Astro Toy with Rob Bricken: Dragonball x One Piece Dream Fusionby Rob Bricken, Dec 14th 2008
Finally! After nearly half a year of “Astro Toys,” I've gotten around to reviewing one of my not-so-secret pleasures, gashapon. Oh, gashapon. How I love thee! I don't think there's a single trip to Japan I've taken without blowing at least $100 on little random figures from capsule machines and blind boxes (which are exactly the same thing, delivering in almost exactly the same way, so I call them gashapon. You should too. Don't be uptight). Actually, most trips I've spent closer to $300; I've often woken up in my hotel room in Tokyo, surrounded by tiny figures I had no recollection of buying. Gashapon isn't my anti-drug, it's very much my regular drug—an addiction I cannot stop.
It helps that many gashapon, both the capsule form and blind-boxed form, are awesome. Usually, it's the best way to get figures for good series, since Japan is refuses to make decent action figures of most hit shows. Sure, these figures might cost up to 500 yen, and you don't know what you're getting, but they will often be beautifully sculpted and painted.
The problem with getting gashapon for “Astro Toy” is that in order to be able to turn in a review on time, I have to order toys that are already in stock. And by that time, most decent gashapon sets have already sold out. You would think that I would use that information to be wary of Bandai's Dragon Ball X One Piece Dream Fusion Trading Figures when I saw the set available, but no. I am an imbecile. I'm also a big One Piece fan and a reasonably Dragon Ball fan, so that didn't help.
The real problem is that the Japanese Shonen Jump is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, and they're celebrating by releasing a lot of mash-up toys of its hit series like DB, One Piece and Naruto. None of them make much sense, only a few of them are cool, and the whole thing is basically about crazed fans like me giving Shonen Jump money for their birthday. Sure, I got some cheap party favors for bringing a present, but it sure didn't equal what I paid.
There are 10 figures in the set, blind boxed. None of them are that interesting to be rare, so I assume each set has all 10 figures, since that's what I got. Naturally, Goku and Luffy are the stars, and they pretty much sum up what's wrong with most of the series. Luffy making a kamehameha pose? That's boring as hell. Goku wearing some kind of pirate coat Luffy has never worn in One Piece? Boring and stupid. Bandai actually made figures of Goku and Luffy actually switching full outfits, which is actually marginally cool, and certainly looks different. This…this is a rip-off.
Hey look! It's Vegeta, wielding three swords, like Zoro! Is that interesting? Not really. Especially when Zoro can't be bothered to find some kind of Vegeta equivalent, and has to ride the Dragon Ball logo dragon (the goofy-looking one from early in the series). Trying to get Zoro onto the dragon is a tiny nightmare, since he has peg-holes in his shoulder and ass in two utterly opposite directions; and Zoro has zero desire to stay put unless you get both pegs in. Speaking of pegs, Almost all the figures have bases, because virtually none of the figures are well-designed enough to stand up on their own (Luffy does all right, but Goku's feet are sculpted at two different angles. Amazing). But rather than use pegs, Bandai put…nubs on the bases. So the figures are very hard to get onto the bases, and fall off with the merest touch. Awesome.
Although Bandai didn't do much more than swap Bulma and Nami's signature vehicles—the weird bike from the beginning of DB and the Going Merry—at least the two vehicles are complex enough that they make for decent figures. I also give credit for giving Bulma a Loge Pose and Nami a Dragon Radar, although the latter is so poorly sculpted as to look like a grenade. Nami and Bulma are the only figures which don't come with bases.
So Sanji in a power reader and Chopper in an orange gi riding Kinto'un. Sanji is insultingly lame—why the heart in his eye? Why put the reader on the eye that's never seen? Why is Sanji shorter than the Luffy figure, when he's even crouching? Grr. Thankfully, Chopper is interesting, since the makers went out of the way to gussy him up in DB duds, complete with a Dragon Ball on his hat. He looks excited, perhaps because he's the only figure to have more than one Dragon Ball reference on his person. In case you were wondering, Sanji has been sculpted leaning to the side, so he can't stand up, and Chopper's cloud is rounded, so they both need their bases.
Goku and Luffy performing the fusion technique? Kind of fun. They're totally out of scale to everything else in the line, but, it's neat to have Goku and Luffy together for a figure. You know what might have been more interesting? IF YOU HAD A FIGURE OF THEM FUSED, YOU JACKASSES. Dammit. It must have occurred to you all. This figure would have been fine as a gimme, but when most of them suck, it's a terrible second-best figure.
What's the best? The combination Dragon and Thousand Sunny…or it would be IF I HADN'T GOTTEN SOME BULL@#$% CLEAR ORANGE VARIANT. I don't want a toy that looks like it's made of fossilized tang, I want THE ACTUAL TOY. It hurts me so much worse because both the Sunny and the Dragon are clearly the best-sculpted toys of the set. It certainly is the best representation of One Piece and Dragon Ball in the set, with the possible exception of Chopper. I was genuinely looking forward to having this on my desk. Now…not so much.
The only consolation is that like most low-class gashapon sets, each figures came with the generic and delicious Japanese candy I've been destroying my body with for years. These hard, round white discs may look like Alka-seltzer, but they are in fact pure, delicious sugar with a faint citrus tang If you think about a solid pixie stick which doesn't erode the roof of your mouth, you'll have a pretty good idea. They help get the bitter taste out of my mouth.
But it's still not quite enough. These gashapon are not very well painted, not very well sculpted, and incredibly poorly conceived. Since Shonen Jump is selling about a million other Dragon Ball X One Piece (and even sometimes X Naruto) toys to cash in on their 40th, they clearly have better ideas, but why they refused to use any of them for this set I have no idea. I'm guessing that these bad boys are about 300 yen each in Japan, which is waaaay too much. I feel bad for all the stupid Japanese schoolboys who are saving their lunch money to buy these things out of their blinding love for Goku and Luffy—especially when you might be getting a second Sanji. If you're a Japanese bully reading this, please, please—beat up these kids and take their lunch money. They'll thank you for it later, I promise.
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