Review: Volks’ Horo

Volks’ Horo is probably personally my most anticipated figure to date and will likely retain that title for a considerable period of time. As soon as I’d seen her I knew that I had to have her and continually updated the site (1, 2, 3, 4) with any and all information I could find, I was obsessed. Over the months the hype grew in my mind to impossible expectations, expectations the figure could never possibly live up to. The fear of my eventual disappointment grew and I started second guessing my decisions, would I really like this figure?


For those of you living deep, deep within the depths of the darkest mines of Moria and don’t know who Horo is, here’s a little background information. Horo is a 600 year old wolf harvest deity from the light novel series Spice and Wolf by Isuna Hasekura. The first novel was published in February of 2006, however prior to publication was entered in the ASCII Media Works’ twelfth Dengeki Novel Prize in 2005, winning the Silver Prize. The series has since expanded greatly with 13 volumes of the light novel series, a manga, an anime with two seasons, and a visual novel released on the Nintendo DS. The series has even been licensed in North America via Yen Press for the Light Novels and Manga, and FUNimation for the anime.

The series takes place in the past with many European influences and revolves around two main characters, Lawrence Craft a travelling merchant, and of course Horo. Over the course of the series we follow them as they travel towards Horo‘s home and all their troubles in between. However the key aspects of the series are economics as well the growing relationship between Horo and Lawrence. You heard me right there, economics, there’s a heavy focus throughout the series on understanding trade and the economics of a travelling merchant. It may sound like dry subject matter to base a series on but actually works out thanks to the interactions between Horo and Lawrence.

Oh yeah, and Horo‘s mai waifu .

figure-volks-horo-03The Figure

Volks, usually known for their unpainted garage kits, mecha and Dollfies, has produced a series of pre-painted PVC figures called A-Brand of which this was one. This figure was sculpted by Milchstraße which I can only imagine is a pseudonym. The figure is 1/6th scale with a height of 21 cm, retailed exclusively at Volks’ Online store for ¥7,140 / $86 CAD and was released in November of 2009. Since the figure was exclusive to Volks’ Online store a proxy/forwarding service was required to receive her. I opted to use Tokyo Hunter as I also ordered Aisaka Taiga through him and worked out a deal on the costs for the two exclusive figures. Joseph is a pretty reasonable guy to work with and moves quick, the turn-around times were pretty impressive. Additionally, he also offered a break on EMS shipping on top of the deal we’d worked out originally. Overall quite happy with the experience, though one does pay for it as he’s definitely not the cheapest service available.



Before she even arrived my opinions were starting to skew and get mixed. The Japanese sites were starting to post their pictures and she didn’t seem to look as good as I was hoping, buyers remorse was setting in before I’d even received mine. I can only say that this was the best thing that could have happened to me as it brought all the hype that had built up in my head back down to reasonable levels. When Horo finally did arrive on my doorstep, 5 business days after Japan had received theirs, I was ecstatic with what I saw. Simply the best Horo figure yet, meeting my expectations. That’s not to say she’s perfect of course, just that she’s exceeded previous iterations.

One of the most obvious differences of this figure over previous is her base and pose. 3 of the now 5 Horo‘s I own had similar poses, standing, arms out, hair extending outwards, almost as if dancing. This Horo however has a casual posture and looks as if she’s engaging you in conversation, it’s a much more natural pose than the others, and in my opinion, most figures. It’s a very refreshing pose.


The base consists of a wagon wheel, bench and clear plastic along with some molding to hold Horo in place. There are no pegs so Horo‘s only held on by gravity and molding, which to my surprise works well. She’s well balanced and doesn’t wobble at all. It’s a nice base and while it feels incomplete due to it’s cutout nature it’s definitely many steps up over most bases with their plastic frisbees.

Horo’s sculpting has me a bit torn on my opinion. While I feel she’s the most accurate representation of Horo yet, she doesn’t appear to have the most sculpting detail necessarily. For example, I think both Kotobukiya’s and Good Smile Company’s Horos have more sculpting and design in their representations of her tail. Volks’ give’s a slightly flat or perhaps smooth feel that I don’t think melds with the rest of the figure which has lots of detail in the clothes and hair. I certainly don’t expect to see each individual strand of hair, but perhaps more work could have been done in her tail to give it a bit more texture. That said it’s not an unattractive tail, I quite like it’s positioning and thickness, I just feel they could have done more with it. Other examples might be Good Smile Company and Kotobukiya’s Horos hair both have more detail in some respects.

figure-volks-horo-32The rest of the figure has quite nice detail, though I think perhaps Horo might need an iron in the future. There are many realistic folds in her clothes all where they should be, maybe even an excessive amount in her right sleeve. Her pants also give off a different feel than her shirt, her pants seem to be a thicker material, perhaps leather and fold differently and thicker. Horo‘s face also seems to be the most accurate recreation so far though from some angles gives off a bit of a Who feel from Dr Seuss’ books. Her eyes are an attractive size and a wonderful red, her Who-like nose is cute, but her mouth gives off a slightly strange look. It’s not unattractive but I can’t put a finger on it. A friend said her lips stood out too much, but I think it’s perhaps the shape of it in relation to the rest of her facial features such as cheeks and chin.

Volks’ paintwork is acceptable but doesn’t stand out as anything overly exceptional, it’s just enough to get the job done. Horo‘s skin is a pleasant colour but lacks depth, her hair is the right colour and has shading, her clothes have some nice shading as well. But overall it feels there’s a lack of depth to the paintwork, most obvious places being her skin and tail. I imagine finding the right balance of depth for an animated character is difficult, where do you add depth that’s not seen in the anime? Strangely it almost seems like the base has a better paintjob in places than Horo herself.

Volks has also included a second face for Horo along with an alternative piece of hair for the front. I’m confused though with this extra hair piece as other than some mildly differing paintwork, it has exactly the same molding from what can see. The expression Horo is making in this alternate face doesn’t really appeal to me and I’m not really sure what it’s supposed to be either. It’s likely to be an accessory I store away in a drawer and rarely if ever use. I think that Volks should have included different accessory bits for Horo, such as a mug of fire wine to replace the apple, and a drunken Horo face. I think that would have been a great improvement over the face included, maybe by some miracle someone will produce such an accessory, we can have dreams right?


Lastly we have my favourite and most painful section of the review, defects, and there are some defects. The one that annoys me most is in her left pant leg right at the bottom, it looks like an injection point and seems to remove some detail from the cuff of her pant. It’s visible when on display as well as it’s near the front and at an angle you’d look at her, a rather poor choice of placement. The other defect is less apparent as it’s on her less visible side, the rear of her head. Unless you’re in just the right lighting conditions or looking for it you may not notice it, but in her hair it looks as though during the molding process someone left a short hairlike object on the mold and was pressed into her hair. The object is no longer there of course, but the mark it made is, another little disappointing oversight on Volks’ part.



There are some real upsides to Volks’ Horo and some somewhat mediocre results as well. I wished the figure would be perfect but of course that can never happen, there’s always going to be something unless I hired someone to sculpt her for me and directed them specifically, and that’s not gonna happen, at least not yet. But despite the apparently mediocreness of some aspects I think overall the figure Volks has produced represents Horo‘s character the best and most accurately as I’ve repeated throughout the review. I feel as though there’s personality in this Horo and that easily outweighs the minor shortcomings found in the figures design. So there we have it, the best Horo figure, and she’s not even naked!

But her feetsies are! Mmm barefooted Horo


The picture used behind Horo in the title image was taken by Claudio.Ar and can be found on Flickr.


  • Wonderfully natural and believeable pose, nice and casual
  • Maybe not the ‘definitive’ Horo, but she’s my favourite
  • Pretty well sculpted and the paintwork is adequate to great depending where you look
  • It’s horo!


  • Unfortunately her tail is lacking in detail, rather flat
  • What’s the extra hair peice for?
  • Big mold defect on her left pant leg



  1. Leonia says:

    You finally received her! I like very much the base of this sculpture, which I find original. Clothes are faithful to the character (personally, I prefer those of Good Smile Company’s adaptation). I don’t like really, the mouth (but it is often the case in Volk’s sculptures.. Fate’s face isn’t great too). Once again, the figure is beautiful, without being extraordinary, but as it’s limited (Volks), quality/price is not respected. A figure for Horo addict ^^ You have a Horo collection impressive!! Which is the best according to you?

    • Aka says:

      Which one’s the best you ask? I answered that in the review of course! The last sentence! This one’s the best for sure. Good Smile Company’s adaptation is quite good but I prefer this relaxed and casually dressed Horo.

      My Horo collection isn’t big enough though, I need 7 Horos at least, because in the Wolf Whistling song there’s 7 apples on the witches tree! Not a convincing reason I know, but it’s better than ‘just because’ 😀

  2. Bang. . . says:

    Oh yeah, lovely Horo.^^ Volks quality is usually a hit or a miss.

    How much did you pay for her?

    • Aka says:

      I knew nothing of Volks going in to this and could only hope that she would turn out alright, and she did thankfully!

      After all was said and done, after the cost of her, the double shipping fees, the fees Tokyo Hunter charged, the use of EMS shipping and the exchange rates at the various times payments were sent, she cost $160 CAD. Part of the reason the cost was so high is just simply due to poor timing with exchange rates and payment, oh well. She was worth it in my mind. But I certainly wouldn’t be spending that much money on other characters, I do have a certain attachment to Horo.

  3. Rico-sama says:

    Another very nice cover image, Aka.

    Great review. And a lot more balanced than I would’ve thought from a diehard Horo fan. 😉 I don’t have her but I agree with you that Horo’s personality really shines through and caries this figure. That and her relaxed pose is very unique for figures out there.

    It’s a shame her skins tones weren’t as flush as they could’ve been, but you raise an interesting question about how you find the right balance of depth for an animated character. Perhaps that is why figures from visual novels tend to look better than their anime counterparts? Because the art is usually more lush in that medium?

    PS. Taki Horo’s had bare feetsies too so you love Taki Horo as well, right? 😀

    • Aka says:

      My first iteration of this review was a lot more gushing. I wrote it shortly after receiving her and was still a bit too exciting. After a day or so I came back to it and re-read and re-wrote. It was at this point I could start to look at her subjectively and decide that she wasn’t the best figure evar or on the market, but was definitely the best Horo in my opinion.

      You could be right about the comparison between visual novel and anime with respect to the quality of of their artwork. It’s not something I’d considered but could easily be true in a number of cases. Do you have any examples though? I don’t mean to call you out or anything, just curious. I have a few characters from visual novels but haven’t seen the connection you drew. Though that could just reflect my choice of figures so far, you’ve been collecting far longer than I have.

      PS: While that is true, no. Just, no. Though Taki’s Horo has grown on me in some ways, but don’t get me wrong she’s still the worst figure I own. After piling the 5 Horos into one shot it really struck me just how bad Cospa’s Horo’s face was though, there’s no similarity between it and Horo the character at all, none! So I think Cospa’s Horo has become my second worst, though likely always was anyway.

      • Rico-sama says:

        LOL. I usually just jump right in – objectivity be damned! 😀

        The thought was more anecdotal than anything; just took a glance at my shelves behind me and thought I noticed a pattern like that. One that I think supports the theory you actually have: GSC’s Melissa Seraphy from Wagamama Capriccio. One on hand her color scheme (and skin tone) looks to be more saturated than your normal PVC, on the other hand it fits quite nicely with the art style of the game. I think a similar argument can be made of both Alter’s and GSC’s Chu x Chu Idol figures. Of course it doesn’t always hold true. Alter’s Pastel Chime figures, while amazing, don’t quite capture the warmth of the art.

        I would try to cite Native’s Kotone Ousaka, but she’s not really based on a visual novel. (Though she sure as hell is visual! :3)

        I also remember reading once that companies put more money into visual novel/h-game figures than others. I forget where I read it or they thought that, but that’s also kinda colored my perception.

        I do kind like Taki Horo’s outfit.

        PS. How’s that for a long comment? xD

        • Aka says:

          Pff I’ve had a longer comment on your website than you mine! 😛 But I appreciate your effort!

          I think you could be right about Melissa, I really liked her overall, she had nice colouring everywhere and a nice sculpt as well. Even her pumpkin has shading! So I think I’ll agree with you on this until someone provides evidence to sway me the other direction.

          I think you like Taki Horo’s outfit because you can almost see bum without even trying, and if you try you see nopan!

          • Rico-sama says:

            Curses! I wont give up though!

            It must bug you to agree with me about something.

            So, economics? 😉

            (And I think you’re right about why I like the outfit :3)

          • Aka says:

            While it may bug me, at least it was in regard to a figure worthy of praise, among some others I’ll ignore.

            Economics are what made this figure so expensive!

  4. Lylibellule says:

    At the end, more fear than pain for that Horo adaptation by VOLKS.
    Even if small defects are numerous and that the painting could be
    improved, i think it’s well made and respect the character design.
    A little too bad the mouth spoils the face a bit.
    On the other side, a great plus for the very original base.

    A nice horo gathering. Ma favorite stays the one from GSC.

    • Aka says:

      GSC’s Horo is quite well done but her face doesn’t seem quite right in their adaptation. Everything else however is quite good.

  5. Quazacolt says:

    ooh nice review of volks’ horo. didn’t really got into taking pictures of mine yet besides the few from comic fiesta and the one my friend said: “pics or it didnt happen” 😛
    she can be viewed from the gallery page at the bottom of the post

    • Aka says:

      Ah nice, you got a Volks Horo as well. I suppose I already knew you would, but it’s good to know you got your hands on one.

      How do you like yours? How does she compare to others in your opinion?

      • Quazacolt says:

        well, she isn’t the best pvc figure ever (i mean, look at things like saber lily/BRS, that said, i have no interests for them :P) however in horo figures thus far, i would say the best.

        in terms of just the mass production works however (comparing end product and the prototype figure/pictures), i would say GSC > volks. they have more experience in this no doubt and the end paint job is much more refined (where you’ve pointed out a defect in the volks production release, even mine had minor defects here/there too) and notably less defects.

        overall though, id still prefer volks the most, only because of her mischievous expression. the other smiling expression’s “flaw/defect” aside, its this mischievous expression that makes her stand out amongst the other horo figures, and no doubt, portrays her playful character accurately when no one else thus far did it.

        • Aka says:

          I’m starting to think BRS is far from the best PVC ever. Don’t get me wrong I think I’ll like her when she arrives, but she’s not living up to the high expectations given to her. Saber Lily though is amazing.

          GSC so far remains my top figure company, but things sound as though they’re slipping for them. But I’ll have to wait to confirm that when BRS and WIM finally arrive.

          I’m glad your Horo figure had marks in the same place, I don’t feel like I got a bad one then, but still sucks.

          I don’t really like her mischevious face as much as her smiling face though I agree with you to some extent. I think she stands out because she’s in a pose you could really picture her in, the others seem somewhat contrived to give her some sort of action without any real thought. Where as Volks’ Horo just seems like casual everyday Horo, the kind of Horo I want.

          • Quazacolt says:

            personally id side over with alter. problem with alter? they don’t really release figures that interests me too often 😛

            take a look at saber shin sonic form. that, imo, far surpasses gsc’s saber lily and BRS. well, it does come at a pretty hefty price though 😛

            as for Horo, it isn’t really at the same spot, other spots to be more accurate, but its just minor stuffs, and i mean, i do own quite an amount of figures myself, i’ve already long pass the sense of perfection (like having a non dented box lol) and accept the harsh reality of mass production flaws. that doesn’t mean id turn a blind eye on major flaws (which i have yet to encounter myself though) like having broken parts, or really REALLY obvious paint flaws/defects.

          • Aka says:

            Everyone seems to side with Alter, but I don’t have enough Alter figures to really say anything, other than the one I have is poorly painted, and the other is very well done. So if you average that in my mind they’re just exactly average. Though I know better. I think I fall in the same category as you though, they don’t release as many figures that appeal to me as say GSC, which is probably why they end up my favourite.

            What figure is Saber Shin Sonic Form?

            I currently own 43 figures, which I consider quite a large amount, but not really sure. But I think I’ve also softened up a bit towards defects, though I have received some major defects as far as I’m concerned. My most recent would be Mao.

  6. Quazacolt says:

    ah nested reply limit reached 😛
    well check out alter’s nanoha series (pretty much their best works imo) in my gallery then:

    sorry i meant Fate-T-Harlaown True Sonic Form. thats the latest alter release, cost bout 13k yen:
    most, if not all major sites had her sold out upon release date lol.

    as for me, minus about 4? which isnt in the profile because someone is lagging like crazy in adding them 😛 give/take 36
    been slowing down on figures since early/mid 2009 though, and siding more towards merchandises. prolly cuz of my love to horo/horo dakimakura 😛

    just got her bath towel recently too, didn’t got to wrap her around me *YET* /gg

    • Aka says:

      I keep almost buying that other merchandise, like sheets or towels. But I’ve stopped myself due to their costs vs what I think they should cost.

      Oh Fate, I suppose it’s well done, I just wish they’d stop duing figures from that series, because I don’t like it.

      I’ve been accelerating on figure purchases…

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