I've quietly admired this toy from afar since I first saw it. The creation of artist Boon Velvet stands tall amid other sofubi releases not only in a literal sense (at almost nine and a half inches), but in that its inspiration is drawn from well beyond the confines of Tokyo monster films. So when I was asked if I was interested in reviewing one I was all about it. The figure was provided courtesy of Lulubell Toys, and after spending a few days with it here are my thoughts.
To sum up this staggering figure into a neat soundbite, I would present it as a southern gothic tale brought to life in Japanese vinyl. The story itself is so good I wish each figure came with a page or two retelling it (or even just a link to the story online), as to learn her origins I had to scroll through Instagram postings of the artist until I could piece it together. Of course just a mere glance at it lets you know this is not your average toy, as it seems to pay homage to nothing that's come before it. I see so many figures where the reference is obvious but here you instantly know that it hacked and trampled a path traveled by no one else.
The paint job from Obsessed Panda echoes the ghostly feel of the horse and it's internal passenger. Light sprays of silver and blue accentuate the ethereal quality of the body without overpowering it, while the clear head reveals a female figure that is hidden just enough to force you to get closer to be sure what you're seeing. Honestly, this is the most time I've spent really examining a figure and taking it apart like I was studying it. Not just because I knew I was going to review it, but because it almost demands your attention in that way. I collect vintage Steiff animals and that would be the closest I've come to experiencing so much story contained within an object. With those you can see visible signs of wear and know that at one time someone loved it more than anything else and a part of that seems to be transferred to the piece. In regards to this figure I pick up a sense that the artist wants it to haunt you everytime you look at it. That even though it's story is one of fiction it is so deeply embedded in the plastic that it relays it as being truth.
The woman herself is cast in marbled vinyl, which accentuates sculpted detail unlike anything else. There is also a marbled plug that can be used in place of the female that details the point of severance. Combined with the removable head you have three different ways of displaying it, as detailed on the header card. My favorite is the third way, in which the gore of the decapitation is left out of the equation. To me it's the most interesting to look at.
This toy isn't something that's put on the shelf and forgotten about; it's something experienced. It will leave you thinking about it long after you've put it down, which is all any great art can ever hope to accomplish. I think it's one of those figures that is ahead of it's time and that in the future people will seriously regret not picking up when they had the chance. Lucky for you this Aki No Kumo edition is still available from the fine folks at Lulubell Toys for a lot less than you would probably expect for a sofubi toy this size. Seriously, it's actually on sale for only $150 and the conversation it sparked between my wife and I about everything from toy production, to art, to the longing for more releases like this, would be worth the price alone.