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Old 03-08-2017, 10:27 PM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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Lightbulb Phicen Dolls all you need to know

Phicen's Super Flexible Seamless 1:6 Scale Figure with a Stainless Steel Skeleton

Lets spend some time with a very unique action figure doll that I've been admiring for quite a while.

This Doll has become increasingly appealing to me. One of the reasons I'm drawn to small action figures is that many of them have excellent articulation and balance.

This flexibility can come at a price, though--some of the figures I've purchased have unsightly joints and/or bizarre, exaggerated proportions.

I also admire how action figures can have such realistic and both Daryl Dixon figure and Séverine's Avenger's Black Widow are great examples of this.

With all of these things in mind, I set out to find a 1:6 scale action figure with a good blend of articulation and realism.

In my quest for this ideal action figure, I spent a lot of time browsing the internet and several of the big manufacturer's websites. I also lurked around on the information-packed forum, "One Sixth Warriors." After all of this research, the company that stood out to me the most was Phicen.

What makes Phicen figures unique is that they are extremely well-articulated, but they're also "seamless"--meaning that they have very few visible joints.

The skin-like covering on these dolls can make their bodies look startlingly real in some photographs. In fact, the body on the Phicen figure in this review is so realistic that I left her partially clothed for most of the pictures. Even so, I would like to start off with a quick warning:

WARNING: The realism of this doll might make some photographs inappropriate for the workplace.

Phicen is a Chinese company that makes a few different kinds of 1:6 scale figure. They have regular seamless bodies (these bodies come with rooted heads and underwear, but are still called just "bodies" in the online stores).

The bodies come with different face molds, different hair colors, a few different skin tones, and two different bust sizes. They cost around £60+.

There are also standard seamless figures that come fully dressed--often with a character theme.

These cost anywhere from £140 to £300.

Phicen's newest innovation is a collection of bodies (again, with heads and underwear) that have stainless steel skeletons. Saying that makes me think of The Terminator.

I have read a lot of complaints about the standard (non-steel) Phicen armatures or "skeletons." It seems that these dolls can break quite easily. I assume that their armatures are made out of plastic, and so perhaps the problem is similar to what Disney is experiencing with their rubber-legged dolls.

This made it very clear to me that I wanted one of the stainless steel skeleton figures. There were only 4 of these figures to choose from when I was shopping (there are 7 now) so it was a pretty quick decision.

I opted for the pale-skinned, medium bust figure.

My doll came in a cardboard box with the cutout of a female figure on the front:

The back of the box has a text-based design that says "super flexible," and the sides of the box have some simple drawings of the figure in many different positions:

Inside the cardboard box, the doll is packaged in a plastic shell.

She comes with instructions, a stand, and two extra pairs of hands:

The instructions are actually quite helpful.

They go through every one of the doll's 26 joints and describe how it can move and how it should be manipulated.

I found myself looking at these descriptions quite frequently as I was posing the doll.

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-08-2017 at 10:57 PM.
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Old 02-09-2017, 10:26 PM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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Here is everything that came in the plastic shell (it's all very easy to get out):

Here's a close-up look at the two pairs of hands that came with this set:

The hands are made out of bendable vinyl and have painted pink fingernails:

The stand is made out of black hard plastic and comes with two different interchangeable grips:

The wired hook grip reminds me of the Hot Toys stand (which was the only stand that would fit Lammily doll) and so I chose that design over the simple waist grip:

Here's the figure on her stand...still wearing the skimpy string bikini she came in, with a plastic strip over her face to control her hair:

The moment I removed the plastic strip from this doll's head, her hair became unruly:

I did not like the leopard print string bikini that this doll came in, although I understand the desire to show off her realistic body style.

Spent quite a bit of time online trying to find suitable clothing for her to wear for the review.

I wanted clothes that would fit the Phicen proportions without running the risk of causing dark stains, and I also wanted something that would show off the flexibility of the body without being tacky.

I ended up purchasing a few swimwear and underwear pieces form a store I learned about it's called SMcG Customs. Here's a blue sailor-style bikini that I think looks great:

The skin-like covering on the Phicen figures feels and behaves like silicone or a silicone mix (although I can't figure out exactly what the material is).

It has a slightly sticky feel to it, so tight clothing can be quite hard to get on. The skin material also attracts lint and dirt like crazy. Here you can see some fuzz from the swimsuit pilling along the doll's legs:

I was able to wipe those fuzz balls away with a Swiffer cloth, which I used in very light brushing motions.

Another thing I want to point out in the photo, above, is the inside of the doll's arm. The steel skeleton is visible through the skin covering on the inside of the elbow joint, and to me this looks just like the visible veins in a real human's arm! It's startlingly realistic.

I am fascinated by the fact that dolls like this one are being sold as "bodies," as if they had no head or personality.

In fact, all of the Phicen "bodies" have fairly attractive heads--with different face molds and hairstyles. Let's take a closer look at this doll's face:

The head is made out of plastic and is slightly yellower than the skin-like covering of the body.

This is not really as noticeable in real life.

The doll's features look Asian to me--at least from the front.

I think she's quite beautiful:

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 02-09-2017 at 11:03 PM.
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Old 03-09-2017, 09:46 AM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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She also has a very pretty half-profile, but her full profile is off.

I think it's because the angle of her jaw dives down a little too dramatically into her pointy chin:

This doll's hair kept getting in the way as I tried to photograph her face.

It seemed like the more I smoothed it down and brushed it, the more out of control it became:

The hair is black, but there's an unnatural dyed quality to the color.

The hair fiber also feels terrible and has very little shine.

It is coarse and dry and has unsightly rough ends.

The wavy texture of the hair makes it very hard to control. It won't even lay flat, and so it always looks puffy and out-of-scale:

I tried pulling the hair back at the top--just to help it lay flatter and to keep it out of the doll's face:

A big Improvement

Let's take another look at this girl's face now that her hair is out of the way:

She has brown painted eyes with a high-gloss coat that makes them look like inset glass:

Her eyebrows and eyelashes are both painted in a fairly simple style, but her eyebrows have nice thickness and an interesting cross-hatched hair pattern:

There are a few molded eyebrow lines underneath the paint, too.

Her mouth has slightly-parted lips painted in a delicate coral shade with a light gloss:

Really like the shape of the mouth.

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-09-2017 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 03-09-2017, 10:03 AM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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Before we look at this doll's articulation, I think she needs a name. Her face has more than enough personality to move beyond the zone of just being an action figure body.

She looks a bit like a Jennifer to me for some reason, but I decided to go with "Leila" instead because it means "dark-haired beauty."

Leila is advertised as having 26 points of articulation.

The joints are tough to count (since most of them are concealed), but many of them have movement consistent with a ball-and-socket design. Here's a diagram from the instructions that gives an overview of the articulation (the numbers correspond to steps in the instructions--not the number of joints):

Areas of movement are in red.

Now, let's see how all of those joints behave on the actual doll.

Leila's head doesn't move very much at the top of the neck.

At first, I was quite disappointed by this lack of flexibility.

She can swivel her head back and forth like this:

But she has only very minor side-to-side movement:

However, what I discovered (by reading the directions) is that there's an internal joint in her neck that allows for some very dramatic head positions:

This neck joint, combined with the swiveling movement of the head, allows for a great range of poses.

When the neck is tipped back as far as it will go, my doll's head tends to lift up and away from the rest of the body, like this:

Leaving an unattractive gap:

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-09-2017 at 10:24 AM.
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Old 03-09-2017, 10:27 AM
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However, the head can be re-seated back against the neck with a little push, and then it looks much better.

I still don't think that this doll has an especially graceful head and neck profile, though:

Leila also has joints on both sides of her clavicle region.

These joints allow her to lift her shoulders up:

With the left shoulder raised.

And also to slouch her shoulders forward or push them back:

With both shoulders hunched forwards (left) and pushed back (right).

Front view of the shoulders pushed back.

Leila has ball-jointed shoulders that allow her to lift her arms straight up to about a 120 degree angle from her body:

To lift the arms higher than 120 degrees, the shoulder joint has to be rotated forwards:

This rotation causes a bit of odd twisting in the "skin" of the armpit area, although most of those creases look pretty realistic to me.

After rotating the arms around so that they could lift up over Leila's head, I had a bit of trouble getting the shoulder joints back into their correct position.

It's hard to know which way to move everything when you can't see the joint!

If the shoulder joint is misaligned, the arm can only lift up about this far:

The shoulder joints allow excellent backward movement of the arms, too:

Leila has ball-jointed elbows with amazing flexibility.

She can easily put her hands on her hips:

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-09-2017 at 10:39 AM.
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Old 03-09-2017, 10:41 AM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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And she can also bend her elbows so that her hands reach any part of her head or face:

Combined with the up-and-down shoulder movement, Leila can strike a very convincing shrug-like pose:

Leila's wrist joint is nowhere near as fluid or flexible as her other arm joints.

Her hand attaches to the armature with a ball and socket, but the hard edges of the hand restrict the movement at this joint:

I also find this joint to be unattractive--especially in contrast to the hidden joints on the rest of the body.

I would gladly trade the hand-swapping feature for a nice seamless joint in the wrist.

Doll hands can be so emotive, but I think this clunky wrist joint really detracts from Leila's realism and expressiveness.

As I was posing Leila's hands and arms, I frequently felt like the hands might pop off if I bent the wrists too much (and anything past about 120 degrees felt like too much).

I mostly took advantage of the rotational movement in her wrists and tried not to bend them too much.

When Leila has her arms raised above her head like in the picture, above, you can see a few of the weaknesses in her realism.

Some things about the underarm region seem very realistic to me (like the small creases right in the middle of the joint and the large fold of skin at the shoulder) but other areas (like the two thick creases at the very top of the arm and the sharp angle at the back of the joint) look unnatural.

The areas with blue arrows look great to me, but not the areas with red arrows.

On Leila's other arm, you can see that the steel armature shows through the delicate skin right in the middle of the upper arm, and the wrist joint has a very unrealistic thick crease:

Leila has a double-jointed torso that allows her to lean back quite a bit:

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-09-2017 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 03-09-2017, 10:55 AM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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And to lean forward:

This joint also has side-to-side movement:

And can even twist!

What's amazing to me is how realistic Leila's skin looks with all of these torso poses--especially the twisting movement viewed from the back.

She gets a little indentation along where her spine would be and everything!

Leila also has double ball-jointed hips. These allow her to do outstanding front-to-back splits:

She can even twist around while she's doing them:

Or lean forwards and touch her front leg:

And, of course this hip flexibility translates into excellent high kicks:

Leila's side-to-side splits are also perfect--she looks like a gymnast to me!

She can sit on the floor in a number of graceful ways

And of course touch her toes in this position, too:

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-09-2017 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 03-09-2017, 11:09 AM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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Or maybe lean back and take in some sun...if only there was some of that here in the Uk right now.

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Old 03-09-2017, 11:10 AM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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Leila also has very flexible knee joints (again, probably ball-and-socket) that can flex and rotate beautifully. Adding knee movement to this doll's sitting poses is really fun.

There's nothing she can't do!

One thing that I want to single out is that Leila can lay on her stomach and lift her head up to look at the camera.

This is an extremely rare thing for a doll to be able to do.

It's all because of the extra joint she has in her neck:

Even though she can look straight up in this position, I think she looks more natural when her head is tilted downwards a little bit, like this:

Leila also sits in a chair perfectly--and can easily cross her legs:

In fact, she can even sit cross-legged on the ground:

One of the things that amazes me about this doll's flexibility is that her joint movement is incredibly smooth and effortless, but she holds poses with no trouble.

For example, her knee joints bend with practically no resistance, but they can hold their position well enough to support the doll's weight:

Even with only one knee on the ground:

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-09-2017 at 11:21 AM.
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Old 03-09-2017, 11:23 AM
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Holly Goodhead Holly Goodhead is offline
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I really like this pose, too...

Although being told never to sit like this because it would ruin my knees.

As you may have noticed in some of the pictures, above, Leila also has some modest ankle movement.

Her toes are very flexible and rubbery, but she has a joint in her ankle.

This means that even though her feet have a high-heeled fashion shape, she can still stand flat-footed.

She has no hope of standing on her own, though, simply because of the lack of armature in the highly flexible material of her feet.

I'm not sure how she'd fit into shoes with these squishy feet, either, come to think of it.

Here are a few of my favorite pictures of Leila in her blue swimsuit:

Last edited by Holly Goodhead; 03-09-2017 at 11:32 AM.
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