If there was any doubt about the future of SOTA's Street Fighter line, Series 4 seems to have put that to rest. The set is selling out fast everywhere, and it's really not hard to see why: when S4 started showing up, there was a discussion about the figures on our message board, and everyone agreed that out of the five-figure line, there were only two "must haves." If that's the case, why is the line selling so briskly?
Because nobody agreed on which two those were.
You don't need to have every figure in a series
appeal to everyone, as long as every figure in the series appeals to someone. SOTA knows that, and is marketing their SF line accordingly. There are really only three of the major characters that we haven't gotten yet, and one of those is in Series 5. That spacing keeps the line alive long enough that we get the obscure and less-popular characters that any other company would have overlooked. Characters like Ibuki.
Ibuki is a typical Japanese schoolgirl, with a twist. She is also a member of the secret Shinobi School of Ninjitsu. While she would rather just be a normal girl, she is also painfully aware of her great heritage and strives to be a great ninja warrior to please her teachers. As a final test of her abilities, Ibuki has entered the Street Fighter tournament. By facing the fiercest warriors in the world, she will complete her training as a ninja, and be able to pursue her dream of a normal life with her friends.
You know, most Japanese kids just go to cram school in the afternoon - Ibuki goes to ninja class. Beats the hell out of soccer, that's for damn sure.
Ibuki's ninja uniform is definitely weird - the shirt is normal enough, save for the torn-off sleeves, but she's done something strange to her pants. The front and back are tucked into her belt normally, but the sides hang halfway down to her knees. The hell? She's barefoot, but has wraps from the arch of her foot to the middle of her shins. The uniform (on the standard figure, at least - as usual, there are about a dozen color variants) is khaki, with darker accents.
The paint is mostly handled well, but there are a few spots where the muted brown of the clothes falls onto the pink skin. It's not a sloppy edge or anything, it just looks like over-spray. It's most obvious on her thighs and the patch of skin between her pants and her leg wraps, but even at its worst it's not something that should keep you away from this figure.
Articulation is good on all the Street Fighter figures, and Ibuki's no exception.
Ninja-girl's rocking 32 joints: toes, mid-foot, ankle, shin, double knees, balljointed hips, waist, chest, hands, wrists, double elbows, biceps, balljointed shoulders and a double-balljointed neck. The sculpt actually hides a few of the joints, like the ones in her feet, which line up exactly with the ragged edges of her bandages. You can't actually get her head back very much, so she's constantly looking down, unless you're willing to throw her shoulders way back. Her crazy hair is soft rubber, so it won't snap off or put someone's eye out. The sculpt of her pants is broken by her balljointed hips, which is kind of disappointing, though I can't imagine how good the movement could have been if they'd been sculpted on there.
Ibuki has three pairs of hands -
a set of fists, a set designed to hold things and a set in a martial arts pose. The only thing she's got to hold is a dagger, perfect for flinging at enemies. Unlike a lot of the SF figs, she doesn't have a second head, though you'll still be removing it from time to time. The mask that covers her lower face is a separate piece, and a second version of it allows you to have the mask pulled down to reveal her mouth and nose. Of course, that also reveals a pretty major mold artifact right on her jaw. Oops. Better pull that thing back up, Ibuki.
Her final accessory is her pet tanuki, Don. The tanuki is a real animal, a racoon dog
(Nyctereutes procyonoides), but also features prominently in Japanese folklore, where they're tricksters and shapeshifters. Remember in Super Mario Brothers 3, when you'd turn into the teddy bear that could fly and turn into a statue? That was the Tanooki Suit, a reference that made a lot more sense in Japan than it did in the US. Neither Mario nor Don have the folkloric tanuki's most prominent attribute, though - the massive beanbag. You know, the coinpurse. Manberries? The hanging brain! Tanukis have huge ones, just as sure as reindeer can fly. They swing back and forth, even when no wind is blowing. Don is just over 2" tall and painted beautifully, with at least three different shades of brown. No articulation, but his fur is sculpted well.
There's a lot of fan speculation that Ibuki may be the daughter of Geki, the NPC ninja from the original, forgettable Street Fighter. Why do the fans speculate this? Because they're both ninjas, duh. By that flawless logic, Roger Ebert's my daddy. To their credit, Capcom hasn't endorsed this nutjob theory. Now, to be fair, they haven't done anything to discredit the idea, either, and Geki does sometimes make an appearance in Ibuki's stage when she's victorious. Whatever her origins, this little ninja is a decent toy. Though there are a few problems with her, none of them should be enough to scare you away.
What is with those pants? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.