to be. SOTA may be done with Street Fighter, but it’s going out in style.


The Great MOTUC Debate, Part II


The Poe Method of Loosening Stuck Figure Joints


  1. plain_sliced

    sigh. if the collector who knows how fragile these suckers are, break; imagine the 10 year old who’s mom buys him this jewel? how ticked off is the parent going to be? toys aren’t made the way they used be.

    i’ll still pick these up. thanks for the review, Poe.

  2. Poe

    @P_S: Why worry about it? Kids won't be getting these. They'll be downloading the new Street Fighter HD or begging their parents for Street Fighter IV in February.

    Kids who actually play with action figures are a dying breed, my friend.

  3. Look cool, hate to hear they’re so fragile.

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