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By Thomas Wheeler

For some time now, SOTA Toys ("State of the Art") has been producing a series of action figures based on the popular Capcom series of STREET FIGHTER video games. After taking some time off to deal with some quality issues, among other concerns, the line is back, under the name STREET FIGHTER REVOLUTIONS.

The figures are, for the most part, unchanged in basic design. They're still to scale with each other, phenomenally well detailed, and very impressively articulated. These action figures are for the so-called "specialty" market. If you're lucky, you might find them at Suncoast, or Hot Topic, or your favorite video game store.

The newest assortment consists of Dhalsim, Zangief, R. Miku, and E. Honda. Of these, there are three that I am particularly interested in -- Dhalsim, Zangief, and Honda. There's a reason for this.

For all of the Street Fighter games that have come along, I have always regarded there to be a sort of "core cast" that was established in the game "Super Street Fighter II". These are the characters that I believe have gotten the most attention over the years. That group consists of Ken, Ryu, Guile, Honda, Balrog, Cammy, T Hawk, Dee-Jay, Fei Long, Blanka, Chun-Li, Zangief, Dhalsim, Vega, Sagat, and of course M. Bison. Many fans of the concept, myself included, are also inclined to include Akuma and Sakura on that list because of their prominence and popularity.

SOTA's line of Street Fighter figures is not the first. Hasbro's was the first, followed by a short-lived run by Resaurus. But no one's gotten closer to turning out action figures of the entire core cast (plus a generous number of others) than SOTA. The only one missing at this point is Dee-Jay, and a prototype of him was shown at the San Diego Comi-Con a few years ago, so let's hope that he still gets made.

There's word that NECA has the rights to do figures based on the forthcoming Street Fighter IV video game, but the general thought it that this doesn't affect SOTA doing figures from the previous games, and I sincerely hope that's true.

This review will take a look at the figure of E. HONDA, whose full name is Edmond Honda. He is a sumo wrestler that is massive but muscular, moreso than a typical sumo I would think, he's been a mainstay of the Street Fighter video games essentially from the start. He's had quite a lot of adventures and appearances throughout the Street Fighter video games. Let's have a look:

Introduced in Street Fighter II as part of the starting lineup, he has appeared in Street Fighter Alpha 3 and the Capcom vs. SNK series, as well as several cameos and mentions. He is a professional sumo wrestler, and his shikona for sumo is mentioned as "Fujinoyama."

He wears his black hair in a chonmage and wears only a blue and red mawashi. His face is painted in the kumadori style of makeup used in kabuki. Honda's signature move is the Hyaku Retsu Harite -- literally, "Hundred Violent Sumo Hands"; commonly referred to as the Hundred Hand Slap. He is one of the original playable characters in Street Fighter II, representing Japan alongside Ryu.

In his backstory, E. Honda is mentioned to have began his training as a child, singularly focused on becoming the greatest sumo wrestler of all time. He would eventually achieve the highly-revered titled of "Ozeki" (in the English localization of the early Street Fighter II ports, he is stated as having achieved the title, Yokozuna).

Honda became upset that the rest of the world did not view sumo wrestling with the reverence of the Japanese. He entered into the second World Warrior tournament intent on showing everyone that sumo wrestlers rank among the greatest fighters in the world. Beyond this, he yearns also to improve and prove his own strength, as well as earn the title of Yokuzuna.

His involvement with the second tournament is also part of him investigating the Shadaloo organization in response to sumo wrestlers taking drugs, and learning of their involvement after capturing some of the dealers. His face painting and dual nationality name assisted him to an extent with remaining covert during this. This aspect of his character was conceived well before Street Fighter Alpha 3 and his storyline there.

After the tournament and the fall of Shadaloo, Honda returned to Japan where he continued engaging in sumo wrestling and continuing to run his bath house and training his disciples.

In Street Fighter Alpha 2, Honda appears here as more of a cameo, but a significant one to Sodom's storyline (a new playable character) and a bit to his own in the next game. Sodom, obsessed with Japanese culture, attempts to recruit sumo wrestlers, citing them as strong warriors. To achieve this he enters a sumo wrestling competition and faces "Fujinoyama", who is revealed to be Edmond Honda. Agreeing to the match, Honda gives it a go and defeats Sodom, though is impressed by his effort nevertheless according to their dialogue in Alpha 3.

Honda's storyline in Street Fighter Alpha 3 serves more of a prologue to his appearance in Street Fighter II, with him traveling the world looking for strong opponents and to show the strength of sumo wrestling. Here he meets Ryu and has a sparring match with him, and tells Sakura later on where she can find him. About this time he fights Sodom again in a friendly match as well. His wanderings lead him to Shadaloo's base where he meets Zangief, and while the actual extent of which is unknown the two are confirmed to have worked together to help destroy the base.

Honda is expected to be a part of the forthcoming Street Fighter IV game. Honda returns for this adventure, which is set shortly after the events of the second World Warrior tournament. His goals have not changed, as his bio states he is fighting to promote the technique of sumo. To this end, he goes on a world tour. While he is just below the Yokuzuna in terms of sumo rank (now a Haridashi-Yokozuna), Honda's ability is known to be Yokuzuna-class regardless.

As to his abilities, Honda's fighting style, as already mentioned above, is based on sumo wrestling. In his first appearance in the original Street Fighter II, he has two special attacks, the "Hyaku Retsu Harite" (Hundred Hand Slap) and the "Super Zutsuki" (Super Headbutt, commonly referred to as the Sumo Headbutt). In Hyper Fighting, Honda gains a third special attack, the "Super Hyakkan Otoshi" (Super Hundredweight Drop, commonly known as the Sumo Splash), as well as the ability to move while performing his Hundred Hand Slap.

In Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Honda's super combo is the "Oni Musou" (Unparalled Demon), multiple Super Zutsukis that can go through fireballs. He also gains a grapple hold, the "Ooichou Nage" (Topknot Throw). In Street Fighter Alpha 3, Honda gains two additional super combos, the "Fuji Oroshi" (Descending Wind of Mt. Fuji), a powered-up Super Hyakkan Otoshi, and the "Orochi Kudaki" (Orochi Smash), a powered-up Ooichou Nage.

While performing most of his special attacks, Honda utters the word "Dosukoi", commonly associated to Sumo wrestlers and employed by them.

Honda has turned up prominently in some of the other Street Fighter media -- granted, he's hard to miss. In the 1994 live-action motion picture based on the Street Fighter franchise, the role of Honda is played by Peter "Navy" Tuiasosopo. In the movie, Honda is portrayed as a close associate of Chun Li, serving as her news crew technician and aiding her on her quest to avenge her father's death alongside Balrog. Like Balrog, he has a personal grudge against Shadaloo, who ruined his reputation as a sumo. In the film's climax he battles Zangief, smashing through Bison's base. There was a particularly hysterical bit during this fight where the two are tearing through a model of the vast city that Bison intended to build, and someone put "Godzilla" sound effects over the battle.

Honda has also appeared in the Japanese anime based on Street Fighter (much of this is excellent if you can find it), as well as in the American animated series which aired on the USA Network not long after the live-action movie.

Unfortunately, Hasbro never got the chance to complete their run of Street Fighter figures. They tied the toys into the live-action movie, which was less than well-received. Despite the fact that box art for some of these toys clearly showed illustrations of additional characters including Cammy, T.Hawk, Fei Long, and Dee-Jay, these figures were never made by Hasbro. Or at least never released. One does wonder how far along they got before the plug was pulled.

And the Resaurus line was so short-lived it's barely worth mentioning. Additionally, those figures looked great, but they weren't articulated.

And so we come to SOTA toys, which has done a really magnificent job with these figures, even if they've had a few production glitches along the way. However, if Honda here is any indication, those have clearly been very effectively dealt with, and it is my sincere hope that SOTA will continue to produce figures from this long-standing cool video game concept.

So, let's consider E. Honda. As one might expect, he's a pretty massive mountain of plastic. The figure size for these guys tends to be all over the map, even if technically they're in scale with each other. You've got really big guys like T.Hawk, tall chaps like Sagat, pretty small people like Sakura, who range anywhere in height from 5-1/2" to 8", and in weight from barely an ounce and a half for Sakura to 9 ounces for T. Hawk.

As a rule, I tend to use Ryu and Ken as the "default" for this line. They're the most prominent characters in the concept, and the most -- well -- normal-looking, their somewhat big feet notwithstanding. They each measure about 6-1/4" in height and weigh about 4 ounces -- and with those big feet really stand well on my postal scale.

So where does E. Honda fit into this? Anywhere he wants to. Okay, obviously, he's on the far end of the heavy scale. He's dang near as tall as T.Hawk, who is the tallest figure in the series, and he's a bit heavier, doing my postal scale no favors coming in at a thundering 11 ounces. No wonder shipping was what it was on this guy. Next time I'll order Dhalsim -- he's skinny...

Honda is not what someone would call overdressed. He's a sumo and he's ready for a fight. He's wearing that aforementioned "mawashi" around his waist, and it's been sculpted to look like it's flapping around a bit. I'm not sure what "mawashi" means. Probably Japanese for "No, it's not a kilt! Does this look like plaid to you!?"

This piece of plastic sculpted to look like fabric has been really well done. If you look close, you can see stitching on it. Never mind what it must have taken to paint this thing in white and blue strips as effectively as it was. If the underside is any indication, it was molded in white, with the blue painted on, and amazingly neatly given the complexity of the piece, for the most part.

And for those curious, Honda has on a red undergarment underneath the mawashi. And given the somewhat exposed nature of the typical sumo garment, it's probably just as well for all of us that although the mawashi is a separate piece, it's not removable.

The level of detail on Honda's body is phenomenal. This is some thing that this line has been known for throughout its history, and it certainly has carried that over to great effectiveness here. Honda is not a tub of fat. He is a very large, very massive, but also very muscular individual, and this is reflected in the overall sculpt. This isn't someone you want to make the mistake of calling him names, or he'll Hundred-Hand-Slap you right into the Intensive Care ward. The detail of the musculatire is amazing, right down to the knuckles on both the fingers and toes, the latter of which are all separate from each other.

Honda actually comes with two heads, one with an open mouth, one with a closed mouth. This is not an uncommon practice in the Street Fighter line. Generally, I prefer the closed-mouth versions, but in this case, the closed-mouth Honda head has such a sour expression on his face that I decided to go with the open mouth. Okay, it looks like he's yelling, and probably not something very polite, but I guess I sort of prefer that to having him look like he's glaring at me and scowling. Both heads are superbly detailed, have the interesting hairstyle, and the requisite red paint on the face.

Honda also comes with some additional hands. The figure is packaged with two fists attached to his arms, but these can be swapped out for two -- LARGE -- open hands -- the better to perform that "Hundred Hand Slap" move of his.

The figure has considerable articulation. These Street Fighter figures are as well articulated as either Marvel Legends or DC Universe Classics. Possibly a little better than those lines in some instances. Honda is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees (double-jointed) and ankles. Most of his articulation points have a multiple range of motion. Not bad for such a bulky guy. I mean, his legs are as big around as Sakura's entire body.

One additional note. The figure came with a little piece of paper -- an advisory -- attached to the top of the box. It reads: "ATTENTION: If your Street Fighter Revolutions Series 1 Action Figure is 'stuck' at any of its joints, do not force them! (these last four words put in boldface). Heat up a container of water (120 degrees Fahrenheit/49 Celsius) that the figure can fit into and completely immerse your figure within the heated water for 60 seconds. While warm, move your figure's joints through their full range of motion. This should remove any paint seizing without breaking any joints."

You know, I've heard about this before. I've also heard that if you heat up the water a little more and have a figure molded from somewhat flexible plastic (the Street Fighter line categorically is not), that you can actually reshape the plastic a bit. It's been recommended for adjusting the sometimes warped legs of Justice League Unlimited figures. I've never tried either of these practices myself, and fortunately, my Honda didn't have any really stuck parts, but this IS the first time that I've ever heard of any toy company officially recommending the procedure for any of its products.

So what's my final word here? I'm sincerely impressed. I'm glad that SOTA Toys has continued the Street Fighter line. It's as rich and varied a fictional universe of adventure as any out there, and had gone well beyond its video game origins. It's hugely popular in Japan, and decently popular here in the States, and SOTA is managing to turn out what have to be the ultimate action figures of the characters. I'm hopeful of rounding up the other newcomers to the line in the near future, and I hope that the line will continue beyond this assortment. At the very least, we need Dee-Jay!

And for anyone who's ever enjoyed Street Fighter, and likes really well made action figures, the STREET FIGHTER REVOLUTIONS E. HONDA figure most definitely has my highest recommendation!