The end is upon us and so are the most outstanding figures of 2021.
With bishoujo figures, there’s one for you and more for me. Our tastes may differ, but let’s not squabble. Whether you like the girls that make you bend before they make you squirm. Or those I prefer that help the man in red, who says “Ho, ho, ho.” During the day they wear pure white dresses and black lace at night. So sultry are their eyes, the chocolate melts.
How they remind you of days when the skies were blue and filled with smoke from 41cm cannons and pasta. The memories of the hot sand and the salty sea breeze never ceasing. When one closed her eyes on the sand, to dream of becoming an idol so she could buy a boat. The interconnected realities of virtual singers wearing elaborate and elegant clothing from the Orient. How daring demons descended for a fashion brand they would model. The day you never went back to class. And the day you encountered a bunny girl without a tail and one with carrots in her hair.
Before we begin, let’s be clear which figures are eligible for inclusion.
- 1. Figures we covered from January 1st, 2021 to December 31st, 2021
- 2. Future Grails only, figures in Another Chance (i.e. re-releases) are ineligible
- 3. Variants of already released figures are OK
- 4. Mature figures are OK
- 5. Posable figures are OK
There are around thirty figures of whom I’d like to give honorable mentions. And if I had it my way, I would. Alas, I’m bound to five. So for the last time this year, in no particular order, they are Texas Elite 2 by Good Smile Arts Shanghai, Saber/Altria Pendragon Second Ascension by FREEing, SAMURAI by WING, Raiden Mei Herrscher of Thunder Lament of the Fallen Ver. Expanded Edition by APEX and miHoYo, and A-Z[D] by Myethos.
Though a little late, let’s not further delay and begin our count down of 2021’s most outstanding figures!
First up, we’re greeted by a dominatrix, of whom we wrote. Though I wasn’t easy on her, Medicos showed off a memorable figure of Revy for BLACK LAGOON’s 20th Anniversary. She’s based on Hiroe Rei’s artwork, of which Medicos didn’t follow to a fault. Revy has a firm body which is expected of all the athletic things she’s done over the years. The front angle might be the main one, but she stands out at the back. Her buttocks are just as firm as her body. Coupling her light skin with her dark thong results in a mesmerizing view.
For her outfit, the deeper red Medicos showed is better than the initial pale shade. She’s so much better for it. Another thing they did quite well is the creasing in her thigh-high boots and their laces. Her chair is also ominous for its size and sharp spikes. The iron paintwork is multi-layered and stands out for one of the best-painted areas. Her chair is also a great way to round off her design.
Next, we have Arknights’ “Nian Unfettered Freedom Ver.” by AniGame. Her face is small and pretty, with her eyes being the highlight. I like how she glances to the side without fully turning her head. And if you look closely, you can see her tongue slightly peaking out of her open mouth. She wears a light cheongsam which matches her tied-up hair and pale skin. Nian easily stands out for the way she interacts with her surroundings. From the wall panel down to the stone flooring, her base faithfully recreates the CG.
OrcaToy’s “Erza Scarlet the Knight ver.” was the first we figure named Most Outstanding. I don’t think that she needed to be refined. The original version is an excellent figure. A lot of the same detail remains, which is why she’s on the list. For the way she’s grimacing and thrusting her spear, the intensity of her soon-leaping attack is real. Erza is a big figure and, notably, OrcaToys developed her without needing a stand to keep her upright.
She’s wearing bikini armor, with the armor only covering her shins and wrists. Fan-service or not, matters not. The hard weathered silver armor contrasts well against her much softer body. Since most of her body is on display, you can see how she wrenches her abdomen to get extra torque on her attack. It’s a detail I like quite a bit.
Number seven is the best Saotome Mary figure anyone will ever make. Yes, that is a challenge to top Myethos’ remarkable effort. She’s another lady of whom we wrote. While certain aspects of her design could be better, she’s on this list for her mannerisms.
Youthful is her face,
Supple are her lips,
With a sharp chin,
To her grin,
It grants bite,
Matching her eyes,
Bright they are not yet,
Captivating they stay,
Canary they glow.
Mary’s surroundings are generally deep in color. For example, the poker table’s green felt top and her scarlet blazer. The creamy appearance of her legs contrasts nicely with everything around her. The knuckle definition in her is notable for the way she’s hoarding the chips under her arm. While her right-hand shows avarice, her left hints at her sophisticated background.
Masked or not, there should be no surprise to see such a gorgeous rendition of Black Canary on this list. Not so much for her blonde hair, Black Canary stands out for her blue eyes and parted red lips. Prime 1 Studio made good use of her face for the way she’s turning her head to the side and fixing her gaze slightly upward. She bends her knee while cocking her hip, signaling that she’s ready to fight now. The EX version contains replacement hands and arms. I particularly like her clenched fist.
Black Canary’s a premium 757mm-tall 1/3rd scale figure. They’ve created the expectation and unfailingly deliver incredible texture. You can see that her jacket, boots, and gloves are made of leather. Her one-piece is made of a more breathable fabric. In it, the stitching that has it conform to her body so well is also visible.
Genshin Impact’s Ningguang Gold Leaf and Pearly Jade Ver. marks the list’s halfway point. If you’ve been following in order, you’ll remember that she took third place in the Cheongsam & Traditional Chinese category. As mentioned in her impressions, she has an air of dignity and affluence that stems from the expression on her face and her crossed-legged pose. APEX did a great job with conveying this on sight, without necessarily having to know her backstory.
Much like Nian earlier, Ningguang comes with a lot of accessories to create an encompassing setting. I felt that they held enough back with her base to allow you to close your eyes and envision her surroundings. The feeling that she stimulates and everything else already mentioned is what sees the wonderful Ninnguang join our list of most outstanding figures.
Michiru was strong this year. She took first place on our Lingerie list for a litany of reasons. In her impressions I mentioned that Misaki Kurehito’s artwork has improved over the years. Aniplex with ALTER did a great job bringing her out of her source illustration into a three-dimensional space while retaining that dreamy, hazy aesthetic the best they could.
Slightly altering her expression over the source is a welcomed change. Rather than her usual boisterous smile, Michiru has a gentle one. The way she tips her head to the right gives her face a comely appearance from a lower angle. Her smile perfectly matches the subtle fidgeting in her pose. Hyoudou Michiru Lingerie Ver. is not just a great lingerie figure, but a great figure in nearly every aspect of her design.
The third best figure of the year is KADOKAWA’s Ram & Rem Reindeer Maid Set from Re:ZERO Starting Life in Another World. We aren’t sneakily trying to squeeze eleven figures onto our top ten list. While you can buy them separately, their snow-covered base and snowmaids see them better together.
Despite their names, neither comes across as a maid on this occasion. This is probably the reason why they didn’t feature on our Maid list. But it’s no loss. Rem & Ram wear outfits with distinct designs. Distinct as they may be, their outfits are both asymmetrical. The sisters alternate which legs have a long stocking and which has a garter. They also have a caramel brown color scheme directly in common.
For Ram, I prefer the way she glances over her shoulder. Her little tail peaking beneath her shawl is quite cute. And for Rem, I like the way her body twists as she lightly steps toward you. Her clothing’s soft frill trim stands out more and so does her cute reindeer antlers. Using pastel colors and matte textures was a great decision. It benefits both their poses and sees them more charming for it.
I’ll be beaten if that’s all I say again. The second most outstanding is Max Factory’s Houshou Marine from hololive production. At first glance, Marine is a centerpiece figure. She sits atop a ship’s anchor. Its chain spirals behind her before snapping. The anchor and her rock base play on her pirate theme. So does her pirate hat and rippling coat. You might notice that her eye patch is coming off. The snapped chain might be symbolic that she’s broken the ties to her life as a pirate. For in this pose, Marine winks like a seductive idol!
Her mostly red hair stands out for the lovely painted highlights in her fringe. With the light detail, the highlights create a soft feeling. The softness extends to her uniform complexion. Marine’s expression and right hand are the focal points of her pose. Despite this, I appreciate the character in other parts of her pose. It’s charming how she lightly lifts her left as she holds her knees together.
Max Factory did a good job designing her body. A body that doesn’t evoke any thought that she’s seventeen years old. Rather than hold her hair, Marine seems to be showing off by raising her left arm. The side views nicely display the highlight that is her fleshy underarm area. Next would be her abdomen, which her tight brown leotard emphasizes. Of course, her thighs are another. You’ll notice they didn’t exaggerate them by having the stockings cut deep into them. Ambient lighting would do a really good job drawing out the detail in both her outfit and body.
Instead of Marine abandoning her life as a pirate, it could have just been the wind that blew off her eye patch.
Luphia showed up early in the year and was the benchmark since then. It wasn’t when scrutinizing every detail that saw her become it. But when Max Factory and saitom teased her painted sculpt. Luphia is a rare figure with that thing that you can’t name. Nor can it be denied, no other this year has been able to match Luphia’s amazing atmosphere. Max Factory went all out designing Luphia according to saitom’s specification. The attention-to-detail is nothing new for their scale figures. She’s so good that I lamented she wasn’t a 1/6th scale figure.
Like many ladies, we also wrote about Luphia. In honor of her being named MyGrailWatch’s most outstanding figure of 2021, her impressions will be made available without needing a membership for a limited period.
Biting her glove, Luphia’s expression is cool as she nonchalantly throws her left leg over her right. Falling between Stella and Kelly, her body is firm but still supple. It’s delightful seeing the way her belly curves inward and how her panties cut into her thighs. Her defined ribs and collarbone are just as satisfying.
The DF line seems to showcase sneakers as much as the clothing. In design, Luphia’s bright red sneakers are tame in comparison to Kelly’s boots. Yet their color sees them stand out like a beacon and match the outlandish nature of her silver, puffy, rapper jacket. She also has an amazing use of color throughout her outfit. The numerous red areas go well with the silver in her jacket and hat. Her blue-purplish hair also ties into her underwear’s accenting. Max Factory with Akimofu and Nakano Figure Classroom at the helm did an outstanding job developing saitom’s Luphia.
This is the second year in a row that Max Factory has taken our number one spot for Most Outstanding figure. They also took second with Houshou Marine.
Thank you for joining us over a series twelve of lists counting down 2021’s best figures. With this one, our fourth MGW Favorites Selection comes to a close. I hope you enjoyed it. Do you have any favorite figures of the last year?
The new year is past us and we’re soon going into February. From here on, 2022 is expected to get into full swing. We might be looking towards tomorrow, but a January figure might already be this year’s benchmark. Thank you again!