Slightly less late than the figure reviews usually are!

I did mean to get this done before the end of last year, but  failing that I can at least get it done before the new anime season First Impressions kick off.
If you’ve been paying even the slightest attention to anime merchandising news, you’ve probably noticed that there’s been a massive influx of new goods for CardCaptor Sakura – CLAMP’s iconic 90s magical girl series, which is somewhat curious considering that unlike with Sailor Moon, no reboot has been announced. (Yet. At least, not from any official source.) Sakura was one of my first anime and manga so many years ago so the series is still near and dear to my heart. I never would have expected a nendoroid to be made of the titular character, but I knew I had to own it, and I think Good Smile Company made a pretty good call in their assessment that the people who grew up with the series were now at a figure-collecting age. They usually make ‘important’ characters for their ’00’ releases, so it seems fitting that Sakura it nendoroid number 400.

Lots and lots of extra parts.

Sakura’s character design lends itself well to the nendoroid style, and the overall look of her is like a cross between CLAMP’s manga art and the anime adaptation. She’s wearing one of her most famous outfits; the pink and white dress with wings on the back that she wears in the first opening of the anime from 1998. As a figure on her own – optional parts or not – she definitely looks adorable, especially with all those delicate frills and bows. If she has one major flaw, it’s that there is too noticeable a seam between her torso and waist where the pieces join – a problem that often happens when nendoroids have dresses.
She also comes with her partner Keroberos, which is a nice inclusion. He has his own small stand that lets him fly beside Sakura, and his head can swivel. No complaints about his quality – but he’s a simple looking character that’s pretty hard to screw up.

She’s really, really cute. Also, I like how the box has the cloud background insert.

The wings on the back of Sakura’s costume are actually attached to the peg on the nendoroid stand, not the costume itself. They’re also on their own ball-joints so they can move. I’ve yet to try it, but it means you can make your other nendoroids have wings too. I really like the pearly, almost translucent effect on them. As for Sakura’s giant hat on her giant head…

IT’S HUGE

Good Smile Co. have used a variety of methods for keeping hats on nendoroid heads over the years – some have pegs in them, some just balance there, but Sakura’s is magnetic. This sounds like a good idea in theory…however magnets are heavy. Her head is heavy enough with the magnet in it, and it gets heavier still when you put that hat on. The result is that the weight often causes her head to fall backwards or forwards on her neck and it’s hard for her to hold it upright. It’s thankfully never heavy enough to actually topple her over, but I really wish Good Smile had thought this through a little more.

She can be displayed without it of course, and she becomes so much lighter.

Moving on to the optional parts, Sakura of course comes with her Clow Wand and one of her magical Clow Cards to use with it. To make her hold it, you will need to attach the ‘gripping’ hand and slide the wand through it, first taking off the little golden decoration part at the bottom end of the wand and then replacing it once it’s in her grasp. I really wish there was a better way of implementing this – they could have made the gripping hand and the wand one piece. Taking off that little bit at the end is incredibly fiddly, after all, plus the removable piece itself is incredibly tiny and would be easy to lose. However, the hand with the Clow Card in it is one piece.

Let’s get magical.

I really appreciate the detail in the Clow Card, by the way. It’s the Fly card, and besides being the first Card that Sakura captured in the series, its relevance to this figure will become apparent pretty soon.

Tada!

The first of Sakura’a optional faces I’m looking at is her more determined, battle-ready face. (You could also have it as an ‘angry’ face too I suppose, although Sakura is hardly an ‘angry’ character.)

You can see the wand more clearly here – note the tiny gold part you have to remove from the end to make her hold it.

If you combine this face with her bent arms and ‘face cupping’ hands, you can also get something like a pumped-up pose, which is cute.

‘I’ll do my best!’

Of course, those ‘face cupping’ hands are intended to be used with her other face – the happy blushing one. This is the face Sakura makes when she sees or thinks about things she likes – namely Yukito, the object of her affection. CLAMP also designated this face the scientific name of ‘the hanyaaan face’.

‘hanyaaaan~’

‘tee hee’

I like this face, but I feel like its uses are more limited compared to the other too. But it would be fun to swap with other nendoroids you may have.
The next features of the nendoroid are more difficult to implement, but let you recreate Sakura using her magic. In case you aren’t aware, Sakura can use the magic contained in the Clow Cards by tapping them with the ‘beak’ of her wand, and her stance when doing so is relatively iconic. You need to do a number of things to make it possible with the nendoroid, however. To grip the wand in two hands, her sleeves need to be swapped out for the two optional ones that make holding her arms diagonally towards her centre possible. Because that red bow on her chest gets in the way of this, it can also be swapped for a different one that leaves room for arms to go over the top of it. You then have to attach the other Clow Card (not the one stuck in her hand) to the wand, and you can complete the magical effect by putting down the clear plastic magic circle over the top of the nendoroid base. There’s a hole in it that the nendoroid arm can stick through, and I think it’s a great extra that really livens up the scene. However…

‘Release!’

…Good Smile have, regrettably, made an incredibly stupid decision in how one attaches the Clow Card to the wand. The logical thing to do would be to have a separate optional wand-head with the card attached to the ‘beak’ that you could swap. The next best thing would have been to have a separate optional ‘beak’ with the card attached. Instead, there is an optional ‘beak’ with a tiny hole in the end of it, and the card itself has the tiniest, most fragile of pins sticking up from it. One needs to attach the second ‘beak’ to the wand and then attach the card to the ‘beak’ with its flimsy, tiny peg. I should add that the ‘beak’ of the wand was ridiculously difficult to replace – it almost seemed like it wasn’t even meant to be detachable and I absolutely hate having to force tiny plastic things like this, especially when they’re on something as delicate and flimsy as a thin wand. Even once you do manage to swap the ‘beaks’…well, good luck attaching that Card without the peg snapping, because guess what happened to me! It’s always frustrating having bits of figures break on you, but it’s all the more frustrating when it could have been so easily avoided by design choices. Needless to say, that card is blutac’d to the wand in my photos.

I’m also not using the right bow here, but oh well. (I am in the previous picture) Her arms will still attach, they just won’t fit as snugly.

Sakura actually is capable of two of these more difficult poses, which is again nice in theory and questionable in execution. When Sakura releases the magic contained in the Fly card as she is in the previous photos, the wand itself transforms with bigger wings and a longer body, into something that Sakura can then fly on in the manner of a witch riding a broomstick. It’s another incredibly iconic thing she does, and it was pretty cool to see all the pre-release photos of it being recreated by a nendoroid of all things. Unfortunately, Good Smile have had this real problem with their actual figures not quite meeting their own ambitions and this pose was ridiculously difficult to replicate.
I’m not joking, it took me days to get this right.
I came so close to giving up and writing a review that stated that the pose was simply not possible for some of the figures (I’ve definitely heard multiple complaints from people who bought this figure about how difficult this pose was) but eventually getting it right became a matter of pride for me and I persevered for a ridiculous amount of time so that Sakura could fly. And then, finally, I managed it.

HURRAY

To analyze what’s going on in this pose, her top half is the same you would use for having her tap the card with her wand, except for the ‘gripping’ hand which gets swapped for more of a ‘holding’ hand, as the increased girth of the wand means it no longer fits in that hand. Because neither of those hands are closed, though, you don’t need to take anything off the wand to get her to hold it. As for her bottom half, it’s an optional skirt that lifts up at the front to allow the wand to pass through with bent legs, and it also has slot on the frilly part of the dress that the peg on the wand fits into to hold it in place.
The problem with all of this, and the reason it took so damn long to get right, is that it’s incredibly flimsy. The optional lower half for some reason does not fit as snugly into her torso as her usual lower half, the indentation for the wand is nowhere near as deep as it should be to hold it securely and it’s really, really hard to make her hands reach the wand without the wand getting pulled out of place. These three things have to be perfect for the pose to actually work, and the second any of them goes wrong, they pull the rest down with it. Numerous times I would get the posing just right only to have her lower half just plain fall off, taking the wand with it.

And that’s why I have no decent photos of this pose.

If you can manage to get the pose right (looking at what others said, it seems that some people’s figures are just better at it than other’s), it really does look cool. It’s a huge shame that I’m too scared of her falling over and getting her paint scratched to leave her like that.

Especially because this happened a few seconds after the above photo was taken.

Considering how well the Gumi nendoroid is able to hold that ‘flying on a carrot’ pose, this is pretty disappointing. I’d honestly be much happier with a simpler figure that only came with standing poses than an overly ambitious figure that can’t faithfully replicate the complicated poses it’s meant to. This is a problem that has been plaguing the nendoroid line for a while it seems, and I wish Good Smile would just sit back and realize that there is nothing wrong with simplicity if they aren’t going to work on their final products being able to easily make the poses they’re advertised to. These are the reasons why many people say that nendoroids have different ‘difficulty levels’, and with all the fiddly pieces that you need to exchange for different poses, Sakura is definitely a high-difficulty one that it’s hard to recommend as a first nendoroid.

You’re lucky you’re so cute.

My disappointment in the flying pose and fiddly pieces aside, however, I think that her standing poses, beautiful sculpt and inclusion of Keroberos make her worth the price. If you are a fan of the character she’s a worthy addition to a collection. I mean…it’s Sakura!
All pros and cons considered, I’d give her out of 5,
melonmelonmelonmelon

Magical girl buddies. Those sheep pjs suit Sakura a lot.

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