Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Lelouch Lamperouge by Figmaby Rob Bricken, Jun 8th 2008
Hey, kids! It's time for Astro Toy with…uh, me, and now that I'm told the column will actually be bi-weekly (as opposed to the initially sporadic release of the first two columns) I thought I'd answer a few questions and concerns raised so far.
First, who I am: I'm Rob Bricken, the former editor of Anime Insider magazine and the doomed AnimeOnline.com. Before A.I., I was also an editor for ToyFare magazine, and frankly, have been an insane toy collector longer than I've been an anime fan. Currently, I'm the editor of L.A. Weekly’s nerd blog ToplessRobot.com (it's safe for work, believe it or not), which somewhat covers anime, toys, anime toys, and a hell of a lot of other stuff. I'm not just some idiot. I'm a very specific, experienced idiot.
Second, many of you were offended by my use of profanity in the first version of Astro Toy, feeling that it diminished my criticism as a reviewer of anime toys. You have my utmost apologies. I promise I will write nothing more profane than a “consarnit” from now on, my precious, delicate flowers. And now, on with the review!
So—a Sunrise show about a guy attempting rebellion while wearing a mask? Character designs by CLAMP? Yeah, Code Geass has been screaming for action figures since day one. And now that the second season of Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion is in its second season, Max Factory has ponied up with a 6-inch, highly articulated Lelouch figure that should satisfy any fan.
The figure is scary accurate to CLAMP'S whisper-thin character design; although Lelouch is six inches tall, he's no more than an inch wide (less at his slim, woman-y waist). As with all of Max Factory's Figma figures, the articulation is likewise fantastic; his ball-jointed neck, shoulders, elbows, hips and knees allow for a wide range of poses, and best of all, they're all sculpted in such a way as to look totally natural no matter the position—admittedly, the hips are hidden by his lengthy school uniform jacket, but for me, that still counts. The only two problems are his shoulders, which—in order to maintain his design—restrict his arm movement somewhat, so he can't raise his arms above his head, although it's probably for the best, since including that articulation would definitely hurt the overall design. Additionally, his ankles are ball-jointed but barely move, so they're not really worth considering.
What the Figma line does better than anyone is create joints that move freely, but aren't too loose. I was dead certain I would never be able to get the Lelouch figure to stand on its own, but consarnit if it's not actually pretty easy. His arms will stick wherever you put them, which is good, allowing him to make all of his iconic Code Geass poses. For poses that require more action than just standing straight up, Mac Factory has including a clear base and posing rod, which fits neatly into the small of Lelouch's back, so he can jump or kick or do handstands or whatever else you have in mind.
But the posing base is not the only accessory; not by a long shot. Lelouch has three faces which can be easily exchanged by popping off his (removable) bangs—smug and happy, smug and irked, or smug and using the Geass, complete with the Geass symbol in his right eye. He also has nine different hands (three left, six right), including a cellphone holding hand, a gun holding hand, closed fists, open hands, semi-open hands, and one Geass-using finger gesture. Although it feels like something's going to break, getting the hands on and off is rather easy.
Lelouch also comes with his Zero mask, which isn't quite as awesome as it should be. The first problem is you have to take off Lelouch's entire head, which is simple, but then you have to remove the neck joint from the regular head to insert it into the helmeted head, which requires teeth, pliers, or a great deal of prayer. There's also a very small piece you have to insert just before the neck joint, as it replicates Lelouch's hair coming out of the helmet. Once on, it does look pretty good, except that the glass is totally opaque, so you can't see Lelouch's Geass eye, which would have been cool.
But I know why they didn't make it translucent, and why they didn't include Lelouch's hair as part of the helmet piece, and why the helmet does have its own neck joint—all this nonsense is just so you can put the helmet on the accompanying Arthur figure, the cat who steals Zero's helmet in episode six of Code Geass. This is admittedly a pretty awesome touch. Arthur has zero points of articulation, but you can pop his little kitty head off and stick Zero's helmet right on him. It's fabulous. You can also stick the cat's head on Lelouch, but since this exposes the neck joint which looks mostly like a freakish Adam's apple, I don't recommend it.
In the end, this Lelouch Lamperouge figure is the perfect marriage of accuracy and poseability; it would be nice if every anime toy line was half as good. If you're a Code Geass fan, there's no reason not to pony up and buy this figure ASAP. If you're not a Code Geass fan, it's still one of the best anime figures available—but it might be worth hunting for the other Figma figures, which include characters from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Fate/stay night, Lucky Star, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS and Ikki Tousen.
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