Spice & Wolf debuted in 2006, a light novel written by Isuna Hasekura and beautifully illustrated by Jū Ayakura, the tale of Holo the Wisewolf and Kraft Laurence the trader has captivated readers worldwide. The smart writing based in commerce and thoughtful characters have translated well, and this beloved series has spawned a number of extremely desirable figures that command high prices on the secondary market.
This Plentiful Harvest rendition of Holo in her human form celebrates the 13th anniversary of the series, showing the beautiful Wisewolf running barefoot with rosey apples. It's sure to be a popular figure for a number of reasons which we'll delve into here.
Let's start with the overall pose - it's playful and full of life, with Holo's hair blowing in the wind, her dress fluttering ahead of her and that thick bushy tail curved beautifully at her rear. Accompanied by the playful grin, the figure captures both Holo's character and her wild nature all in one. Whichever way you look at it, this is a wonderfully realised and energetic piece.
The detail is also ambitious for a figure at this price point. From the stitching in her clothing and accessories, to the fur in the wolf ears atop her head, everything here is sculpted with precision and care. Tiny details like the ringlets around her the strings on her pouch seem seem unnecessary given how little they stand out, but it's this level of attention to detail that makes the figure sing.
The paintwork is also sublime, with plenty of wash to bring out more definition from her glorious tail to the stitching and patterns on her dress. Even the flesh tones between her fingers and toes is absolutely on point, and the slightly translucent nature of the ends of her hair lends the figure a slightly supernatural air. The high level of gloss on the apples seals the deal, and the rich bounty of delicious looking fruit gives Holo plenty of reason to be flashing her dazzling smile!
It's not without a few issues, and it's only fair to mention them as, at this point, you'll be lucky to find one at retail and therefore the value for money begins to get stretched.
Sculpted details are lovely, but paint is occasionally sloppy - look at the cross-stitch on that pouch though!
Some of the paint is either thin or slightly sloppy - on my figure, the armband detail on the sleeves is a little rough around the edges, and pink strip that runs along the hem of the dress has some over-spill at the rear (so not an issue for display in this case). It's important to note that Goodsmile's own site carries a disclaimer that the figure is partly hand-painted, so the human error adds a little more rustic charm, if you choose to look on the positive side as I do.
The base of grass detail is fine, though the piece connecting it to her foot seems a little clumsy. I would rather have seen an indent in the base into which to place her foot rather than have her raised unnaturally into the air. The joins in the construction are mostly well-hidden, though the traditional join running across her head is a little obvious from the top. Overall however, it manages to look pleasing on display.
So, for a figure listed at £130 (plus shipping) but now going for up to £280 on ebay (good grief!) what's the verdict on this transaction? For her original RRP, this is an absolute must-buy for fans of the character that have missed out on previous pieces. For me, it's one of the very best, capturing so many of the things I love about her design - the clothing and colours are sublime, epitomising the simple, retro-country style that distinguishes her signature look. I love that the barefoot, carefree pose that lends a hint of nature to her, and subsequently I can forgive the minor imperfections that, to be honest, most figures at this level have. I can't really recommend it at the outrageous scalping prices currently being charged at the aftermarket, but if you can secure a copy for around £160, then I think you'll still be very pleased with your purchase.
As an older gentleman, I appreciate figures that are on the conservatively dressed side these days, especially as my daughter will inherit this when she's old enough to appreciate it (several now adorn her nursery shelves in fact - gotta get 'em young!) This makes me especially appreciative of this figure that manages to be both charming and wholesome at the same time - a rare feat!
This review is sponsored by Plaza Japan. The figure was purchased by the author at retail.