Figma Racing Miku 2013 – Review

INTRODUCTION:

We’re back in figma territory again with everyone’s favourite Vocaloid pop sensation, Hatsune Miku.  While Miku has been given the figma treatment on many different occasions, here we’ll be looking at Racing Miku 2013: EV Mirai version.  The Racing Miku versions are mascots of the Goodsmile Racing Team and are generally presented as “Grid Girls” or “Race Queens”, but in this case, we’ve got a Miku that’s more of an actual racer (of sorts) rather than gratuitous eye candy (even though she’s still cute).

The Hatsune Miku GT Project is a motorsport project with the concept, “a racing team run by fans”. First launched in 2008 by Goodsmile Racing, the project has been participating in the Super GT GT300 class series, the greatest motorsport race in Japan. Its trademark is a machine with a Hatsune Miku Racing Version design. Not only is it wildly popular with an eye-catching vehicle design, it has also won many races including taking the series championship three times in 2011, 2014, and 2017 respectively. It is now one of the most prominent teams in the Super GT series and one of the best teams of the race both in name and in reality.

The biggest distinctive feature of the project is that it works on a Personal Sponsor System which enables each fan to directly support the team. Every year, the team races with the support of Personal Sponsors from all over the world. A major factor that attracts many fans is the unique ways of interactions between the team and its fans which are considered one-of-a-kind in the industry. These include having the team members themselves share the race atmosphere to fans online, live streams and broadcasts before the races, and inviting fans to official celebration parties and end-of-year parties.

The Racing Miku versions have been around since 2011 when the Goodsmile Racing Team celebrated their first win with the release of the figma Racing Miku 2011: First Win version. Since then, there has been a Racing Miku figure released every year.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

This particular Miku differs from most offerings, in that she’s sporting a Goodsmile motorcycle racing suit instead of her usual “girly” attire. The racing suit is mostly white, with black sections and grey details, and is presented in a way that it appears to be pulled down and tied around her waist.  She’s also wearing a silver crop top with “EV MIRAI” (Mirai being the manufacturer of Electric Vehicles) written across the front. Her trademark twin-tails are translucent at the tips and are each moulded as one solid piece.

Ready to race!

As per usual, the figma joints offer a smooth movement and hold their position well. Due to the form-fitting nature of her racing suit, there’s very little to obstruct her range of motion.  Also, since the racing suit is one piece, there’s no option to remove the “rolled down” top half to try and tidy things up a bit.

ACCESSORIES:

Miku’s gear.

There’s not a whole lot here in terms of accessories. Apart from the usual hand options (fist, item-holding, open/splayed), there’s a helmet, an extra “tied sleeves” piece, a drink bottle holding hand, and a hand designed to hold on to her helmet when she’s not “wearing” it.

Hey guys! Check me out! (Just don’t ask where all that hair went…)

The helmet itself is just molded in one piece and the colours and design match with her racing suit (naturally), and it even has little cat-like ears on the top.  It’s a bit unfortunate that the visor doesn’t open and close though, that would have been really cool. She also comes with two facial expressions – a neutral/smiling face and a happy cheering face. Also included is the customary figma stand and a snap-lock bag to store all the accessories in.

I’m sure that bike’s around here somewhere…

However, there is one notable accessory (sold separately of course 😉 ), and that is the EV Mirai racing bike. This particular bike is modelled after the Mirai electric motorcycle company’s entry into the Isle of Man TT Zero Challenge in 2013. The bike itself was (naturally) decked out in Miku decals and designs since the bike was made for the Goodsmile Racing team.

Bike~~~

If you have any sort of Racing Mikus in you collection, then it’s probably an accessory worth getting.  It makes for an excellent back-drop, or stand in its own right.  Then again, there are plenty of other figures, figma or otherwise, that could use a funky racing bike. The front wheel spins freely and the handlebars can turn the front wheel left and right. The rear wheel does turn, but not as freely as the front and the suspension has been fixed into place, so this bike is mostly for display purposes. This isn’t such a bad thing as it does scale well with most figmas. Also included, is a stand that can fit one of the bike wheels in to keep it upright, and 2 sets of interchangeable foot-peg pieces that are different sizes to accommodate different size figures.

Bike!!

ARTICULATION:

Miku’s head is connected to her torso with a figma joint that allows her head to tilt forward and back to a fair degree, as well as to the left and right. It also allows for full rotation at the neck.  Her twin-tails are also somewhat poseable but her starry hair ties and the sculpt of her hair can hinder some angles.

These knuckle guards aren’t just for show.

Her shoulders can raise up pretty far, due to there being not a lot of clothing to get in the way, and they can also rotate fully. This shoulder joint also provides full bicep rotation too. The elbow joints also give full rotation, and allow the arms to extend fully and close to about 45 degrees.

Hyaaa!!

There’s a ball joint in her upper torso that gives full rotation, as well as a decent tilt backwards and forwards, and left right.  While the hips don’t fully rotate, there is still a pretty good tilt in all directions too.  The “folded down” part of her racing suit hinders movement around the hip joints, but the softer plastic in that area helps a bit.  She can’t quite do the splits in any direction, but at least she’s able to get into a proper riding position for her racing bike.

Wheeee!~~

Her knee joints allow her legs to fully extend and close to about 45 degrees, and the ankles can only manage a slight tilt backwards and forwards as well as left and right. As a result, it can be tricky to get her feet planted properly for some of the more dynamic poses.

CONCLUSION:

I’m quite happy with Racing Miku 2013.  I like how she’s presented as an actual racer and not just some Grid Girl as she has been in previous outings.  It’s also worth noting that with this particular racing suit, you can have all sorts of fun putting Miku into all sorts of figma-sized vehicles (if you’re unlucky enough not to have the EV Mirai racing bike, that is).

9 out of 10 Figmas recommend Goodsmile Energy Drink!

Figma Racing Miku 2013 EV Mirai Version can be found at the links below along with other figures in the Figma range.

I’m pretty excited for my first ever Tabletop Race!
That looks pretty fast… I’m pretty sure that’s at least racing spec…
…And Saber’s ride looks fast enough too…
Wha… this thing’s only got one wheel!
Aw come on!!

Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege – Soundwave – Review

INTRODUCTION:

Another line, another Soundwave. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. I’m always eager to see what each new line (except Cyberverse, what was the point of that?) brings us with everyone’s favourite Decepticon communications/intelligence operative. Transformers – War for Cybertron: Siege provides Transformers fans with another foray into the familiar “classic, but updated” territory that seems to have become a mainstay now. It also means that we have more opportunities to collect new updated versions of our favourite G1 characters, fill in some gaps that previous lines have left, or even pick up new characters that we might not have even considered before. I’m pretty excited for the Siege line, so let’s get our first entrant on to the tabletop, shall we?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Soundwave comes to us in the Voyager scale which puts him at just above Deluxe size, but considerably less than Leader size. This time around he has his usual G1-style robot form made up primarily of blue and grey and he is still quite the blocky figure.  The joints feel firm and he feels like he’s ready to bust out some dynamic poses. All of Soundwave’s familiar design cues are present: the tape deck buttons, the blocky limbs, the tape deck that pretty much covers his entire chest (with the snazzy eject button), and his all too familiar head.

It’s good to see light-piping make a welcome comeback and it definitely works here. Although the translucent red plastic window on top of Soundwave’s head is fairly small, it manages to collect enough light to light up his eyes (eye window?…visor?…) to a fairly good degree. I guess it went away during the Titanmaster/Headmaster phase due to engineering constraints. It’s a simple thing, but it keeps me amused at least.

Spaceship!

In keeping with the “War for Cybertron” aesthetic, Soundwave here is sporting some sort of “weathering” effect that makes him appear more battle-worn. I’ve heard that it can be removed chemically, but it doesn’t really affect me in any way so I’m happy to leave it as is. He also has lots of fine lines and details around his body that gives him a more modern feel.

Spaceship!!

One thing that was a bit of a surprise for me, is that there’s no cassette recorder alt-mode! His “spaceship” mode is all well and good, but it’s surprising to not have a cassette recorder mode. Although, when you consider that this is the War for Cybertron, it’s not really feasible to have Earth alt-modes cruising around the battlefield. It’s possible to wrangle a very rough approximation of a cassette recorder shape, but it’ll do I suppose.

Nothing to see here…

Instead, we have a “hidden” alt-mode in which Soundwave turns into a “lamp-post” of sorts (sentry post, maybe?). This extra alt-mode suddenly makes more sense when you realise that in fitting in with the whole “robots in disguise” theme, what better way to hide in plain sight (on Cybertron anyway), than in some form that blends in naturally with the surroundings. A cassette recorder works fine for Earth, but for Cybertron, not so much.

Just your everyday, run-of-the-mill Cybertronian lamp post.

ACCESSORIES:

Soundwave’s gear.

Soundwave comes with his customary weapons. He has his hand held Concussion Blaster and his shoulder-mounted Sonic Cannon with their familiar cylindrical shapes, but now he has an extra weapon – the EMXT Blitz Charge Blaster. This can be folded up in to a hand gun or opened up to combine with his other weapons to create the USW HF – Sonic Compression Mega-Blaster (whew!). It’s a bit of a shame that he doesn’t come with any tapes. He doesn’t even come with some sort of placeholder item to go into his tape deck a la Titans Return Soundwave. At least the tapes come in packs of two (sold separately 😉) which is nice considering their small size.

Locked and loaded.

While not technically an accessory as such, it’s worth noting that his left hand has his index finger slightly molded into position so you can recreate his tape ejecting pose. 

The button-pressing finger is pretty cool…
Shame about the empty tape deck though.

The Titans Return line brought back the Headmaster gimmick by way of the Titan Masters, and Power of the Primes brought back the Pretenders in the form of Prime Masters, this time around we have the Battle Masters and Micro Masters. Much like the previous lines, these extra units add a little extra firepower by turning into weapons for your bots to wield, only this time the Battle Masters come with an effect part which makes things a bit more interesting. The box art and the instruction sheet make a mention of these so you don’t forget 😉.

Can’t have our good buddy Soundwave running around without any tapes!
At least you get 2 in a pack.

ARTICULATION:

“Shoryuken!”

Soundwave moves pretty much how you would expect from newer Transformers. He’s got enough joints going around to facilitate most standard poses and enough range of movement for the more dynamic poses as well. Starting from the top, there’s a ball joint in his neck that allows for full rotation, but only minimal tilting in the forward/backward and left/right directions. The shoulders have a system of hinges and swivels that give the arms full rotation at the sides, but his arms can only raise up to just past 90 degrees.

“Hyaa!”

The upper biceps have a swivel and there’s a double hinge at the elbows which is a nice touch. The hands/fists can only turn inwards due to the transformation, but yet again, we’re let down by the exclusion of a wrist swivel (sigh…). There’s also a swivel at the waist which lets the torso rotate all the way around which is nice.

“Pew pew!”

The joints in the hips give a pretty good range of movement in that he can do the ‘splits’ in both directions. There’s a swivel in the thighs and the hinge in the knees gives a 90 degree bend. The ankles don’t have much movement going on, but they do have a hinge that allows the feet to turn inwards in order to give a bit more stability. All this comes together to firmly place Soundwave in the “action figure that also happens to transform” category.

“Laserbeak, report.”

CONCLUSION:

Ready for action.

Transformers – War for Cybertron: Siege has opened with a pretty decent first wave. We’ve got a lot of the more popular characters out on the shelves and even a few surprise hits. Soundwave here continues the trend by being a pretty solid figure in his own right and is a welcome addition to my collection. The missing cassette recorder mode was a bit of a surprise for me, but it did make me do my own research into why would he transform into something so mundane as a lamp post.

This version of the “lamp post” resembles the on-screen one a bit closer.

Thinking back to his G1 days on Earth, you also realise that in a world of tanks, planes, cars, guns, etc., you suddenly have this character that turns into… a cassette recorder?! But that’s always been part of Soundwave’s charm. He’s a support character that can also bring the firepower when it’s needed, and it’s good to see that character trait continuing with this figure.

Transformers – War for Cybertron: Siege Soundwave can be found at the links below along with other figures in the Transformers range.

Kinda weird how you didn’t get a cassette recorder mode this time.
It’s not too bad. Got this neat button-pressing finger at least.
Oh crap! Megatron’s coming! Hide!
Soundwave! Quit hanging around that lamp post and report for duty!
*grumble*…stupid lamp post…
…Sucker~

Hexa Gear Governors – Rose and Zoanthrope – Review

INTRODUCTION:

We’re venturing into some more model kit territory for the table top this time around.  Here we have two figures from Kotobukiya’s Hexa Gear line – Rose and Zoanthrope.  The Hexa Gear line features different robotic style vehicles and figures that come in model kits that need assembly.  With most model kits these days, it’s possible to have completed kits that look fairly decent but to get the most out of the end result, you’ll have to apply paint and decals.

The two figures I have here are the Governor types, and they are the figures that can be used as pilots/drivers for the Hexa Gear vehicles.  These Governor figures have a certain “designated” vehicle that they can pilot, but they seem to be pretty interchangeable between vehicles which is nice.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Don’t let the advertising/promotional photos fool you – these figures are tiny, even when compared to some of the other smaller figures in my collection.  Their scale comes in at around 1:24 which puts them at a much smaller size than GI Joe figures (around 1:18 scale or 3 ¾ inch size if you’re not familiar with that comparison).

You can really get a sense for how tiny these figures are when placed next to the trusty 375mL Drink Can of Comparison. While Zoanthrope is seen as a more bulky, beast-like style unit, Rose appears to be the more speedy/nimble cyber-ninja style unit. I get a real Briareos and Deunan (from the Appleseed franchise) sort of vibe with this pairing.

It’s also worth noting that although these figures are quite small, they’re proving to be lots of fun.  There’s plenty of detail to be had here and each figure has its own distinct style. They each have a sort of mechanical/cybernetic feel to them which is pretty cool.

Once completed, the figures look pretty good as is, but to get the most out of them, you’ll have to apply some paint. While most Kotobukiya model kits don’t require glue, I found that I did have to apply a small amount of glue to some of the more tiny/fiddly pieces to make sure they wouldn’t pop off during any routine movements.

You know, I thought this thing would be smaller.

ACCESSORIES:

While Zoanthrope only comes with his two large sword/cleaver things, the clear winner when it comes to weaponry here is RoseRose comes with a katana-style sword and two bladed handguns.  The sword and guns come as individual pieces as well as pieces that have been molded into a left or right hand.  This allows for Rose to have a gun/sword combination, as well as dual-wield her weapons.  With both of Rose‘s hands full with her molded-in weapons, it allows for her to lend her spare weapons to other figures which is a handy addition.

While Zoanthrope doesn’t have any molded-in weapons, he does have interchangeable sets of hands that consist of left and right weapon/item holding, open hands, and closed fists. Rose also has a similar set of plain hands, except that her open hands are more flat unlike Zoanthrope’s which are more claw-like which fits in with his more beastly appearance.

Each figure also has a hexagonal port in their backs that can be used for things such as extra weapon options, or to attach some sort of display stand (not included, unfortunately).

ARTICULATION:

I think this is where these figures really shine.  Despite their diminutive stature, these figures can be just as expressive as their much larger counterparts. The only thing that annoys me though, is that the hands like to pop off when you’re trying to move the arms around and in to position. It’s nothing too major and it’s not a definite deal-breaker but it’s something to be mindful of.

Both figures have a ball jointed neck which allows for full rotation, but only a slight tilt in the left-right and back-forward directions.  Zoanthrope’s spikes/mane tends to get in the way of his head movements, while Rose’s long ponytail can also get in the way of hers. While the ponytail connects to the back of her head with a ball joint which offers some degree of articulation, there’s only so much that you can do with it due to its shape. You can always replace the long ponytail with the pinned-up hairpiece instead if it gets too annoying.

What do you think?… Is it me?…

They both have ball joints at the shoulders, coupled with a bicep swivel and hinged elbows.  While Rose’s wrists end in a ball joint for her hands to connect to, Zoanthrope’s wrists have a socket for his hands to plug into. Their torsos have a dual ball joint system which connects to the upper torso and the hips. The legs connect to the hips with ball joints which offers a fairly decent range of movement (my Zoanthrope’s hip joints are a little bit loose but that’s an easy fix). They also each have a sneaky thigh swivel hidden underneath their armour which helps with movement and posing.

They both have hinges at the knees, but Zoanthrope’s ankles have a ball joint that plugs into his feet which helps him keep his feet planted for most poses, whereas Rose’s ankles just have a hinge which gives no rotation and no sort of ankle rocker to help with poseability which is sort of an odd decision considering that a decent ball joint would have been just as effective if not better. Again, it’s a minor thing and something that I wouldn’t consider as being a deal-breaker given the smaller size we have here.

CONCLUSION:

My return to model kit land has yielded a much better result than my last outing (looking at you, Ms. Siegfried!). It can be difficult to find figures this size with this much articulation.  Unlike other toys/figures in my collection (e.g. Transformers) the Hexa Gear range is more suited towards the model building fans, rather than the action figure fans.  They definitely have that desktop “pick up and play” feel to them (especially since they’re pretty much dwarfed by your average desktop office supplies).  Knowing what size these figures are also helps to roughly gauge how big some of their vehicles will be, which might be something for me to consider in the near future.

Check it out! I’m a plane!
Wheeee~~

I’m pretty happy with these figures, but again, given their small size I wouldn’t really consider them to be great value for money. I guess it all depends on how much you’re willing to spend on figures such as these, as well as your affinity towards model kits.  That being said, I’ve been having quite a lot of fun with these guys and ultimately, isn’t that what toy collecting is all about?

Rose and Zoanthrope can be found at the links below along with other figures in the Hexa Gear range.

Mind if I have a look at that?
Sure, here you go.
Not too heavy?
I don’t know what you’re worried about. It feels like there’s nothing there.
Oh…

ACKS VFG VF-31J Siegfried – Review

INTRODUCTION:

This time around we have something a little bit different for the tabletop. It’s not very often that I get myself a model kit. I usually don’t have the time or patience to build them, and then once I have the assembly completed I often don’t continue on to do the stickers/decals or even (*gasp!*) the painting. However, that being said, I’ve always been interested in the model kits that are based on the various Valkyrie fighter jets from the Macross universe (or Robotech if you are more familiar with that title).

While the ACKS Variable Fighter Girl  VF-31J Siegfried (phew!) may not be a “proper” Valkyrie kit, it’s certainly not a bad place to start. The Variable Fighter Girl (VFG) model kits follow in a long line of mecha musume style figures which include Busou Shinki, Armor Girls Project, and the Frame Arms Girl figures. The VFGs have more in common with the Frame Arms Girl figures than the AGPs as the Frame Arms Girls are model kits that need assembly, and the AGPs are complete figures with removable armour/weapons.

This particular Valkyrie features in the anime series “Macross Delta“, and it’s a bit of a surprise that they would go with a generic anime style girl and not use one of the Walküre girls from the show. One of Macross’ core themes is the power of music/song, and Macross Delta continues the trend by introducing us to an idol group made up of 5 members, rather than the usual one or two singers. It’s a bit of a wasted opportunity in my opinion, I would have really enjoyed seeing the Walküre girls get the mecha musume treatment.  This is my first time dealing with an ACKS (Aoshima Character Kit Selection) kit, so let’s see how we go, shall we?

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Bits n bobs.

As expected from most model kits these days, all the parts are molded in different colours and then arranged on numbered sprues, which means that once it’s assembled the end result is a pretty decent model, even before painting. The text in the instructions is written in Japanese, but the pictures/diagrams are pretty comprehensive, so anyone with any sort of model building experience can jump right in and start building. Model building newbies on the other hand, might not understand straight away some of the steps that the instructions are trying to convey. It’s also worth noting that the whole kit can be built without any glue whatsoever and it still holds together quite well.

“Ms. Siegfried”.

“Battroid” mode

Flash forward, and here we have our finished products. The VF-31J Siegfried in its fighter mode is very sleek and seems to share a lot of its looks with its predecessor – the VF-19. Even before any paint is applied, there is plenty of detail on display and the panel lines are very refined and clear. In a way it looks very plain and it’s clear to see that for the best results, it’s going to need the full treatment (painting, panel lining, decals, sealing). I haven’t applied any stickers or decals on mine just yet as I might wait until it’s painted before I even attempt to apply decals.

Note: Unfortunately, with my kit there seems to have been some sort of mold/printing error which has left my fighter with a rather large hole in the fuselage. It’s quite a let-down and it’s even worse since it’s in such a noticeable location. Hopefully this is an isolated incident, and not a testament to ACKS’ quality control.

I can’t go into space looking like this!

The girl figure (“Ms. Siegfried”?) shares the same colour pallete as the fighter and she actually turned out to be a bit taller than I was expecting. Her overall design is very reminiscent of the Busou Shinki line with the way that she combines with the Valkyrie to form a sort of “power suit”, although without the modular/customisable aspects. Due to the softer plastics in the joint areas, she’s able to hold her poses surprisingly well. She feels very light in hand but that would be due to the fact that a lot of her sections are hollow and she’s made from a different grade of plastic that you would normally find in figures of her size.

Size comparison with Vervietta and Lirbiete.

ACCESSORIES:

Not a lot of options here…

There’s not a lot of accessories here. The Valkyrie doesn’t come with a lot of weapons and there are no weapons or items for Ms. Siegfried to hold on to. As a result, she only has a few interchangeable faces (and a blank so you can create your own) and a few spare hands – left and right open, “gripping”, and flat. There are extra sets of eye decals included in the kit, but no lip/mouth decals which is a bit odd, but also understandable since the spare face is fairly plain as it is.

Even though Ms. Siegfried can move quite well, there’s no stand included for her or the fighter to allow for dynamic poses or to display the fighter “in flight” so to speak. From a display point of view, it would have been good to have her set up with the fighter displayed close by in a flying position. I’ve found that there are mounting holes for display stands to plug into, and that Figma stands work quite well. However, it is disappointing that there is no landing gear included for the fighter to be displayed in a landed position.

To be fair, the Vic Viper fighters don’t have landing gear either.

One can’t help but draw comparisons between the VFG model and the “Vic Viper Sisters” from the Busou Shinki line. Each figure can be displayed separately, or in a combined mode with their fighters. Although, while the Vic Vipers can be transformed into a stand-alone robot mode, the Valkyrie can only form a sort of “power suit” for Ms. Siegfried whilst in Battroid/robot mode. There is an option for her to ride around on the Valkyrie in its “Gerwalk” mode which is nice. The Vic Viper girls miss out on a Gerwalk mode due to how their fighters transform into their respective robot modes.

Lirbiete’s robot mode.

Vervietta’s robot mode.

… at least Ms. Siegfried can stand up by herself.

ARTICULATION:

Ms. Siegfried by herself moves pretty well and has a decent range of movement. However, when combined with the VF-31J the robot/mechanical limbs tend to be a bit restrictive. The soft plastic in the joints gives the limbs a smooth movement, and because the limbs are pretty light it’s easier for them to stay in position. In combined mode, the Valkyrie’s feet are pretty stable, but it would have been nice to have some sort of display stand for the more dynamic poses.

She does however have a port and an adapter for display stands to plug into, and the aforementioned Figma stand works a treat. You will need to be careful when moving her legs, as the hip pieces tend to get in the way and can easily pop off.

Seriously, can we do something about these?!

CONCLUSION:

375mL drink can for scale.

I must say that I have mixed feelings about this figure/kit. Yes, it’s Macross and the girl figure is definitely cute, but for me there are just too many negatives to instantly give this one the coveted “must have” status. I’m hoping that the mold error that my kit has is a purely isolated incident. How that got past quality control is beyond me.

Not funny, you guys!

I’m somewhat used to the occasional transforming figures that rely on “parts-forming”, but this is next level. It really makes switching between modes a chore and while the end result may look kind of cool, it seems to be more trouble than it’s worth. There are too many small parts that need interchanging and sections that need to be disassembled and reassembled for my liking. Although the whole kit can be put together without glue, after a few rounds of “transforming”, you’ll start to figure out which pieces/sections can or should be glued together to stop them from coming apart during the whole process (ordeal?). This is definitely a “display, not play” piece.

If you’re a big fan of Macross and mecha musume, then you might enjoy this kit a bit more than I have.  I do love a bit of Macross (and I didn’t mind the Macross Delta anime series), but this kit is a bit of a sour note for me.  It’s also worth noting that now there’s another kit in the series which is the VF-31A Kairos (possibly worth getting if you’re into cat-girls as well 😉 ).  Just be wary of any mold imperfections if you do happen to get one.  It’s not due for release until December 2018, so there’s still time to consider if it’s worth getting.

The ACKS Variable Fighter Girl VF-31J Siegfried can be found at the links below along with other similar model kits/figures.

I mean really, what even ARE these things?

Hey guys, you haven’t seen any of my parts around here, have you?

… umm…

… I’m just gonna go now…

Figma Attack on Titan Figures – Review

Once again we’re back in the figma stable with a few figures based on characters from the Attack on Titan (A.K.A. Shingeki no Kyoujin) series. The series itself has become pretty popular and since starting out as a manga, has become the basis for an anime series (3 seasons worth now), some video/computer games (with varying degrees of quality), and has even received the live-action treatment in the form of a movie.

The series also now has copious amounts of merchandise, which brings us to our review. Since the figures themselves share a lot in common, from a design point of view, I will be reviewing the Eren, Mikasa, and Levi figmas since I happen to have them at hand.  Unfortunately, the Armin figma was an exclusive figure and as such I haven’t acquired it yet.

‘The manga is set in a world where humanity lives in cities surrounded by enormous walls protecting the humans from gigantic humanoids that are referred to as titans. The titans vary in height and endlessly eat humans seemingly without reason. The story initially centers on Eren Yeager and his childhood friends Mikasa Ackerman and Armin Arlert, who join the military to fight the titans after their hometown is invaded and a titan eats Eren’s mother, whom he swears to avenge. As the story progresses and the truths about the titans are slowly revealed to the reader, the narrative shifts to encompass Historia Reiss, squad leader Levi, Eren’s father Grisha, and other supporting characters.’

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Survey Corps, salute!

Once again, figma brings its usual standard of quality and polish to the table. The figures themselves are pretty good representations of each character and each comes with pretty much the same accessories, with the main difference between the figures is the interchangeable faces that they each have.

Mikasa

Levi

Eren

Each figure is wearing the standard military style outfit featured in the show with slight variations between them. Eren is pretty much the default setting whereas Mikasa and Levi each have their scarf and cravat respectively.

The Eren and Mikasa figures make for a standard male and female recruit, while the Levi figure differs slightly in the clothing department, as well as being slighty shorter in size. It would be pretty easy to get a squad together using the Eren and Mikasa figures as a base, and doing simple head swaps with other figmas or even with other approximately 1:12 scale figures with compatible heads.

Mikasa contemplates a future career as a Wolkenritter Knight

What’s with the new girl?

Fist bump!

ACCESSORIES:

Each figure also comes with their own 3D maneuver gear and swords. The sword blades can be removed from the ‘control grips’, but they can’t be sheathed with the rest of the spare blades in the side holsters. It’s also annoying/disappointing that the grips can’t connect to the ends of the “sheathed” blades for a “holstered” look.  The maneuver gear, although somewhat moveable, sometimes hinders articulation and balance in some aspects.

While Eren doesn’t reallly come with any separate stand-out accessories, Mikasa comes with her customary scarf which can be removed, but makes her neck look weird. Luckily a spare collar piece is included in the package to fill in the space that the scarf leaves.

The 3D maneuver gear comes with effect parts to simulate the “gas trail” that occurs when the wearer uses the compressed gas for extra propulsion, and straight “cables” to show the anchor lines being fired from the gear. The gas jet effect also has a port so that it can be attached to the included figma stand for dynamic flight poses.

All figures come with a hooded cape with the Survey Corps emblem on it, but it only comes in a fixed “flowing” state. It would have been nice to have one that was in a more neutral state as well.

They each come with their usual assortment of interchangeable hands, a selection of different faces, the articulated display stand, and a snap-lock bag to store accessories in.  It’s interesting to note that Levi comes with a set of hands to show his unconventional “reverse” sword grip.

Also included in the package are some string lines with clear plastic hooks on the end.  This allows you to show your figures attached to, or suspended from, whatever you can hook on to.

Whadda ya mean I have to put all the gear away?!

Each figure come with 3 faces in total.  Eren has a neutral/serious face, a shouting face and a “shocked/startled” expression.  Mikasa has a neutral/plain face, a serious face, and an angry “I’m going to kill you!” face. Levi has his neutral/bored face, a serious “looking down at you” face, and he also comes with an angry “I’m going to kill you!” face.

Mikasa’s war face

Levi frowns upon your shenanigans

Eren realises it’s Mikasa’s birthday and he hasn’t gotten her a gift

ARTICULATION:

In typical figma fashion, the joints offer a very smooth movement, and are sturdy enough to hold most poses. Having the 3D gear equipped can hinder some movement in the legs, but at least it can be moved around a bit if necessary. The range of movement is pretty similar between the male and female figures, so you can expect the same poseability from either body type with only minor differences.

For Eren, the joint in the neck gives full rotation but only minimal left and right tilt. His head can tilt forward a bit but can’t tilt back very far, if at all due to his hair getting in the way. Mikasa’s head on the other hand, has a slightly better range of movement. It still has the full rotation but has a better tilt left and right as well as forwards and back. The scarf tends to get in the way of the forward tilt, unless you take it off and replace it with the collar piece.

The shoulders are very similar between figures and have a decent range of movement. The arms can rotate all the way around and can be raised up at the sides to about 90 degrees. Their jackets are made of a soft plastic that helps with articulation and also helps to maintain their overall shape which is a nice touch. The joint at the shoulder also allows the bicep area to swivel all the way around.

At the elbows, the joints there allow them to bend past 90 degrees and the joints at the wrist allow for full rotation as well as a decent tilt. It’s pretty easy to get the hands where you want them, and the joints are sturdy enough to hold the swords in any way you want due to the swords being quite light.

Kaa~mee~haa~mee~…

The joint in the upper torso gives full rotation, but to me the range of tilt seems a bit limited. It’s not really a deal-breaker but it is something to take into account now and then. There is something of a waist joint, but it’s sort of hidden just below the belt and underneath the “skirt” area. Just like the jacket, the skirt is made of a soft plastic so it won’t get in the way of some of the more dynamic poses. The hips have a very good range of movement and the soft plastic is there again to help articulation and to maintain the shape.
The knees can bend to around 135 degrees and the joints in the ankles allow for a very good range of movement. There’s also a hinge joint in the toe area for good measure. The combination of the different joints in the legs allows the figures to be quite stable in some pretty dynamic poses.

Haa~!

CONCLUSION:

The Attack on Titan figures by figma have been a welcome addition to my collection. It’s possible to find these guys for decent prices nowadays, and if you’re not adverse to having knock-off figmas in your collection, you can have a pretty decent squad put together for cheap (if you have other compatible figures to headswap with that is). I like that even though the blade holsters/gas canisters appear to be quite bulky and awkward, they’re actually pretty light and don’t really hinder balancing as much as I thought they would when posing. Fans of the series should definitely consider picking these figures up as they’re excellent representations of their characters and they’re fun figures to have on your desk for the odd “pick up and play” session.  And they’re even more fun if you can find something or somewhere to hang them from.

375mL drink can for scale

The Attack on Titan figmas can be found at the links below along with other figures in the figma range.




 

Listen up recruits! A new type of titan has been identified.

A new type?! We can barely manage the ones we already have!

What the…

Reinforcements will take too long to get here! We’re on our own!

Your orders, Captain?

ATTACK!!

SH Figuarts Akiba Rangers – Triple Feature!

Something a little bit different for the table top this week, and my first ever triple review! This time around we have the Unofficial Sentai Akiba Rangers by way of SH Figuarts. I’ve often seen these particular figures for sale at discounted prices, so I thought I’d watch the show and at least get familiar with the characters and setting before picking them up. Maybe even figure out why they’re often in the discount/sales section.  Also, I figured it would be easier to review them all at once since they share a lot of similarities.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised with how funny the show turned out! The Unofficial Sentai Akiba Rangers show itself plays out like a comedy/parody series that both pays homage and sends up the Toei Company’s Super Sentai franchise that is still popular in Japan to this day. The story mainly revolves around the three main characters who get chosen to be Rangers, but their squad hasn’t been officially recognised as a Super Sentai group. So it’s up to them to find their own bad guys and fight them until they can get official recognition, as well as a sweet TV time-slot (and also merchandising 😉 ).  The trouble is… that they can only do battle in the “Delusionary World”, which sort of complicates things further.

It was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (This show adapted stock footage from the Japanese TV series Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger) that made Super Sentai famous in the West, and it’s something that’s later made fun of in the show. After having watched and enjoyed the show (two seasons worth), I’m glad to finally have figures of the Rangers in hand to review.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

“Juu Mousou!”   (Deep Delusion)

The figures themselves are very good representations of the characters. Bandai/SH Figuarts have made figures for other Super Sentai characters in the past, so figures of this quality are a bit of a no-brainer for them. Out of the packet, the figures feel sturdy and the joints feel like they have a pretty good range of motion, mostly due to the form-fitting nature of their outfits. In hand, they definitely feel like they can hold all the poses that they can do in the show which is pretty cool, and what you want from figures of this nature.

Hikounin Sentai…

Akiba Rangers! (cue fiery background explosion)

Each ranger’s outfit is mostly comprised of their signature colour (red, blue or yellow) with black boots and black gloves. Akiba Red features a mostly all black and red outfit with a silver belt and “mouth plate” on the helmet. Akiba Blue and Akiba Yellow also have a silver belt and mouth plate, only they both have white areas breaking up their colours a bit. Each ranger also has the same transparent/coloured plastic window over their chest which sports the Akiba Ranger logo. Akiba Red is also a bit taller/bigger than Blue and Yellow which makes sense from a scale point of view. Each character’s helmet has “sculpted hair” instead of the usual common theme/motif that the more official teams tend to go with, which is a bit different.

Moe Magnum! Let’s go!

ACCESSORIES:

Akiba Red’s gear

Each figure comes with a selection of different interchangeable hands with minor variations between sets. They all come with 2 different white scarves that plug into a little ball joint located at the back of their collars. This particular ball joint is very tiny and appears to be quite fragile, so extra care must be taken when swapping out scarves. Also included with each figure is their very own Moe Moe Zukyuun gun that not only facilitates their transformations in the show, but can also be used as a weapon and communicator in battle.

Akiba Blue’s gear

They don’t really come with a lot of accessories, since they tend to fight bare-handed or with their guns. Although, during the course of the show they acquire new (Outrageous!) weapons, the Dekaranger D-Wappa, the Boukenger Bouken Scooper and the Jetman Jet Winger, which are included with SH Figuarts Deka Red, Bouken Red and Red Hawk respectively. It is also confirmed that these weapons will also be able to combine to form the Outrageous Cannon!

Akiba Yellow’s gear

ARTICULATION:

The Rangers all move quite well and their joints are sturdy enough to hold most poses. They all share similar joints which makes it easy for doing group poses. The head is connected to the top of the neck piece with a ball joint, which is then connected to the torso with another ball joint. These joints allow for full rotation, but can only offer minimal tilting in either direction, which is mostly due to the shape of the helmet. The collar also hinders neck movement which can be a bit annoying at times.

The shoulders are connected to the torso with a ball-joint/hinge combination which offers a pretty good range of movement. The arms can rotate fully and can raise up to about 90 degrees at the sides. Red has a soft plastic covering at his shoulders which can help in pushing the articulation a little bit further, but the girls’ shoulders are moulded in a hard plastic which can be a bit limiting.

There’s a bicep swivel of sorts in Red’s upper arms which is hidden quite well by the design. I wasn’t completely sure if he had a bicep swivel at first, the joint was a little bit stuck and I didn’t want to force it too much. The girls have their bicep swivel inside the upper arm which works for them, but the range of movement is not as good as Red’s.

The elbows have a double joint which gives a really nice range, they can pretty much touch their own shoulders. At the wrists there’s another combination hinge/ball joint which works pretty well. The ball joint at the end of the wrists also makes it easier to swap hands around. The chest and waist have ball joints which give full rotation (at the waist) and also give a decent tilt in each direction

Ground punch, because why not?

Jazz hands!

Oh my gosh, the official guys are sooo cute~~

The hips have ball joints that offer a decent range of motion, but with the girls it seems to be hindered a bit by their skirts. Luckily, the skirts are made of a soft plastic so at least there’s a little bit of give there. It’s easy to pop the legs off the joint while trying to get into a “high kick” sort of pose, but at least it’s easy to pop them back on again.

At the knees there’s a double joint which gives a pretty good bend. The range isn’t as good as the double joint in the elbows, but it’s still pretty good. It’s funny that these sort of double joints seems to work well with the smaller-scale figures than with something larger like the Play Arts Kai range (see: peanut knees/elbows). I was expecting a little bit more articulation in the ankles due to the dynamic nature of these figures, but the combination that they have there is okay I suppose. The feet can rotate and tilt a bit and the rocker helps to turn them on an angle which helps with stability. There’s also a hinge near the toes which is a nice touch and it’s something that seems to be a mainstay with the more poseable figures these days.

CONCLUSION:

I’m having a lot of fun with the Akiba Rangers. I started off not knowing anything about them and passed them off as just another Super Sentai series in a long (looong) line of Super Sentai series. In true proverbial fashion, I watched the show not knowing what to expect, and was really not disappointed. The show doesn’t take itself too seriously and the humour can be really cheesy at times, but that’s all part of its charm. It’s also worth noting that I was quite impressed with the action scenes as well. It’s your typical Sentai/Power Rangers fare with the martial arts and the sparks/explosions when characters get it, but the way that some of the characters get thrown around makes me really glad I’m not a stuntman. Some of those hits/landings looked pretty painful.

The figures on the other hand, I was expecting the usual high standard of figure from SH Figuarts, and again I was not disappointed. Once again, the figures follow in a long (looong) line of Super Sentai figures made by SH Figuarts, so it’s really no surprise that they continue with the same degree of quality. They are all very good representations of their respective characters and it’s pretty easy to get them to do their signature poses. It’s also worth keeping an eye out for their transforming mecha Itassha Robo, because what’s not to love about a Toyota Prius that’s decked out in anime decals and transforms into a goofy-looking robot?
It’s still possible to find the Rangers for a decent price, so getting the crew together wouldn’t be too difficult (maybe they’re less expensive since they’re “unofficial”?).

375 mL drink can for scale

The SH Figuarts Akiba Rangers can be found at the links below along with other figures in the SH Figuarts range.

 

 

 

 

The Akiba Rangers are facing their toughest enemy yet!

                                                                                                      “We can help! We’re an official team!”

“…”

                                                                                                                     “W-Wait a minute you guys!”

“Yeah… I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing here either.”

 

Good Smile Tachikoma – Review

INTRODUCTION:

The Tachikoma by the Good Smile Company had been a long term “Grail” of mine. And now that it’s in my collection I can most certainly confirm that it was definitely worth the wait. The Good Smile Company (along with Max Factory) are more famous for their Nendoroid and Figma  lines, so it’s interesting to see something a little different from them.

Box Front

The Tachikomas are a special type of A.I. controlled “spider-tank” (for want of a better word) that appear in the Ghost in the Shell franchise and this particular Tachikoma appears in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series. Although they pack some pretty serious firepower, the Tachikomas used by Section 9 tend to sound and behave a lot like children. The A.I. component of their design means that they can operate independently, or with a pilot at the controls. They have small wheels at the base of their feet which they use to get around with mostly, but they are capable of firing off tow-lines from either side of their “abdomens”/cockpits which they can use to climb walls and perform other spider-like functions.

Box Back

Among all the varying Tachikoma figures available, what sets this particular version apart from the others is the inclusion of a small scale figure of the Major, Motoko Kusanagi. The figure itself appears to be quite tiny (less than 1:18 scale approximately) and is pretty well articulated. Just like in the TV series, the abdomen/cockpit of the Tachikoma opens up for the Major to sit inside and operate the controls manually.

Not pictured: cup holder.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS:

Once you get the Tachikoma out of its box, the first thing you may notice is that it has quite a decent heft to it. This is due to the body, legs, and arms being made of a metal alloy. Only the abdomen is made of plastic, most likely due to all the moving parts in it. It’s a very good representation of the character, decked out in a metallic blue with silver accents and topped off with its characteristic white “bowling-ball” eyes (3 on the top of the body and 1 underneath the abdomen).

Everything moves fairly freely, and due the heavy nature of the body and limbs, the joints are extra “ratchety” to make up for this. As a side note: it’s typical for second hand figures to have weakened joints from having to support the weight of the body for extended periods of time. The wheels appear to be made from a hard rubber which may hinder standing because as the weight of the body presses down, the feet/wheels slide and the legs tend to splay out.

Walking on tip-toes so my feet don’t slide out on me!

The tiny (TINY!) Motoko figure that’s included is also pretty cool. This particular version of the Major is wearing her usual Section 9 tactical suit which primarily consists of shades of grey . It’s pretty well sculpted for such a small figure, even if it’s light on details. It’s also worth noting how fragile/delicate some of her joints appear to be. Although this figure appears to be quite poseable, I wouldn’t necessarily class it as an “action figure” (especially if you’ve had to pay a substantial “slow-poke tax” as I have). Great for posing and display, not so much for general play. The Major scales quite nicely with the Tachikoma and it’s nice to see them posed together.

Cover me!

ACCESSORIES:

Inside the cardboard box there’s a styrofoam piece that holds the Tachikoma, the Major, and an assortment of accessories. In the package you’ll find a set of interchangeable armour pieces that can be swapped out or re-arranged with the “lights” that attach to the abdomen/cockpit. Also included is an additional set of “feet” that have the wheels protruding slightly more so that the figure can roll around a bit easier. The armour pieces are plastic, whereas the extra feet are made of metal with a plastic wheel with the same hard rubber tyre.

There’s also a “mini-gun” attachment so you can replace the usual “cannon” main weapon for a “Gatling gun” variant. The Major herself only comes with 2 open hands and 2 right hands – one holding her pistol and one holding her trusty Seburo sub-machine gun. Unfortunately, the guns are moulded into her hands and therefore aren’t removable.

Also included is an instruction sheet and stickers that you can apply to the Tachikoma. It’s a bit of a shame that there wasn’t more accessories for the Major, but it’s kind of understandable given her small scale and that she’s technically the Tachikoma’s accessory.

ARTICULATION:

The Tachikoma itself moves as you would expect and the joints ensure that it can hold most poses pretty well. The joints that connect the legs and abdomen to the body feel a lot like the Revo joints that feature in the Revoltech line. They can offer full rotation around where the joint connects along with quite a sturdy click/ratchet. In this case it’s pretty necessary to have this ratcheting action in order for the legs to support the heavy weight of the metal main body.

Care to explain how tyre tracks got on the ceiling?

The legs and arms are also made of metal but aren’t as heavy. The “eyes” have a full 360 degree range of motion and can roll around similar to how a trackball works. The joints for the legs can rotate fully and have a sort of dual swivel system which allows the top of the legs to move up and down as well as backwards and forwards. The second joint in the legs also has full rotation, but the movement in and out is somewhat limited.

The arms are connected to the body with ball joints, but the range of motion is limited due to the body, legs, and the Tachikoma’s main weapon getting in the way. The end of each arm has a claw that can rotate and has articulated pincers that can individually open and close. The main gun can also move around a bit but its range is pretty limited. The “cannon” attachment also features a sort of “safety” muzzle cover that can be removed after its “pin” is pulled out (possibly a safety measure to ensure that a rogue Tachikoma would be unable to fire its cannon by itself).
The joint connecting the abdomen to the body allows for full rotation but can only tilt up and down slightly. The silver “spinnerets” on either side of the abdomen can also spin all the way around.

However, what makes this figure the definitive version is that it has an opening cockpit. Not just an opening cockpit, but also the inclusion of a little poseable figure of Motoko that fits nicely inside. The cockpit opens by pulling the top upwards and then opening the doors outwards. The doors also slide outwards slightly to allow them to open more. Inside is a fairly detailed rendition of what the interior would look like. It’s easy to see where the pilot would sit and how they would interact with the controls. Closing the cockpit is just a simple matter of reversing the process and having everything tab into where it’s supposed to.

What? I’m drivin’ here!

The Motoko figure that comes with this particular Tachikoma is pretty cool in its own right. It’s quite poseable and is a decent representation of the character given its small size. The head sits on a ball joint in the base of the neck which allows for a decent range of motion.

Her head can rotate fully and tilt forward to a fair degree, but can’t tilt backward very far, if at all due to the collar of her suit. The shoulders have a double ball joint and there’s a swivel just above the elbows.

The elbows themselves have a hinge that can bend to just past 90 degrees, and there’s a ball joint in the wrists. The ball joints in the wrists also allow for the interchanging of hands. The waist has a ball joint, as do the hips.

The joints in the hips allow for a decent range of movement, but it’s slightly hindered by the sculpt. There is a swivel just above the knees and the hinge in the knees allows them to bend to just past 90 degrees.

Her ankle area is surprisingly well articulated, with a ball joint just above the foot as well as a “rocker” joint in the foot which allows for a decent tilt left and right. All of this combines to make this figure of Motoko the smallest, yet most dynamic to date.

CONCLUSION:

The Tachikoma by the Good Smile Company is regarded as the definitive version of any Tachikoma figure based on the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex TV series so far. It’s the most accurate and most poseable given its size and the inclusion of the Major as a figure that can fit inside the cockpit makes it a worthy addition to any toy collection, especially for all you Ghost in the Shell fans out there. It must be said however, that this particular figure is only available at aftermarket prices, which can be pretty crazy at times. It’s these crazy prices that push this figure into “Holy Grail” status for many collectors, so if you want it, be prepared to pay a hefty price for it.

375mL drink can for scale.

That being said, once you have this figure in your collection, you won’t be disappointed (just make sure you find one with strong joints that can support its own weight 😉 ).  For a much (MUCH!) cheaper alternative, Revoltech have released their own Tachikoma figures.  Although they are much smaller than the Good Smile version, they still come with some interesting accessories and can be a lot of fun to play with.  Also worth mentioning is the Perfect Piece Tachikoma which sort of sits in between the Good Smile and Revoltech versions in both size and price.  It’s a fairly detailed figure and it has a metallic finish as well as an opening cockpit, but the pilot Motoko figure isn’t poseable, or as detailed (or as much fun 😉 ).

The Good Smile Tachikoma can be found at the links below along with other figures in the Good Smile range.



You ready to go and fight crime?

I’d love to… but there’s someone already at the controls…

Wha…? Who’s in there?!

Come out with your hands up!

Umm…. Hi?…

Oh for… Get out of there!

You can’t go around stealing Tachikomas just because your movie sucks.

 

Figma Drossel – Review

INTRODUCTION

Drossel Juno Vierzehntes Heizregister Fürstin von Flügel – whew!

Now here’s a Disney “Princess” you may not have heard of. Coming up next is Drossel von Flügel (or if you’d prefer – Drossel Juno Vierzehntes Heizregister Fürstin von Flügel) by Figma. Drossel appears in the CGI animated series Fireball, produced by Disney in Japan. The Fireball series is about Drossel and her (quite large) robot companion/butler Gedächtnis making idle conversation in the midst of a war with humanity.

Princess? Yes. Pushover? Never.

Gedächtnis is Drossel’s servant and guardian, having sworn to her late father to protect her. Drossel treats him very much after the manner of the ‘spoiled princess’ stereotype (no doubt to further the comedic aspect of the show, but also in-synch with her appearance and the stylised postures she assumes).

Pew pew!

A running gag in the series is that, at the beginning, Gedächtnis waits for Drossel to arrive and is called by a name Drossel chooses seemingly at random (although some, such as Sancho Panza and Rasputin, infer an unambiguously subservient status upon him). Gedächtnis then attempts (in a gentle, butler-like fashion) to remind Drossel of his name, upon which she abruptly tells him not to interrupt. The episodes are usually nonsensical in nature, normally showing just the two characters , but a third character, a monkey-robot named Schadenfreude, joins them later.

I can’t see a thing with the blast shields down!

Fireball’s episodes are quite short at around 2 minutes each, give or take, and it’s possible to get through the whole series in about half an hour. There’s also a follow-up series called Fireball Charming which, although comes after the original Fireball, is actually a prequel to the story. Although the show is comical and light-hearted in nature, there is a certain air of mystery about the events happening outside Drossel’s home.

This particular style is guaranteed to add lift.

Very little is said about what’s going on outside, and it’s often left up to the viewer to “fill in the blanks”.  Even though Fireball Charming was made after the original Fireball, It’s clear to see which series has benefited from the advancements in CGI technology.  Sort of like comparing the original Star Wars trilogy with the prequel trilogy.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

I don’t know… is it me?

Being a robot, first impressions are that she definitely has that mechanical feel while also appearing distinctly feminine. Her facial features are pretty much limited to her two large light blue eyes (that have a pearlescent shine to them).

Find your inner balance.

There’s not much else going on with her head except for her two large twin-tails that reach down to her knees. Her colour scheme is predominantly black and white and even her accessories maintain the motif. Thin black lines break up the mostly white overall colour. As usual, the Figma joints are sturdy and move well which really helps with poseability.

ACCESSORIES

Drossel’s Gear

Throughout the show, Drossel acquires some enhancements in the way of different headpieces and it’s good to see them replicated here. She has an assortment of interchangeable hands (left and right fists, open hands, splayed hands, item holding hands, and pointing fingers) and a large book, Prospero, that she and Gedächtnis refer to from time to time through the course of the show. Her enhancement pieces are the flight unit Obruchev, and a special headpiece that enables her to perform martial arts style moves. She calls it Karate, but her moves are actually more based on Capoeira.

Capoeira style!

Gedächtnis never got the full figure treatment. Instead there was a papercraft version that came with the original DVD release as well as a little PVC Schadenfreude figure to go with it. Both of these scale with Drossel so if you can find them (and have the time/patience for papercraft), then they might be worth looking into. Also included is the usual articulated display stand, instructions on how to attach and remove her accessories, and a snap lock bag to store everything in.

Karate style!

ARTICULATION

Ready for takeoff.

For such a mechanically styled figure, she moves quite well. Her head can rotate fully and has a decent left and right tilt. She can tilt her head down a bit, but can’t tilt back very much, if at all. The twin-tails can also move around to a fair degree. The ball joints at the shoulders allow her arms to rotate fully and they can raise up fairly well. The elbows can bend beyond 90 degrees which is nice and her upper arms can rotate at the shoulders. Her forearms can rotate at the elbows and the joint at the wrists can allow the hands to swivel as well as turn in or out.

I said, ready for takeoff!

There’s a ball joint in the waist area that allows for full rotation as well as a fairly decent tilt in all directions. The joints in the hips offer a decent range of movement, although it may be slightly hindered by the hip piece. Her knees can bend to about 135 degrees and the joints in the ankles, although also hindered, are able to move around enough to provide support for most standing poses. It’s not too difficult to get her into some really dynamic poses, but if it’s one thing that Drossel does well, it’s sass.

Stupid thing! Last time I let Gedächtnis order online!

CONCLUSION

Drossel von Flugel by Figma makes for a worthy addition to any toy collection. She has a unique style and although her face is expressionless, it is quite possible to convey her moods through the different poses she’s able to do. She has the right amount of accessories and is poseable enough to pull off all of her signature poses that she does throughout the series. If you can find the original DVD release that has the papercraft Gedächtnis and the little Schadenfreude figure, then that’s also worth looking into.  Even though Fireball first aired in 2008 (and Fireball Charming in 2011), it’s still possible to find a Figma Drossel for a decent price.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the Fireball Charming version which can see some crazy after-market prices.

Figma Drossel can be found at the links below along with other figures in the Figma range.

So… you’re me in the future…

…then who’s that?

I dunno…. alternate timeline?

But check this out!

Tadaa~~ It was me, Hatsune Miku all along!

Luckily Scarlet keeps a camera handy for emergencies like these.

Masterpiece Soundwave VS Titans Return Soundwave – Review

INTRODUCTiON

It’s all about me!

It’s time to review one of my favourite Transformers, and that is everyone’s favourite Decepticon intelligence officer – Soundwave. Having recently acquired one of my grails in the way of Transformers Masterpiece Soundwave, I figured it would be a good opportunity to compare what is arguably the best incarnation of Soundwave with a pretty good runner up.  That runner up being Titans Return Soundwave (with Titan Master Soundblaster).  If you’re unable to get your hands on Masterpiece Soundwave, is the Titans Return offering a worthy substitute? Well, he may not be a worthy “substitute” as such, but he definitely has enough going on to tide you over until you can acquire the Masterpiece version (and some tapes 😉 )

Side by side

“Soundblaster is a master of cyber infiltration. He drops a backdoor code into the systems of any bot he unites with, giving Soundwave a way in. With that access, Soundwave raids their processors – completely undetected – and steals a constant stream of information.” With a name like “Soundblaster” he doesn’t exactly sound like a covert operative, and what bots is he uniting with to get any worthwhile information (unless he’s spying on his fellow Decepticons)? It’s not like he can run up and attach himself to any old Autobot. He even looks like a mini Soundwave.

Soundblaster… totally not Soundwave

For simplicity’s sake, I will be using MP and TR to refer to Masterpiece and Titans Return respectively.

FIRST IMPRESSIONs

The Masterpiece line prides itself on bringing us Transformers that are as show-accurate as possible, featuring flawless alt-modes and robot modes that look like they stepped right out of the screen and into our hands. MP Soundwave’s robot mode certainly fits that description. His appearance is definitely what you would expect to see in a Masterpiece. He’s very show-accurate and the design has been tweaked to give him more poseability over his G1 counterpart.

The Titans Return version also definitely looks the part. All the familiar design cues are there so you can instantly tell that this is Soundwave, although in a slightly lighter shade of blue. The tell-tale chest window is ever present and his face retains all his usual features. In true TR fashion, he has that “classic, but updated” feel. However, what the TR version lacks in cartoon/G1 accuracy, he makes up for in playability with an extra “base” mode.

ACCESSORIES

This is where all (most?) incarnations of Soundwave most certainly shine as a Transformer. In this case – it’s all about the “tapes”. Ever since he started out as a micro-cassette recorder in his G1 days, Soundwave has always had an arsenal of tapes (discs, objects, etc.) that can be called upon to do his bidding or to provide additional firepower on the battlefield.

At present I only have the one tape for MP Soundwave (Laserbeak), but it is possible to buy separate packs that have multiple tapes in them to fill out the ranks.  MP Laserbeak is very true to form in that he’s a very good representation of the character in both modes.

Laserbeak, prepare to launch

What is also great about this Laserbeak is that his weapons/boosters are incorporated into the transformation. They’re not separate and removable like in his original form.  It’s really very clever how they got that to work.

Scanning mode

The TR version is also no slouch in the tapes department. This time around the tapes are replaced with different portable electronic devices (tablets, phones, etc.) and each of these is a triple-changer in its own right.

Laserbeak and Ravage could have been handled better in this regard as each figure suffers in some way by becoming a triple-changer when it really isn’t necessary. The TR “tapes” would have fared much better if they had just retained their original forms, but with the modern twist that the TR line is known for. As much as I like the TR line, I’m not a fan of the tacked-on 3rd mode that some of the figures suffer from (Galvatron, looking at you).

My, what a big bird you have

Both Soundwaves come with the customary shoulder-mounted rocket pod.  The TR version’s rocket pod can be detached while the MP version has it fixed to his shoulder.  It can be stowed away in alt-mode form, but it can’t be removed.

Curse these closed fists!

MP Soundwave comes with his usual gun with its familiar cylindrical shape (that turns into a “battery” that can be stowed away in his alt-mode), whereas TR Soundwave comes with the same rifle that comes with TR Blaster, only a different colour.

While the MP version comes with one of his minions included in the package, the TR version comes with a “placeholder” that can be used to store the Titan Master Soundblaster when in alt-mode.

This placeholder piece can also be used in his “base” mode as a weapons platform/deck of sorts. MP Soundwave comes with a little box that connects to his chest to replicate the “energon cube creation” effect (and it has a “lid” so you can seal it up), and an alt-mode Megatron (because why not?).

ARTICULATION

While the MP version wins out in this regard (articulated fingers, anyone?), the TR version is certainly no slouch. The TR version is a tad bulkier than the MP version and is also slightly taller. There’s even a decent amount of solid ratcheting going on in both figures that enables both of them to hold some dynamic poses.

Soundblaster unmasked

Starting with the TR version, without the “mask” on, since the head borrows Soundblaster’s neck joint it can rotate fully but only has a very minimal tilt left and right as well as up and down.  However, once the mask is in place, the head can only rotate. At least it can rotate fully which is something.

The shoulders can rotate fully and the arms can only raise up to 90 degrees. The hinge at each elbow gives a 90 degree bend and the swivel allows for full rotation. Disappointingly, there’s no swivel at the wrists and the hands can only turn in due to the transformation.  There’s no movement in the waist area, but the hips have a fairly decent range of movement which is helped by the movable hip covers.  The thighs have a swivel in them and the knees can only bend to 90 degrees. The ankles can tilt left and right as well as up and down which really helps with stability. Despite his limitations, TR Soundwave can pull off some nice dynamic posing.

En Garde!

Now on with the MP version. The head can rotate fully, but can only tilt up and down. The shoulders have a good range of movement – they can rotate fully and the arms can raise up to around 180 degrees, although it looks kind of disjointed when he does that due to the nature of the shoulder joint. There’s a swivel in the bicep and the elbows can bend to a full curl which is pretty cool. And speaking of pretty cool – the aforementioned articulated fingers!

Each finger is jointed as you would expect which means you can open and close the hands at each finger.  While the fingers can open and curl like normal, they can’t spread out/splay. As cool as it is to have these articulated fingers, it makes it near impossible for Soundwave to maintain a proper grip on his gun.  The gun itself has a tab on the grip that slots into his palms, but it can be tricky getting it to stay in there. It’s not a deal-breaker by any means, it’s just something to look out for when you’re working with the hands. Oh, and there’s wrist swivels.

Unlike the TR version, there’s a waist swivel. The hips have a very good range of movement, helped along with some sturdy ratcheting. There are swivels at the hips and just above the knees. The knees themselves have some very strong ratchets, even though they can only bend to 90 degrees. There’s some funky engineering going on in the ankles and they have a combination of hinges to allow the ankles to tilt left and right as well as up and down to some degree.

There’s not a lot going on for both versions in alt-mode, it’s pretty much just the tape/device storage windows.  The MP version has some buttons that you can press, a slide switch and a dial that only slightly moves.

These little hatches open and I have no idea why…

One area where the MP version falls down in alt-mode is the back side of his tape deck mode. Since the back area is not closed in, it looks kind of untidy and not really convincing at all (and not what you’d expect from a “Masterpiece”). The front and sides are as well done as you would expect, but that messy back end is a bit of a let-down. It seems funny that the TR version makes for a slightly more convincing audio device overall – even if it looks a bit more “toy-ish”.

How do you do that?

Am I doing it right?

TR version’s base mode makes for an interesting option. The Titans Return range comes with lots of little Transformer figures and additional Titan Masters that can interact with all the new base modes that are being released.  You don’t need to shell out the big bucks to get the larger city/base transformers like Metroplex, Fortress Maximus or even Trypticon (awesome as they are) when you can get a few Voyager/Leader class figures together and create your own bases. Transformers fans are even creating base modes from figures that don’t even have an official base mode.

CONCLUSION

If you absolutely have to choose between the two, then the MP is definitely the one to go for.  Especially if you’re a Soundwave fan. But that doesn’t mean that the TR version is worth completely passing up. While the MP brings the G1 accuracy with modern engineering, it’s clearly aimed at the more adult end of the collector’s market. The TR version on the other hand, offers a G1-esque flavour with the added benefit of a 3rd mode that can actually be quite fun. Even more so if you have other TR figures that have base modes which means that you can create quite the miniature city with enough figures. The size and heft of the TR version means its more suited for fans of all ages, plus it’s a lot cheaper than the MP version so there is that.

Titans Return and Masterpiece Soundwave can be found at the links below along with other figures in the Transformers range.


 


 

There’s only one way to settle this…

Dance off, bro!

You there! Music!

You got it!

“You got the touch”

“You got the power~~”

“Yeah!!”

Stand back. I got this.

How’s this?

Or this?

And…

How you like me now?

If only more disputes could be settled with an epic dance-off…

Figma Leonmitchelli Galette de Rois – Review

Introduction:

Now it’s time for me to review something that I’ve been meaning to get on the table for some time. This time around we have Figma Leonmitchelli Galette de Rois as she appears in the anime series Dog Days.  The name “Galette de Rois” is actually the name of a French cake, and in the land of Flonyard there are a lot of people and places that share names with desserts and pastries.  After a while of hearing about the territory of Galette doing battle against the republic of Biscotti, you can’t but help but get a little bit hungry.  😛

Leonmitchelli Galette de Rois

The recent revival of Ninja Warrior to our TV screens reminded me of Dog Days and how the battles between different nations are fought. In the world of Dog Days, battles between the different animal nations are played out in a giant obstacle/assault course. The show’s main character Shinku gets summoned to the land of Flonyard because of his athletic abilities and his prowess with Ninja Warrior-style obstacle courses.  Due to the whole sports-like nature of these battles, no one ever gets seriously hurt or killed (downed opponents simply “pop” and turn into “beast balls”), and both warring factions display excellent sportsmanship towards each other, with both nations’ field medics offering aid to whoever needs it.

The whole event also features live commentaries from guests from both sides. Both nations pit their strongest armies and warriors in this competition, but it is the Lord and General of the Galette Lion Territory Army, Leonmitchelli, that is the most feared opponent on the battlefield.

Just as dangerous without weapons

First Impressions:

Leonmitchelli is decked out in her usual battle attire consisting of a blue top and short shorts under a hard plastic skirt. Her hair is long with a light blue colour and her characteristic cat ears feature prominently. She also features her armoured forearms and knee high boots, and also wears a large dark grey cape with a light blue lining.

Do your part for the glory of the Galette Lion Territory!

The cape is also made of hard plastic, but at least it has two figma joints in it so it’s somewhat poseable. The colour scheme consists of mostly blue and dark grey, with the armoured parts painted with a metallic finish. As usual the figma joints move smoothly and seem capable of holding a pose without too much trouble.

You must tell me, who is your stylist?

Funnily enough, she shares a few design cues with Subaru Nakajima from the Magical Lyrical Nanoha: StrikerS series, specifically the jacket, skirt and tank-top/shorts combination.

The Style Sisters – ready for battle!

The greatest warrior in the Galette Lion Territory – not so good on skates…

Accessories:

Leonmitchelli comes with an assortment of additional hands. They consist of left and right closed fists, left and right splayed hands and left and right weapon/item holding hands.

Leonmitchelli’s gear

Normally there would be left and right neutral/flat hands but not this time around. Instead there is an extra right hand for holding weapons, only this one is in a fixed position. Probably due to the fact that the great axe – Granvale– can be a little bit heavy and the joints in the other hands can be a bit on the loose side. Her only face options are her confident/smiling expression and her angry/shouting battle expression.

The National Treasure of the Galette Lion Territory: The Great Axe – Granvale

Also included is her standard battle axe and an effect part to represent her magical Emblem Art power. I think that a clear plastic and a lighter paint would have worked better for this effect instead of the translucent plastic. As it is, it kind of looks like a little blob that just attaches to her wrist. A poseable figma stand is also included and a snap-lock bag to store all of her accessories in.

Emblem Arts, Level One – Activated!

Articulation:

Her standard battle axe can be just as powerful

She moves quite well, but loses some movement around the hips due to the nature of the hard plastic in her skirt. It is possible to get a little more movement by hiking her skirt up slightly since it’s not fixed in place. Even though the cape is somewhat poseable, it is also removable due to a clear plastic pin/plug that runs through the cape and into her back. Luckily this pin/plug is easily concealed behind her hair.

This clear plastic part holds the cape in place

Luckily it’s easily concealed

Her head can only rotate slightly, but it can tilt left and right okay. She can tilt her head down to a decent degree, but can’t tilt up very far – if at all – due to her long hair and the nature of the sculpt. Her hair is also jointed to allow for some poseability.  Her arms can’t raise very high but they can rotate fairly well and her elbows can bend to about 90 degrees. The joints in the wrists offer a pretty good range of movement, but the joint that attaches the hand to the wrist peg can be quite loose and won’t be able to handle a lot of weight. There is a weapon holding hand that is in a fixed position that will help in posing with the heavy Granvale axe.

Come get some!

The hard plastic skirt really hinders articulation around the hips. With it on, she can hardly move her legs. It takes a fair amount of force, (please exercise caution if you intend to do this!) but the skirt can be removed once you separate her body at the chest.

Room to move

She becomes much more poseable below the waist once you remove the skirt. There is a decent range of motion at the hips and the knees can bend to around 90 degrees. The ankles can tilt and rotate fairly well to offer you some stability for the more dynamic poses.

The ankle joints allow for some nice balancing

Conclusion:

I quite like Figma Leonmitchelli, she’s one of my favourites in my collection. She’s not without her flaws, but I like the overall result.  I had actually bought her Figma before I even saw the Dog Days anime, since I thought she looked like an interesting/cool character. The anime itself is a lot of fun to watch too, as a light-hearted adventure series.  Besides, what’s not to love about a cute cat-girl warrior with a giant f*ckoff axe?

Figma Leonmitchelli Galette de Rois can be found at the links below along with other figures in the Figma range.



“You know you’re not a real cat, right?”

“What do you mean, ‘not a real cat’?”

“You take that back!”

“En Garde!”

“Hyaaa!”

An opening!

A swift attack!

“Now who’s not a real cat?”

“Time to get serious.”

“And I mean ‘serious’.”

“Wait wait! I’m not ready!”

A crushing blow!

“Impressive that you’re still standing after a direct hit. but you know…”

“…this is what happens when my opponents get defeated.”

“Why didn’t you tell me this beforehand?!”