Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Hisako (Killer Instinct)

I really played a lot of Killer Instinct in 1995-1999. And yet, sadly, there were no toys. Sadness! Shame! Anyway, Ultimate Source, a new-ish company, has begun creating figures based on the new XBox game. For months, you could see their advertisements and pre-orders on their own site, but stuff like this gets promised often, so I wasn’t excited. And then the figures actually came out, I ate some crow, and relived the glory day of the mid-nineties. Hisako is a new character, and thus I have no nostalgic attachment to the character. However, I love yokai and yurei, and she is pretty clearly an Onryo – also, her playstyle is one that I adapted to very easily.

***
This was once my home. It was my world. Then the soldiers came. They plundered and murdered… my family… all cut down… and now more have come, stolen from us, robbed our graves… I will hunt them. I will find them. I will take back what was stolen… and they will pay with their lives!
***

Well, that says all that needs to be said. Hisako is a vengeful Onryo spirit… although circumstances make her one of the heroes of the story. She’s even got an alternate form as a separate character, a non-ragey Shin Hisako. But anyway, let’s take a look at the girl, herself!

PACKAGING: **

The packaging in this line is a gigantic cardboard box. It’s a lot bigger than the figure, and you can’t see inside. At all. It keeps the toy safe, but no window on the actual figure makes it a gigantic gamble.

SCULPT: ****
The first thing you might notice is that this figure is a lot smaller than the packaging made it seem. Killer Instinct toys are in 6″ scale, and not the exagerrated almost-7″ of Marvel Legends, or such. Hisako is already a small person, so her figure is on the tiny side. She could stand eye-to-eye with a classic He-man or Ninja Turtles toy, though she is hunched over a little bit.

That said, Hisako looks fantastic. In many ways, she’s the opposite of Sabrewulf – small, thin, and very Japanese, but the figure’s sculpting captures everything about her, whether it’s her stringy hair, the folds of her kimono, or that odd metal claw-ring on one finger. Notably, her pose works great with both heads, though the mood completely changes when you swap them.

She does have one flaw, which is the visible jaw seam on her screaming head. It’s not as bad in-person as in photos, though, and is thus entirely forgiveable. She has some visible articulation on her arms as well, but the same applies – it’s not so noticeable in-person.

PAINT: ****

Hisako has a very specific and distinct paint scheme, mostly made up of varying shades of white, gray, and red, and the figure matches it exactly. They could have cheated with her skin tones by just going for flat white, but instead there’s some surprisingly complex work specifically on her face. Hisako matches her CGI model in really good ways, thus maing this toy look good enough to make up for those few visible seams and hinges.

She’s got the right amount of dirt/ash on her feet, colored ust as black as in the game. Her kimono has the correct patterns, too. All the various paint appls are clean and slop-free, just as with Sabrewulf – this figure is painted very, very well. Oh yeah, since people will want to know, her body has the same pale flesh tones under that kimono. Don’t get perverted.

ARTICULATION: *1/2

Okay, yeah, she’s pretty much good for one pose. Hisako does have articulation in her arms and neck, but it’s meaningless. She can point, or awkwardly hang her arm weirdly. She can hold a weapon, or clutch her other arm to her chest as if she is holding somehting. And her heads don’t really urn so much as wobble a little thanks to the positioning of her hair.

To be honest, this is a lot like a McFarlane figure from 2002-2009. Great sculpting, limited articulation with one good pose… even the accessories really match the aesthetic. The terrible articulation might let you down, unless you know what you’re getting into. Sure, she looks great on a shelf, but Hisako has one pose, and she’s sticking to it. You can’t even adjust the legs to help her stand stably – she plugs into her base, or falls over.

ACCESSORIES: ****

These figures are blessed with accessories, typically two or three items and a base. The base is another page taken from the old McFarlane playbook, and something I have sorely missed in recent years (it’s where most of my photography backdrops come from). Hisako comes with some of her arena – ancient cobblestones decorated by candles, part of the shrine her village erected to her. It’s a little nondescript compared to Sabrewulf’s, and the candles are not obviously lit, but it came directly from her stage, she plugs into it nicely, and it does look quite good.

Of course, Hisako also has an alternate head – her screaming face comes from her win pose, and even with the visible jaw seam, it’s utterly fantastic.

Hisako’s got a spear! It’s her main weapon, the one she used to fight off those bandits in her dying day. It’s very well-made, sculpted exactly… but made of really flexible, drooping plastic, and looked wilted right out of the package! It should be easy to reshape it if you want, but it will likely begin to wilt again jut from standing up.

Hisako also comes with an alternate spear (some of her costume items are alt spears), this one decorated with flowers. It’s honestly not as good as anything in the rest of the figure, and those flowers look more like tumors.

VALUE: **

These toys are not worth $30. A solid $20, maybe, but the figures really are overpriced.

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Hisako’s fingers feel a little fragile, and her spears tend to warp easily. Other than that, she is fairly durable.

You can find these figures at Toys R Us.

OVERALL: ***

For twenty years, I wanted Killer Instinct toys. It didn’t help that a Dragon Flyz figure was named “Riptor,” and I misread a catalgue listing. But we finally have them… really late. But hey, no better time than the present, right?

And to be honest, this figure is about ten years too late. It would have been a fantastic mid-00s McFarlane toy, especially with its comparative durability. Everything about these toys – the sculpting, limited articulation, and even scale – hearkens back to that specific era. So, if you don’t mind their pre-posed nature, the Killer Instinct figures are great. But you need to know what you’re getting into for your $30. There are plenty of pluses, and Hisako is a really impressive Onryo, at least. Personally, I can’t wait for Glacius, Riptor, and Eyedol to round out my happy nostalgic memories.

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