For years I've collected poseable figures, mostly Figma and SH Figuarts, but there have been plenty of others - amazingly the one company I haven't spent time with is Storm Collectables, a design house that has always impressed me when I've seen their wares online, especially their Street Fighter characters.
What usually holds me back is their choice of outfits - Juri is coming down the pipe, but in her biking leathers and not the far more fetching Korean fighting ensemble we're used to. In a similar vein, Cammy was released in her alternative uniform, while Chun Li, Balrog and Bison are all sporting their standard outfits. It's nice to have variety, but I'll take the iconic outfits over the alternatives any day.
Mai gave me the option of picking up a fan-favourite in her iconic uniform with a slew of awesome looking extras, so I finally bit the bullet and ordered her. What a received was a beautiful, if limited, action figure.
The box is huge, at least twice the size I was expecting. This is partly down to the fantastic fire effect that envelops her whole body, but it also makes room for 3 additional heads, a fire-effect fan, 8 additional hands and even extra connection pegs, perfect spares in case of loss or breakage.
The wraparound flame effect explains the impressive size of the packaging!
Standing at just over 6", Mai has 17 points of articulation, covering her ponytail, neck, arms, hips, waist, legs and toes. While her arms enjoy a pretty decent range of movement, her wrists don't allow for much beyond a few degrees up or down, and her knees won't bend more than 90 degrees. This limits her for extreme poses, especially flying kicks or sitting positions. Whatever pose you'll end up using, chances are she'll be standing for it.
While the effects come with a stand (an impressive flaming fan complements the larger flame effect) Mai does not, so you'll either have to supply your own for a more action-oriented pose, or leave her standing.
Mai is pretty stable on her feet, even on her toes - you won't need a stand to keep her upright.
The sculpt itself is great, very much in line with her King of Fighters 98 appearance, especially the face which is less stylised than later iterations. Her frame is suitably sultry for the self proclaimed "sultry ninja girl", with a curvy bust and shapely thighs providing a distinctive silhouette. Due to the nature of her dress, the top of her thighs are molded onto the waist, with the legs connected beneath. It's not the most attractive solution but the matte finish does mitigate the seamlines enough that it isn't off-putting. The same is true of the elbow and knee joints - the style used by Storm isn't my favourite (Figma seem to have the best design for these types of joints) but with Mai I didn't find it off-putting due to the overall quality and presentation.
The effects stand allows for some nice action poses, but you can see how the joins in the upper thigh/waist area become more obvious
For a relatively simple design, Storm Collectables have really gone above and beyond with the sculpting - looking at the bottom of her foot, an area you'll never really see on display, the designers have gone to the trouble of sculpting her toes, which is a nice touch. The hair has plenty of details and a lovely wash to bring it all together that I very much appreciated and the matte skin tone is absolutely perfect. The presence of the tiny white dot detailing on her handguards, the bows on her jika-tabi (ninja shoes) and the removable tassel on her fan all help to elevate this from a simple action figure to a deluxe collectable.
Mai's design is deliberately aimed toward attracting the male gaze, it's an integral part of her character, but through the years I've known plenty of female gamers and cosplayers who just adore her sexy look. It's beautifully realised here, the finish and extras justifying the higher-tier price tag, and I'm looking forward to seeing how she's greeted by visitors to the office. For me, she's a lovely figure that reminds me of a classic gaming era, with enough posing options to satisfy my needs. Having finally taken the plunge, I'll be checking out some more Storm releases - their Soul Calibur Taki and Darkstalkers Morrigan figures certainly appeal...