Sunday, April 29, 2012

Perfection Plus

There has been plenty of flak taken by the new Playboy Plus platform, particularly for the way the company has decided to handle it. The lack of features and a clunkier interface have made many fans shake their heads, wondering why this was even necessary.

While I'm certainly part of the majority of Cyber Club members who was disappointed with the move, I'm now finding that there's something that's fortunately gone hand in hand with the move to a new platform: better quality pictorials, and better quality models. That's not to say we were in that big of a slump before, but now we're starting to see a new breed of fresh talent sweep through, and it's exciting.

We're seeing new, younger talent with fresh pictorials and updated photography and processing techniques. We're seeing some veteran talent that has been taken to a new level. And the quantity of great pictorials has gone up considerably. So let's take a look at a few of the women that are making me so optimistic...

Young, spunky Amber is one of the most surprising and exciting new models to hit the Plus scene. She's had a bunch of video footage and pictorial content released already, and is a really hot commodity. She heads off the new trend of "Amateurs" in the Plus world, where they're hosting some really promising talent. Amber is a girl whose moves are second to none - and her videos are worth a watch. She has a fast, physical posing style that doesn't quit. Pair that with a gorgeous, slender body and a mystifyingly sexy but familiar face, and you've got a model who's anything but shy.
Make her a Playmate!

Joining the Amateur section with Amber, Sophia is certainly not as talented a model, but is a great addition because of her sheer looks, particularly her body. Big, seductive eyes anchor a face shrouded by intriguing raven hair, and that all caps off a distinctively curvy body with perky breasts that are undoubtedly fake, but still very photogenic. Could use a bit of sharpening of her posing skills.

Injecting fresh life into the new Cyber Girl regime of the Plus era, Jessica is a work of art. Although not the most physical poser you could wish for (and we're trying not to compare with Amber, again), Jessica is just a sight on camera. Her facial expressions don't change much, but her look is young and clean, with no frills. Her body is the main attraction, looking natural, tight, and curvy in all the right ways. Jessica's pictorial is like a dream, and her look is both wistful and down to Earth, with the right mix of college coed mixed in. Definitely should be strong for CGOM.

Sydney made her debut as CGOW sometime last year, and hopefully gets to follow through with it in her new home. Her Plus pictorial was very unsatisfying, mainly since it never showcases Sydney in all her glory. But keep in mind that this girl needs to be exposed more, in every sense of the word. She has a busty body and a bombastic posing style that should give life to this CGOY  race, which is definitely worth it. Sydney is a model with an "it" factor, and she packs in the talent.

Yes, Katie was featured as Playmate more than a year ago, and yes, I gave her heaps of praise when she came around. The young 18-year old Playmate perhaps never got the treatment she deserved, but still got a solid "A" from me, with my thoughts being that she's one of the best Playmates in recent memory. Well, she's proven it again. With a new pictorial in the Plus era, Katie looks even better than ever. Mainly, her body is far tighter now, which was her only weakness before. Because of this, her curves are accentuated more than ever, and she's blossomed into a near-perfect model. If she was PM now, she might even have garnered a Hall of Fame A+ nomination from me, but alas, it's all passed. Still, we need more of the young Katie, as she's got years ahead in her prime.

Taylor Patrick (Amateur)
She may not have the flash and sparkle of Katie Vernola, the superbody of Sydney Barlette, or even the charm of Amber Sym, but Taylor is an intriguing girl in her own right. She's a bit rough around the edges, and a true amateur in her own right, but she has some tangibles that are really exciting. Her body is petite, cute, and accessible. She's no bombshell, but those beautiful eyes and a sleek, simple posing style make her worth a look. A little production, and she could be CGOW caliber.

Skylar Hart (Cyber Girl) 
Starting out as an Amateur and taking it to Cyber Girl status recently, Skylar is a very interesting model with tons of upside. This young 19-year old wonder has the looks of a professional fashion model, with a very slim, sleek body and an absolutely photogenic look. She comes alive in every photo with color and zest, and when you factor in her positively angelic face, you have one heck of a visual. She's yet to feel truly comfortable in her nudity, but her body is certainly not the issue there. It's petite, feminine, and competes her youthful appearance. This is definitely a talent to keep in our crosshairs, as she might easily make the leap to CGOM status.

Chelsie Lorraine (Cyber Girl)
Chelsie was featured as a CGOW back in 2010, and was ultimately defeated for her bid to the monthly feature. Although she came off to myself as stiff and uninspired at first, her recent reintroduction in the Plus era is quite the sight. Although she's the same familiar face, she's not as overproduced as before. This seems to be a trend with the new Plus pictorials: models have been allowed to be themselves, without the production getting in the way. What we see here is Chelsie's innate talent coming out, as she weaves her sexy body through a masterful portrait of herself with little hindrance. While not perfect, she's got a very natural physique, and is an active and aware poser. Definitely an eye-opener of a photo set.

Kate Hughes (Cyber Girl)
Kate was our CGOM for January of this year, and very rightfully so. Although I found her CGOW performance to go largely unnoticed, Kate is a formidable model who should be in high contention for Cyber Girl of the Year in 2013. Need a reason? Just take a look at her newest offering in the Plus era. Her body is absolutely immaculate, and has 21st century Playboy model written all over it. It's sinewy but still curvy, tall but still volumetric, sharp but still soft and feminine. Kate's body may not wow with measurements, but take a look at how flattering photos are to her, and you'd be a believer. Add to that a wonderful sense for the camera and an irresistible girl next door look, and Kate needs to be a featured girl for 2012-13. She must be. We'll all be better off with more of her!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Winds of Change

Here we are, in the post-Cyber Club era, and I've got plenty of mixed opinions about it. The uproar over the creation of the new Playboy Plus platform has a lot of fans perturbed, but there is good and bad here. Sure, there are many kinks to work out, and the lack of a message board system is a real downer. But on the brighter side, we do seem to have an influx of very beautiful and talented models now in 2012.

Amazing girls like Jessica Workman, Sophia Alexandria, and Amber Sym seem to be the norm in the new Plus platform. Namely, a bigger diversity of women with higher quality pictorials, more physical posing, and less cheesy production value. It all makes for some great entertainment.

Lisa, Miss March 2012
Now, shift back to the non-cyber world of Playboy, and we've still got some Playmates rolling into the 2012 class - each with issues of her own. For example, we had Lisa Seiffert as Miss March, who arguably is one of the most under-produced and under-marketed Playmate we've had in years. Lisa seems like an afterthought of a Playmate; a sort of 'transition period' woman who just entered the scene to fill the gaps.

Lisa is a mystery, in that it's a mystery that she ever became Playmate at all. At a towering 5'11", she is the tallest Playmate since 1999's Natalia Sokolova, and certainly looks it in her photos. And although she's certainly not an unattractive woman, she's certainly got flaws in all respects. For starters, her face can't carry a photo at all, with thick, bushy eyebrows and squinty, shallow eyes. Her tall frame sort of makes up for her physical shortcomings, as it is definitely a sight to see her full length on display, albeit her lack of assets in any other respect. Her slim profile is certainly on the "too slim" side, with an unseemly gap between her thighs and a lack of any breasts at all. This model was definitely not  chosen for her physical attributes, to be blunt.

Then we get to the worst part of all - Lisa's pictorial. It is extremely over-processed, leaving little tangible quality to the imagination. The whole thing plays out like a swimsuit catalog, making an absolute mockery of the  Playmate title, and landing Lisa in a difficult position. This is not a model devoid of any talent, but she certainly is given zero chance to flourish.
  • Face: B-
    Lisa's face is plagued with obvious flaws, from her thick eyebrows to her lack of any sparkle or star quality to her facial structure. She doesn't come off subtly, instead looking hard and angular in all her photographs. It really is downright unattractive at times, but can show flashes of brilliance if her eyes are allowed to breathe.
  • Body: B
    Lisa certainly is not a physical heavyweight, by both literal and figurative senses of the word. Her slim and extremely tall frame, the tallest in more than 13 years, make for some interesting pictures, but then again this is sorely underutilized in her photos. She could have used some more prone shots showing her elongation, but instead we are left pondering her lack of an hourglass figure, which is definitely not her M.O. Still, something can be said for her spunkiness.
  • Talent: B
    While Lisa may be a firecracker ready to burst, we are left wondering what more she could give. With a dismal pictorial, that's all we can do. Lisa poses in the right ways and smiles in the right places, but as we ask more of Playmates, we are left wanting much more.
  • Pictorial: C
    Obviously Lisa's biggest flaw, this might be one of the worst in quite some time. It's not really the execution, which Miss Seiffert seems more than capable of, but instead the concept and layout, which seem over-processed and akin to a fashion magazine. We need more touch, and more tangibility to our pictorials nowadays, and Lisa's unfortunately misses out.
  • Centerfold: B
    Not much can be said about this shot - it's overdone and overproduced, which is silly considering the lack of production value in the pictorial.
  • Overall: B-
    After starting off somewhat promisingly with Knox and Bell, Playboy hit a wall with Lisa Seiffert. Surely it was because the magazine felt rushed for some reason, because that's the best word to describe Lisa's Playmate appearance - rushed. There are no subtleties here, just a collection of professional headshots waiting to be sent out. No sexual tension, no artistic direction, and certainly not a model hot enough to carry a terrible pictorial. In the end, Lisa should fall to the bottom of the pack of the 2012 class, and we'll look forward to better things.
Raquel, Miss April 2012
To kick off the Spring Playmate season, we find Raquel Pomplun making her debut as Miss April. This was a model I found immediately exciting once I heard the announcement that she would appear in the magazine. She is initially a gorgeous, tall model with a nuanced face and plenty of intriguing features to make her something of a mysterious entry.

As we see her photo spread, we find that this is both true and untrue. Indeed, Raquel is a great addition as Playmate, and her candidacy is well-deserved. She can take a great photo, not being bashful and laying it all out tastefully and with grace.

Beginning with her centerfold, you'll notice that Raquel has chestnut skin and a lovely glow that permeates her photos. It's probably her most intriguing physical attribute, since there's not too much else to be truly astounded by. She has a great passive posing skill, but lacks in experience and physical posing, where she doesn't quite have an identity to her look.

This is truly the issue with Raquel - it's hard to pinpoint exactly what kind of model she is. Her angelic face can mystify with an intense stare at times, when otherwise her face never really turns the corner and looks spot-on stunning. She has the potential to take it to the next level with her looks, but often blunders by being off the mark with her posing, which makes the photo fall apart. 

These inconsistencies might be easily passed over if Raquel was truly physically gifted, but she falls short here as well. Raquel's body isn't built particularly photo-friendly, with some boney, angular segments that are often set awkwardly in her spread. She never truly looks comfortable with whatever curves she does have, posing as if she is desperately trying to arc herself and accentuate her small breasts. Her body lacks balance, and although she is not that slim, she comes off as even more so, and this hurts her in many ways.
  • Face: B+
    This would have been Raquel's saving grace, but inconsistencies abound. She can sometimes put on an intense stare that is the focal point of the pictorial, with penetrating eyes and a seriously sexy stare that can put other models to shame. At other times, she doesn't get the right angles out of her face, and it alone can't carry her past her shortcomings.
  • Body: B-
    Perhaps it's the photography, or the lighting, but Raquel's body perhaps never gets the fair shake that she deserves. She's got decent height and is definitely not flat-chested, but just looks downright awkward most of the time. Her body sometimes seems like a detriment, especially when put against the backdrop of a great looking face. This is too bad, since it seems to be the posing that really got in the way here.
  • Talent: B
    Although she hits some great moments (like in her centerfold) where she really nails a pose, it ultimately seems like an exercise in randomness for Raquel. She never hits her stride, and it forces photographers to depict her body awkwardly, among other things. Ultimately, Raquel could use some real posing experience, and the Playmate stage was squandered here.
  • Pictorial: B
    While it was a good fit for a model like Raquel, with good costuming and setup, it fell flat due to the lack of execution. Raquel's lack of talent wasn't helped by poor lighting and a confusion about what to do with her flawed body. While the colors and quality are radiant, they can't make up for a poorly planned spread.
  • Centerfold: A-
    One of the few bright spots in her photo collection, Miss Pomplun's centerfold was stellar. There wasn't anything fancy about it, but the prone position was a Playboy centerfold staple, showing off a gentle tapering of the hips with great costuming and lighting.
  • Overall: B
    Raquel is certainly a disappointment, and the biggest of the year so far for me. She really had potential, and the pictorial didn't do anything but showcase all of her flaws. Even her otherwise gorgeous face was obscured by some odd posing choices and a lack of execution. Blame it on the model or the producers, but something wasn't done right here. An otherwise stellar woman was shot down by a shoddy pictorial once again, and that should land Raquel somewhere in the middle of the pack for the Playmate of the Year race.

As we look forward to the next two months, we can see some intriguing prospects. Playboy Plus has done a good job of providing increased quality in the content delivered, and it will only continue. Nikki Leigh is a seemingly good candidate for Playmate, what with her free-flowing posing style and casual demeanor. A nice bit of polish could be quite interesting with her. June's Amelia Talon should round out the first half of the class quite nicely. Her more exotic looks as a darker brunette could hold the key for turning this group around and towards greatness. Still, Leola Bell remains the one to beat.