Alter’s Louise Gothic Punk ver. – Tsun Tsun

I can’t believe this year is almost over, just a few more weeks and on to 2013. So many cool figure releases this year for sure, for me it was a pretty good year for scaled releases and my beloved figmas. Interestingly enough this year saw several releases of older popular figures from a variety of manufacturers allowing some of us to acquire some sought after releases.

One such figure is Alter’s Louise Françoise Le Blanc de la Vallière – Gothic Punk ver. the archetypical tsundere with a mouthful of a name. A figure that I wanted to get my hands on for years ever since I started to collect figures four years ago.

Louise sure has gotten a variety of figures over the years, after all Zero no Tsukaima was a nice long running light novel series and a four season anime. Among those figures there have been three in particular, all from Alter, that have caught my interest and I would love to own someday.

The first I already own, Alter’s uniform version, the second would be their bustier version and finally the third would be the titular figure of this post.

This year was really the year of re-releases and it pleases me to end that one of those figure would be one of my top ten most wanted figures. If I had to pick my biggest pet peeve of the figure collecting hobby it would be the second hand market. For the most part, if you miss out on a release of a figure you have to be prepared to pay way over the retail price or play the waiting game until you find the best deal. Being able to buy this figure at retail price was an unexpected surprise.

I’m surprised though that Louise has not gotten more figures in recent times, the uniform version that I got is from 2009, so is the original release of this figure and 2008 for the bustier version. There wasn’t anything big from the third and fourth seasons, even if there were plenty of nice costumes to choose from. In particular I would love a Louise figure in her wedding dress. I always thought Zero no Tsukaima was one of the more popular shows of the last few years. Although I suppose this could be only my point of view as a westerner.

I actually been in another one of my slumps, this time though not because of how my pictures look but because the ideas behind my photo shoots have become stale to me. I’m bored of just doing the tried and true flat background. However, not since October’s Purple Heart have I done a proper scaled shoot. I figured, rather than just not shoot anything until I got more ideas I should do a quick and easy shoot so I wouldn’t get rusty and try out some things while I’m at it.

This where Louise comes in, this Goth Punk version from Alter has been out for a while and several people have already reviewed the re-release. I figured, this figure would be perfect for me to try out things and still be fine if I screwed up a bit.

One of the things I tried was trying to use a back lit backdrop, something I never done for a scaled shoot. I experimented a bit with my figmas but nothing serious. Building up from an old idea I threw some lace in front of my diffuser box. I think that was kinda of a failure, with the exposure that I used and the aperture I feel not enough detail came through in the end.

More interestingly for me though, for the first time ever I post processed my photos. I put aside my super negative view of post processing just to give it a try. Following Chag’s super awesome video tutorial I grabbed the trial of the latest Adobe Lightroom and gave it a go. I gotta say it was much simpler that I thought and not that very time consuming either. Then again I did not tweak each picture individually and just applied the same settings to the whole batch.

What do you guys think? Did I butcher my pictures, should I have let my camera take care of it? While I’m still not of the opinion that you need to post process every picture that comes out of the camera I’m more open to the idea now that I was before. Just like I told Chag, it’s alright.

What do you guys do for post processing if any? Is there any cool tips and tricks or tutorials you recommend?

As for the figure itself, I obviously like it quite a bit. I like that it shows Louise in a nice dere dere mood, although I think I would like a figure of her being all tsun tsun too. Kind of a shame though that Alter toned down the blush and perplexed expression Louise had in the original illustration the figure is based of.

Well, I suppose compared to the original illustration where Louise is essentially flashing her panties to us this pose does not warrant so much blushing. Another of the things that Alter toned down for the figure, although I’m undecided if this is a good thing or not. Having her panties right there out in the open is kinda alluring but I think it makes it lose some of the appeal the teasing such as with this figure provides. Although if you really want to see them you totally can along with some delicious zettai ryouki. A must for any tsundere played by Rie Kugimiya. The thigh highs in particular caught my attention as they present a nice asymmetric look to her legs.

This leads to the one part I dislike about this figure. I don’t like her boots at all. I find them to look very goofy, almost clown like. I wonder why they were done this way, in the illustration they look pretty normal and are sized appropriately. I do like the cute skull cat thing on it, pretty neat.

One of the things I always liked about Louise is her gorgeous hair. Might be the pink, may be the nice waves to it, might be nice volume it always seems to have. I don’t know what it is but I really like it. The hair for the figure looks the part, the shading is done well and the ribbons accentuate it nicely. One of the most noticeable things in figures for me tend to be the hair, when a figure manufacturer screws up the hair it is usually a very big flaw that does not go unnoticed. Might sound like a broken record but Alter never disappoints in that area for me.

As for the rest, super duper job from Alter as always, which is doubly nice since this is technically a figure from 2008. Whenever I get older figures whether second hand or as a re-release I’m always impressed with them. While not as elaborate as today’s figures some of them such as this one really do hold up with their build quality and paint.

In the end I’m super happy to own this figure, happy that I finally tried my hand at some post processing and I got an excuse to take pictures of a figure that probably doesn’t need more. Not that has stopped me before though.

Now it’s time for be to go back the figure I really wanna shoot now, the currently overly popular Katanako from Max Factory.

 

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18 Comments

  1. Yeah it was a nice figure year for me as well. I will make a post about my expenses and favorites soon.

    That the aftermarket prices dropped like that was quite tempting for me, I made 5 great deals with figures I’ve always wanted this year. Well, I had to pay more for my Tamaki earlier this year, but that’s more than ok. It’s good that not all prices drop.

    The back lit background looks quite pretty, the pattern is nice and it is befitting to this figure.

    I have fun with post processing, but I try to keep it simple, White Balance, exposure, contrast and blacks. I only dislike Photoshop cut backgrouunds, it often looks so fake!

    I’m a too picky Louise fan, I’m not satisfied with any figure of her so far and I’m totally sad about it. I got the school uniform version recently, of course she was very close and cute, but I sold her again. Goth Punk Louise is a cool figure, nearly perfect actually, but I’m not happy with the o face, they better have made her more embarrassed or altered it to completely happy.

    • Expenses… sound like a really bad idea.

      I rarely look at the aftermarket so I probably end up missing on some good deals. I should try to do it more often.

      If I do it in the future I probably will keep to stuff like that. Anything that alters the picture in a major way just means to me I failed at taking a good picture in the first place.

      I feel the same, I like the two Louise figures that I have but I’m not completely satisfied with them. I really want a nice tsun tsun Louise.

  2. Nice review. For such an old figure, she has a lot of nice details, like the bows and the detail in the folds in the front of her dress.
    Good to see you giving post processing a go! One thing that helped me try out a bigger variety of sliders was downloading a bunch of presets, basically like Instagram filters but it’s tweaking Lightroom sliders to preset values to get the effect, often putting some sliders to extremes. Heres an example of one being used: http://myfigurecollection.net/picture/167279. There’s a bunch available for free and although I rarely use them in actual production shots, its nice to give them a go to learn what each slider can do.

    • She sure is, totally worth owning this figure.

      Hmm.. yeah, that sounds like a good idea, I still do not have a good grasp of what exactly are the effects the sliders have on the pictures.

  3. lovely figure with a wealth of details! This was one of the crazily priced figures on the 2nd hand market and the re-release really helped to tone things down abit..=3

    And I really should try Adobe lightroom..heard all sorts of positive things from my photo-taking buddies..your shots look good though, nothing butchered in my opinion.

    • Yup, must have sucked for the people trying to sell theirs but for me it was god sent.

      It’s interesting, I think it’s nice for certain uses but not always.

  4. So this is that figure everyone was making a commotion about a while back. It does look pretty nice.

    The only post-processing I normally do is sharpening (to compensate for my camera’s lack of crispness) and white balance correction (to compensate for my inability to take photos). If I want to do a more “artsy” picture, I’ll screw around with levels or filters.

    • Pretty nice figure indeed.

      The more I think about it the more I think this is the kind of stuff I will with post processing. Specially the white balance, since my camera gets iffy once in a while with certain lighting.

  5. Failure? Naw, give yourself some credit — I think it’s great idea. While not flashy, the lace is a great twist to the blank backdrop. It gives the shots a soft and fluffy look, in addition to framing the figure. Hell, if I see some cheap lace at some thrift store, I’d give it a try!

    Anyway, great figure. I didn’t know Louise well enough to warrant the purchase (nor do I really want to know to be honest, hah), but those boots are amazing. According to this lolita fashion panel I attended once, punk lolita is actually a thing, and I’d love to see more of it in anime and figures.

    • Hmm… I suppose calling it a failure might have been hasty, perhaps I should say I had mixed results? It is an idea that I thing should be revisited in the future.

      What? You didn’t watch Zero no Tsukaima? Louise is super cute, when she is not being so bitchy anyways.

      I can’t say I seen much punk lolita fashion but it does sound interesting, wouldn’t mind seeing more of it.

  6. What a cute figure! I passed on her because I don’t like Louise as a character (I tried to like her, I really did), but I have to admit Alter did a good job with her. I actually like her sweet strawberry variant more, since it feels fluffer.

    Funny that you don’t like her boots, since they’re one of my favourite things about her. It’s the only part of her that gives off a “punk” vibe. Otherwise she’s looks like just another maid. I think the problem with them looking out of place is because Alter didn’t include enough “punk” aspects up top. I wish she had more straps or cat skulls or something.

    I play with contrast and white/black balance and ocassionally colour filters for atmosphere. Lightroom is a great tool for post-production editing, but I mostly use Photoshop. Habit, I guess. =]

    Also, I like the lacey look you have. It gives Louise a light, posh feel.

    • It really is a cute figure and for Louise I find it to be a hit or miss. If you can stand her super tsun tsun side then liking her is not that hard, on the other hand if you can’t.

      I do agree with you, the boots are the only punk thing about her, the rest really is your typical gothloli fashion.

      Post processing seems to be among those lines for the people I asked. I think I will go for that as well.

  7. It might have been nice to see a new Louise design rather than a simple re-release, but I appreciated having another opportunity to own this figure without resorting to the secondary market. I definitely don’t regret the purchase. Between Louise and Narika this year and all my past Alter purchases, their work tends to age quite gracefully. It’s also nice that they don’t seem to increase the base price of their figures on re-release, so figures like Louise look like a bargain compared to where a lot the new scale bishoujo figures are coming in these days.

    As for post-processing, I feel it’s definitely worth integrating into your workflow. In my experience, it doesn’t take long to get comfortable enough with a tool like Lightroom or Aperture to routinely produce more aesthetically pleasing images with a few seconds’ worth of tweaking some sliders in post than what your camera will put out on its own.

    If you’re not already, start shooting in RAW and use that as your base for post-processing. You will get better results in post when starting with a RAW than with a JPEG.

    I would start with simple saturation and contrast adjustments, as you can almost always safely increase these over the base levels for a pleasing effect. Bump both up by enough that the effect is noticeable versus the base image, but not enough that it becomes garish. For example, I start every image in Lightroom at +20 Vibrance, +20 Saturation, and Point Curve set to either Medium or Strong Contrast.

    From there, you can move on to tweaking individual colors (for example, I might try to bring out the pink more on Louise because that’s sort of her trademark color), exposure (is the base image too dark/light?), and spot adjustments like eliminating obvious dust/scratches and specular reflections (frequently seen in the eyes when shooting figures).

    It’s an experimental process, but after a while you develop a feel for what adjustments usually work and you’ll find yourself doing most of the work without thinking too much about it.

    • Oh yes so much, although sometimes it makes me question why newer figures of similar build cost more than they used to. Only bad thing about it is that for me at least the USD/Yen ratio makes it so I pay more than I would have had before.

      Thanks for the tips, while give them a try as I continue to experiment with Lightroom in the future.

  8. The goth punk version was high up on my wishlist too when it first came out. At the time I didn’t have any money for her, so a few years later, when I saw someone selling her I just had to get it no matter the cost. A month later, the re-release was announced and I felt like an idiot.

    Even though I paid more than I should have, I still like this figure. I keep it beside my bustier version on a wall shelf above my monitor.

    As for post-processing, I’ve given it a shot but it either turns out worse than before or takes me an extremely long time, mainly because I have no clue what to do. Maybe I should check out Chag’s tutorial too.

    • Oh man, I’m happy to say that hasn’t happened to me, at least not within a time frame like that.

      It is a nice figure, I might have been whiling to pay after market prices if there hadn’t been a re-release this year.

      Yeah, one of the many reasons I never did it was exactly just that. Tutorials online where all over place, I found a bunch of things for certain effects or “this is how I do it” kind of deal. With Chag’s tutorial it was perfect since it applies to figure photography.

  9. It so happened that she has the archetypical Tsundere character, voiced by none other than Rie Kugimiya, and when you add TVTropes in the maths, you will say she got Grade S Zettai Ryouiki even if in this dress… since the makers got it in this way that displays the Absolute Territory, lol.

    Punk boots, eh? Overall the goth loli figure on Louise is so good.

    • But of course, everything you listed is a must! Archetypal indeed.

      It is, if Alter was gonna re-release one their Louise figures I am glad it was this one.