Ultimate Madoka, also known as Madokami, Godoka etc, was perhaps the most anticipated figure of 2012, both for me and the wider figure community. Like most of Good Smile Company's large figures, she's exceptionally detailed but difficult to assemble. Unfortunately, she was also rather expensive. AmiAmi charged me ¥10,960 for Ultimate Madoka, but due to her size and weight I was charged an additional and unexpectedly high ¥5,110 for shipping for a total of ¥16,070 or around £118.16 at the time. Unfortunately, I also got charged £32.96 in customs for a grand total of £151.12, which almost certainly makes Ultimate Madoka my most expensive figure by far! Thankfully the figure itself was a present (I know you read this, so thanks again!) and so thankfully I only had to pay for shipping and customs.
Madoka's box was huge,certainly the largest figure box i've ever had. Of course, this meant that her shipping box was even bigger. Normally AmiAmi packs their stuff well but I was surprised how loosely packed Madoka was. Thankfully though, Madoka and her box were undamaged. Unpacking her was another matter though, the plastic innards were secured by lots of sellotape and parts of Madoka were even secured by twist ties - the annoying hard to remove sort that many toys come. I'm glad that Madoka was well packaged internally but it's going to be difficult to pack her up again.
Assembly was a frightening experience, I was always scared that i'd break something. The main body of the figure, Madoka and her dress, is quite heavy and as a result difficult to attach to the base. Next, the foot wings are attached, this wasn't so difficult but still requires a fair amount of force to get them in. Then, the wings need to be attached, these slot in to holes on Madoka's back. However, Madoka's epic hair makes getting the wings in to their slots securely rather challenging. Since it'll be even more difficult to get them out and i'm moving in a few months, I decided to leave her right wing loose for now.
Finally, the most important bit - Madoka's bow and arrow. Two bows are provided, one small one and one large one complete with flames. The bow comes in two parts and you'll need to put the top part in to her hand and then the bottom part clicks in from the other side. Again, this requires quite a bit of force but at least it's secure. Once this is done just add the arrow, thankfully Madoka's hand rotates so you can add it in without her epic hair getting in the way.
The final result looks fantastic from any angle. The detailing is extremely well done and I couldn't find any defects, as expected from Good Smile Company. However, Madoka does pick up the smallest of vibrations rather well and does shake quite a bit - especially with the large bow. This should be OK, but something to definitely keep an eye on. I wish she was somewhat easier to assemble, but I expect that she would then be very difficult to package as a result. As a small bonus, the box liner is removable and helps to create some rather awesome looking pictures.