Touko & Pokabu – Pokémon Black and White – Pokémon Figure Series – Review Quality control issues hamper Kotobukiya's otherwise appealing rendition of Pokémon Black & White's leading lady.

Touko – Pokémon Black and White

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Review


INTRODUCTION

We’re back again today to look at another figure in the Pokémon Figure Series by Kotobukiya. Last time, we checked out Lillie & Cosmog; this time, we’re looking at Touko & Pokabu (better known in the West (and throughout this review) as Hilda and Tepig). Hilda is the female protagonist of Pokémon Black and White. She continues the ongoing series of figures based on the female protagonists of the Pokémon series. 

While Black and White weren’t my favourite entries in the Pokémon franchise (that would be Heart Gold and Soul Silver), Hilda remains perhaps my favourite player trainer design to date. The cut-off shorts, the sporty cap, and her wavy hair are all simple but effective. As you can imagine, I was excited to see one of my favourite trainers get a high quality figure.



Much like with Lillie, this figure effectively captures the art-style of the Pokémon series. The sculptors (Takahi, who sculpted Hilda, and Wataru Orita, who sculpted Tepig) have done a great job re-creating Hitoshi Ariga’s concept illustration. Hilda looks ready for action, striking a serious battle stance (which has distinct similarities to the battle stance she takes in the game) with a focused expression. Tepig adds some dynamic appeal as well, Flame Charging into the fray.



On first impressions, I think Hilda looks great – the overall presentation is very appealing. While I’ve seen a number of fans disappointed by the more rigid pose that Hilda is striking, I don’t mind it – she looks determined and ready for a fight. I’ll admit that some extra oomph could have taken her to another level, though. However, I quickly noticed that my figure had a number of disappointing quality control issues, particularly in the paintwork. I’ll go into these in more detail later on.


PACKAGING AND ASSEMBLY


For now though, let’s talk boxes. Hilda’s packaging features an appealing design motif based upon the Pokémon Black and White interface – particularly the title screen from Pokémon WhiteThe Pokéball cutout windows are are a cute detail, and the presence of the official illustration is always appreciated. The box is solid, and Hilda is held securely inside, so there’s no worries there – she should arrive safe and sound.

Like Lillie, Hilda requires no assembly. She arrives pre-attached to her stand with a screw, making her very stable. Tepig is a separate figure, allowing you to place it where you like on the stand. It would also let you mix and match Pokémon between figures, if you like. The only assembly involved is that you’ll need to pop Tepig’s tail into place. Unfortunately it can be a bit fiddly – it doesn’t plug in very deep, so it’s easy to knock the tail back out again. I really like the stand – while Lillie’s was basic in a bad way, Hilda’s stand has a classy grey and white Pokéball design that compliments the figure overall.



SCULPTING

As I said earlier, I think the sculptors did a great job with this figure. While still emulating the more simplistic art-style of the original illustration, Hilda isn’t lacking for details. Her hair is thick and wavy, with her bushy pony-tail featuring a lot of definition. The creases on her t-shirt and shorts create a lot of visual interest as well. These creases contour around her body, catching light and creating extra definition. Her legs are nicely shaped too, with a tense, braced look. Her arms have great shape as well – they’re not just bent cylinders, as you sometimes see.

The little things continue to impress – smaller parts like Hilda’s C-Gear, for example. Details like pockets and seams in clothing aren’t just drawn on, but use sharp lines that give them more depth and make the figure feel more ‘real’. Similarly, there’s a distinct lip where Hilda’s ankles meet her socks and her wrists meet her wristbands. That said, some details are crisper than others. For example, the holes in her shorts and the zipper on her bag aren’t the sharpest, but they’re also smaller details, so these things don’t stick out too much.



There are some other small issues with the sculpt, but the quality is high overall. There aren’t really many seams to speak of, aside from a notable one on the inside of her ponytail. While it’s been disguised quite well as a contour in her hair, you can still see a joining line at the bottom. It’s usually out of sight, however, so it’s not a big deal.

Tepig is well sculpted too. It’s a cute little thing, wrapped in rippling flames. That said, it’s not perfect – it’s pretty obvious where Tepig’s ears join the body, for example. As mentioned before, Tepig’s tail gets knocked out of its socket easily – a more secure fit would have been nice. Altogether though, this fiery little pig looks as good as its’ trainer – there’s not much more to say than that.



PAINTWORK

At the beginning of this review, I mentioned that this figure has some quality issues. Setting these aside for the moment, Hilda’s paint job is very appealing. There’s a good range of finishes on display, used appropriately to give the impression of different materials and textures on the figure. Her bag, for example, has a high gloss finish, while her hair has a more subdued sheen. Her shorts and cap are quite matte. The figure’s shading is effective as well, particularly on her hair and her t-shirt, where subtle gradients accentuate the shape and form. Tepig’s paintwork meanwhile is simple, but achieves what it needs to. All of the colours are vibrant and pleasant to look at, and balance nicely to make a figure that pops out among a crowd.



But this figure has some really bad QC issues in its paintwork which simply can’t be ignored. There’s all sorts of schmutz stuck in the paint, with some prominent examples popping up throughout my photos. Probably the worst – and most obvious – is that she’s actually got something stuck under her left eye decal. It’s not obvious under normal viewing circumstances, but it shows up in almost every photo of her face. There’s what looks like a hair stuck to her jacket, and her t-shirt has visible lumps in the paint, too. You also might have noticed that I’ve included a lot of rear-focused shots throughout the review. That’s because there’s a large splodge of what looks like glue and paint on her thigh – it’s most easily visible from the back, but it spreads along the whole of her inner thigh to the front. It’s an ugly mess, to be sure.

Aside from those issues, there are more minor examples of colouring outside the lines. I did praise the quality of the paintwork, but it’s not especially neat. This is largely a problem with smaller details like buttons, so you can ignore a lot of it, but they really made a mess of her Pokéball – even at a glance, you can tell the black paint is all over the place. These defects are largely small and could be ignored on their own, but ultimately add up to give the impression that there was a level of care not taken here.



FINAL THOUGHTS

In the end, Hilda and Tepig (or Touko and Pokabu, whichever you prefer) are a mixed bag. There’s a lot that I really like about this figure, and while I can understand that some people aren’t a fan of her less dynamic pose, I kinda like how determined and dramatic she looks. It made for a good photoshoot, if nothing else. The sculpt is of a high quality, and the paintwork is pretty decent. However, the concentration of quality issues really spoils it all. There’s a chance that these problems aren’t common, and I might have just gotten unlucky, but it’s still worth mentioning.

Still, if you’re a die-hard fan of Pokémon, particularly Black and White, or if you just like Hilda a lot, you might still want to pick this figure up. There’s enough to like about it that you might not be so bothered by the smaller defects. I would recommend checking out other people’s photos and reviews first though, just to make sure these aren’t common flaws. Regardless of my disappointment, I’m still interested in seeing what the Pokémon Figure Series has to offer going forwards. Let’s just hope that Kotobukiya’s future efforts are a bit more consistent.


Final Score
3

Summary

Touko and Pokabu are an attractive duo, with solid sculpting and good paintwork. However, serious quality control issues do the figure a heavy disservice, and prevent me from giving it a recommendation without caveats. For hardcore fans of the character, this is still an appealing figure – just be wary of the potential defects your figure might arrive with.

Photo Gallery


This was a pretty fun photo-shoot! Hilda is a dramatic looking figure, so I wanted a dramatic setting to cast her into. Lately I picked up some new backdrops, and it seemed like the perfect time to debut one of my favourites – a length of sequinned  black fabric. This fabric is both inexpensive and effective. The reflected light from the sequins causes a bokeh effect that almost looks like the dazzling lights of a stadium – it makes for a very exciting background.

Since the sequinned fabric is quite see-through, I placed black card behind it and then set up three white lamps. One light was pointed at the backdrop to consistently pick out some of the sequins behind Hilda. Meanwhile, two lamps were used to light the figure. To the right of the frame, a diffused white lamp provided fill lighting, while to the left, a non-filtered light provided harsh and dramatic rim lighting. These lamps were then flagged to make sure that the background was only lit where I wanted it to be. I think it all came together nicely in the end!


FULL GALLERY


PACKAGING


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