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!

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~