Now, I know this doesn’t have anything to do with personality per se. However, I am super excited about this all the same and want to share it with you, especially since a lot of personality enthusiasts are writers, artists, or other types of creatives. Personality theory helps us to understand our characters, our audience, our clients, and ourselves better, so it’s no surprise that so many of us are artists (and if you are, I’d encourage you to stop by my Resources page for other art stuff).
That being said, let me share with you Bandai’s Body Kun and Body Chan, poseable mannequins for artists. If you are not an artist, feel free to skip this one. Or, read it anyway if you like. If you’re not a personality enthusiast and you found this page because you were looking for more information about these figures, awesome! Glad you’re here.
(Please note: this is not a paid or sponsored review. I paid full price for these of my own volition. I’m just a huge fan of detailed reviews, and when I got them I knew I had to do a photo review for other artists considering purchasing these. While I am receiving no compensation for writing the review, all product links are affiliate links which means if you choose to make a purchase yourself, I will get a small commission. More info in my Disclosure page, if you’d like.)
Onto the Mannequins!
Let me just say how much I hated those wooden “poseable” mannequins we’ve all seen in art stores. I remember getting one back in high school or college and thinking it was really going to change the game in terms of my figure drawing skills, but when I took it out of the package…well. It hardly moves! The hands are wood blocks. The mannequin is chained to the pole on the stand it comes with. What poses can it do, really? It had limited use for me, that was for sure. But these guys?
When I Google searched the poses they could do I was amazed. Just look at them! They stand on their own, bearing their own weight like real bodies! They have kick-ass accessories and many different hand poses that you can change out depending on what you need. (I didn’t include pictures of the peripherals because not all sets come with them.)
Here’s a shot of Body Chan being suspended from the pole, in case you want to do a midair or unbalanced pose:
You can either clip them right in from the hole on their back, or you can suspend them from a little clasp with arms that comes included. Great for awkward poses or fight scenes when the figures are not able to support their own weight.
Here’s her again, standing on the ground:
And here’s a shot of Body Kun with a gun:
I don’t know how many times I’ve struggled to get that gun-holding hand pose and foreshortening right. No more!
What I like about these figures is how natural they look when you pose them. You can really get a sense of characterization in how one holds their body, and you’ll never get this sense out of a plain wooden mannequin.
That said…awesome Google pictures don’t always tell the whole truth, and if you’re like me, you’re wondering, well, what can’t they do?
Quite a bit, it turns out.
Let’s start with the design. I won’t lie: my drawing style was influenced heavily by anime and manga (I suppose that influence is still there). These figures are created in exactly that style. The guy is idealized and muscular in a bishounen kind of way, while the girl has a sweet, elongated kawaii look. This is fine, if what you’re drawing is a grade school romance manga. But if you’re not? You better hope you have a good sense of anatomy and proportion on your own, because these figures are quite exaggerated in their anime proportions and you’ll be doing a bit of compensation to correct the stylistic influences built into their frames. It’s best to learn from real, un-exaggerated human forms before stylizing them, and unfortunately these figures carry those stylistic effects into the 3D, making them poor tools for learning anatomy.
The figures are pretty delicate, so be careful when changing the hands out. Wriggle them off gently, don’t yank them. Luckily, if you do pull a joint off your figure, you can snap it back together. But I’d worry about doing this too many times and snapping off the connector. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. That would be a major bummer. It’s obvious that the benefit of having interchangeable hands (which have so many complicated and complex poses themselves, as well as joints too small to manipulate in this form) outweighs the inconvenience, but nonetheless, it’s something to pay attention to.
I got two figures, a male and a female, naturally. I’ll be drawing a lot of scenes that involve that type of dynamic, ahem, and of course you want the figures to work well together. But getting them together was a little…awkward.
Body Chan is not just shorter, she’s also smaller, as if the two bodies were cast at different ages in their life. That makes their embrace a little hard to maneuver, but you can do alright if you’re only going for a basic pose.
Getting them to come together for those NSFW poses is going to be a little trickier. The legs aren’t as flexible on either figure, especially Body Chan, and because the figures are different sizes they don’t exactly match up. While they are incredibly helpful for getting the angles and proportions down for tough poses (such as the above tango), I don’t think these figures are going to be able to do as much modeling for you in the bedroom as you might have liked.
Body Chan is quite a bit less poseable than the male figure. Her arms don’t really raise above her head and she seems to have less joint movement. Unfortunately, her legs are also less flexible than Body Kun’s are, meaning that acrobatic and gymnastics movements are out of the question. I’m an incredibly stiff and inflexible person, so I can’t feel too offended by Body Chan’s lack of leg stretching ability, but still. Her arms should at least be able to imitate the full range of movement above the head and out to the sides. I found myself wishing that the two figures had been constructed the same way in terms of joint mobility, but they weren’t, and I’m sure at least part of the reason is aesthetics and size limitation.
Would I recommend these?
Absolutely, without a doubt, yes!
It’s like having your own Posemaniacs figures that you can control! You can photograph them, repose them, Photoshop them together, and all kinds of crazy things! The possibilities are endless (well, except for the pose limitations).
One last final warning: don’t make the mistake of thinking that these figures will do the drawing for you. I know how easy it is to think it, believe me. You can make them do anything! (Well, not anything.) But here’s the thing. You’re going to have to know a lot about anatomy and the way the body works on your own to get the best use out of these. Yes, they are brilliant for helping you with difficult foreshortening and proportion issues, but they won’t correct your lack of understanding when it comes to how the human body works. Unfortunately, the only way for an artist to get this knowledge is the same as it’s always been: draw from life. Take a figure drawing class. See real bodies in real poses, in real lighting. And while you can pose these guys, take a photograph, and trace it, be prepared for distortions in your art. These are meant to assist you, but if you rely on them to do all the work, you’ll find they won’t work nearly as well as you had hoped.
But if you want to make the leap to help your poses come to life, I would absolutely recommend these for any artist. They help you plan out poses and see what’ll look natural before you ever put anything down on the page. They’re also great for getting you out of your comfortable-safe-pose routine, because now you’ve got a handy reference that you are in control of!