Ashley Wood’s comic Popbot, sits as an incomplete work of wonderfully illustrated comic confusion. Over the course of his convoluted canon, Ash pops various characters in and out like disposable income, spending them as though they exist simply to get us to the next page and show off another, seemingly endless supply of beautimus sketches and paintings. However, there are a few concrete, dyed in the wool key characters that carry the large majority of his story.
One of those characters is the singing, boozing, womanizing cat, Kitty. We’ve all seen him in various toy forms, packed in with both 1/12 and 1/6 Popbots. The other character who I’d consider the protagonist of the books, is Lady Sham.
As toy collectors and fans of A.Wood’s artwork, you’d better believe the much discussed release of such a key character would be sort of a big deal to us. Sham had been oft mentioned by Wood himself as “coming soon”, only to have those words disappear into the ether as weeks turned to months, months to years. Along with various other long promised figures, Sham has been in the works for a very extensive time now. One can only assume she was being refined and perfected for an epic release befitting such an iconic Popbot character.
Finally, they did it. 3A announced that Lady Sham was indeed coming out this year. She’d be sporting her traditional black stretchy attire and hair. From the early teaser pictures, she looked all around awesome!
pic by ThreeA
“Yaaaay!!” cheered the 3A fans.
Except that she was to be an exclusive to an art show in Hong Kong that only a handful of people would ever be able to attend.
“What the.. ?? Nooooo!!” cried the 3A fans.
I get why exclusives exists but I can’t explain to you the “why” in “why” Ash and 3A would decide to do their fans this way. I can only assume due to the outcry (and the on going claim from Ash and 3A that “nothing is planned”) they decided to throw us commoners that have continually stamped their meal ticket by buying up everything they put their spit shine on, a bone.
They promised to release other versions of Sham in the near future!
A short time after RVHK, 3A came through with that promise and teased a picture of Pure Sham as well as a sale date. She was basically the negative of the exclusive Lady Sham, sporting all white with dark hair and light blue lipstick. To add to the fire, there was talk of a “Casual” Sham that Ashley said would drop as either a 3AA exclusive or surprise. While Lady Sham is often depicted in a white jump suit like Pure, I just wasn’t feeling her as much as the original all black version. I decided instead to hold out for Casual, who’d been in several A. Wood pieces.
pic by ThreeA
Then it came down from top brass that Casual wasn’t going to happen. No reason really given, but one can assume that something as lean as a girl character in a tank top and jeans didn’t “wow” Ashley. I’m guessing she probably looked more like a stylized barbie.. not something most of us would be interested in enough to pay for.
During the course of the Pure sale, a quick sketch of Red Devil Lady Sham in all red and a tuft of white hair popped up on the ThreeA Production Blog. I refreshed bamba, and there she was. I have an affinity for red so added her to my cart. At the time I still had a 003 Caesar on the way and I must have giggled audibly as I imagined how cool the two would look together on top of my shelves.
Unfortunately, 003 didn’t do anything for me. The dull red colors and cheap looking plastic killed my enthusiasm for a dynamic, bright red collective on my shelf. Without her planned companion, I admit my enthusiasm was damaged for Red Devil a bit. On the other hand, Queeny was truly awesome and in my opinion, one of the most fun and original characters from 3A this year. Plus, Sham’s been in the works forEVER now. She had to be perfect, right?
I put a little faith in the devil and tore open the box.
The box art wasn’t a huge surprise. We got the same sketch that teased Red Devil when she first popped up on bambaland. It’s a cool sketch for sure, but after seeing the excellent painting that came on Pure Sham’s, I was particularly jealous that Red Sham didn’t get the same treatment.
Red Devil Lady Sham came packaged with a couple extra bits that further set her apart from the other Shams. She gets an extra gun and gun holding hand as well as the curious little plastic puppet dude, Mr Bridger. The inner packaging is obviously from previous Shams, so there’s no plastic shell for any of these additions. Mine were loose and floating around in the bottom of the box. Mr Bridger had somehow freed himself from the little plastic bag he was supposed to be in but arrived unscathed.
From what I understand, Mr Bridger is either THE devil, or represents the devil. Either way, he supposedly a puppet that talks to Lady Sham. In toy form, he’s a piece of solid molded plastic.
Right out of the box, I thought for sure I’d love Lady Sham. Stylistically, she looks fantastic. Her face is frozen in an unamused, heavy eyelided gaze that says she’d just as like shoot you in the face as look you in the eyes. Her red lips and white hair are cleanly painted with no paint bleed onto other surfaces and contrast nicely with her red body suit.
The fitted red suit is crafted in such a way that it leaves little to the imagination. It fits her tight, literally foot to chin. It has a sheen but it’s not shiny like the faux vinyl that previous Tomorrow Queens came in. The material is also fairly stretchy, not quite spandex, but along those lines. This is a good thing seeing that you must pull and stretch the sleeves out in order to pop the gun hands in and out. A large black zipper runs from the back of her head to her waist. I assume this exists so you can take the suit off if you need. As form fitted as this suit is, I can’t imagine anyone attempting it for any reason.
Sham comes default with both neutral hands installed. I can’t tell if they’re meant to appear relaxed or “itchy finger-y” but they’re all new sculpts just for her. The way the suit is sewn to encompass the hands looks phenomenal and goes back to how well fitted the suit looks. I do wish the fingernails on the hands were painted. It seems a little lazy to skip out on this detail, especially on such an important figure in Ashley’s world.
I love how large and dynamic her feet are. My wife has maintained that she “hates” how Ashley Wood paints women’s feet, where areas, it’s one of the things I find most charming and unique in his work. Sham’s feet embody that aspect very well. I was also very surprised at how easily she balances. Traditionally, the female figures from 3A are as challenging to stand as a new born doe finds it to walk. The only thing I can contribute that to is her larger feet. To repeat the sentiment I had concerning unpainted fingernails and with all the attention Ash gives to his lady feet, it seemed a given her toe nails would have been painted. A shame they’re not.
Red Devil comes with twin holsters for her twin cannons (not those, get your head out of the gutter). The guns themselves are basically repurposed 1/12 Popbot guns painted black with bright red handles. They look cool enough and are slightly different, but I can’t help but wish Ash had designed something completely new for such a pinnacle character.
Popping Sham out of the box and putting her on the table I thought, “Wow, she looks really great.”
Then I tried to pose her.
Underneath all that stretchy red suit is a highly articulated female body. A highly articulated female body that you will never be able to take advantage of.
Unintended double entendre aside, the suit is both the best thing and the worse thing about Lady Sham. It has give, so you can move her around some, but because it’s wrapped so tightly around her and the material has resistance to hold it’s form, you won’t be pushing her into anything overly dynamic looking.
For example, you can left her arm to point her gun and bend her elbows to adjust the angle some. However, depending on how stiff your figure’s joints are, you may or may not be able to rotate the elbow around as the suit just pulls it right back to however it’s been sewn in. The same can be said for her wrists and ankles. The other issue with the suit lies in the material itself. As I mentioned before, it’s like spandex, but not really. It honestly feels a little like something you’d find a durable balloon to be made of. Thin fibrous rubber. I noticed this more as I posed her arms and moved her waist around. The material stretches, but after a few bends, doesn’t quite go back to it’s normal state. It bubbles at the bends ever so slightly and the fabric starts to show signs of wear.
Seeing that happen this early on and with as little posing as I’ve done with her, it seems highly unlikely that the suit will hold up very well or very long.
Continuing with my suit complaints. The fact we have to stretch out the material to swap out the hands and then via some archaic game of chance, attempt to pop the tiny wrist peg blindly back into the wrist hole without snapping the fragile plastic is pretty ridiculous. I have no other way of saying it other than to say it’s a bad design choice. They should have had one gun hand installed as default and a neutral hand for the other. It would have made the most sense for 99% of the people out there and not require anyone who want’s Sham to hold the only accessory she came with to chance ripping or over stretching her suit.
While I dig the twin holsters, the straps that go across her waist to hold them in place, are incredibly unfinished. They look like spare strips of fabric that someone quickly ran some scissors over to toss around her waist. (Update: Looking closer at her other strap, it seems the top one is heavily frayed and the other is not. So I don’t believe the fraying, scissor cut look is the norm and hopefully nothing you need worry about. The bad news is that I need to contact CS for a replacement. The good news is, 3A CS has always been awesome for me and you most likely won’t have the same issue with your Lady Sham)
Another small thing that’s unique to Red Devil and probably unavoidable is that “X” the holster straps create around her waist, make her look thicker in the middle than she is. Picky? Yeah, but I’m allowed to be.
THE FINAL WORD
I haven’t been this torn over a figure in a long while. I feel like I have a good deal more to say in the “what’s lame” category than I do in the “what’s awesome” one, but I still think she’s a really cool figure and I like having her in my collection. She’s just not as cool as I think she could have easily been.
I love Red Devil Lady Sham’s design with her slinky eyes, bright white hair and fitted suit. I love how much her red suit stands out on the shelf next to my other TKs and TQs. She truly does look unique despite sharing some of the qualities of previous 3A figures.
The suit is an aggravating itch and the focal point of Sham’s problems.
I hate how limiting it is and truly fear for the longevity of it. The material has give, but doesn’t seem to be very strong. Just posing her the little bit that I have, is already showing signs of wear. Not good.
If you’re into having at least one of each figure from the Popbot line, then you could do worse than Red Devil. Overall, I like how she looks just as much as I did the original black version and far more than the “Pure” version. Since I haven’t had a chance to mess around with the other variants I don’t know what, if any, differences there may be in the fit or feel of their suit fabric.
The ideas behind Lady Sham make her an interesting and cool looking figure. The sleeves slipped over her hand and sewn into her shoes give her a really sleek, streamlined appearance that holds true to much of the iconic artwork she was pulled from. On the other hand, those elements complicate other things that 3A forced on us, like swapping out her hands for “useful” ones. The suit is a perfect example of 3A once again going for style over substance.. or style over functionality.
I suppose in a lot of ways, it makes sense for them to do so since their properties are almost wholly driven by an artist well known for shifting his interest and doing things the way he wants them done regardless of other’s input.
I can’t fault them for that, but for a figure that’s supposedly been in the making since day one of 3A and that’s so important to Ashley Wood personally, she feels strangely rushed. Like a couple steps were skipped during production causing what could have become a true classic 3A toy to simply being another 3A toy.
- Red Devil Lady Sham looks almost exactly like I’d want her to. Her design is top notch
- The suit looks fantastic and is neatly sewn for a near perfect fit
- Her face is perfectly painted and sculpted to capture her no-nonsense personality
- I love her big pointy toed feet
- She’s a breeze to balance
- The suit only looks fantastic. It functions pretty poorly and seems as though it will deteriorate rapidly with use
- Some QC on her belt looking frayed (updated: most likely an isolated situation)
- Why isn’t at least ONE hand set to be a gun holding hand by default. It makes zero sense.
- Unpainted finger and toe nails are sad finger and toe nails
- Mr Bridger is supposed to be a puppet, but isn’t.