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REVIEW: SOTA TOYS STREET FIGHTER REVOLUTIONS R. MIKA FIGURE
By Thomas Wheeler

I'll admit, I put off getting this last of SOTA Toys' Street Fighter figures for a while. Unlike the other characters in this assortment -- Dhalsim, E. Honda, and Zangief, R. Mika isn't part of what I would regard as the "core cast" of sixteen or seventeen characters that have been an established part of the Street Fighter universe ever since "Super Street Fighter II".

However, I had everybody else in the collection, and since it appears virtually certain that SOTA Toys isn't planning any additional assortments, I decided I might as well have this character, as well.

R. Mika, which is short for Rainbow Mika, while perhaps not as prominent or as well-known as characters such as Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li, Blanka, or Guile, has become a fairly popular and reasonably well-known character in the Street Fighter universe.

Although unlike some of these other individuals, who have their own distinct entries on WikiPedia, R. Mika nevertheless has some background information on a WikiPedia entry that covers virtually all of the Street Fighter characters. Here is what Wiki has to say about R. Mika:

Rainbow Mika was introduced in Street Fighter Alpha 3. Her real name is Mika Nanakawa, a Japanese girl planning to make her debut as a professional wrestler and become "Star of the Ring", working very hard to achieve her dream. To this end she travels the world, fighting various street fighters to promote herself, meeting her idol Zangief along the way. She receives rigorous training from her manager, Yoko Harmagedon, a large muscular woman who is seen in a few of her victory poses riding a golf cart and wielding a shinai. Mika later appears as a cameo in the Capcom game Startling Adventures.

This actually make me curious as to what a shinai is. Fortunately, Wikipedia also had an entry for this. A Shinai is a weapon used for practice and competition in kendo and are meant to represent a Japanese sword. Shinai are also used in other martial arts, but may be styled differently from kendo shinai, and represented with different characters.

The word "shinai" is derived from the verb shinau, meaning "to bend, to flex", and was originally short for shinai-take (flexible bamboo). Shinai means, without getting too much into the intricacies of Japanese translation, "bamboo sword". The origin of the shinai can be found in the Edo period. The shinai was developed when a group of swordsmen, in an effort to reduce the number of practitioners being seriously injured during practice, undertook to create a practice weapon that was less dangerous than bokuto, the hard wooden swords they were previously using.

I don't really think I need to get into the origin of golf carts here. Unfortunately, the figure doesn't come with either one as an accessory (although arguably a to-scale golf cart would not have fit into the package).

The excellent book STREET FIGHTER: ETERNAL CHALLENGE, which is published by Udon Studios and authorized by Capcom, and which I highly recommend for any Street Fighter fan, has further details on the character.

Calling her a "Rookie with unimaginable power", the book states: Mika Nanakawa was a colorfully costumed, attractive, blond-haired wrestler. After she graduated from high school she set out to become a professional wrestler like her hero, Zangief, the "Red Cyclone". Under the tutelage of Yoko Harmageddon, Mika sharpened her grappling techniques and throws. In time, she gained a reputation in her community as a determined and talented wrestler, giving each match her all no matter who she fought.

Rainbow Mika debuted as a professional wrestler and quickly gained a fan following as a young rising star. When she noticed ads for the World Warrior tournament, she decided to enter so she could increase her fame and test her abilities against the best fighters around the globe. She set out to prove her nickname as the "Star of the Ring."

Apparently the only game in which she appears is Street Fighter Alpha 3 (although this book does not cover the recent Street Fighter IV). As far as her abilities within the game, the book says the following:

Many look at R. Mika as a female version of Zangief (one would assume this refers to ability and not appearance, thank goodness), and though this is true to a point, there are important differences. Mika specializes in powerful strikes rather than just pure throwing damage and usually finishes off her opponents with a well-timed throw instead of using them throughout the entire match.

Her special attacks are all wrestling-based moves. The Flying Peach is quick but has a slow start-up. The Shooting Peach starts instantly but has a delay at the end leaving her vulnerable if she misses. It's best to mix up the use of these two and keep her opponent guessing. Her throwing attacks are the Paradise Hold, which can be combo'd well with other strikes, and the Daydream Headlock, which has good range and is also quite entertaining to watch.

Her ultimate Super Combo is the Beach Special attach. It can be difficult to time properly, but it dishes out tremendous damage. Like Zangief, she's a technical character with a lot of powerful moves in her arsenal.

Mika is definitely a close range fighter. Long range battles showcase her weaknesses and overcoming characters with strong projectile attacks can be problematic. Using crouching kicks to knock down her opponent, she can move in for a deadly throw to finish off the match.

What I want to know is -- who named this girl's moves? Flying Peach? Daydream Headlock? Beach Special!?

Well, some of this may be related to her physical appearance. She's wearing an outfit that, in its own peculiar way, certainly reflects the colorful and sometimes outrageous attire worn by some professional wrestlers, arguably moreso in the past than the present.

R. Mika is dressed in blue and white tights that don't really leave a whole lot to the imagination. The mostly blue tights have a ruffled collar, ruffled wrists, and ruffles around the hips. Her legs are mostly uncovered, with only white-bordered blue straps here and there. Her -- upper torso is outfitted in white, with two very strategically placed blue hearts. She is wearing white knee pads, and white wrestling boots that come all the way up to her knees and have enough shoelaces in them that if they existed in real life, you wouldn't buy laces for boots like these by inch measurements, but by miles.

R. Mika is also wearing a blue mask over her face, and her -- second most noticeable physical feature are these impossibly long, jagged-looking blonde ponytails that emerge from either side of her head. I don't know that these can be used as weapons in the game, but they sure look as thought they could be. Jagged as they are, if this girl has used some sort of super-hold hair spray to get them to look like this, they could be a lot more lethal than the shinai -- or the golf cart, for that matter.

So -- how's the figure? Very nicely done. And honestly, it can't have been that easy, given the articulation that SOTA has incorporated into these figures.

R. Mika, more than most Street Fighter characters, in my opinion, has a very distinct and somewhat traditional "anime" look to her. By that I mean that in modern anime, it seems there's no shortage of large-eyed, slender-build, long-legged, and often-times well-endowed (and frequently under-dressed) young ladies running around. Most of whom can probably kick more butt than the guys. R. Mika would seem to qualify for all of the above on that list.

Her face (look up, people...) definitely has a distinctly anime look to it, with large and wide eyes, honestly larger than the prototype of the figure which is pictured on the box she comes in. My opinion, I think the prototype head looked a little better. There was a more determined expression on her face. However, the eyes are EXTREMELY neatly painted, with black lines for eyelashes, and every detail of the interior of the eye neatly done.

R. Mika comes with a spare head, with a different facial expression. Amusingly, you not only have to swap the head if you want to use it, you have to switch the ponytails into it, as well. Looking at the figure, those ponytails are two of the larger pieces of plastic on the entire figure. No wonder SOTA didn't want to include two complete sets.

The costume is well done, but interestingly, sculpted details for the costume are relatively few. It's reasonable to assume that this was a fairly tight-fitting outfit, and simply painting as much of it on as possible was doubtless both a time-saver and something of a relief to the painters, who didn't have to match up to some minimal sculpted line down to the micro-meter. There are thin sculpted lines for the mask, but that's about it.

There are some sculpted details, of course. The frills on the collar, wrists, and hips are nicely done, as is the area around her -- chest. And certainly, the knee pads and especially the boots are extremely well done and nicely detailed. But the rest of the costume is purely paint work. Fortunately, it's very effective paint work.

Articulation is, of course, considerable. R. Mika is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper-arm swivel, double-jointed elbows, mid-torso (I'm trying very hard not to make any jokes as to how well that particular articulation point is worked into the design of the figure given HOW it's designed...), waist, legs, an above-knee swivel, double-jointed knees, and ankles. I should especially commend the design of the knee-joint. The swivel is nicely incorporated into the top side of the knee-pad, so you barely know it's there, and then you have the double knee articulation there on top of it.

How's the overall sculpt and assembly? Well -- here's where I need to take a bit of a look at some of the other figures in this assortment, and make a few speculative observations. There's a general opinion out there that ever since Street Fighter's staunchest advocate within SOTA Toys left the company, attention to the action figure line has diminished considerably, and is one of the reasons that the line appears to have been discontinued. I never saw this series at retail, even in the specialty shops. About the only way I know of to get any of them is through SOTA's own Web Site.

And with the advent of the Street Fighter IV game, an entirely different company has taken over in making action figures based on that game. I've seen them and personally, I'm not impressed. This isn't so much the fault of the toy company in question as it is with the character design in the first place. The characters in Street Fighter IV tend to have a rather -- chunky look to them that I do not find especially appealing.

As far as SOTA goes, it has seemed to me that they just haven't paid the same level of attention to this last assortment of Street Fighter figures as they have to some of the others. Now, the line has had its problem. The assortment prior to this one became notorious for production problems. Stuck joints, loose joints pieces falling off. SOTA actually publicly stated that they were taking some time off to rework things and make sure that the next group of figures was of proper quality.

But not too long after that was when personnel changed. And it has seemed to me that some of the sculpted details on some of the figures in this assortment, especially faces and hands, have tended to have a rather rough and unrefined look to them. While this isn't really the case on R. Mika, it was certainly noticeable on the three make characters: E. Honda, Zangief, and Dhalsim. It almost seemed like the attitude was, "Look, this is the end of it anyway -- just get 'em produced and have done with it."

Now, R. Mika is a bit more neatly sculpted than her male assortment-counterparts. As for assembly of the figure -- well, here's where she does come up a little short. Some of the articulation joint pegs seem rather roughly inserted, and poorly trimmed. This is especially the case with the mid-torso joint. Additionally, the figure just pops right apart at the waist! I'm not saying they're all like that, and it's not really a fatal problem. She pops right back together, too, and it doesn't affect her stance or articulation. But it does, to me, speak of a certain unfortunate carelessness and sloppiness, that a company specializing in "specialty" products should strive more to avoid.

Now, I'm probably being a little nit-picky. Part of this is sadness over the obvious demise of this line. I've been impressed with these Street Fighter figures since the start, and they certainly got a lot further into the cast than either of the previous attempts at Street Fighter action figures, either Hasbro's line, or certainly ReSaurus'. And these have been the most impressive of the lot, as well. In my opinion, they deserved better over the long haul.

And as an aside, I wish we'd gotten Dee-Jay. He's the only character from the "core cast" that didn't happen. And they must have gotten pretty close, because a prototype of him, along with a few others, did turn up at the San Diego Comic-Con a couple of years ago. That right there is a true shame. I think I might have handled the demise of this line better if they'd gotten around to Dee-Jay.

But I'm not really complaining about R. Mika. Certainly she's an interesting character, and although far from the most prominent Street Fighter, she has a distinctive look that has earned her a fair measure of popularity within the concept.

So, what's my final word here? If you're a Street Fighter fan, you'll enjoy R. Mika. This is a very cool figure. She stands about 5-3/4" in height (not counting the upsweep from her ponytails), and frankly, if you want to know any of her other measurements, you'll just have to buy her yourself.

Although this may be the end of SOTA's line of Street Fighter action figures, and it certainly deserved more, and regardless of the relatively minor quality issues I may have, I do believe that SOTA ended this line on a high note. They gave us three more of the most classic characters in the series with Zangief, E. Honda, and Dhalsim, and certainly one of the most colorful with R. Mika. Maybe someday they'll resume. That's a nice thought. In the meantime, we have what we have, and it's been a decently extensive collection overall, and R. Mika is a very worthwhile part of it.

The SOTA TOYS STREET FIGHTER REVOLUTIONS figure of RAINBOW MIKA definitely has my highest recommendation!