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~

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…

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!!