Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
Series:Neon Genesis Evangelion
Toyline: Soul of Chogokin SPEC XS-09
I own quite a few Evangelion Unit-00 figures. I have an old Sega one from the late ‘90s. I have the nice Kaiyodo one with the dynamic pose and the brittle articulation which snaps like balsa wood matchsticks in your hands. I always wanted one of those nice, die-cast metal Soul of ChogokinEVAs, since they looked just as poseable and a lot less fragile, but I never got around to ponying up the money.
I'd glad I waited because Bandai has just released a new Soul of Chogokin set of EVA Unit figures, and frankly, everyone can stop making EVA Units, because these things are beyond amazing (go concentrate on making figures of Rei and Asuka as ninja mermaids and prostitute-baseball players, if you wish). If the EVA-00’ (I can only assume the apostrophe stands for some kind of toy perfection) is at all representative of the other figures, there is no need for any others in the future. We're done. Thanks for playing!
When you first open the box, you're greeting with a nude and mostly accurate 7 ½-inch Evangelion, the beast under the armor. The head seems a bit small, perhaps, and it might be shaped slightly wonky, but it's all for a good reason. Because accompanying the Evangelion are 45 accessories which turn the figure not only into an armored EVA Unit, but also the Eva toy of your dreams.
You put the armor on the figure yourself, which far from being extra work, makes the figure almost seem like a Lego set—assembling Unit-00 from the pieces is the nerdiest kind of fun. There are about 30 different pieces involved: there are plastic chest and stomach pieces, which are flexible enough to slip on and off easily without being loose, and still offering a full range of flexibility for the figure; the requisite forearm fins and shoulder pads (but more on those in a minute); two amazing back pieces which perfectly replicate the opening hatches for the entry plug; and an assortment of plastic and die-cast metal armor for the legs and feet, which not only helps the figure stay standing, but gives it a great heft as well.
Now, transforming the figure does require you to swap out its Evangelionhead, hands and feet for EVA feet, but it's a small price to pay for the incredibly accurate figure you end up with. Because the figure is absolutely loaded with articulation—it can crouch, run, twist, bend over, put its arms behind its head, strike every single pose it makes during the entire Evangelion TV series—and amazingly, none of it requires blatant, ugly joints. Even more amazingly, the EVA's weird armor doesn't prevent any movement, as even the bulky shoulder pads are on a joint, and thus can twist out of the way to allow whatever pose you want. It's way more poseable than the original Soul of Chogokin Evangelion figures, which were pretty damn poseable to begin with.
That still leaves almost 20 accessories left in the box, and they pretty much make up an Eva fans’ wet dream. There are six pairs of hands—not hands, pairs of hands—including open, fists, clenched, gun holding, partially open and more. There's even a bonus hand holding the N2 bomb from episode 19, so you can send your EVA-00’ on your own suicide missions.
As for weapons, the figure comes with a progressive knife, one with blade extended and one with just a handle. There's also a pistol—with an insertable ammo clip—and the pallet rifle used in various Angel fights. There's also the sniper rifle that OO’ used; it also has a separate ammo clip, a removable sniper scope and another scope that can be plugged into the Eva cockpit's head (also seen in an episode, which I don't remember), and an extendable mount. There's also a 14-inch Lance of Longinus—the best-remembered OO’ weapon—but Bandai still went further, and inserted an extra piece so you can transform the Lance into the long, straight javelin form it appears in for mere seconds when it's hurled by OO’.
There's also the standard umbilical cable and entry plug, which can be inserted into the EVA Unit's back. And that's still not all, because there are two extra sets of shoulders included in the set. One set is just the shoulder without the large pads, mainly so 00’ can use it can also use the enormous positron rifle which is sold with the newt Unit-02 figure. The other two shoulders have the pads and here's why they're included: the left shoulder flips up its top corner and its sides spread apart to reveal the totally accurate progressive knife storage space (it only stores the handle version, but still). The other's sides separate to reveal a needle gun. Why Bandai included the regular version of these shoulder pads is beyond me.
All of these Evangelion figures have been released and all of them have this same, insane level of fan service, whether it be the weapons, or the orange 00's cross, which can be inserted into its entry plug opening. And at $80, these things are a more than fair price for the quality, poseability, accuracy, level of detail, and the mountain of accessories. Admittedly, there are two problems with this otherwise amazing toy. First, the leg armor—possibly because it's partially made of die-cast metal and is kind of heavy—can be the tiniest bit loose, and pop out if it gets jostled around (although it's easy to pop back in). The other problem is that the figure doesn't taste very good, because it's so outrageously awesome you will end up licking it. Frankly, I'm okay with both of them.