Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Christmas Two-For-One

Winding down a tumultuous year for Playmates, I've come to sort of enjoy 2008. Although I was criticized at times for labeling the Class of '08 as a bunch of no-names who'd just become a crowd of mediocre entries, I realize now that I was right... but I have to add to that statement. 2008 has been a great class because the competition is all at the same level, and it's a great year because each and every model has so much potential in her that it would damn well be worth seeing any one of them a little bit more. Some extra Regina Deutinger? Laura Croft? How about some more footage of Juliette? Yes, please.

So, closing off Playmate calendar years has traditionally been a great honor by the models selected. You get to join the company of great December Playmates like Tiffany Fallon, Karen McDougal, Elisa Bridges, Barbara Moore, Kata Karkkainen... the list goes on and on. December's a great month for pictorials; the theme is obvious, the sets are simple and festive, and the costumes and lighting are formulaic but always welcome.

So in 2008, we have a set of twins, Jennifer and Natalie Campbell, who are a slim, spunky bunch of 22 year olds from Colorado. It's a trick tried last in December of 2003, which was coincidentally the last time Playboy introduced a set of twins as Playmates of the Month. The Teles twins were exceptionally beautiful and exotic, and were truly a nice treat at the end of a long year of ups and downs. How do the Campbell twins compare? Well, they offer mixed emotions for me personally.

First and foremost, you can't deny that the Campbells look like something we haven't seen in a while. They're wholesome and adorable, and look young and vulnerable in every single photo. Picture 5 is one of my favorites, with the twins getting physical and interacting well. That has always been the main thing I look for in a twin pictorial moreso than in a regular girl-on-girl feature: the chemistry. Sisters should have a nonsexual but intimate interactivity throughout the pictorial, and should be playful and flirty, just like the Teles twins or the exemplary Bernaola twins in 2000. That's something that the Campbell girls need to work on -- they simply are too standoffish about their relationship in the pictures. They barely ever touch each other, and it seems almost like one girl was photoshopped and copied to the other side of the picture.

On another note, I just feel like these girls look too young and inexperienced to be Playmates. Individually, it feels to me like either Jennifer or Natalie would not have a striking chance at becoming a full fledged Playmate, but combined, they made it this far. How is that fair? Just because they are identical twins, it hardly means they look better multiplied. They have very mediocre posing talent, and instead look like a couple of robots that were positioned by the photographer into the right spots.

That all doesn't take away from the fact that these, again, are very, very cute girls. The Campbells look like perfect little porcelain dolls in some photos, which is a complement because of how bright and lovely they seem. But without that little sexual tinge, they can't really pull off the "Playmate" factor that the other girls could this year.

In the end, the Campbell twins are just so stale together that it's hard to even give them the "twin bump" that two girls enjoy by simply appearing in the same pictorial. Where's that grinning, playful touching of the belly or the splashing of the water or the pillow fights? Nothing specific, but twins are there to make room for active posing, and there's none of that here. Where's the winter/Christmas pictorial theme? Where are the expressions on these girls' faces? We all need more than cheap tricks, Playboy.

Consensus... B-

Jennifer and Natalie Campbell
Misses December 2008

Well, the year is over, and that means I'll be recapping all the Playmates and Cyber Girls of 2008, ranking them and opening the floor for debate! There's plenty to mull over, and lots of candidates for the coveted PMOY crown this year. Also, congrats to 55th Anniversary Playmate Dasha Astafieva, a truly deserving girl. I'll have more on that when we lay our eyes on her sure-to-be-fantastic pictorial in a few days.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oh, Aden...

I can't contain myself when it comes to today's new pictorial release. I've been following the "Real American Girls" feature in the Cyber Club for a while, but never has a girl really intrigued me to the point where I considered her a true find and a future star. Today was different, when I laid my eyes on New Jersey beauty Aden Bianco.

Aden is an amazing talent with a gorgeous body with all natural features. She is a real girl next door, but the way she looks at the camera is breathtaking. Those amazing eyes... that flirty hair... it was enough to get me right to writing this. Aden should be, at the very least, a Cyber Girl in the near future, and perhaps even more if she gets more talented in the posing department.

Again, I'm loving EVERYTHING about Aden. Those big, dark eyes are really engaging and that glistening smile complements her slim, athletic body so perfectly. It'd be a real crime to keep Aden from us in the coming months! Don't let me down, Playboy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Xtra Sexy, Xtra Hot

We've had very good selections for the "Playmate Xtra" feature in recent months, with Monica Leigh (one of my top Playmates in recent years, as well as all-time) putting up some more pictures. That was especially surprising, since Monica's given us loads of material after holding CGOW, CGOM, CGOY, and PMOM titles. Hey, I say the more the merrier, since every inch of her voluptuous body is pure perfection. What a hottie.

But the real story is the return of Spencer Scott last month. Yes, that's right, Miss October 2007 Spencer Scott, who was a massive fan favorite for this year's PMOY race. You knew this was coming; everyone who knows anything about Playboy has been wondering when Spencer would release more material after her paltry showing in her PMOM pictorial. Well, here you have it, and boy am I surprised.

I knew that Spencer is a great looking girl, but I felt like she didn't show me quite enough in her portfolio last year. I rated her a C+ back then, which seemed harsh to many, but which I thought was justified because of her weak material. Now, she's back, and there's one word for her: stunning! You'll notice right away that Spencer looks "new and improved," complete with a slimmer, trimmer body that's absolutely amazing. Just look at it! It's sleek and looks way taller than her 5'4" frame, and when she's giving you a full frontal, you wonder why she isn't our current Playmate of the Year.

When I look at these pictures, I wonder why Spencer didn't show these flashes of brilliance earlier. Although her final black-and-white pictorial is a poor attempt at an homage to pin-ups, Spencer is an absolute fox, and loaded with pure, sexually charged posing talent. If she put up a performance like this in her pictorial last October, she would definitely have had my vote for PMOY, and would probably be our current titleholder. A real shame... what a model.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Catching Up

After my brief hiatus, it's time to catch up with the current Playmate world as we head to the end of the year. There have been two entire Playmate pictorials released since I've been gone, with Miss October, Kelly Carrington, and Miss November, Grace Kim. It's an important time of the year, since the Playmate race has never really picked up in terms of competitiveness this year, and it's time to see if it can keep up with the increasingly exciting Cyber Girl of the Year race.

The race for PMOY 2009 hasn't really picked up much. There are plenty of differing opinions on who should win out. At first glance, it appears that the strongest opinions on who should win are coming from fans of Ida Ljungqvist and Juliette Frette. I myself believe that these two girls are rightfully leading the race, after seeing a very disappointing performance by Valerie Mason put a damper on the whole thing for me.

So lo and behold, Miss Carrington comes around in October to change things up a bit. Kelly was absolutely not someone I expected to really make a big splash in the race for the year's top girl, but she turns out to be a really refreshing shift in Playboy's thinking. At first glance, Kelly might seem like just another bright eyed blonde with a sleek body and pearly, polished smile. She's all of those things, but she's not "just another" blonde, looking at her pictorial. This girl has the element that makes every good PMOY: TALENT!

There is no doubt that Kelly is really radiant and eye-catching in her looks, just by sitting idly and not really striking any poses. Right off the bat, she has some unique qualities that offer a mix of maturity and a youthful zeal. One of the things that makes Kelly a truly spectacular Playmate is how young and vibrant she looks. She is the annual "college girl" Playmate, who makes her appearance every October, and Miss Carrington certainly personifies the ideal coed in every way. Kelly doesn't really hit on all cylinders when she's decked out and forced to be made into a personality she's not. While her great body does shine, Kelly shouldn't be made to look more refined than she is.

Instead, Kelly looks great when she's rough around the edges. When she's being a spunky, natual girl out in the locker room and in her common element. She really grabs you with her personality; it almost comes through the camera and creates an imprint to your mind, and a memorable girl is truly one of the key aspects to greatness. Just take a look at Kelly draped in an oversized jersey, and pay attention to the bright, innocent mood of the pictures. She's unfettered, and completely relaxed in this role. The seamless transition between this effortless aura and the fully nude unveiling of her more intimate side is really something special.

One other thing about Kelly that really makes her adorable and memorable is that her body isn't overstated, and she never really takes it to a pretentious level in her pictures. She always works it to a level where it's tantalizing and perks up your curiosity, and never overdoes it. It's safe to say that, with all of these very engaging elements, Kelly has that certain "something" that makes her stand apart from the crowd. Other girls this year may have been prettier or more confident in their intense sexuality, and women like Regina Deutinger and Laura Croft may have had more to offer, but Kelly has that one little element that came through: Talent. She has that "it" factor, which is why she should be in the discussion for PMOY alongside Ida and Juliette.

Consensus... B+

Kelly Carrington
Miss October 2008

Meanwhile, we have also seen the debut of another fresh face to the Playmate world, Grace Kim, our Miss November. While I was excited about the prospects of an Asian Playmate after such a long drought, Grace has been less than favorable in her performance.

Asian Playmates are a rare sight, and not since the incredibly beautiful Hiromi Oshima in 2004 have we seen one, let alone a girl so rife with sexuality. To hold Grace to the same standards would be unfair; Hiromi was buxom and well-proportioned, and innately talented with a strong sense for the camera. But surely, Miss Kim should be able to hold a candle to her.

This Los Angeles-born Playmate, however, doesn't come close. Grace made her debut with a very bland and disappointing pictorial, showcasing little talent. She has a cute, radiant smile in some photos, but it often feels like she's being underutilized, or that there's at least something we aren't seeing. When Grace is nude and posing in the dim light, she can shoot off a few moves that catch your attention, like this well done pose. However, when Grace puts her effort towards her Guitar Hero rocker pictorial segment, she seems unprepared and uncomfortable.

I recall seeing previous photo shoots of Grace before her Playmate debut, and she really looked promising. It's disappointing to see that her charm and... ahem... grace... didn't translate as well as I had hoped. Still, you can give props to the fact that she is beautiful, just not a girl who was born to be without clothes. Ultimately, she's too slim, too pale, and lacks any talent to truly make a run at PMOY, or even come close.

Consensus... B-

Grace Kim
Miss November 2008