It may seem like hubris to claim that we here at OAFE are responsible for anything at all to do with the creation of toys, but it's fun to pretend. Our April Fools Day prank in 2005 was a fake press release about SOTA's plans for a Street Fighter exclusive - Sheng Long. Sheng Long started life as a prank himself, so it only seemed fair. And just as that joke became reality in the form of Akuma, our joke has become reality in the form of Gouken.
Older brother of the evil Akuma, Gouken studied under the same Shotokan master, but did not embrace the killing arts. When Akuma killed Goutsetsu, Gouken fled into the mountains to live in anonymity. Over the years, his legend grew, and many students sought him. He eventually agreed to train a small group, including Ken and Ryu. The day he was to teach them the advanced techniques, Akuma appeared and defeated him, throwing him to his death over a waterfall. Gouken's body was never found, however, and some believe he is still alive, healing his body and developing a new technique that will destroy his raging, insane younger brother.
Ryu's win quote in arcade versions of Street Fighter II was "you must defeat Sheng Long to stand a chance."
Sheng Long, in this case, being the untranslated name of Ryu's "dragon punch," not a person's name. However, the fans didn't know that, and started to ask about the mysterious Sheng Long. Electronic Gaming Monthly used that confusion for their April Fools' issue in 1992, printing instructions on how to find this "hidden" character. Everyone got suckered in - fans went to the arcades, publishers reprinted the "code," and Capcom USA called their Japanese counterparts to find out if the story was true. The hoax eventually inspired the creation of Akuma, who was "unlocked" in almost the same way as Sheng Long, and had a similar appearance and moves.
The Gouken figure is based, primarily, on the same body as Akuma - basically, they share everything between the knees and the elbows. It's a nice muscular sculpt, with a torn, sleeveless gi. He's wearing prayer beads and a rope belt, and his sandals look like they're made from coiled rope. His hands are bare, but his forearms and shins are wrapped in cloth. It's a lot like Sagat's bandages, but these are new sculpts. His pants are tucked into the wrappings, so they puff out a bit below the knees.
Gouken was available at SDCC '06 in two versions: SOTA offered a "Battle Cry" version (angry, open mouth) at their booth, while toyrocket.com offered a standard version at theirs. That's right, although Gouken has two heads, they're not interchangeable, like most Street Fighter figures'. Given the choice, I opted for the plain face, because the angry version just didn't seem as cool, but that's just a matter of personal preference.
The highlight of the paint apps are the grey shadows painted on his big, bushy beard. They're a bit heavy, but that just captures the rough style of the artwork in the manga that first introduced him. The wrappings are detailed nicely, and his gi is a dark grey that almost matches his moustache and eyebrows.
His prayer beads and sandals are darker than Akuma's. Gouken's only accessory is a flame effect, fading from white to yellow to red, that fits onto his right hand. The figure is 6½" tall, and moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, wrists, hands, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees, shins, ankles, mid-feet and toes - 29 points.
Gouken was introduced in a comic, which is generally a non-canonical source for Street Fighter lore. However, he was brought under the official Capcom umbrella as part of Akuma's backstory for Super Street Fighter II Turbo, and appeared on-screen in Street Fighter Alpha. With that, Sheng Long was forever consigned to trivia status, which is where we picked him up.
For our April Fools' Day gag, we said SOTA would be making a figure of Ken and Ryu's teacher as an SDCC exclusive. Everybody had a good laugh, a couple people were fooled for a few hours, and it was promptly forgotten. You know how it goes. But then, the next year, imagine our surprise when it was announced that SOTA would be making a figure of Ken and Ryu's teacher as an SDCC exclusive. Hmm. Sounds awfully familiar. I guess SOTA just recognizes a good idea when they hear it. We were glad to help.
Evil Ryu & Psycho Bison | Cannon Spike Cammy | Gouken | Dan Hibiki
Does anyone really think our joke was really responsible for this figure? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.