Kotobukiya Artist Support Item: Hand Model

As any artist can tell you, one of the hardest things to draw is the human hand. In any wider view of a person, the hand takes up a tiny space but there’s so much detail that needs to be just right. There are the classic wooden mannequin hands, but they are extremely limited in their range. Usually the best model is your own hand – if it wasn’t for the fact that you’re probably busy using it at the time.

I’ve been using Figma and Figuarts figures for a long time to capture poses for my pictures, but although they come with a wide range of optional hands, they are really small and provide only a limited help. So most of the time if the hand is important, I’ve had to take a photo and superimpose that onto the model. Obviously, it’s also tricky to take a picture from many angles holding a phone in your other hand. So I was really excited to learn about the new ”Artist Support Item” from Kotobukiya, a fully posable realistic hand model in 1:1 scale.

It comes in grey or white, and a left hand version is planned. There are also upcoming accessories in the form of a thin glove and a separate adapter for regular screw mounts. Considering the price I think at least the adapter would have been reasonable to include. As it is, the hand comes with a display base and two sets of rods that hold the hand firmly either vertically or horizontally.

Finally getting hands-on (!) with it, the first impression is good. It’s made from a heavy and fairly solid plastic and feels sturdy, but it’s obviously not a toy. It would only take a little extra force to break it. The wrist doesn’t rotate, although you can mount it in four directions. However, the wrist bends about 90 degrees. The palm can fold slightly across, but only in one dimension. This limits some poses, especially trying to make a fist.

The thumb is connected by a ball joint which allows for a wide range of motion. It can fold closely to the palm and also stretch out far, while a collapsing flap keeps it aligned to the index finger with a fairly realistic range. Each finger sits on a ball joint and can bend in three straight joints, with the finger tips being able to overextend slightly backwards. As a result, the hand can take many realistic poses, but it’s a bit too rigid for some.

It’s possible to get a decent pincing motion between the fingers, but it’s not very strong and the smooth plastic needs some additional grip. It does hold small items pretty well, but anything heavier will just fall out. I will probably get a length of plastic pipe for it to hold as a prop (as my characters tend to hold swords and stuff), and you can certainly display it holding something when you’re not using it.

The instructions also point out important things you need to consider when using this as reference. Most importantly, it doesn’t show the draping of the skin in between the fingers, so the palm should be about a centimeter taller. It also doesn’t accurately show the bones around the wrist, and the folds of the palm are mostly lost to the articulation of this model.

Despite those limitations, this model is both more realistic and posable than your regular wooden mannequin hand. It’s more expensive but also much more useful, and it looks really good as a display item too. I expect to get a lot of use out of it. Ultimately though, your own hand remains your best reference.