It’s been a long, long wait.. but the 3AA 2014 membership pack has FINALLY arrived.
Each year, 3A opens its gates for 24 hours to allow all those interested in a membership an opportunity to jump on the 3AA bandwagon. The $170 membership gives you 15% off all purchases at bambaland for the year, an exclusive membership figure, as well as other goodies such as tee shirts, art prints, a lanyard, membership card and even a messenger bag.
In 2014, 3A has cobbled together what is likely the most ambitious 3AA package yet, thanks in no small part to the exclusive figure featuring an all new, seamless female body. The result of which it took a full 10 months from initial order date to get into members’ hands.
Now that it’s here, I’m going to try and answer the question, “Is it worth the wait?”
*Check out our unboxing video
One thing that 3A have almost always done perfectly is the packaging their figures come in (the retail Adventure Kartel 1/6th packaging being the one exception, IMO) Whether it’s a simple white box with a big sticker featuring Ashley Wood’s artwork.. or a slick design fashioned by the ever so talented Brent Ashe, it looks fantastic. So much so, that I’ve come to really expect a lot from them with each new toy shipped.
I should have never doubted. The packaging for the 3AA 2014 membership pack is, in this guy’s opinion.. one of the best from 3A yet. It’s a very clean design, a simple sketch of a star on the front and naught but a bit of branding on the back. They also went for a more traditional box/lid configuration than the various built in drawers and flip cover boxes from the past few years’ membership packs. I prefer this if only because lifting the lid reveals some of the best artwork in the whole package.. display worthy in itself.
Once you get it open you’ll see a thin, almost transparent cover sheet sits on top of everything else. I actually prefer the art on the cover sheet to the actual print. It’s pretty wrinkled and would take a light box or something back-lit to display it, but I definitely want to try and figure out a way to.
The stuff inside is encased in several layers of foam, precisely cut to the form of each individual item. Everything in my box was perfectly packaged.. not an errant piece bouncing around anywhere. I couldn’t say the same for the last five or six items I’ve received from 3A, so I was super happy to see things so tidy this time around.
Simple and clean.. I really like that.
Before I dive into discussing the true star of this show, Lasstranaut (Lassy), I’ll talk about the extraneous bits and pieces. Each 2014 3AA pack comes with a tee shirt, a patch, a pair of panties (yup), an artbook and a print.
The tee is alright for a 3A shirt. I’ve admittedly always been wary of the shirts from 3A as they seem to REFUSE to use nicer feeling, softer cotton shirts like those from American Apparel or the like. It seems like they jump around and are possibly still experimenting with what brand of tee they’re using as a base. For example, the 3A shirt I got at SDCC 2013 felt both heavier and softer. This year’s 3AA shirt feels a little scratchy to me, but fairly lightweight. The make of it certainly doesn’t feel as high a quality when compared to most shirts I own, but it doesn’t feel like a cheap $5 Walmart tee shirt either. On the plus side, the fit is true to size and sits somewhere between an athletic and standard fit.
Whether you like the shirt will obviously be completely up to your personal preference. I really like the sketch of Lassy on the back. It’s certainly provocative, but doesn’t put too much on display where I wouldn’t be comfortable wearing it around town. On the other hand, I think the words look odd on the front and the whole thing might look better if reversed. That said, I like my shirts fairly simple. The design and icon placement isn’t bad… but it’s busy enough to where I don’t think it’s something I’d personally pick up off a rack and buy.
The artbook is exactly what you’d probably expect. A small, 30 pages or so, collection of high quality printed paintings and drawings of Lassy by Ashley Wood. Most of the images are not for the kids as she’s depicted pant-less 100% of the time and playing with herself probably half of that. Still, it’s a nice collection of work and beautifully printed. Mileage will vary depending on what you’re into!
The print is actually quite beautiful.. even if it’s printed on what amounts to heavy construction paper. I’m torn by how the majority of it is just negative white space. I was also saddened to see the top corners of it are bent up. I was planning to frame it up but I’m not so sure I’ll go through the expense of it after having it here in front of me.
Well, aside from the fact that all renewing 3AA members got a pair (and 6 year vets got an illustration variant on theirs), what can I say about them? They’re panties.. I believe their given name is “thong”. There’s a cute sketch of the star on front with the words, “You wished on me” across them. I gave them to my wife. When I did, she gave me this look that clearly stated an uncertainty of the path down which my toy collecting has taken me.
The jury is still out as to whether she’ll wear them or not. Sorry, no pics!
The panties come packed in a really nicely illustrated box that I’m sure you could find some other use for. I think I may start storing my extra wrist and ankle pegs in it.
Let’s see.. what’s left? As always, you get a membership card with your name and membership number on it.. this year’s sports a nice painting of Lassy on it (of course). If you want to wear your membership like a badge of honor, you can always use the supplied lanyard to do so.
And now.. Lassy.
I don’t really know where to begin with her. It’s the most playfully naughty toy in my collection. It’s also, in several areas, the most impressively refined. The biggest buzz for Lasstranaut was that she’s the first 3A figure to have a “skinned”, seamless body. Basically, she has a thin flexible vinyl skin stretched over her lower half to hide those unsightly leg joints.
Out of the box, she looks quite nice.
The first thing I noticed, unfortunately, was that my Lassy had a dent in her mid thigh. I can pull and try and move it around, but it reforms no matter what I do. I plan to contact CS about it as I can’t see the point of having perfectly seamless legs on a figure if they’re not actually perfect.
The first time I saw a picture of Lassy’s head sculpt, I was underwhelmed. It falls more under the 3A’s Pascha line, design-wise. 3A/Wood have been pumping those chics out the past year, hand over fist.. and for me, it makes the argument, “they’re not dolls, they’re action figures!” that much harder to convince people of… even myself.
I’m just not into them. I really thought Lassy would come with some coy looking, tough chic face.. something you may see on a Tomorrow Queen or even Little Shadow. Instead, she’s a one eye closed, big grinning, overly friendly looking cutie. It wasn’t at all what I wanted or expected.
But you know what? Now that I have her, I think she looks great.
As soon as I got her out of the box and set her up to photograph, I was enamored by her. She really is a beautiful looking figure. The idea of a pantless female astronaut may seem unnecessarily sexualized or lewd to some.. but in fact, it’s actually quite tame.. cute even. My wife took a look and admitted, “Huh, I thought it’d be more graphic than that.. it looks smooth, almost like leggings. Her space suit is cool.” (the wife here: I’d like to point out that I still think that her only having half a space suit is completely ridiculous)
So if you like, you can think of Lassy as wearing skin tight, cream colored yoga pants.. and heels. That’s a good combo, right? In fact, that might be a slight detriment. The legs look SO creamy and smooth, they don’t necessarily read very well as bare legs. It may be a limitation of the material, but it’d been nice if there was some subtle painted hues to really sell the skin. Maybe some light pink on her knees and lower abdomen.
Brave toy customizers.. this is a call.
I started trying to manipulate them, to see how the legs worked when posed. Eh.. the results are not that great. On the positive side, her joints are tight and lined up correctly. I didn’t have to worry about her ankle joints pointing sideways and having to try and figure out how to twist them back the right direction. Thanks to her joints, she’ll actually hold whatever pose you put her legs in.
The bad news is, the vinyl bulges horribly with anything but the most subtle, careful of bends. It just collects at the fold instead of redistributing across the surface. You can give her instant cankles by simply moving her toes up. And that behind the knee fold? Forget about it.
So the legs will definitely remain mostly straight in service of aesthetics.. but how’s the rest of her move? Turns out, pretty well.
Despite having several layers of space suit on her upper half, her waist and chest twist and bend pretty easily. Her neck has a nice double joint in it, so you can twist her head one way, while bending her neck another. Her arms have the regular kind of movement you generally get with ⅙ figures. The suit’s shoulder pads do block of some of that range, and you may have to adjust the sleeves a bit to twist the arms where you want them to go, but nothing too crazy.
The half space suit is one of the nicest pieces of kit I’ve seen from 3A. It’s such a layered, yet clean concept. It’s beautifully realized. From the sculpt to the excellent paint and weathering, 3A knocked it out of the park. The materials they used in creating it feel high quality as well. Very solid.
In some of the pictures I’ve seen, her gloves looked really odd to me. In person, they’re an excellent testament to the detail and care taken with this figure. Great stylization and paints that are spot on.
The helmet has a shaded blast shield that you can open or close so you can see Lassy’s grinning face underneath. To further my point about the attention to detail on display here, there’s a sewn cloth lining inside the helmet. It’s not something you’d really see, but it’s there anyway.
If I had one complaint about the helmet it’s that it doesn’t securely fasten to the suit. It sorta clips in.. but the lightest bump will knock it right back out. I recommend setting her up how ever you want her posed first, then putting the helmet on.
Moving around to the backpack. It has two little boosters that can be rotated around as you please. Mine popped out while messing with them, but they’re easy enough to get back in. To me, the backpack is a little plain, but that’s not really a constructive criticism being as that I couldn’t tell you what I’d want to add to it. Maybe some colorful buttons or lights?
So now I get to do something I never actually LIKE doing.. strip down a toy. Lassy has several layers at work on her suit, so I wanted to show them all off. Cue the sexy slap bass music… think Seinfeld, but sleazier.
Removing the outer, hard armored parts reveals the first inner layer which is sorta a fat suit.. a buffer between her and the outer armored suit bits.
Removing the “fat suit” is pretty difficult, but once you get her arms bent up in the right direction, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Once you do, there’s a real nifty looking long sleeve shirt. Honestly, I’d be happy to display her just like this. Kinda looks like a zipped up leather jacket with some dope elbow pads. It’s really nicely tailored.
I wouldn’t mind seeing a future figure come out that has a full suit designed this way.
I tossed all her gear back on to show of the rest off the doodads she came with.
The star criminal or criminal star (whichever it’s called) is Lassy’s space companion. It attaches to a thin bendable wire that you can wrap around Lassy or whatever you like to get the effect you’re after. I wrapped mine around the star-shaped stand.
Speaking of the star-shaped stand, it’s going to be an important part of your Lassy display simply because it’s very difficult to get her to balance standing on her own. I was able to do so on my kitchen table, but there’s no way I’d trust her to stay that way for long.
Thankfully the stand gets the job done and isn’t bad looking either.
This is probably the most divisive 3AA membership set to come from 3A yet. Year after year, those of the 3AA fold always seem to be chomping at the bit for their 3AA sets to be ship. But this year, I know a lot of folks who have put theirs up for sale before they even have it in hand, whether it be out of frustration from the long wait, or lack of personal appeal.
So was the set worth the almost year long wait for it? As I’ll probably pack everything back up and leave it in the box it came in, I have a difficult time saying with confidence that it was.
It’s not that I’m impatient.. I just look at all this stuff and think, “the print is nice, but it’s printed on what’s essentially heavy stock construction paper, the majority of which is blank. Plus, a corner is dented. The tee shirt is the standard issue “so-so” quality tee 3A is known for (though it fits exactly like it should, huzzah!). I like the art book and think it’s very well done. It has some beautiful Ashley Wood art it in, but you have to really enjoy drawings/paintings of spread legs and exposed genitalia to be that into it… and I’m not sure how many 3A fans are… I’m not sure I am.”
And the panties? I mean… come on!
Do I want.. does anyone really want all this extra stuff?
Who is this membership set really for? That’s the question I kept asking myself while writing this review. Fans of 3A? Toy lovers? People who like space dolls? Guys/Girls who are into a little nudity in their toy collection? Art snobs? Erotic art lovers? Strictly Ashley Wood fans who know her back story or the importance she holds as part of Wood’s creative stable? Underwear aficionados?
I don’t think I have a quick and straightforward answer to that.. but I can’t help but believe that maybe next year, it might make a lot of people happier if the package itself was a little simpler if it means that it gets into their hands quicker. Less stuff, less noise.
That being said, if 3A just focused completely on getting the figure 100% right… just put all that time and energy there, I wouldn’t care if they took 6 months… 9 months… the whole year if in the end what we end up with is a toy whose execution is on par with its presentation. Zero QC issues. Just top quality.
When I look over at Lassy, I can see just how close they got to that.
She came out really beautifully. Sure, she falls short in a few areas and I could nit-pick, but I’m very happy with her. Some may argue the skinned legs weren’t worth the extra time and effort to develop… but I’d argue it helps make her special. She’s not a World War Robot or Tomorrow King ninja… she’s articulated but she’s not an action figure. She something completely apart from everything else in my collection. She’s not really a toy you’re meant to play with… you display her. I’d say she’s the closest thing 3A has made to a toy imitating Ash’s art.
Lassy’s sitting here in front of me with her limited leg articulation, her weird, dented, seamless thigh and a bright, happy face.. and I can’t wait to clear a spot for her on my toy shelf. In fact, she’s getting her own.
Whether you felt this year’s 3AA Membership was for you or not, it continues to be a solid value for 3A collectors. The 15% off with free worldwide shipping is almost enough in itself if you buy 3A figures with any regularity.
I’m looking forward to 3AA 2015. Any issue I have with this year’s membership won’t detract from me renewing next January. I’d certainly be happy with less stuff.. I personally only care about the exclusive figure and the discount, but like it or not, I doubt that “less” is what we’ll get. It’s obvious that 3A wants their membership packs to be something that sets them apart.. something special. They put a ton of effort into ensuring you feel like it is.
Anyone who tells you they’ve done anything less than that is frankly…
- Some of the best armor/clothing I’ve ever seen on a 3A figure
- Fantastic weathering and paint application
- The tee shirt fits true to size
- The 3AA membership continues give members a lot of bang for their buck
- The design of the pack – great job Brent!
- Love the transparent print
- Nice art book
- Now we get to look forward to 3AA 2015
- The panties?
- Lassy doesn’t pose too well, the skin looks nice but bunches oddly.
- Lassy’s helmet doesn’t attach securely to the space suit
- Lots of extras that no doubt added to the cost and time of manufacturing and delivering the set that most collectors won’t care about.
- The tee shirt’s material isn’t very soft, feels a little cheap (If you’ve worn a 3A shirt before, you know what to expect)
- The panties?
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