Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Portrait of Pirates - Usoppby Rob Bricken, Oct 5th 2008
Series: One Piece
Toyline: Portrait of Pirates
Sorry, kids, but it's time to double-up again. Yes, much like my second, critically brutalized Astro Toy column, I'm taking another look at one of Megahouse's One Piece Portrait of Pirates line—this time, the new Usopp/Sogeking figure. For those who aren't interested in One Piece figures—tough luck. I don't write Astro Toy for my health, you know. If I can write about a wide variety of figures of many sizes and types and educate and entertain you all, that's swell. But if I can get ANN to pay for toys I'd be ordering anyway, that's even sweller. (Still, all new toylines are coming next month.)
Oddly, Usopp is the only One Piece character other than Nami and Tony Tony Chopper to get a second new figure in the Portrait of Pirates series (Chopper's the super-cute mascot, and Nami's second figure was of her bending over in a cheerleader outfit, so it's pretty obvious why they happened). The first figure has Usopp is his normal green shirt and brown overalls, his slingshot in one hand, and his occasionally used “5-ton” hammer in the other. He also came with a small Tony Tony Chopper figure, assumably to sweeten the deal to One Piece fans who usually put Usopp on the lowest of their favorites list. Here's what it looked like:
You can see that Chopper looks much like he did when he was first introduced in the One Piece manga (some eight years ago), and nothing like his current super-cute incarnation. But now that a new Chopper has been released on his own, clearly Megahouse didn't want to re-release the previous Usopp and Chopper pair, for fear they'd cut into Chopper sales.
But Usopp's design has changed far less during One Piece’s 11 year run, and didn't lend itself to a new figure—except that he did take on the guise of the masked Sogeking (best translated as Sniper King, as befits Usopp's skill with his slingshot) for the still-unreleased in America Water 7 and Enies Lobby story arcs. Usopp's Sogeking persona has gained some significance, both in the manga and among fans, because its his Sogeking persona who gets declared a criminal and becomes wanted by the marines—not Usopp.
So Megahouse chose to make Usopp/Sogeking, and you can see two big differences between this figure and the previous one immediately. First is the bandages, which cover Usopp from foot to nose. His arms and legs are completely covered in bandages; they cover where his shirt should be; they go up to his neck, and even surround his lengthy nose. The only part of his flesh which is exposed is his face (sans nose) and the fingers on his right hand. While this does correspond with his look in the recent Enies Lobby storyarc, it obviously is not Usopp at his most iconic. But since 1) Megahouse will almost certainly never re-release the original Usopp figure and 2) Megahouse is terrible at capturing the One Piece crew at its most iconic (Zoro in his Skypeia clothes and not his normal white shirt and bandana?!) anyways. Bottom line: this Usopp is your only choice—take it or leave it.
The second difference should mitigate the first one, and it's that Usopp is in a terrifically badass pose—legs spread apart, his new (much longer) slingshot over his shoulder, his left arms clenched. Now, Usopp isn't known for his badass moments—he has very few of them—but he does have them, and it certainly helps him match visually with the other One Piece Portrait of Pirates figures. The figure comes with his satchel, which, though exceedingly purse-like, looks fine on him. His new slingshot is a separate piece, and the “strings” are actually plastic, meaning they are stuck in the position you see. It looks great when posed like that, but it does mean it can't effectively be rotated without looking ridiculous. I think it's a good trade, myself.
Like all of Megahouse's recent Portrait of Pirates figures, the sculpting is top-notch. Although Usopp's long nose makes his head difficult to be sculpted in 3-D, Megahouse has done a stellar job, in which his nose looks accurate and natural (in terms of Usopp, at least) from all angles. Additionally, Usopp's face is much improved from his previous figure, better suiting his manga and anime design, with thinner lines around his eyes and mouth, and his hair has a wonderful faux-afro-esque sculpting to it. He has subtle but wonderful paint details all over, especially on the folds in his clothes and on his bandages.
To transform Usopp into Sogeking, there are two separate parts to be added—his cape and his mask. The cape is one large piece of plastic, which drapes naturally and perfectly on his shoulders, and it's darned hard to put it on wrong. You do have to pop off Usopp's head in order to put on the cape, but it slides off and on easily to a hidden peg—it can't be positioned any way but the way you see above.
The mask is a little more complicated, in that you have to remove the goggles from Usopp's head to attach it. These pieces are incredibly small, so be careful, because they can be so easily lost (to Megahouse's credit, once placed in Usopp's head, they don't ever fall out). Minus the goggles, Usopp's head has to slots to place the mask in, after you slide his nose through the mask's nosehole—try and do it gently, because—and I have no proof about this—but Usopp's nose is so thin, it seems like it could easily bend or break. Just don't try and force it. The mask fits snugly, thanks to the nose and goggle holes (and it should be noted that the goggles are part of Sogeking's mask anyways). The figure actually comes with two masks—the complete one, and one with a broken left piece, and a (sculpted-in) repaired crack.
Overall, this Usopp doesn't have as many features as the recent Franky figure has, but it's still more than just a statue. Plus, it's much improved over the previous, now utterly unavailable Usopp POP figure, both in sculpting and it how it represents the character. While the fact that he's almost totally covered in bandages might be a turn-off for some One Piece fans, I say the figure captures Usopp in his finest hour. With this figure, Megahouse has made or re-released every member of the Straw Hat Pirates in its new Portrait of Pirates line (well, except for the newest crewmember, due in February-ish) so if you haven't completed your set, you'll have to do some serious eBay hunting to do so.
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