“I heard the call of Mother Earth. She was screaming for a savior. I answered her. Now, I am the breath of the land. The primal urge of things. I am the beauty of the world. I am the protector of the Earth. I am vengeance. I am Poison Ivy.”
XM Studios proudly presents its magnificent interpretation of Gotham City’s most lethal villainess, Poison Ivy. Fashioned in traditional Geisha attire and ceremonial dress, coalesced with an exquisite contemporary blend, the enchanting vined vixen looks primed to lull her ill-fated prey into a deathly combination of unencumbered bliss and woeful submission. This remarkable offering is XM Studios’ second Edo-era inspired design which once again features iconic and cultural imagery of Japan’s incredibly rich history, the first of which was the outstanding Samurai Batman statue produced in 2017.
Poison Ivy’s first appearance in the DC Universe was in Batman #181, published in June 1966. She was created by the extraordinary silver age comics team of Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff. Ivy was originally introduced as an ambitious femme fatale hoping to become the “number one female criminal” who would woo and tempt her rivals and adversaries to do her bidding, including the caped crusader who more than once fell victim to her irresistible wiles and charms of persuasion.
The overdose of contaminants should have killed her instantly and mercilessly, but instead, it caused a chilling metamorphosis…
However, Poison Ivy’s more familiar elemental origin would only be established two decades following her first appearance (i.e., in Secret Origins #36 published in January, 1989). In this definitive revamped origin written by Sandman scribe Neil Gaiman, Dr. Pamela Lilian Isley is newly introduced as a brilliant, yet shy and impressionable, botanical biochemist who studied under the harsh tutelage of Dr. Jason Woodrue, also known as the vile and psychopathic Floronic-Man. According to gothic legend, Woodrue maliciously experimented upon his susceptible ingenue and injected her with a cornucopia of poisons and toxins, just to see what would happen. The overdose of contaminants should have killed her instantly and mercilessly, but instead, it caused a chilling metamorphosis which turned the young botanist into something far more than human. The horrific transformation altered her bloodstream making her slightest touch, lethal. She could now produce powerful mind-controlling pheromones compelling virtually anyone to bend to her will. She also manifested the ability to mentally control all forms of plant life at the molecular level (i.e, chlorokinesis), turning them into weapons of death and destruction simply by thinking it. Furthermore, she has the ability to create potent floral toxins ranging from truth serums, love potions, and deadly and noxious diseases. These toxins are typically secreted from her lips and administered through a poisonous kiss, at which point, your fate is undoubtedly sealed.
XM Studios presents the fanbase with a truly unique interpretation of Gotham City’s most deadly siren. Do feel free to post thoughts, comments, and questions regarding this premiere collectible below and I will do my best to address them.
XM Studios – POISON IVY STATUE – Risingstar Review
The extraordinary creative team behind the Poison Ivy statue are Marthin Agusta (sculpt) and the XM Studios Design & Development teams. Special credit must also go out to Zhao Gong, the engineering mastermind who helped piece this extremely ambitious design together during the production stage. Also, this piece would not have been near as successful without the extraordinary contribution by Tom Lee, the XM in-house painter and QC manager in China. The Poison Ivy statue stands an impressive 21 inches high, 13 inches wide, and 13 inches deep. When displayed with her umbrella (i.e., kyowagasa), Poison Ivy stands 22 inches high. The statue weighs approximately 13 pounds. It was limited to only 600 pieces worldwide at a retail price of $1200 SGD (approximately $890us).
The Poison Ivy statue comes in 28 pieces: 1 Poison Ivy body, 2 portraits, 2 rights arms, 2 left arms, 8 hairpins (2 extras), 2 large branch pieces, 1 stone lantern, 6 flower branch pieces, 3 snapping plants, 1 umbrella, and a full color print designed by Muju Monster.
The XM Studios Samurai edition Poison Ivy statue is an International release and is available to all regions across the globe. XM Studios began shipping out first batches of this International release in late-July 2018.
This is a magnificent sculpture. Clearly, the sculptor, Marthin Agusta, and XM design and development team spent an inordinate amount of time and effort into accurately depicting the Edo-era of Japanese history. To those perhaps unaware, as I was, the Geisha actually date as far back to the year 600. Traditionally, the grueling, near-decade long, military-like training process to become a Geisha included developing a mastery in the arts of music (i.e., expertly playing stringed instruments, flutes, percussions), dance (i.e., nihon-buyoh), tea ceremony (i.e., sadoh), flower arrangement (i.e, ikebana), calligraphy (i.e., shodoh), as well as demonstrating a proficiency in numerous languages, witty and flattering repartee, and hostessing. The actual literal meaning of Geisha is “art person”, which seems most apropos. The distinguished and refined Geisha were essentially cultivated to perform for the Japanese elite (i.e., the nobleman, aristocrats, and wealthy). The Geisha were ultimately perceived by the commonalities as living works of art, as the perfect woman, and affluent and influential men from distant lands and beyond would often travel great distances to get a glimpse of this model of female perfection.
Marthin Agusta…visually walk us through the painstaking process it generally was for a Geisha to prepare for a performance.
In order to capture the beauty and the essence of the Geisha, the sculptor, Marthin Agusta, arguably one of the finest and most imaginative sculptors of the modern age of contemporary statue design, and the XM design and development teams, visually walk us through the painstaking process it generally was for a Geisha to prepare for a performance. First, the Geisha’s skin is cleansed with Bintsuke-Abura (i.e., bees wax). Shiro-Nuri (i.e., the white make-up foundation) is then applied over the layer of Bintsuke-Abura in order to help the applied white foundation adhere to the skin for longer periods of time. Some might ask, why do Geisha’s paint their faces white? It’s because it helps emphasize the alluring redness of their lips and the blackness of their hair, or in Poison Ivy’s case, her glistening red hair. Also, as evening performances in the 7th century were typically lit by candlelight, the thick white make-up helped illuminate the Geisha’s skin and permitted the Japanese lords and aristocrats to get a better view of the beautiful facial expressions of the entertainers. The eyebrows were also plucked before adding colored cosmetics in order to create a more dramatic and contrasting aesthetic. All of this and more presents as very much reflected in XM Studios’ visual narrative of this extraordinary sculpture.
Incidentally, the nape of the neck area (i.e., the Eri-Ashi) of Geishas was typically left bare for spectators as the objective was to draw attention as to what was typically perceived as the most sensual and erotic part of the Geisha’s remarkable figure. However in this particular instance, XM Studios chose to add a contemporary twist to the Geisha’s traditional design scheme by displaying more of Ivy’s curvaceous shoulders, adding an exquisite and lavish vine-made choker around her neck, and designing more of a plunging neck-line to her kimono, all of which allows for a more sultry and enthralling presence illustrative of Poison Ivy’s temptress personality and character.
I also learned that traditionally, only the center of a Geisha’s lips were typically colored red because it presented the illusion of small lips which were considered most attractive. Why? Because at the time, small lips represented grace and self-restraint. However, here again, XM Studios presented an additional modern expression by featuring full red lips. These contemporary accompaniments work exceptionally well and further demonstrate XM’s mandate to mix tradition with imagination.
The katsura (i.e., the wig) is especially evident on the Ivy portrait which features the gleaming white make-up and ruby red lipstick. This particular katsura wig appears to be in the style of the Yuiwata Shimada. Traditionally, the katsura is made from real human hair and has a metal frame and clamps on the inside to support the wig. It can actually be quite a heavy piece to wear too, which explains at least in part why Geishas typically move around at a slow pace. Also, note the delightful multi-colored Japanese hairpins (i.e., kanzashi) and the embedded comb and floral ornament on her hair, all of which contributes to the spectacular visual.
Despite her appealing and glamorous features, Poison Ivy is no longer human. She is an elemental. She is a killer.
The first, more traditional looking portrait visibly shows how plant-like Poison Ivy had become as the flora we see featured on her face and neck are literally bleeding through her skin. Despite her appealing and glamorous features, Poison Ivy is no longer human. She is an elemental. She is a killer. She is not on our side. She wants nothing more than the obliteration of all humanity so that all plant-life on Earth may live unhindered and free.
The second slick-cut portrait allows for the use of a split-face painted Noh mask, which was traditionally used in Japanese musical dramas to communicate Buddhist themes. The Noh actually date back to the 14th century. What was particularly interesting about these theatre masks, historically, was that they displayed different facial expressions based on the angle from which they were seen from the audience in attendance. Adding this unique element to Ivy’s portrait design and structure allows for two very distinct portrait options. However, worth noting, the mask here is used specifically as a means to hide Poison Ivy’s true face from her victims so that she can enthrall and enslave them at will.
Historically, a Geisha’s highly-detailed kimono could take as long as a year or two to complete, due largely to the sophisticated paints and embroidery. These kimonos were generally leased out to the Geishas employed in the highly lucrative Tea-House districts in Japan. The mid-thigh-high, vine-themed kimono depicted in the XM design is another contemporary element which personifies Ivy’s seductress attributes, and it does so without apology. This glamorous enchantress is aware of her irresistible appeal and appears poised to charm and vanquish her next victim.
The extravagant vine-themed dangling obi (i.e., darabi obi) again separates this modern design from the traditional norm in a way which allows Ivy to make this distinctive Geisha design her own. However, some of the other decorative accessories, e.g., the decorative hand-held fan (i.e, the sensu), the umbrella (i.e., kyowagasa), and the sandals (i.e., okobo) remain traditional in design.
In the same moment, she can appear both beautiful and lethal.
The base is actually quite elaborate too in that it features several deadly and fanged snapping plants, a plethora of colorful cherry blossoms, and an uprooted traditional stone lantern. Incidentally, the design illustrates how powerful Poison Ivy’s vines can be as it appears she directed her crushing flesh-eating vines to literally rip the stone lantern up from the ground. In fact, all of the vines surrounding Poison Ivy, including those creeping up alongside her legs, waist, and chest areas, are being mentally controlled by her (i.e., through chlorokinesis). These aspects of the design lend really well to Poison Ivy’s story as it presents her a formidable foe and an inexorable force of nature. In the same moment, she can appear both beautiful and lethal. She is never what she seems to be on the surface, and that is how she wins.
This clearly was a labor of love for the sculptor and the XM Studios design team, and it shows. If I could give this sculpt an 11/10, I would. We simply do not see this level of dedication to the craft nearly often enough. It was a privilege to review this sculpture for the fanbase.
Understandably, green is the major theme. By and large, I’m on board with the obvious color scheme for Ivy, even if the choice of green presents as generally muted, especially on the base. There was no painting over lines, smudges, or off-centered eyes, which is always a huge plus. I imagine it must have been quite a challenge to paint along the vines on her face and thighs but it was expertly done nonetheless. From my vantage point, XM presented a near flawless application of paints, from a stickler standpoint. However, I did have an issue or two with the choice of colors. I think I might have preferred a bit more vibrant coloring on the base if only to make the foliage seem more lush with life. I think adding more lively coloring to the branches and moss along the base would have made the piece more visually striking and dissimilar throughout, compelling the stimulated eye to move around just a bit more.
The sensu and kyowagasa were largely made of paper, plastic, and wood. While this certainly adds authenticity to the overall Geisha design, these appear to be fragile pieces. However overall, I think this piece works really well. Excellent job.
Production and Build quality
As always, when it comes to XM Studios, you can pretty much guarantee that you will be receiving a solid piece of craftsmanship. The Poison Ivy is no exception. The diorama has a fabulous size, shape, and weight to it. While it was a bit of a challenge positioning some of the vine extensions, it can easily be done. I must admit, assembling the 25+ pieces to this statue was a bit of a daunting task. However, if assembling less pieces meant receiving less pieces, then I would not change a thing.
The magnets and pegs worked really well. There’s no tilting or imbalance to the statue or cause to be concerned about long term leaning issues. The hairpin may require some fuzting to stay in place, but they do go in. You may consider adding a touch of clear nail polish at the entry-tip of the hairpins so they could stay in more securely. Up to you. Again, great job overall.
The Poison Ivy comes with a relatively easy to follow assembly booklet which identifies what goes where, when, and how. Extremely helpful.
As I submit this review, I can safely say that the Ivy would easily be included as one of my entries for statue of the year.
I absolutely love this design. It is a stunning piece. As I submit this review, I can safely say that the Ivy would easily be included as one of my entries for statue of the year.
This is actually my first XM Studios Samurai edition piece. I admit, like some other collectors, I wondered if I would ever be drawn to a line of statues largely based on traditional Japanese literature. However, after seeing this remarkable statue in person at the STGCC in September 2017, I simply had to have it. Marthin Agusta and the XM Studios design and development team presented a phenomenal and distinctive interpretation of Gotham City’s most deadly and lethal Siren. This is an exceptional piece. I must commend XM Studios for consistently daring to think outside the box and presenting the fanbase with another fascinating and original design.
There are a number of ways to display this stunning piece. However, I think the five ways listed below are the best ways, I think, to display this piece.
(A) Traditional Geisha portrait with fan.
(B) Traditional Geisha portrait with mask without umbrella. Due to the configuration of the traditional Geisha portrait, the umbrella isn’t an ideal fit for it. It also looks too busy with the fan so I would not recommend displaying it that way either.
(C) Slick cut portrait without the mask and without umbrella. Due to the configuration of the slick cut portrait, the fan isn’t an ideal fit for it.
(D) Slick cut portrait with the mask and umbrella
(E) Slick cut portrait – only umbrella.
I’m honestly torn as to which portrait I prefer. They both display so well.
Overall rating: 9.5/10
P.S. Lastly, please do not forget to register your statue’s serial number on the XM website. Join the fight against recasters who continue to plague our industry in growing numbers.